Walking with Dinosaurs
|Walking with Dinosaurs|
The official DVD cover of Walking with Dinosaurs
|Created by||Tim Haines|
|Directed by||Tim Haines
|Creative director(s)||Mike Milne|
|Narrated by||Kenneth Branagh (BBC broadcast and home video and Discovery Channel)
Avery Brooks (Discovery Channel broadcast)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||6 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||John Lynch
Michelle Clark (Season 2)
|Location(s)||Bahamas, California, Chile, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Tasmania|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||BBC Natural History Unit
Banyan Productions (Season 2)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (USA home video, 1999–2000)
Warner Home Video (USA home video, 2000–present)
|Original network||BBC, Discovery Channel, TV Asahi, France 3, ProSieben|
|Original release||4 October– 8 November 1999|
|Followed by||Walking with Beasts|
|Related shows||Other shows in the Walking with... series|
Walking with Dinosaurs is a six-part documentary television miniseries created by Tim Haines and produced by BBC Natural History Unit. The series first aired on the BBC in the United Kingdom in 1999 with narration by Kenneth Branagh. The series was subsequently aired in North America on the Discovery Channel in 2000, with Avery Brooks replacing Branagh. The first entry in the Walking with... series, the program explores ancient life of the Mesozoic Era, portraying dinosaurs and their contemporaries in the style of a traditional nature documentary.
Developed by Haines and producer Jasper James, Walking with Dinosaurs recreated extinct species through the combined use of computer-generated imagery and animatronics that were incorporated with live action footage shot at various locations. The Guinness Book of World Records reported that the series was the most expensive documentary series per minute ever produced. The series received critical acclaim, winning two BAFTA Awards, three Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award in 2000. A feature film of the same name, inspired by the series, was released in 2013.
Creator Tim Haines contemplated the idea of a dinosaur-centric documentary in 1996, spurred by the resurgence of public interest in prehistoric life following the release of Jurassic Park (1993). Together, with producer Jasper James and effects specialist Mike Milne, Haines shot a six-minute pilot in Cyprus as a proof-of-concept to BBC Worldwide and Discovery Channel for financing. Principal photography took place at a variety of global locations, including Conguillío National Park in Chile, the Redwood National and State Parks in California, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Tasmania, and the Bahamas. Filming consisted of wide landscape shots devoid of any live-action creatures and close-up shots with animatronics.
Since an extensive amount of computer-generated imagery would be necessary in creating the numerous full-size dinosaurs that the project demanded, Haines initially approached Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the company responsible for creating the visual effects in Jurassic Park. ILM projected a cost of $10,000 per every second of footage featuring a CGI shot, an estimate which BBC deemed too expensive for a television budget. Instead, Haines contracted Framestore, a local British visual effects company to create the CGI elements. Framestore consulted several paleontologists in assisting them with developing natural movements and appearances for the dinosaurs. Michael Benton, Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., Peter Dodson, Peter Larson, Dave Martill, and James Farlow, served as consultants; their influence in the filming process was documented in the companion piece, The Making of Walking with Dinosaurs. The CG work was created over the course of two years.
Michael J. Benton, a consultant to the making of the series and professor of vertebrate palaeontology at the University of Bristol, 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.
Ornitholestes, a theropod dinosaur of the Late Jurassic, is shown with a small crest atop its head. However, subsequent scientific studies have concluded that it most likely did not have such a crest, and that the misconception that it did came as a result of broken bones in the only specimen of ornitholestes ever found. Tropeognathus (called Ornithocheirus at the time) is 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. 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." However, no other Early Cretaceous pterosaurs reached its size.
List of episodes
|1||"New Blood"||220 mya||Tim Haines & Jasper James||4 October 1999|
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 and his family 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 male to the entrance and is eaten by the female Ceolophysis before the male can drive the predator away. At night, the Thrinaxodon pair 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.
|2||"Time of the Titans"||152 mya||Tim Haines & Jasper James||11 October 1999|
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 encounter several Brachiosaurus, before finding an adult Diplodocus 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. She rejoins the herd but with a deep wound. 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.
|3||"Cruel Sea"||149 mya||Tim Haines & Jasper James||18 October 1999|
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 the 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 a few 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 a group of Hybodus catching her trail of blood. A typhoon then strikes the islands, and kills many animals, including several Rhamphorhynchus. The Liopleurodon himself 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.
|4||"Giant of the Skies"||127 mya||Tim Haines & Jasper James||25 October 1999|
The story begins with a male Tropeognathus 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 iguanodont Dakotadon and a 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 and a young Utahraptor is bullied off the carcass by the adults after trying its luck. The Tropeognathus 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, the protagonist Tropeognathus dies from heat exhaustion and starvation alongside others who also lost out. Nature however is seldom wasteful, their corpses are yielded as food by the next generation.
