Monday, November 30, 2009

New Webisode posted!

Hey Gang, we just posted the 4th webisode from season 2--about Dr. Guy Harvey's research on stingrays at Stingray City, Grand Cayman. You can read about the shoot in our BLOG entry from back in May. Hope you enjoy the new segment!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The new DVDs are here!!

Finally, after almost 2 years of production, months of editing and design, and another month of pressing--the season 2 DVDs are here!! We are now shipping all the pre-orders that have come in and we are extending our pre-order price as a pre-holiday discount until Dec. 15. You can get a huge stack of season 2 DVDs for holiday gifts for a great price! CHECK IT OUT!

The DVD is a two disc set containing all 7 half hour shows from season 2, plus a bonus feature ("Sharks: Predators with a Purpose" an award-winning short film about the need to protect sharks, produced by Oceanic Research Group). Also included is a great coupon for significant savings from Ian's Natural Foods, our major sponsor! So get some DVDs today and spread the fun!!


Friday, November 13, 2009

JBBW returns from Raja Ampat, Indonesia!

Hey Everyone,
I'm in Singapore on my way back from an exciting trip to Raja Ampat, Indonesia filming for season 3. This remote area in eastern Indonesia takes about 3 days to reach from the USA but has the most spectacular coral reefs in the world. Pierre and I were filming a rare "walking" cat shark and Tasselled Wobbegong sharks for a segment on bottom-dwelling sharks. Also, we shot tiny pygmy seahorses (only the size of a fingernail) for a segment on seahorses.

The reefs were amazing and the trip was spectacularly fun, but I'm looking forward to getting home. I have been away a lot and I'm looking forward to a nice quiet holiday season at home!

More news to come soon....


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Webisode is posted!

Yes, we posted it a couple days early because we are leaving for Indonesia tomorrow. The newest episode of Jonathan Bird's Blue World is on the website!

Check it out!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The JBBW team returns from Curacao

Hey Gang,
Tim Geers, Mia Peluso and I just returned from Curacao where we shot 3 (or maybe 2-1/2) segments for season 3 of Jonathan Bird's Blue World. We went down for the coral spawn which was predicted to occur on the nights of Oct 10-12. It did spawn, but not as much as we might have hoped, so the footage is pretty thin. We may have to go back next year for another attempt. Since we are at the beginning of an 18-20 month shooting cycle, that will not be a problem.

While we were there, we also visited the Curacao Seaquarium, where we met George Kieffer, the director of the dolphin program and the guy in charge of the rehabilitation of a stranded pilot whale named Sully that they are nursing back to health. We decided to make a segment about their dolphin program, and another about Sully, who is named after Captain "Sully" Sullenberger, the U.S. Air pilot who landed the crippled jet on the Hudson River.

For 5 days we shot around the island above and below water, then we dove for half the night on three of the nights we were there, hoping to capture good footage of the coral spawn. (We got some, but probably not enough). On the last day, we spent 12 straight hours working at the Seaquarium. It was a very long 5 days because we worked hard, got sunburned and didn't get much sleep. But the result was some excellent material for season 3!

We would like to thank Habitat Curacao, The Curacao Seaquarium, the Curacao Tourist Board and Ocean Encounters for their support as well as our pal Chernov for being our guide to the island! Mia was on her first assignment with the Blue World team as production manager for a shoot, and we'll see if she ever wants to do it again!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jonathan Signing posters & DVDs at NPEE

It was a fun weekend at the Natural Products Expo East in Boston. I was there at the Ian's Natural Foods booth signing shark posters and DVDs for fans of the show. They were running a DVD on a small screen, and we had lots of people young and old stop by to talk sharks, Blue World and great healthy food! (I even managed to grab a stash of Ian's new healthy snack food "Fruitabits." They didn't last long once I got home and my kids discovered them!)

Did you miss the Expo? Well you can catch the Natural Products Expo West in March, 2010. It's in Anaheim, CA! Ian's will be there, and so will I! We'll even have season 2 DVDs available. Come on down!


