Bird’s-eye China: The first drone documentary
By Liu Chen

2017-03-25 14:06:25

CCTV Mandarin's groundbreaking documentary series, "Bird’s-eye China," is the first Chinese program to have been produced using drone technology. Each episode in the series celebrates the history, culture and natural beauty of a different area of China. Spanning 34 vastly different provinces and regions, this series is the most difficult and expensive documentary that CCTV has ever produced.  
Join us in this unique journey across the sky! Starting today, CGTN will introduce a different episode of the series on a daily basis, highlighting the best of China’s breathtaking scenery. 
At the 5,000-high Bogda Peak in the Tianshan Mountains, thousands of glaciers serve as a gigantic solid reservoir containing massive quantities of water. The mountains are the source of 370 rivers and countless lakes. 
A bicycling race takes place around the Sayram Lake every year as spring turns to summer. The cyclists follow a picturesque route through the mountains, until they reach Sayram Lake. 
The Gurbantunggut Desert is the second largest desert in China. From high above, a network of golden leaf veins can be seen, extending for over a dozen kilometers. The veins are actually sand ridges, many ten meters high and several kilometers long.
At the Kalajun Grasslands, the herdsmen change their pastures as the seasons change. Carrying all their belongings with them, they’re driving their cattle and goats to summer pastures over 300 kilometers away.
In four or even more major migrations every year, they cover up to a thousand kilometers. It’s said that Kazakh families move more often than any others. 
Netizens gave great comments
The critical response to the series within China has been overwhelmingly positive. With the first four episodes having aired, users on Chinese movie aggregate website, Douban, had given it an average mark of 9.4/10. That score was even higher than other similar documentaries from overseas, such as "Britain From Above" and "Aerial America."
Comments online from netizens have been equally effusive, with many fans singing the series’ praises for giving viewers a never-before-seen look into so much of China.
“Watching the series made me so emotional that I wanted to sing the national anthem and admire it every single second!”
But shooting such an ambitious documentary can be fraught with problems.
When the video team shot at Sayram Lake, they had to wait several days for the winds to die down so the drones could take off and fly. Eventually, they managed to find a gap of a few hours to fly over 6,000 meters high and capture the whole view of the lake 
Principal Director Yu Le indicated that the team had 40 shooting spots in each province, and required at least 10 pieces of footage of each spot from different angles. Such an ambitious undertaking naturally meant a certain degree of waiting.