Walking with Dinosaurs

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Walking with Dinosaurs
Walkingwithdinosdvdcover.jpg
The official DVD cover of Walking with Dinosaurs
Genre Documentary
Created by Tim Haines
Directed by Tim Haines
Jasper James
Creative director(s) Mike Milne
Narrated by Kenneth Branagh (BBC Version)
Avery Brooks (Discovery Channel Version)
Composer(s) Ben Bartlett
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 6 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) John Lynch
Producer(s) Tim Haines
Jasper James
Editor(s) Andrew Wilks
Location(s) The Bahamas, California State Parks, Chile, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Tasmania
Cinematography John Howarth
Michael Pitts
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) BBC Natural History Unit
Impossible Pictures
Distributor BBC Worldwide
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (USA home video, 1999-2000)
Warner Home Video (USA home video, 2000-present)
Broadcast
Original channel BBC, Discovery Channel, TV Asahi, France 3, ProSieben
Original run 16 April 1999 (1999-04-16) – 21 May 1999 (1999-05-21)
Chronology
Followed by Walking with Beasts
Related shows Other shows in the Walking with... series
External links
Website
Production website

Walking with Dinosaurs is a six-part documentary television miniseries that was produced by the BBC, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, and first aired in the United Kingdom, in 1999.[1] The series was subsequently aired in North America on the Discovery Channel in 2000, with Branagh's voice replaced with that of Avery Brooks. It is the first entry of the Walking with... series and used computer-generated imagery and animatronics to recreate the life of the Mesozoic, showing dinosaurs and their contemporaries in a way that previously had only been seen in feature films. The programme's aim was to simulate the style of a nature documentary and therefore does not include "talking head" interviews. The series used palaeontologists such as Michael Benton, Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., Peter Dodson, Peter Larson and James Farlow as advisors (their influence in the filming process can be seen in the documentary The Making of Walking with Dinosaurs). The Guinness Book of World Records reported that the series was the most expensive documentary series per minute ever made.[citation needed] A feature film of the same name, inspired by the series was released by 20th Century Fox and BBC Earth in 2013.[2]

Reception[edit]

In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 1999, voted on by industry professionals, Walking with Dinosaurs was placed 72nd. The series won two BAFTAs (Innovation and Best Original Television Music) and three Emmy Awards: Outstanding Animated Program, Outstanding Special Visual Effects and Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Programming – Sound Editing. CommonSense Media greatly praised the program, giving it five stars out of five and saying that, "Somebody had a great idea, which was to make a documentary series about dinosaurs, but with a twist. The aging Ornithocheirus on a desperate final flight to his mating grounds, the sauropod hatchlings struggling for survival in the late Jurassic, the migrating herds and the undersea life of 150 million years ago would all seem as real as a nature program about polar bears or snow monkeys."[3] This technique of narrating the prehistoric life as though it were current proved to have a lasting impact,[according to whom?] and has been used several times since, for example in the BBC's 2011 Planet Dinosaur series.

Companion book[edit]

A companion book was written by Tim Haines to accompany the first screening of the series in 1999. The settings of some of the six episodes were changed between the time the book was written and the screening of the television series, and some of their names were changed: 'New Blood' is set at Ghost Ranch; 'Cruel Sea' is set at or near Solnhofen in Germany near what then were the Vindelicisch Islands. The book elaborated on the background for each story, went further in explaining the science on which much of the program is based, and included descriptions of several animals not identified or featured in the series.[4]

The Arena Spectacular[edit]

VOA report about the Arena Spectacular

Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular is a live adaptation of the series that originated in Australia in January 2007 (as Walking with Dinosaurs: The Live Experience), and toured North America in 2007–10, Europe in 2010, and returned to North America until 2011. It also toured Asia beginning in December 2010. In 2011 the show came to its final destination of its first tour, New Zealand. In 2012, the show toured the UK, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and the Netherlands.[5]

Creatures in the Arena Spectacular:

Film adaptation[edit]

Walking with Dinosaurs is a 2013 family film about dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous period 70 million years ago. The production features computer-animated dinosaurs in live-action settings with actors John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Tiya Sircar, and Skyler Stone providing voiceovers for the main characters. It was directed by Neil Nightingale and Barry Cook from a screenplay by John Collee.

The film was produced by BBC Earth and Evergreen Films and was named after the BBC miniseries. The film, with a budget of US$80 million, was one of the largest independent productions to date; it was financed by Big Reliance Entertainment and IM Global instead of a major studio. The majority of distribution rights were eventually sold to 20th Century Fox. The crew filmed footage on location in the U.S. state of Alaska and in New Zealand, which were chosen for their similarities to the dinosaurs' surroundings millions of years ago. Animal Logic designed computer-animated dinosaurs and added them to the live-action backdrop. Though the film was originally going to have a narrator like in the miniseries, Fox executives wanted to add voiceovers to connect audiences to the characters.

