National Geographic has announced it is expanding on the success of its From Above specials and creating television’s first global franchise driven primarily by aerial footage.
With earlier iterations sweeping over the modern topography of China, Egypt, Europe, Japan and New Zealand, National Geographic located a sweet spot for viewers eager to rise above the fray and see their cultures, landmarks and landscapes with a new vibrancy. Now, the network is committing to this space with four new epic chapters that will deliver more spectacular views, unique insights and brand-new perspectives from the skies above. The forthcoming INDIA FROM ABOVE and ANCIENT CHINA FROM ABOVE will premiere in 2020, while EGYPT FROM ABOVE: PAST MEETS FUTURE and a second season of EUROPE FROM ABOVE will debut in 2021.
Featuring breathtaking drone footage as its centerpiece, the From Above franchise explores, in stunning visual detail, the culture, history, innovation and engineering feats that have helped shape the world as we know it. With exclusive access all over the world, National Geographic’s cameras are able to fly through restricted airspace, capturing never-before-seen views of the Earth. Epic cinematography marries with advanced technologies to enable iconic tracking shots, with a drone able to lock in its flight coordinates and return to the same location to capture the exact same shot at different times and seasons, highlighting changes in the macrocosm below.
Anchoring the visual storytelling with the hard-won observations and wisdom of a local inhabitant who has a deep and abiding connection with their land, is integral to each show’s success. These human voices bring perspective and insight to the series while exploring geological wonders, animals and native wildlife, migratory routes carved over generations, marvels of human engineering, big celebratory festivals and ancient half-forgotten wonders.
“We started exploring the From Above world way back in 2013 and in success returned with additional specials, but now we’re committing to the creation of television’s first global franchise to be driven by cutting-edge aerial footage. We’re planting our flag to let viewers know this will be a staple on our channel moving forward,” said Geoff Daniels, EVP, Global Unscripted Entertainment of National Geographic.
“Our previous specials resonated hugely with audiences who delighted in seeing their homelands in a new way but, in a time of closed borders and limited travel, we believe this series brings a much-needed perspective on our societies and cultures whose differences often pale in comparison to some of their breathtaking similarities. With such visually stunning experiences and the deeper connections this franchise offers, we couldn’t be more excited to offer these more frequently and with even greater diversity,” he added.
Increasingly used in film and television over the past decade, the game-changing potential in lightweight drone technology has never before been fully harnessed by a global television network. National Geographic has committed to developing a franchise with multiple upcoming installments that let viewers take flight and see their world in a whole new way. Much of the footage in each episode is able to be filmed by a single cameraperson operating a drone in the field, offering a safe and reliable, socially distanced pathway to gathering and telling universally resonant stories.
About the forthcoming From Above titles:
ANCIENT CHINA FROM ABOVE U.S. Premiere is August 11 at 10/9c Ancient China From Above moves into the realm of satellite and LiDAR technologies to help peel away layers of modern development, taking viewers back in time to see how earlier landscapes were shaped in ways just like today. The series scours the largest manmade structure on Earth in Secrets of the Great Wall; explores Kublai Khan’s legendary lost city in inner Mongolia in Mysteries of Xanadu; and reveals a newly discovered megacity from 4,000 years ago that was one of the largest on the planet and whose inhabitants created amazing Maya-like carvings and practiced human sacrifice on an unprecedented scale in China’s Pompeii. Tackling astonishing new archaeological findings from above, the three-part series opens up new possibilities for potential future installments of the franchise. Ancient China From Above will roll out globally on National Geographic this month, premiering August 11 at 10/9c in the U.S.
INDIA FROM ABOVE U.S. Premiere on Nat Geo WILD is September 24 at 9/8c One of the world’s oldest continuing civilizations, India has the youngest population of any country on the planet. With an average age of 29 years, the populace is now faced with the largest democratic exercise in human history. India From Above hovers over the 850 million voters casting their ballots in 2019 to form a government. This story of a nation, at once both modern and steeped in mysticism, is told over two powerful episodes that will premiere globally on National Geographic in 172 countries and 43 languages from August 2020 and in the U.S. on August 11 at 1 a.m. EDT.
EGYPT FROM ABOVE: PAST MEETS FUTURE Premieres globally in 2021 Egypt From Above: Past Meets Future surveys the rhythms of this ancient landscape through new eyes. Taking a spectacular aerial journey across the country helps unlock the secrets of one of history’s most spectacular civilizations in the context of exploring the surprises of its unfolding future. The one-hour special will debut on National Geographic outside the U.S. in 2021.
EUROPE FROM ABOVE Season 2 premieres globally in 2021 Then, across six glorious hours, cameras return to the skies over Europe, capturing the changing seasons over the course of a year in season two of Europe From Above. With exclusive access to key locations in Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Sweden and Turkey, the series reveals how tradition, engineering and natural wonders have shaped this epic continent. New perspectives on these well-known countries paint a vibrant portrait of the region and the people who keep it alive. The new season will premiere globally on National Geographic in 2021.
Expect these titles to arrive on Disney+ about a month after the final episode of each season has aired on the National Geographic.
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.