Prehistoric Beasts

Category: Web Exclusives
Marc Loftus
Creative Differences animates Discovery series about the life of dinosaurs

LOS ANGELES — Discovery Channel recently premiered a four-part series that gives viewers realistic insight into a world that was once inhabited by dinosaurs. Dinosaur Revolution was produced by Los Angeles-based Creative Differences ( and Erik Nelson ( Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Grizzly Man), and incorporates the latest in scientific research to show the lives of dinosaurs through engaging story lines and characters.

The series transports viewers to various places and points in time to highlight behaviors, the inner workings of T. rex’s nuclear family, and the underwater birthing of a huge marine reptile.

The studio recently put the finishing touches on the series, which uses live action, CG characters, and the occasional miniature set.

According to lead VFX supervisor Douglas Martin, live-action backgrounds were acquired using a Sony F23, recording 4:4:4 to solid-state media. He says many tests were conducted before ultimately going with the F23. The more budget-conscious cameras, he notes, tended to present rolling shutter issues.

“The more we talked about the look, the more we realized we wanted it to have an epic film look,” Martin says. Footage was shot in northern California and on the Canary Islands.

Of the series’ four hour-long episodes, two have reoccurring story lines and characters; the other two episodes stand on their own. Creative Differences modeled 83 unique dinosaurs for the series, and through texture variations, that number ultimately rose to 138 distinct creatures. The studio used Pixologic’s ZBrush for modeling and Autodesk’s Maya for animation. Further detail to the creatures was added in Adobe’s Photoshop. Adobe’s After Effects and Red Giant’s Colorista was used for compositing and color grading.

The miniature sets were shot using a Red One camera, and an Iconix camera was used for an underground tunnel sequence.

A number of outside VFX vendors contributed to the series in order to meet the broadcast deadline, including Mokko in Montreal, which collaborated on two shows, and Hawaii Animation Studios, which handled vignettes. Creative Differences’ in-house division, Sauce FX, also provided VFX services.

Heavy compositing was performed using The Foundry’s Nuke, and some of the outside vendors used Side Effects’ Houdini for animation. Audio for the series was posted at Warner Bros. and Tree Falls Post.

Artists, including Ricardo Delgado, David Krentz, Iain McCaig, Mishi McCaig, Stephen Platt, and Pete Von Sholly, all contributed to the series.

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