Walking with Dinosaurs premiered on 14 December 2013 at the Dubai International Film Festival. It was released in cinemas in 2D and 3D on 20 December 2013. Critics commended the film's visual effects but found its storytelling to be subpar and derided the voiceovers as juvenile. The film grossed US$34.4 million in the United States and Canada and US$71.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of US$106 million. The Hollywood Reporter said the film's global box office performance was disappointing in context of the production budget and marketing spend.

In other media[edit]

To capitalize on a resurgence of interest in the brand following the release of the Walking with Dinosaurs feature film, a range of products and services have been designed to bring Walking with Dinosaurs to myriad other forms of media.[6]

Video game[edit]

Originally announced in summer 2012, BBC Earth have worked with Supermassive Games to bring the Walking with Dinosaurs experience to the PlayStation 3 using the Wonderbook augmented reality peripheral.

Apps[edit]

Three apps have been created for smartphones and tablets; Walking with Dinosaurs: Photo Adventure for iOS and Android devices, Walking with Dinosaurs: Dinosaur Island for iOS devices, and Walking with Dinosaurs: Inside their World, an interactive encyclopædia of dinosaurs and those who studied them, with narration by Stephen Fry, for the iPad.

Other merchandise[edit]

The revival of the Walking with Dinosaurs brand will also be seen in other areas, including a range of toys and games from Vivid Imaginations, a range of books from Macmillan Publishers, and a set of limited edition stamps from the Royal Mail.

Scientific inaccuracies[edit]

Michael J. Benton, a consultant to the making of the series (and Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at Bristol University), notes that a group of critics gleefully pointed out that birds and crocodiles, the closest living relatives of the dinosaurs, do not urinate; they shed waste chemicals as more solid uric acid. In the first episode of Walking with Dinosaurs, Postosuchus urinates copiously. However, Benton notes that nobody can prove this was a real mistake: copious urination is the primitive state for tetrapods (seen in fish, amphibians, turtles, and mammals), and perhaps basal archosaurs did the same. He believes many other claims of "errors" identified in the first weeks fizzled out, as the critics had found points about which they disagreed, but they could not prove that their views were correct.[7]

Tropeognathus (called Ornithocheirus at the time) was depicted as far larger than it actually was. In the book based on the series, it was claimed that several large bone fragments from the Santana Formation of Brazil possibly indicate that Tropeognathus may have had a wingspan reaching almost 12 metres and a weight of a hundred kilograms, making it one of the largest known pterosaurs.[8] However, these specimens have not been formally described. The largest definite Tropeognathus specimens known measure 6 metres in wingspan. The specimens which the producers of the program used to justify such a large size estimate are currently undescribed, and are being studied by Dave Martill and David Unwin. Unwin stated that he does not believe this highest estimate is likely, and that the producers likely chose the highest possible estimate because it was more "spectacular."[9] However, no other Early Cretaceous pterosaurs reached its size.

Similarly, Liopleurodon was depicted as being 25m long in the series, whereas the adult size known to have been reached by Liopleurodon is around 7m.[10]

The Australovenators head and jaw resembles a very typical allosaur in the series, but it reality the head would look more like a dromaeosaur's head. Another mistake is that the Australovenator is shown large so it can grab a Leallynasaura in it's mouth when in reality it was almost as big as the Leallynasaura but slightly bigger.

List of episodes[edit]

No. Title Time Director Original airdate
1 "New Blood"[11] 220 mya Tim Haines & Jasper James 16 April 1999 (1999-04-16)
220 million years ago, Late Triassic (Arizona)
Filming location: New Caledonia

The episode follows a family of Thrinaxodons (although some sources say Coelophysis is the main focus) as they try to defend their home and their young from predators especially the dinosaur Coelophysis. A female Coelophysis is shown stalking a herd of dicynodonts called Placerias (a giant synapsid or mammal-like reptile), looking for weak members to prey upon. A male Thrinaxodon is shown downstream, returning to his burrow from the river. The last focus of the episode is a female rauisuchian Postosuchus (one of the largest carnivores alive in the Triassic) who is first shown attacking a Placerias herd and bites one of the members, driving the rest of the herd to retreat and leave the wounded and weakened member of the group to the carnivore. Early pterosaurs called Peteinosaurus are depicted feeding on dragonflies and cooling themselves in what little water is present during the drought. Still searching for food, the Coelophysis are shown discovering the Thrinaxodon burrow (and are initially frightened away by the male when it emerges). Eventually, an inquisitive Thrinaxodon pup follows the father to the entrance and is eaten by the female Ceolophysis before he can drive the predators away. At night, the pair of Thrinaxodon are shown eating their remaining young, then moving away, while during the day, the Coelophysis work to expose the nest.

