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Influx interview- david conover- creator of sunrise earth

August 27, 2007

Sunrise Earth is an extraordinary piece of programming on Discovery HD Theater. Each show is 30 minutes of a filmed sunrise from an exotic locale somewhere around the world. It’s the complete antithesis of regular TV, it’s almost like meditation.

I wanted to learn more so I asked the series creator David Conover, a few questions.

1. How did you come up with the idea for Sunrise Earth?

I wanted to present the natural world in its own beauty at its own pace, more like the feeling of being a naturalist experiencing the event of sunrise while sitting on a log.  These days, I call this experiential programming of the natural world.

2. It seems to represent the antithesis of typical television programming-do you think people are using television in a new way and will this continue?

Yes, I think that TV can -and is- being used in a new way.  Very hard to change habits, however.   

When new formats like HD come around, there is a distinct -yet brief- period of time when people actually are looking and interested in new content.  After plunking down a lot of cash for a new HD set, people naturally ask “what can I see here that is different?”  Experiential programming has been successful in showing something new.

Experiential programming is also working because people’s lives -and the rest of the TV landscape- move so fast these days.  Exposure to the natural world, even in mediated form, helps bring down the blood pressure.

I do feel that some people will continue to use TV in a different way…there will continue to be other new format and delivery forces at work to break up broad-casting into narrow-casting. 

3.How did you “sell” the idea to Discovery?

It took a lot of time, repeated efforts to a range of people, and luck.  Ultimately, they were ready to try some “out of the box thinking.”

4.What other networks around the world have picked up the program?

It is now airing on ANIMAL PLANET.  Also through SKY TV in the UK, as well as all others internationally where DISCOVERY HD THEATER exists (Germany and a country or two in Eastern Europe, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan… I think there are a few more but I do not know them off the top of my head).

5.. Do you have plans for another interesting HD experience?

We were early-in producers of HD several years ago, and haven’t even looked back.  I like the format because it is literally seeing the world in a new way!  I think there is a lot more that can be done with variations of this kind of experiential programming and are working on those right now.  We are also continuing to produce more “normally”
paced narrative factual programming in HD, and also feature doc that will use HD’s abilities for “film out-”  transferring to print for theatrical distribution.

6. Do you feel there’s a short window while the “wow” of HD is sinking in to public consciousness to make these programs?

It is as short as people’s connection to the natural world.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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