In the works for summer 2008 is Aerial America, which will give viewers a bird's-eye view of the USA. "We have just had a helicopter fly under the Golden Gate bridge and swoop around Alcatraz. We've just been flying up in Alaska. We are very high up in the sky, yet you can see the bears there fishing for salmon in the rivers, and you can actually catch the detail of it," Royle says. "We feel we are beginning to be able to present America in a totally new visual experience for the audience."
Eventually, HD viewers will want more than just pretty pictures, he says. "That will only go so far. You've got to be a great storyteller, too. We intend to be America's storyteller."
There's more to Sunrise Earth than meets the eye, says producer David Conover, who has a new crop of sunrises coming to Discovery's HD Theater in January. Earlier this year, Conover and his Camden, Maine-based production team traveled to Ireland, Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand and the South Pacific to capture new episodes that will air in January.
"We really want to give the illusion that there is a camera there, untended," he says. "But if you look at it over an hour show there may be 100 edits. If they think it is just one camera looking at the natural world, then we have succeeded."
Beyond Sunrise Earth, Conover says he has some new HD projects in the works that fit into this new growing genre of "experiential television."
"It has just been wonderful to work with something that is really very much unlike the rest of television," he says.