The female Postosuchus is later shown to have been wounded by the Placerias in a previous attack (which left her with a tusk wound on her thigh), and after being unable to successfully hunt another member of the Placerias herd she is beaten out of her territory by a rival male Postosuchus. Wounded, sick and without a territory, the female dies and is eaten by a pack of Coelophysis. As the dry season continues however, food becomes scarce and extreme measures are taken by all animals. The Placerias herd embarks on a trek through parched wasteland in search of water, while the Coelophysis start killing and cannibalising their young. The male Thrinaxodon also resorts to hunting baby Coelophysis during the night. Finally, the wet season comes, and the majority of the Coelophysis have survived (including the female), along with the Thrinaxodon pair, who have a new clutch of eggs. The episode ends with the arrival of a migrating herd of the prosauropod Plateosaurus, foreshadowing the future dominance of the giant sauropods after the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event.

Animals
Coelophysis · Thrinaxodon (identified as cynodont) · Placerias · Postosuchus · Peteinosaurus · Plateosaurus · Lungfish
2 "Time of the Titans"[12] 152 mya Tim Haines & Jasper James 23 April 1999 (1999-04-23)
152 million years ago, Late Jurassic (Colorado)
Filming location: California State Parks, Chile, Tasmania, New Zealand

This episode follows the life of a young female herbivorous sauropod Diplodocus beginning at the moment when her mother lays a clutch of eggs at the edge of a conifer forest. Months later, some of the eggs hatch and the young sauropods are preyed upon by Ornitholestes. After hatching, the young female and her siblings retreat to the safety of the denser trees. As they grow, they face many dangers, including repeated predation by Ornitholestes and Allosaurus. Even the herbivorous Stegosaurus accidentally kills one of her siblings while swinging its tail. In parallel, adult herds of Diplodocus are depicted as titanic eating machines that use their massive weight to topple trees in order to get at the leaves of cycads in between trunks. The Diplodocus are also shown to host their own small mobile habitats that include damselflies, Anurognathus and dung beetles. Close to adulthood, the creche of five-year old Diplodocus grow to 13 meters and are nearly all killed by a huge forest fire (made worse by a firestorm in the night). In the end only three, then two, survivors including the female make it onto the open plains, where they find a herd and safety. Years later, the protagonist female mates, but not long afterwards is attacked by a bull Allosaurus. She is saved when another Diplodocus strikes the Allosaurus with its tail and she rejoins the herd with deep (yet minor) wounds on her side. In the end it is commented that her kind will only get bigger and that when the sauropods die out, life will never again be this large. In the DVD release, most of the narration from the original broadcast is missing.[citation needed]

3 "Cruel Sea"[13] 149 mya Tim Haines & Jasper James 30 April 1999 (1999-04-30)
Eustreptospondylus puppet head that was used in Walking with Dinosaurs at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History
149 million years ago, Late Jurassic (Oxfordshire)
Filming location: The Bahamas, New Caledonia

The episode begins with a Eustreptospondylus being snatched from the shore by the pliosaur Liopleurodon. Meanwhile, the ichthyosaur Ophthalmosaurus live-breeding ceremony is the main event taking place, as hundreds of Ophthalmosaurus arrive from the open ocean to give birth. In the midst of the birthing sharks and other predators, including Liopleurodon, are on the hunt, and when one mother has trouble giving birth, a pair of Hybodus sharks go after her, but are frightened off by a male Liopleurodon, which eats the front half of the Ophthalmosaurus, leaving the tail to sink down and be feasted upon by Hybodus. Meanwhile a Eustreptospondylus swims to an island and discovers a turtle carcass that it must contend for with another Eustreptospondylus. Later during the night, a group of horseshoe crabs gather at the shore to lay their eggs, which attracts a flock of Rhamphorhynchus in the morning to eat the eggs. However several of the pterosaurs are caught and eaten by a Eustreptospondylus. While the Ophthalmosaurus juveniles are growing up, they are still hunted by Hybodus, which in turn, are prey for the Liopleurodon. At one point, while the male Liopleurodon is hunting for prey, he is encountered by a female Liopleurodon. After the male bites one of her flippers, she retires from his territory, followed by several Hybodus catching her trail of blood. A typhoon then strikes the islands, and kills many animals, including several Rhamphorhynchus. The Liopleurodon is washed ashore and lays upon the beach, eventually suffocating under his own weight. The carcass then becomes the banquet of a group of hovering Eustreptospondylus. At the end of the episode, the juvenile Ophthalmosaurus that survived the storm are now large enough to swim off to live and breed in the open sea.

