• Antarctica


The breathable air we enjoy today originated from tiny organisms, although the details remained lost in geologic time.

Cyanobacteria are aquatic and photosynthetic, that is, they live in the water, and can manufacture their own food. Because they are bacteria, they are quite small and usually unicellular, though they often grow in colonies large enough to see. They have the distinction of being the oldest known fossils, more than 3.5 billion years old. It may surprise you then to know that the cyanobacteria are still around; they are one of the largest and most important groups of bacteria on earth.

Shot in UHD 8K ANTARTICA explores the earliest origins of life on Earth. It begins in at an ice-covered lake on Antarctica. More than 100 kilometers away from the nearest station, NHK Japan together with US Astrobiologist Dale Andersen, embarked on an extraordinary challenge. Taking three days, they bored a hole through 6m of thick surface ice and started dives to capture the underwater world with 8K UHD cameras.

In the bottom of the lake an ancient strain of bacteria (stromatolites) are still thriving, silently producing bubbles filled with oxygen, just as they did in the primordial sea billions of years ago. They have formed a mysterious landscape of unearthly beauty. Dotted by protruding rocks studded with glittering bubbles, the lake bottom seems more like an alien planet.

In the dust and heat of Australia’s hottest place, Marble Bar, PhD Candidate and astrobiologist Tara Djokic uncovers similar fossilised stromatolites that potentially pre-date the earliest origins of life on earth by 300-400 million years.

WA-based SkyPixels came on board for the 8K drone shoot and from NHK Japan Director Yoshi Tsutsui and his team of specialist cameramen.

Logistically shooting in 8K is an exercise in gear management. Over 30 cases of gear including dive gear, drone gear, 3 x 8K cameras, 3 cars and 4000kms of outback travel.

The role of 17 South was to coordinate people, gear, travel and permitting into a smooth production process across vast tracts of Australian outback.

It’ll be a fascinating documentary… watch this space as it won’t be ready for broadcast for some time yet.