Dinosaur Revolution

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Dinosaur Revolution
Title card
Directed byDavid Krentz[1][2]
Erik Nelson[1][2][3]
Narrated byRick Robles
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes4
Executive producer(s)Erik Nelson[2][4]
Alan Eyres[2]
Brooke Runnette[2]
Running time42 minutes
Production company(s)Creative Differences
Sauce FX
Hawaii Animation Studios
Original networkDiscovery Channel
Original release4 September (2011-09-04) –
13 September 2011 (2011-09-13)
External links
Dinosaur Revolution official website

Dinosaur Revolution is a four-part American nature documentary produced by Creative Differences.[1][2] It utilizes computer-generated imagery to portray dinosaurs and other animals from the Mesozoic era. The program was originally aired on the Discovery Channel and Science.

Dinosaur Revolution was released to mixed reviews, with some citing the quality of its animation and a lack of seriousness in its tone as reasons for criticism. It was, however, praised for its educational content and general energy.

Background and production history[edit]

Production of the series began in spring of 2009 (after several months of pre-production)[2] and took three years in total.[4] The series was built around several short- and long-form stories taking place in a number of distinct environments spanning the Mesozoic era. Originally titled Reign of the Dinosaurs, the series was intended not as a documentary, but as a six-hour series of fictional narratives based loosely on the comic book Age of Reptiles by Ricardo Delgado, and employing no narration.[5] Each episode was to be instead followed by one of a companion series, called Science of Reign of the Dinosaurs, which would feature scientists explaining the basis for the preceding story, and pointing out which parts were speculative or imaginary. Due to cuts and changes in marketing strategy by the network and production company, the series was eventually renamed Dinosaur Revolution, and divided into a more traditional format inter-cut with "talking heads," or brief explanations from scientists. The series was also cut from the planned six hours to four.[5] Of the four finished episodes, the first was originally planned to feature the Triassic Chinle Formation of the southwestern United States, and to include Coelophysis, Placerias and Postosuchus in the storyline. However, during production the sequence was changed to the older Ischigualasto Formation of Argentina, and the featured animals changed to Eoraptor, Ischigualastia and Saurosuchus. For this reason, the Ischigualastia model remained anatomically based on Placerias.[6] Scenes featuring Cryolophosaurus and Glacialisaurus were shot in Tenerife.[7]

The Lourinhã Formation, the setting of the second episode

The second episode, titled "The Watering Hole," was originally intended to highlight the Jurassic Morrison Formation of western North America, which has been featured in numerous dinosaur documentaries. At the suggestion of science consultant Tom Holtz, the setting was changed to the contemporary Lourinhã Formation of Portugal, and like the first episode, some species were swapped for equivalents in the new location. This resulted in televised appearances of dinosaurs such as Draconyx.[6] Similarly, the Cretaceous Mongolia sequence (which took place during the third episode) was set in the Wulansuhai Formation rather than the near-contemporary, and more familiar, Djadochta Formation. Therefore, it featured the first film appearances of the species Velociraptor osmolskae and Protoceratops hellenikorhinus in place of the more well-known V. mongoliensis and P. andrewsi.[6] Some of the events of "The Watering Hole" were based on Holtz's own research, such as the scenes featuring an Allosaurus whose lower jaw was wounded by the tail of a sauropod.[8] Most species in this show were scientifically reported to Portugal by the Portuguese paleontologist Octávio Mateus. Not all animals featured in the finished program were based on specific species from the fossil record. Some, like the aquatic crocodyliform in the Utahraptor sequence and the carnivorous notosuchian in the Anhanguera sequence (both aired during the third episode), were left intentionally unnamed.[6]

Notable artists involved in the production include David Krentz (who had previously worked on John Carter of Mars and Disney's Dinosaur),[9][10] Ricardo Delgado (famous for his comic book Age of Reptiles),[9][10] Tom de Rosier (who had worked on Lilo & Stitch and Mulan),[10] Mishi McCaig (who had worked on Iron Man),[10] Pete Von Sholly (who had worked on The Mask and Darkman),[10] and Iain McCaig (one of the artists involved in the production of the Star Wars film series).[9][10] Previous efforts which the creators cited as inspiration include Looney Tunes,[11] Avatar, Up, and WALL-E.[10]

The modeling, texturing, and painting of the various creatures featured in the episodes was done by Creative Differences in ZBrush, while animation and rendering were done in Maya by various other companies that had been employed by Creative Differences. These included Mokko in Montreal, Kinkajou in the UK, Sauce FX, and Hawaii Animation Studios.[2] Hawaii Animation Studios also used a program known as Bakery Relight for rendering.[12]

Miniature sets, along with physical special effects were designed and filmed by, Los Angeles based, Tindall Vision Laboratories by director John Tindall. The sets include the dramatic Troodon segment staged on a post asteroid-impacted world.[10][13]

Plans have been made to incorporate the best footage from the series into a feature-length film[14] directed by Werner Herzog.[4] The film, if approved by Discovery Channel, would be released before the film adaptation of BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs.[4]

