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AWN | Prehistoric Planet Visualizing Our Best Guess at the Late Cretaceous Period

Director Adam Valdez and animation supervisor Andy Jones walk us through five dinosaur-filled biomes as imagined, 66 million years ago on Earth, in the new series from Jon Favreau and the famed BBC Studios Natural History Unit, now streaming on Apple TV+.

NewsJune 8, 2022

On the behalf of Apple TV+, filmmaker Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book) and Mike Gunton, Creative Director, Factual at BBC Studios, have executive produced the five-part natural documentary Prehistoric Planet, which imagines what life was like when dinosaurs roamed the Earth during the Late Cretaceous period, 66 million years ago.  The Oscar-winning duo of visual effects supervisor Adam Valdez (The Lion King) and animation supervisor Andy Jones (Avatar) were hired to direct the episodes, with MPC digitally resurrecting and inserting the extinct creatures into footage captured by the BBC’s Natural History Unit.  The famed Sir David Attenborough narrates the series.

“Andy and I both come from an animation background and that’s a little different than everybody else in the visual effects industry who start to supervise things,” notes Valdez.  “You are already tuned into story.  We’re trying to figure out ways to make every scene be something that has a progression and a beginning, middle, and end. When you start channeling that point of view onto photorealism you’re suddenly in this weird place of balancing aesthetics and physics.” 

Noting how natural history documentaries influenced The Lion King, Valdez says, “Andy and I probably sat through a million hours of Jon Favreau meetings, dailies, and reviews trying to analyze and get down what sort of looks effortless but actually takes a lot of attention and craft to get there; that’s what dovetailed into this one.” 

Sequences in Prehistoric Planet were extensively planned and prepped before plate photography commenced.  “Adam and I did what we learned on The Lion King, which is a virtual production style where we would animate an entire beat and then cover it with a virtual camera,” explains Jones.  “We would take an iPad and begin to frame our shot and figure out the locations and the scale and size of the lens.  Should it be close or wide?   Edit it together.  We figured out exactly where our sequence needed to be.  Then we would go and find a location to shoot it.” 

Read the full article via AWN

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