Alien Empire (BBC)

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Nature Documentary hosted by John Shrapnel, published by BBC in 1995 - English narration

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Image: Alien-Empire-BBC-Cover.jpg

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Alien Empire puts you into the bizarre world of insects for an unforgetable encounter with the alien life that surrounds you. Where science fiction meets science fact. This is a radical adventure that will turn your world inside out. Stunning macrophotography and stateoftheart, multisensory digital effects propel you into a world of unimaginable power, intelligence, beauty and horror.

This six-part miniseries employs groundbreaking video techniques to illustrate the bizarre universe of the 30 million species of insects with which human beings uneasily share the planet -- and without which the human race could not survive. Combining cutting-edge computer animation with live-action footage and powerful magnifying cameras, Alien Empire offers a startling "insect's eye-view" of their own extremely complex existence

Insects are everywhere and in vast numbers too. There are at least a million species, ranging from microscopic beetles and wasps to beetles which are larger and heavier than the smaller mammals. They inhabit desert and arctic tundra, land and sea; they are even in our homes and on our bodies. Unsung toilers on our behalf, they perform most of the major ecological tasks upon which we and all other species depend. Many animals, birds and people rely on them for food, while all of our fruits and many of our vegetables are entirely dependent on them for pollination. We need to know more about these extraordinarily beautiful and complex creatures to understand their vital role in maintaining our planet's life support systems so that we are better placed to conserve them and, ultimately, our own living space.

Alien Empire open the doors into a world that we have never seen. We discover the design miracle of insects' bodies - external skeletons that can be adapted for any use; their sophisticated communication systems - on-board sensors which gather visual, auditory and scent data, with transmitters for emitting sound and light signals; how they function in co-operating groups; their fast and furious reproduction systems, and much much more about their strange structures and lives. As this series shows, in their looks and behaviour, insects are as close to an alien life form as any we are likely to find in the stars.

Incredible photography, graphics and time-lapse techniques investigate how these agile creatures become airborne, seemingly defying the conventional laws of flight. From the beautiful blues, greens and reds of jewel beetles to close-up footage of a moon moth emerging from its cocoon, this WNET/BBC co-production provides a fascinating insight into the sophisticated miniature world of insects and takes the viewer on a spellbinding journey into another world.

Producer : Steve Nicholls Script : David Helton Narrator : John Shrapnel A BBC Production in association with Thirteen/WNET BBC Bristol 1995

[edit] Hardware

"Hardware" looks at the diversity in insects' design by examining their exoskeletons, senses and sensory processing systems. It also examines the evolution of insect flight and warm-blooded insects. The first of six episodes in the Alien Empire series, Hardware explores the intricate micro-architecture of insects. Examining the 'design' of some of the billions of bugs that share our planet, this half hour programme allows a unique glimpse into insect engineering, looking at their external skeleton, wings, sensors and learning capabilities.

[edit] Replicators

"Replicators" looks at the mating rituals of insects and examines how insects use different reproductive strategies from generation to generation to ensure their survival. Insects exist to make more insects. This episode focuses on insect reproduction. Even the tiniest insect can find a mate by using powerful chemicals or a song loud enough to carry a long distance. If all their offspring were to survive, one pair of flies could produce a ball of maggots as big as the Earth within a year. From rituals of reproduction to the heavy-duty adaptable engineering of the insect exoskeletons, this film will put the viewer right into a world he/she won't recognize even though it is there.

[edit] Battlezone

Travel to another world, an alien place where death lurks in every shadow. Where existence depends on instincts of attack, on quickness to defend, on the ability to eat before being eaten. Monsters of grotesque power and lightning speed live within this battlezone, predators for whom victims ar merely a convenient bite of protein. Welcome to the Empire of the Insect. Terrifying struggles of survival and neverending conflicts for food prevail here. Territorial killers with names like Robber Fly, Army Ant, Bombardier Beetle, and Assassin Bug are only some of the several million different species that rule this alien world.
"Battlezone" looks at the constant war that insects wage for food. This segment examines the various methods of capture and escape that insects everywhere engage in everyday. From incredible camouflage to poisonous chemical weaponry, insects enact a range of defenses against enemies and aggressors.

[edit] Voyagers

"Voyagers" examines the migration, colonization and adaptation of insects to various geographic regions. From extreme heat to Arctic cold, insects thrive in all types of environments. Insects are everywhere: they thrive in the bleakest deserts,on the slopes of active volcanoes and even on the surface of the ocean. Even the tiniest insect can span the globe in search of a conducive environment. This episode looks at the extraordinary journeys undertaken by some insects, while seeking out others that are quite at home in some of the most extreme conditions on earth.

[edit] Metropolis

Exploring the great insect societies, Hymenoptera and Isoptera, "Metropolis" looks at the habitats and social relationships of insects. Communal insects such as termites, bees and ants rely on extraordinary means of communication to survive and assert their strength in numbers to defeat larger, stronger insects. These prehistoric life forms have endured, adapted, and multiplied individually or in complex "cities." Intricate colonies dominate the landscape and their ability to organize, to enslave, and to wreak total devastation are but a part of this Orwellian cosmos.

[edit] War of the Worlds

"War of the Worlds" reveals the hostile, yet dependent, relationship of humans and insects. Though insects invade homes, destroy crops and spread disease, they assist humans in food production and industry. Without insects, humans could not survive. The program delves into the chemical and biological control of insect pests, such as wasps in New Zealand and African bees in the Americas, and also looks at traditional and new pollination techniques and the dependence of humanity on the insect world.
We have worshipped the honey bee, formed a profitable partnership with the silkworm, and recruited many insects to wage war on their more destructive counterparts. All but the Western cultures depend on insects for protein in their diet, and some look to them for profitable entertainment. Nevertheless the lethal chemicals we use to do battle with them has helped to create resistant strains of megainsects.

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[edit] Technical Specs

Video Codec: XviD ISO MPEG-4
Video Bitrate: 2468 kbps
Video Resolution: 720x552
Video Aspect Ratio: 1.304:1
Frames Per Second: 25.000
Audio Codec: 0x2000 (Dolby AC3) AC3
Audio Bitrate: 192kb/s CBR 48000 Hz
Audio Streams: 2
Audio Languages: english
RunTime Per Part: 28:48.760
Number Of Parts: 6
Part Size: 550 MB
Ripped by: DocFreak08

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