A press release by the Discovery Channel initially led to some confusion about the production of the series, leading some to believe that the project had been produced by Pixar rather than Creative Differences.[15]

Original airing[edit]

The first two episodes of Dinosaur Revolution aired on Discovery Channel on 4 September 2011. The final two episodes were scheduled to air 11 September 2011 on Discovery Channel. However, out of respect for the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a last-minute schedule change replaced them with 9/11-related programming.[16] These two episodes were rescheduled to air on Science on 13 September 2011.[17]

Incomplete segments and errors[edit]

The Hell Creek formation, the setting of the fourth episode

Stories which were cut or not completed during production were to have featured animals such as Megapnosaurus,[18] Placodus, Mixosaurus, Nothosaurus,[19] Iguanodon, Agilisaurus and Prenocephale.[20] The Prenocephale model was re-used as a pachycephalosaur in the final episode (centered on the Hell Creek Formation).[20] A segment featuring an unknown pterosaur (which was suggested by biology professor Michael Habib) was also planned but could not be prepared in time for the Discovery Channel airing.[21] Artist Pete Von Sholly, who was involved in the production, expressed regret over the way the production was handled and cuts were made. In Von Sholly's opinion, some of the best sequences were left unproduced; cuts were made not based on the quality of the story, he claimed, but on how far along in the production process the segments were.[14] However, director David Krentz has stated that sequences were cut based on story quality.[2]

Additionally, some relevant scientific discoveries were published too late into production to have been incorporated into the program. For example, the mosasaur in the first episode lacked a tail fluke, the discovery of which came immediately after the CGI model was completed, according to director David Krentz.[22] (Note that this CGI model is referred to as the genus Mosasaurus by the web site for the program,[23] while Krentz has stated it was a Tylosaurus.[22])

Possibilities of an alternate version[edit]

At various points in time, Pete Von Sholly has suggested and even confirmed the release of a new version of Dinosaur Revolution. In a blog entry from 9 September 2011, he noted that a "proper version" would "see the light of day".[3] On 10 September, Von Sholly commented on a Dinosaur Revolution review, suggesting the possibility of a "creator's cut" version of Dinosaur Revolution which would correct problems which he alleged were caused by the network.[24] Finally, on 14 September, Von Sholly commented on another Dinosaur Revolution review, confirming the existence of a new version consisting of the best material from the show, without any narration, that would be released on Blu-ray. This marked the basis for the film version of the series, Dinotasia.[25]

List of episodes[edit]

No. Title Time range Original air date
1TBA"Evolution's Winners"Late Triassic–Cretaceous
TBATBA4 September 2011 (2011-09-04)N/A

Sequences include:[26]

Animals featured include:

2TBA"The Watering Hole"150 ma (Late Jurassic)
TBATBA4 September 2011 (2011-09-04)N/A

The episode focuses upon the interactions between various animals that lived around a watering hole in Lourinhã Formation, Portugal, 150 million years ago.[26]

Animals featured include:[26]

3TBA"Survival Tactics"Middle Jurassic–Cretaceous
TBATBA13 September 2011 (2011-09-13)N/A

Sequences include:[27]

Animals featured include:[26]

4TBA"End Game"65 Ma (Late Cretaceous)
TBATBA13 September 2011 (2011-09-13)N/A

The episode focuses upon Tyrannosaurus, portraying the species as "complex, dynamic and even bird-like". It then goes on to depict the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, and uses the Alvarez hypothesis to explain the extinction. A sole Troodon is depicted as "the last dinosaur". However, it is explained that "[i]f birds are [the dinosaurs'] descendants, then we're still living in the Age of Dinosaurs—and the DINOSAUR REVOLUTION continues."[27]

Animals featured include:[26]

Critical reception[edit]

Dinosaur Revolution has generally received mixed reviews from critics. Brian Switek of Smithsonian criticized the show, citing low-quality animation and a lack of scientific content. He described it as "more of a dinosaur tribute than a scientific documentary".[11] Holtz commented on the review and generally agreed with Switek's criticisms of the program.[28] Linda Stasi, a TV critic for the New York Post, criticized the show for being too "cutesy," although she did note that the program teaches viewers "a huge amount of interesting stuff".[29] Ross Langager of PopMatters expressed concerns similar to those of Switek and Stasi, criticizing the show for its lack of both scientific content and seriousness.[30] Brian Lowry of Variety had a more positive outlook on the show: while he was critical of the show's lack of "revolutionary" content, he still determined that it was "a creditable stab at offering viewers a taste of life on a prehistoric planet."[31] New York Daily News reviewer David Hinckley did have his criticisms, but he still noted the show for being "lively".[32]


In 2012, a feature film called Dinotasia was released into theatres, utilizing used and unused footage from Dinosaur Revolution. It was designed to be closer to what Dinosaur Revolution was originally conceived as. It is narrated by Werner Herzog, and received negative reviews from critics.[33]


