The team behind Aerial China have lofty ambitions for its second series, which used scores of drones and the latest high-definition cameras to capture the country's vast beauty.
Aerial China, the natural landscape documentary series that saw its first season draw over 300 million viewers from more than 500 broadcasts across a number of TV channels, is making its return.
The second season of the series debuted on China Central Television's flagship CCTV-1 channel and documentary channel CCTV-9 on Sunday, and is scheduled to air on four other channels before ending on March 17.
Unlike most nature-themed documentaries, which shoot scenes from the ground, this series captures the vast diversity and spectacular beauty of China's landscapes from a bird's-eye view.
In the space of more than a year, the crew traveled over 200,000 kilometers and used 12 helicopters and at least 70 drones to shoot in six provinces - Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Gansu, Sichuan and Zhejiang - as well as the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
Each province or region has an entire episode devoted to it, all spanning 50 minutes.
Scheduled to produce five seasons and a total of 34 episodes, the production aims to cover all of China's 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, four municipalities - and the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao.
For Fan Zhiyuan, the executive chief director, the documentary franchise - which has so far topped the number of aerial shots and filming locations ever attempted in a single domestic documentary series - is "a love letter to China".
He explains that the typical Chinese way to demonstrate admiration is not to speak out straightforwardly, but to express this implicitly.
"The voice-over narration and its editing resembles the way you would speak softly and gently to a lover," says Fan.
Li Xiangdong, the executive producer of the series, said the crew began to prepare for the second season around two years ago.
He says the latest season stuck to the innovative format of the first season, which helped shape its popularity and achieve 9.2 points out of 10 on review site Douban since its debut in 2017.
"Aside from the shots from helicopters and drones, we also used images taken from satellites and widely used 4K ultra high-definition cameras to make the scenes appear sharper," he says.