Friday, September 18, 2009

Goliath Grouper spawning shoot!

Pierre and I just came back from a great shoot filming the Goliath Grouper spawning event in Florida for the 3rd season of Jonathan Bird's Blue World. We spent a couple days filming with David Doubilet, Jen Hayes and Wyland--heavy hitters in the underwater world. That was great fun. We were working with Jim Abernethy off his boat the Shear Water. We had tons of great fish action. Unfortunately, we are so busy finishing the second season stuff right now that I haven't had time to go through the footage and capture some underwater stills for the BLOG. I'll have to add them later. However, I have a couple topside shots of the gang in in action! (Special thanks to Annette Robertson for these pics!)

After a few days on the Shear Water, Pierre, David, Jen and I headed over to work with David Ochs and AquaSafari Adventures for an afternoon and dive a different wreck. We had fewer fish, but really clear water!

And in other news, if you haven't noticed yet, the first webisode of season 2 is now posted on the Blue World Website!! It's about my adventure learning to be an aquarist at the New England Aquarium. Check it out!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Season 2 is Coming Soon!

Well, the season 2 master tapes for Jonathan Bird's Blue World have been delivered for closed captioning and they are now on the way to NETA for the satellite feed to the public television stations beginning Oct. 9, 2009! It's very exciting! It won't be long now before the show is airing across the USA!

We are now working on authoring the DVD set for the complete season 2. It should be ready well before Christmas and will be a two disk set. It will be provided in anamorphic 16:9 aspect ratio to take advantage of HDTVs. At this point, there are no immediate plans for a Blu-ray set, even though it was shot in HD. That's because the licensing costs of Blu-ray are too high to justify a small press run.

In the meantime, I squeezed in a short trip to Florida to film the Goliath Grouper spawning event. Wow, those are some big big fish and Pierre and I filmed a wonderful segment.

Finally, some more big news....check out the all new BLUE WORLD website!!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We're editing like crazy!

We have one week to go before we will be outputting all the season 2 programs to tape, so things around the Blue World office are busy!  We have been editing the segments slowly over the past 18 months as we have been shooting them.  Most of the segments were edited by me while I was not traveling, but Art edited two of them and Kerry edited four.  As you know, the segments, which run 6-12 minutes each, end up being "webisodes" on the website, with a short opening sequence.  But strung together, three at a time, with "bumpers" between them, and a 1 minute opening sequence, they are ~28 minute television programs.

With season 2, things are more complicated than season 1.  First of all, we're shooting, editing and delivering the show to television in HD.  (For you technical buffs, we shoot in 1080/60i).  Also, we now have an underwriter (Ian's Natural Foods....yummy chicken nuggets!) so we needed to create a "spot" (15 second promo) for them that goes into the beginning and end of the program for public television. 

So after the Ian's spot was complete and approved, including a theme song by Bruce Zimmerman, we had to get Art into the studio to record his "bumpers"  (you know, the part where the guy with the great voice says "Coming up next on Jonathan Bird's Blue World...").  After those were recorded, the assembly of programs began.  This is fun because it all comes together.  The new opening sequence which we have been working on for months, the Ian's spot, the bumpers, the segments, and of course putting the credits together and trying not to forget anyone.

The last step is when we rent a very expensive Sony HDCAM studio deck for a day to output everything from our editing system (An 8 core Mac running Final Cut Studio) to tape.  This is nerve-wracking for me, because I constantly worry something will go wrong.  It usually doesn't, although once we had a power outage in the middle of an output to tape and everything crashed.  When the shows are on tape, I can breathe a huge sigh of relief because they no longer depend on hard drives and computers!  Having the finished product on a nice HD tape in the hand is a good thing.  That's when it feels real.

Next those HDCAM masters go to a company that does the closed-captioning for the hearing impaired, and the descriptive audio for the blind.  The new masters with closed captioning are then sent to NETA, our distributor, for the satellite feed.  Our satellite feed for season 2 begins October 9, so you can start bugging your local public TV stations for it after that!