  1. ^ a b c "Evolution's Winners". Dinosaur Revolution. Season 1. Episode 1. 4 September 2011. Discovery Channel.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Zahed, Ramin (1 September 2011). "Building the Perfect Beasts of 'Dinosaur Revolution'". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  3. ^ a b Von Sholly, Pete. (9 September 2011). "Dino Revo Rides Again". Vonshollywood. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Barnhart, Aaron (26 August 2011). "Discovery's 'Dinosaur Revolution' is dino might". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (8 September 2011). Comment on "Coming soon to your screens: Dinosaur Hyperbole", weblog entry by Hone, Dave (7 September 2011). Dave Hone's Archosaur Musings. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (9 September 2011). "RE: Dinosaur Revolution: Anatomical Nitpicking". Message to the Dinosaur Mailing List. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  7. ^ Domínguez, Fran (25 October 2010). "Plató de dinosaurios". Diario de Avisos (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 29 October 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  8. ^ Marcot, Molly (8 September 2011). "Dr. Dinosaur". The Diamondback. The University of Maryland. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  9. ^ a b c Hart, Hugh (22 August 2011). "Prehistoric Beasts Run Wild in Dinosaur Revolution". Wired. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Walsh, Barry (1 November 2010). "Dino-Might". Realscreen. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  11. ^ a b Switek, Brian (2 September 2011). "The Dinosaur Revolution Will Be Televised". Dinosaur Tracking. Smithsonian. Retrieved 28 September 2011. ...what gets me is that Dinosaur Revolution is being presented as a program about the latest dinosaur science when the actual scientific content is minimal.
  12. ^ Casian, Caitlin. Bakery Relight customer testimonial by Caitlin Casian, CG Supervisor at Hawaii Animation Studios. The Bakery. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  13. ^ David Krentz interview for animation magazinehttp://www.animationmagazine.net/vfx/building-the-perfect-beasts-of-dinosaur-revolution
  14. ^ a b Von Sholly, Pete (12 September 2011). Comment on "Dino Revo Rides Again", weblog entry by Von Sholly, Pete (9 September 2011). Vonshollywood. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  15. ^ Sciretta, Peter (13 July 2010). "First Look: Dinosaur TV Project Reign of the Dinosaurs". /Film. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  16. ^ Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (9 September 2011). "RE: Dinosaur Revolution: Anatomical Nitpicking". Message to the Dinosaur Mailing List. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  17. ^ Krentz, David (9 September 2011). "DINO REV NEW AIR DATE!!!!". Message to the Dinosaur Mailing List. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  18. ^ Krentz, David (10 March 2011). "Re: Pantydraco and the worst dinosaur name". Message to the Dinosaur Mailing List. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  19. ^ Von Sholly, Pete (16 December 2011). "Dino Revo N0-Show". Vonshollywood. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  20. ^ a b Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (9 September 2011). Comment on "Coming soon to your screens: Dinosaur Hyperbole" by Hone, David (7 September 2011). Dave Hone's Archosaur Musings. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  21. ^ Owen, Rob (1 September 2011). "'Dinosaur Revolution' speculates on how dinosaurs lived". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  22. ^ a b Krentz, D. (9 September 2011). "RE: Dinosaur Revolution: Anatomical Nitpicking". Message to the Dinosaur Mailing List. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  23. ^ "Evolution's Winners Pictures: Mosasaurus". Discovery Channel. Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  24. ^ Von Sholly, Pete (10 September 2011). Comment on "The Dinosaur Revolution Will Be Televised" by Switek, Brian (2 September 2011). Dinosaur Tracking (Smithsonian). Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  25. ^ Von Sholly, Pete (14 September 2011). Comment on Dinosaur Revolution review by Mortimer, Mickey (13 September 2011). The Theropod Database Blog. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  26. ^ a b c d e "Dinosaur Revolution Episode Guide". Discovery Channel. p. 1. Archived from the original on 28 December 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  27. ^ a b "Dinosaur Revolution Episode Guide". Discovery Channel. p. 2. Archived from the original on 17 December 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  28. ^ a b Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (2 September 2011). Comment on "The Dinosaur Revolution Will Be Televised" by Switek, Brian. Dinosaur Tracking (Smithsonian). Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  29. ^ Stasi, Linda (2 September 2011). "Dino-might". New York Post. Retrieved 28 September 2011. What’s weird, though, about the series is that the dinosaurs act just a little too Disney cutesy.
  30. ^ Langager, Ross (2 September 2011). "It's 3 am in a Jurassic Forest. It's 'Dinosaur Revolution'". PopMatters. Retrieved 28 September 2011. ...it’s apparent that Dinosaur Revolution is not revolutionary in form or content, and moreover, that its melding of entertainment with science ends up disfiguring both.
  31. ^ Lowry, Brian (1 September 2011). "Dinosaur Revolution". Variety. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  32. ^ Hinckley, David (1 September 2011). "'Bad to the Bone: The Dinosaur Revolution'". Daily News (New York). Retrieved 28 September 2011. "Bad to the Bone" isn't quite as revolutionary as it suggests, but it's a lively account of some big guys who, if it weren't for a single stray asteroid, might still be here today.
  33. ^ Switek, Brian (23 April 2012). "Dinotasia: Werner Herzog's Gory Dinosaurs". Smithsonian.com. Retrieved 12 October 2014.

External links[edit]