A look behind the making of "Terra Nova" dinosaurs

Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:45pm EDT
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By Matt Hurwitz

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Everybody knows what dinosaurs look and sound like. After all, who hasn't seen the "Jurassic Park" movies.

So what if your boss is Steven Spielberg -- the guy who created that movie and is chiefly responsible for those dinosaurs? And he says that for his new TV show, "Terra Nova," make me dinosaurs but don't make them look or sound like "Jurassic Park" dinosaurs?

"You can see the dilemma," deadpanned Michael Graham, the supervising sound designer for Spielberg's new Fox series, "Terra Nova," which debuted on TV earlier this week.

"Everybody who's seen that movie knows -- that's what they sound like! That is the vocabulary of dinosaurs," Graham said.

In "Terra Nova," humans are sent back in time to escape the overcrowded and polluted future of 2149. And they go WAY back to prehistoric times when massive animals with scaly skin, sharp teeth and names that end with "-aurus" ruled Earth.

The show drew a solid audience of 9.7 million viewers on its debut night last Monday, and reviews were mostly positive. The New York Times said the story was "lavishly produced by television standards, at a level of visual and technical sophistication" befitting its two years from script to screen.

The dinos of "Terra Nova" don't look or sound like their theatrical predecessors, and for good reason. Jack Horner, the show's paleontology expert who worked with Spielberg on "Jurassic Park" made sure of it.

"Jack set our show in the Cretaceous Period, 85 million years ago," explains visual effects supervisor Kevin Blank. "That's a period where the fossil record is the least defined. They only know about 10 percent of what existed at that time."   Continued...

<p>(From L to R) British actress Shelley Conn and Irish actor Jason O'Mara, stars of the new series "Terra Nova" along with Brannon Braga, executive producer and writer, Rene Echevarria, writer and executive producer and Jon Cassar, director and executive producer, attend a panel session at the FOX Summer TCA Press Tour in Beverly Hills, California August 5, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>