Whew, it's a lot of work to make this show.  A typical 10 minute segment requires at least a week in the field to shoot, sometimes more.  Then it takes about 10 days of editing to get it completely finished.  By the time we finish an entire half-hour show, complete with music, bumpers, etc., we probably have a solid two months invested in it.  Now you can see why it takes more than a year to make 7 new shows!

Wish us luck...we go to tape next weekend!


P.S.  Have you noticed that the new Jonathan Bird's Blue World website is live?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Season 3 filming begins in the Galapagos!

We have a lot of cool announcements coming in the next few weeks.  We are launching our new JBBW website, delivering the finished edits of the season 2 shows to our distributor, and starting a marketing effort on season 2.  But for this Blog entry, I want to tell you about the very first shoot of season 3--in the Galapagos.

I spent 2 weeks working in the Galapagos with Pierre and Julia on the first segments we are shooting for season 3.  Since we have already done segments on Whale sharks (coming out in season 2) and hammerheads (season 1) we are not making any segments on the subject which is the most common in the Galapagos.  Instead, we are doing a segment on sea lions and on marine iguanas.  (We also planned a segment on mola mola, but they didn't cooperate.)

We had a fantastic 12 days working from a nice live-aboard dive boat, spending 6 days at Wolf and Darwin Islands to film whale sharks and hammerheads (hey, I love those critters) then headed down south to the cold water to film the sea lions and marine iguanas.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Last shoot of season 2!

Christine, Tim and I just came back from Grand Cayman, where we completed the final shoot of Season 2 of Jonathan Bird's Blue World! The segment is about Stingray City and the research that Guy Harvey (famous marine artist and PhD in marine biology) has conducted into the habits of these animals. Stingray City is the name of a place where they have been feeding Southern Stingrays for many years, making them friendly. On a day when a cruise ship is in port, more than a thousand people go out to feed the stingrays. What effect does this have on the animals? How does it change their natural behavior? Well, you'll find out when the show airs! One of the best parts of this segment was getting to know Guy and his daughter Jessica. We spent a couple days diving, fishing and even relaxing on the beach with Guy and his family. It was great fun!

Later, we shot a segment at the Cayman Turtle Farm which will probably appear in season 3. This new facility (rebuilt after Hurricane Ivan in 2004) is quite impressive, and the turtles are so cute!


Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Blue World Team Goes to British Columbia

Things have been busy around here in the Blue World! As we reach the end of our season 2 filming, we are getting a little nuts. Pierre, Kerry, Linda and I just returned from a week shooting in Port Hardy, British Columbia, at the end of Vancouver Island. We went out for a segment on Giant Pacific Octopus, some shots of giant sun stars, and also the Pacific Wolf-eel. We didn't get enough decent material for the octopus segment, so that will have to wait until season 3. However, we got some great footage of the wolf eels and sun stars, so look for those in the release of season 2!


Friday, March 13, 2009

The Blue World Team Goes To Antarctica!

We have just landed back in Ushuaia, Argentina (southernmost city in the world) from our exciting Blue World shoot in Antarctica.  Our team took a ship over 600 nautical miles from Ushuaia over the Drake Passage (roughest water in the world) to Antarctica for a week of diving and exploring the most remote and hostile place on Earth.

We dove every day in water that ranged from 30 to 34 degrees, using extremely warm drysuits.  The highlights of the diving included a school of gigantic jellyfish almost 2 feet across, weird and rare cold water benthic invertebrates, a pair of curious Leopard seals (known to be the most aggressive animal in Antarctica) and even a dive on a shipwreck.  

We walked with thousands of penguins and Fur seals, dove under icebergs, and even visited a couple of remote research stations.  Fortunately, we enjoyed extremely good weather.  The sun was out most of the time and the daytime temperatures peaked above freezing.

All this exciting stuff will be part of the Antarctic segments in the second season of Jonathan Bird's Blue World coming to you in the summer of 2009!