|5||"Spirits of the Ice Forest"||106 mya||Tim Haines & Jasper James||1 November 1999|
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, also dealing with blood-sucking insects. By summer, many of the Leaellynasaura clan's eggs have been eaten, but those of the matriarch hatch successfully. A male Australovenator 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 the noise they make in the process of trying to get back to the herd prevents the Leaellynasaura clan's sentry from hearing the Australovenator approaching. In the confusion, the Australovenator 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 despite their social order being in disarray, 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.
|6||"Death of a Dynasty"||65.5 mya||Tim Haines & Jasper James||8 November 1999|
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. The story focuses on a female Tyrannosaurus 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 Edmontosaurus wander from islands of vegetation among fields of volcanic ash, while Torosaurus rut for the right to mate and lose their young to attacking Dromaeosaurus. Meanwhile, the mother Tyrannosaurus sees only three of her twelve eggs hatch and brings down an Edmontosaurus 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.
Ben Bartlett composed the score for Walking with Dinosaurs. Bartlett was encouraged to accept the duties of composing the series' music at the behest of Haines and James. Bartlett wrote different leitmotifs in separate styles for each episode, citing the different themes and settings presented in each episode as inspiration, elaborating, "I tried to create a different sound world for each episode of Walking With Dinosaurs. That was easy, as they all had different moods. The first episode is all about heat and bloodlust, parched deserts and so on, while the second one was pastoral, peaceful, and beautiful, about dinosaurs living in symbiosis with the forests. And so on."
The recording process took place at Angel Studios in Islington, with four sessions scattered over the early months of 1999. The score was recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra. During these sessions, Bartlett admitted to being enriched with experience by the task, stating, "It was the biggest orchestral endeavour I've ever undertaken, and I learnt so much from the first session. Practical things, like handing out the parts to the players before the session, numbering pages... tiny logistical things that can really screw up a session."
|Walking with Dinosaurs (Music from the BBC TV Series)|
|Film score by Ben Bartlett|
|Released||April 11, 2000|
|Studio||Angel Studios, Islington|
All music composed by Ben Bartlett.
|1.||"Walking with Dinosaurs"||1:14|
|3.||"Death of the Postosuchus"||2:28|
|4.||"Survival of the Cynodonts"||1:16|
|5.||"Torosaurus Lock Horns"||2:58|
|6.||"Giant of the Skies"||3:50|
|7.||"Flight of the Ornithocheirus"||2:24|
|9.||"Time of the Titans"||3:38|
|10.||"Escape of the Podlets"||0:46|
|12.||"Canyon of Terror"||2:15|
|13.||"Islands of Green"||3:58|
|15.||"Spirits of the Ice Forest"||1:45|
|19.||"Departure Of The Muttaburrasaurs"||1:06|
Walking with Dinosaurs received critical acclaim following its initial broadcast. The series won two BAFTAs for Innovation and Best Original Television Music and earned six Primetime Emmy Award nominations, winning for Outstanding Animated Program, Outstanding Special Visual Effects and Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Programming – Sound Editing. 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.
Common Sense Media 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." This technique of narrating the prehistoric life as though it were current has been used several times since, for example in the BBC's 2011 Planet Dinosaur series.
|List of awards and nominations|
|Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|British Academy Television Awards 2000||Outstanding Innovation||Won|
|2000 British Academy Television Craft Awards||Best Original Television Music||Ben Bartlett||Won|
|52nd Primetime Emmy Awards||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (One Hour or More)||Tim Haines, Jasper James, Georgann Kane, Tomi Bednar Landis, John Lynch, Mike Milne||Won|
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects||Tim Greenwood, Jez Harris, Daren Horley, Alec Knox, Virgil Manning, David Marsh, Mike McGee, Mike Milne, Carlos Rosas||Won|
|Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special||Ben Bartlett||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Programming||Britt Sjoerdsma, Andrew Wilks||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Programming - Sound Mixing||Bob Jackson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Programming – Sound Editing||Simon Gotel, Andrew Sherriff||Won|
In other media
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.
Live theatrical show
Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular is a live theatrical show adaptation and travelling exhibition 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, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and the Netherlands.
- Liliensternus (not seen in the documentary)
- Tyrannosaurus rex
Released in 2013, Walking with Dinosaurs is a feature-length 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 original BBC miniseries. The film, with a budget of US$80 million, was one of the largest independent productions to date; it was financed by Reliance Entertainment and IM Global, with 20th Century Fox handling distribution. 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 sub-par 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.
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