Animals
Ophthalmosaurus · Liopleurodon · Eustreptospondylus · Cryptoclidus · Rhamphorhynchus · Hybodus (identified as shark) · Perisphinctes (identified as ammonite) · Leptolepis · Horseshoe crab · Squid · Turtle · Jellyfish · Fish · Coral
4 "Giant of the Skies"[14] 127 mya Tim Haines & Jasper James 7 May 1999 (1999-05-07)
Ornithocheirus puppet head that was used in Walking with Dinosaurs at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History
127 million years ago, Early Cretaceous (Brazil, North America, Europe and Cantabria)
Filming location: New Zealand, Tasmania

The story begins with a male Tropeognathus (identified simply as Ornithocheirus) dead on a beach. It then goes back six months to Brazil, where the Tropeognathus, resting among a colony of breeding Tapejara flies off for Cantabria where he too must mate. He flies past a migrating column of iguanodonts called Dakotadon and a nodosaur called Polacanthus (all herbivorous dinosaurs). He reaches the southern tip of North America, where he is forced to shelter from a storm. To pass the time, he grooms himself, expelling his body of Saurophthirus fleas while his beak's display crest begins to show color changes in readiness for mating. He then sets off across the Atlantic (which was then only 300 kilometers wide) and after a whole day on the wing, reaches the westernmost of the European islands. He does not rest there however, as a pack of Utahraptors are hunting Iguanodon - one attack fails, but another assault succeeds. He flies to the outskirts of a forest to rest, but is driven away by Iberomesornis birds. Flying on, he reaches Cantabria, but due to the delays and his exhaustion he cannot reach the center of the many grounded male Tropeognathus and consequently he does not mate. After days under the sun trying to attract a mate, and worn out by his travels and advanced age, the protagonist Tropeognathus dies from heat exhaustion and starvation as do others who also lost out in the reproductive struggle. Nature however is seldom wasteful, their corpses are yielded as food for young Tropeognathus.

Animals
Tropeognathus (identified as Ornithocheirus) · Utahraptor · Dakotadon (identified as North American Iguanodon)  · Iguanodon · Tapejara  · Polacanthus · Iberomesornis · Plesiopleurodon · Saurophthirus
5 "Spirits of the Ice Forest"[15] 106 mya Tim Haines & Jasper James 14 May 1999 (1999-05-14)
106 million years ago, Middle Cretaceous (Antarctica/Australia)
Filming location: New Zealand

A few hundred kilometres from the South Pole, a clan of herbivorous Leaellynasaura are seen emerging to activity after months of total darkness. Now with the coming of spring, the members of the clan are shown feeding on the fresh plant growth and building nests so they can lay their eggs. A male amphibian Koolasuchus has also woken up from hibernation and heads to a river where he will stay during the summer. Out on the rocky river banks, migrating herds of herbivorous Muttaburrasaurus have arrived to feed on the fresh vegetation and lay their eggs. By summer, many of the Leaellynasaura clan's eggs have been eaten, but those of the matriarch hatch successfully. A male polar allosaur is shown hunting the Leaellynasaura and Muttaburrasaurus. The Leaellynasaura clan continues to prepare for the winter, as well as raising the young that have now grown. When autumn arrives, the Muttaburrasaurus herd begins to head back north, and the Koolasuchus leaves the river to find a pool in the forest to hibernate through the winter. However, during the migration some Muttaburrasaurus become lost in the forest and noise they make in the process of trying to get back to the herd prevents the Leaellynasaura clan's sentry from hearing an Australovenatator (a polar species of allosaur) approaching. In the confusion, the allosaur manages to catch and kill the matriarch of the Leaellynasaura clan, while only one of the hatchlings survives the year. After the last day passes in a matter of minutes, winter descends and the forest becomes almost completely darkened, requiring image enhancement to the camera to view what wildlife are still active. The Leaellynasaura clan is able to stay active, using their large eyes to help them forage for food. During this time, the clan and other fauna use various methods of dealing with the cold, including suspended animation, hibernation or using group body temperature to maintain heat. Finally, spring returns, and two Leaellynasaura males challenge one another for the right to mate, and after a short confrontation, the clan establishes a dominant pair once again.

