Experience the wonders of our world like never before in this epic series from Jon Favreau and the producers of Planet Earth. Travel back 66 million years to when majestic dinosaurs and extraordinary creatures roamed the lands, seas, and skies.
Narrated by Sir David Attenborough and VFX created by MPC, we are thrilled to share the official trailer and release date of the return of Prehistoric Planet. Watch it on Apple TV+ on May 22nd 2023.
MPC combine the latest scientific research, art and technology to take viewers back 66 million years for Apple TV+ Prehistoric Planet: Series 2
Prehistoric Planet, from executive producers Jon Favreau and Mike Gunton, and narrated by Sir David Attenborough, combines award-winning wildlife filmmaking, the latest paleontology learnings and state-of-the-art technology to unveil the spectacular habitats and inhabitants of ancient Earth for a one-of-a-kind immersive experience. The series is produced by the world-renowned team at BBC Studios Natural History Unit, directed by Adam Valdez and Andy Jones, with photorealistic visual effects and animation from Oscar winning studio MPC. Prehistoric Planet season two continues to bring Earth’s history to life like never before as the series presents new dinosaurs, new habitats and new scientific discoveries while taking viewers around the world in an epic five-night adventure.
The VFX and Animation for the series was led by Production VFX Supervisor Elliot Newman, who worked closely with MPC VFX Supervisors Kirstin Hall and Andy Hargreaves and teams based in London, Bangalore, Montreal and Los Angeles. MPC delivered over 1000 shots for the series, crafting a total of 58 dinosaurs and prehistoric animals including tyrannosaurid species, 5 sauropods, 6 marine reptiles and 5 pterosaurs.
Series Directors Adam Valdez, Andy Jones and Krzysztof Szczepanski began work in 2022, to plan previsualization and location shoots based on original storylines, written by Executive Producer Mike Gunton, Series Producer Tim Walker and the episode Producers. “Our approach was to recreate a BBC natural history programme as accurately as possible.” said Jones. “To achieve this, we decided to animate more detail in previsualization and allow our previs animation team to bring some personality and spontaneity to the stories. We animated previs scenes, which we would then “shoot” in a virtual world also known as V-cam.” “Working with MPC’s LA based previs team, we harnessed the real-time tool, Unreal Engine to create detailed animated storyboards” said Valdez. “Unreal gave us fantastic visual quality and great animation which really helped us visualise each sequence and allowed the Producers to get a much better idea of how the final shot might look.” Jones continues “Restraint was the key word for us. We chose to give ourselves rules and guidelines much like the NHU would have had in the field. For instance, if we were shooting a predator like a T-rex or another dangerous animal, we would make sure to shoot long lenses so as to not be too close to them. And then for docile animals like sauropods we could get close and have shots that resemble the type of shots used to film Indian elephants.”
Previs sequences were then passed to Production VFX Supervisor Elliot Newman and MPC’s artists to start to plan how to transport viewers 65 million years back in time and create an accurate and realistic depiction of the creatures and environments living on earth at the time.
To create the dinosaurs and other animals featured in Season 2, the VFX team began by referring to animal fossil records and references collated by the Natural History Unit. MPC’s animation team also used extensive reference of anything deemed suitable such as birds and reptiles to study behaviour and movement characteristics.
“There were many challenging creatures to bring to life, such as the feathery raptors and T-Rex, but we found the hardest creatures to get right were the ammonites and the larger sauropods.” said Newman. “The ammonites were very tricky to create, mainly because they have very unusual aquatic body builds, but also because there are very few similar modern-day creatures we could use as reference. The sauropods were a challenge because of their scale and again, nothing really exists today that the team could refer to. Its muscle simulations, the way the skin slides and wrinkles, the detail of all its tiny scales, all proved challenging, as well as having to consider their massive size and weight.” To help, MPC’s R&D team developed a tool for laying out scales on dinosaur skin.
MPC worked closely with Scientific Advisor Dr Darren Naish and the NHU’s team, to learn about the large and varied list of animal and plant species. “Along the way, we made sure shots were grounded in reality by asking “if we were there, how would we film such an event?” Newman continues. “This is where the BBC NHU really came in and more specifically under Mike Gunton’s direction – from the shooting approach through to editorial, everything needed to appear as if these events really were filmed. Of course, each shot was a very complex visual effect meticulously executed by the MPC team, but the trick was to not let it feel that way. With films, you have a lot more time to think, everything is art directed and theatrically lit to look cinematic and so it’s whatever the director or the creative producers want. Documentary is more about telling something how it is, in a way that is faithful to reality, so you must take that “true to reality” approach.”
Prehistoric Planet season 2 is available for streaming on Apple TV+ starting May 22 2023.