Documentary to Feature Life, Death of Mammoths
By Han Sang-hee
Korean mammoths are coming alive next week. The Education Broadcasting Company (EBS) is bringing the extinct mammals to the television screen for the first time through ``The Mammoth, Titan of The Ice Age,'' using highly developed computer graphic skills.
``First of all, the mammoth is a very interesting theme to work with. They pursued a matriarchal society and were a very close and tight family. Instead of just listing their characteristics and living patterns, we added a story to the show,'' Kim Si-jun, producer of the program, said during a press conference after a press screening Tuesday.
The story revolves around a mammoth family of five. The protagonist is the baby, Mammu, who the viewers follow from birth to its dying day. Indeed, the creatures look real, with a little awkwardness when they run, but overall, it is convincing enough to attract both young and old viewers searching for both entertainment and education at once.
``The Mammoth, Titan of The Ice Age'' is known to be the first documentary film to focus solely on the mammal. The huge animals have featured in some movies, including ``Ice Age'' and ``10,000 B.C.,'' and also a 30-minute documentary made by the BBC, but have not been fully featured in any documentary or film in Korea.
Mammoths lived during the Ice Age in Korea. Remains of the creatures have mostly been found in North Korea, but according to Lim Jong-deok, researcher at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and the consultant for the show, it is highly likely that they roamed around the entire Korean Peninsula.
``Fossils of mammoths have been found in Taiwan and in Japan, and considering that Korea connected the two areas, it is possible to say that the mammoths lived here as well,'' he said.
``When the production team first contacted me and told me that that wanted to make a documentary about mammoths, I told them that it would be boring.''
``After watching the whole program, they definitely proved me wrong,'' he said.
The EBS team have already successfully made various documentaries depicting life before mankind, such as ``Koreanosaurus,'' but bringing the furry animals to life was harder than expected.
``Dinosaurs are easier to create. They have skin and the main characters usually moved on their two hind legs. In the case of mammoths, however, they are covered with fur and move on all four legs. Depicting the fur was the hardest, because hair moves differently depending on the wind and movements,'' Jo Il, computer graphic director from Will Pictures, said. Through numerous attempts and experiments, the CG team finally found a way to not only bring reality to the bodies of the mammoths, but also emotion through their sparkling eyes.
Knowing the difficulties, why did the production team keep pushing mammoths for their next project?
``It's true they are not that popular compared to dinosaurs, but we thought they were closer to human society. They were a close family that cared about one another and took good care of the babies when the parents were killed. We wanted to bring something warm and family-oriented,'' Kim said.
``It will also be interesting to watch how they survived and protected themselves from danger, and also how they finally became extinct.''
Narrated by movie star Ahn Sung-ki, ``The Mammoth, Titan of The Ice Age'' is divided into three sections. The first two, which will be aired on April 26 and 27, will feature the lives of mammoths and other animals including tigers and lions, while the third section, airing on April 28, will show how the large mammals became extinct.
``The Mammoth, Titan of The Ice Age'' airs from April 26 to 28 at 9:50 p.m. on EBS.