In the end it is accepted that the shifting of the continents will soon pull the landmass closer to the South Pole, and that the forests, and all these unique dinosaurs will soon disappear.

Animals
Leaellynasaura · Koolasuchus · Australovenator (Identified as a Polar Allosaur)  · Muttaburrasaurus · Steropodon[note 1] · Giant Weta · Tuatara
6 "Death of a Dynasty"[16] 65.5 mya Tim Haines & Jasper James 21 May 1999 (1999-05-21)
Tyrannosaurus rex puppet head that was used in Walking with Dinosaurs at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History
65.5 million years ago, Late Cretaceous (Montana)
Filming location: Chile, New Zealand

This episode starts months before the extinction of the dinosaurs. The last dinosaurs are depicted living under intense environmental stress due to excessive volcanism. Many of the dinosaur and pterosaur species still in existence are the largest and most developed of their respective genera, including Ankylosaurus, Quetzalcoatlus, Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex. The story focuses on a female Tyrannosaurus rex who abandons her nest, the eggs rendered infertile due to volcanic poisoning. Her calls for a mate are answered by a smaller male who kills a young Triceratops to appease her. Three days later, after repeated copulation and the Triceratops carcass being stripped, she eventually drives him off. The mother fasts for an extended period as she tends to her nest, dealing with raids by Dromaeosaurus and marsupial Didelphodons. As the female tends to her vigil, herds of the hadrosaur Anatotitan wander from islands of vegetation among fields of volcanic ash, while Torosaurus rut for the right to mate and lose their young to attacking pairs and packs of Dromaeosaurus. Meanwhile, the mother T-Rex sees only three of her twelve eggs hatch and brings down an Anatotitan to feed herself and her brood. While defending her two surviving offspring several days later, the mother is fatally injured by an Ankylosaurus who swings its clubbed tail at her right side; the blow cracks her femur and ruptures internal organs. The chicks remain expectantly next to the carcass of their mother the next morning until they, and the rest of the non-avian dinosaurs in this region, are killed when an asteroid slams into the Earth, a catastrophe that triggers the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. A final short sequence shows the African plains on the present-day Earth, dominated by the large African mammals of today, but still populated with numerous forms of dinosaurs: the birds.

International broadcast[edit]

Country/Region Channel
 United Kingdom BBC
 United States Discovery Channel
 Sweden SVT
 Denmark Kanal 5
 Finland YLE TV2
 Japan TV Asahi
 France France 3
 Germany ProSieben
 Italy Rai Gulp
 Australia ABC
 Czech Republic ČT1
 Portugal Sociedade Independente de Comunicação
 South Korea KBS

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Live acted by coati. Identified on the BBC website.
  2. ^ "1 ton crocodile" identified in companion volume and guide.
  3. ^ Snake live acted by boa. Identified in Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence.
  4. ^ Dromaeosaur identified in Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Walking with Dinosaurs The Origins". Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  2. ^ McClintock, Pamela (2 August 2011). "Fox Sets 'Walking With Dinosaurs' for Christmas 2013 Release". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "Walking with Dinosaurs review". Commonsensemedia.com. Retrieved 24 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Martill, Dave; Naish, Darren (2000). Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence. London: BBC Books. ISBN 0-563-53743-4. 
  5. ^ Amar Singh. "T-Rex comes to town". The Mail Online. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Apps - BBC Walking with Dinosaurs
  7. ^ "birds and crocodiles, the closest living relatives of the dinosaurs, do not urinate". Benton, M. J. 2001. "The science of 'Walking with Dinosaurs'". Teaching Earth Sciences, 24, 371–400.
  8. ^ Haines, T., 1999, "Walking with Dinosaurs": A Natural History, BBC Books, p. 158
  9. ^ Bredow, H.P. (2000). "Re: WWD non-dino questions." Message to the Dinosaur Mailing List, 18 April 2000. Retrieved 20 January 2011: http://dml.cmnh.org/2000Apr/msg00446.html
  10. ^ Smith, Adam. "Liopleurodon". The Plesiosaur Directory. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  11. ^ Explore the evidence behind the first episode New Blood on ABC Online.
  12. ^ Explore the evidence behind the second episode Time of the Titans on ABC Online.
  13. ^ Explore the evidence behind the third episode Cruel Sea on ABC Online.
  14. ^ Explore the evidence behind the fourth episode Giant of the Skies on ABC Online.
  15. ^ Explore the evidence behind the fifth episode Spirits of the Ice Forest on ABC Online.
  16. ^ Explore the evidence behind the sixth episode Death of a Dynasty on ABC Online.

External links[edit]