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Comcast to Offer 'Planet Earth' on HD VOD on March 16

Discovery HD's upcoming 11-hour series "Planet Earth" doesn't officially debut until Sunday, March 25, but with a little help from Comcast, Discovery will preview one episode in HD as a video-on-demand offering this Friday, March 16. (At press time, Comcast was the only MSO planning to offer the uniquely filmed nature series in HD).

The "Forests" episode, available March 16, also will include some making of special features and sneak peeks of the 10 other upcoming episodes, according to Multichannel News.

The production, which took nearly five years to complete, is a co-production of the BBC, where it has already aired in the U.K. The series will air on five consecutive Sunday evenings on Discovery HD and Discovery Channel (SD), beginning March 25. The project deployed more than 70 producers and camera operators to more than 200 locations globally with the common idea to capture "living natural history" in HD detail.

The result prior to post-production was several hundred hours of tape depicting scenes in the wild rarely, if ever, seen by humans--thanks to the ability to shoot from unobtrusive aerial vantage points through high-powered lenses, courtesy of the Cineflex heligimbal, according to TV Technology.

The gimbal from Cineflex LLC, based in Grass Valley, Calif., is a gyro-stabilized aerial unit that held various HD cameras used to capture much of the series' footage.