April 9, 2007 in Features

‘Dinosaurs’ creator shares thoughts

By The Spokesman-Review

Tim Haines created and produced the BBC Science Series “Walking with Dinosaurs.” He completed the trilogy of life with “Walking with Beasts” and “Walking with Monsters.” A project consultant on the live dinosaur production, he shared some of his thoughts about the project in an e-mail. He lives and works in Great Britain, where he’s co-founded Impossible Pictures, an independent TV production company.

Q. What would you most hope viewers take with them as a result of the experience?

A.For years I have worked with digital technology to bring dinosaurs alive on screen but nothing I have ever done can truly communicate their huge size and power. Why do people still go on safaris and turn up at zoos when there are so many natural history programs around? It is because the experience of standing next to a creature is very different than watching it on a screen. To stand next to a living breathing animal that weighs over 50 tons is not possible today (unless you dive with whales) yet this show is the closest you can come to it. Through the unique design of these animatronics the audience can experience something new with dinosaurs – their sheer spectacle.

Q. What role or importance was given to scientific accuracy in creating the dinosaurs and why was that paramount to their portrayal?

A. “Walking With Dinosaurs” has always attempted to be as accurate as possible. A huge amount of research went into the series and this has been used by the Live Experience. Palaeontology is a very dynamic science and until someone clones a dinosaur and observes its behavior we will never be able to know the truth, but at every turn “Walking With Dinosaurs” seeks to tell it how the majority of scientists see it. That is our promise to the audience – otherwise it would just be a drama.

Q. What is it about these creatures that seems to be universally engaging?

A. I don’t think it is just one thing but I would say that the fact that they look like the most hideous monsters our imaginations could come up with – and yet really existed – has something to do with it. ‘Engaging’ wouldn’t be the word I would use, rather: ‘morbid fascination’.

Q. What else would you like people to know about the production?

A. Enjoy – there has been nothing like it before and I hope at some point during the show you will get a feeling of what it was really like to stand on a fern prairie in the Mesozoic.

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