Anti-Revolution picking up speed today with this statement from T-rex.
Stand from last Tuesday (been on the road since then). It’s… getting there. Need to do some modular studies of footfall patterns.
So, debate is heating up over the expectations that have been raised by “Dinosaur Revolution” and how a popular documentary format can both transmit an understanding of science and get people in front of the tube to receive that transmission. Discussions I’ve been in on have been revolving about the role of the documentary as a television format and whether stations can raise to the occasion.
I’ll skip the blather and lay out what I’d like to see a documentary do:
1) function in coordination with real science
Call me naive but I’m convinced that documentary formats can work hand-in-hand with the scientific process. Perhaps it would provide the budget with which a mechanical model of a pterosaur could be constructed, perhaps its the open-end accompaniment of a digging excursion. Its interesting that the first option might be made possible with more money, the second option with less – reducing the media crew to a dedicated long term individual or two.
2) interlace with other media and outreach
I’d love to see a documentary that connected with an exhibit such as the World’s Largest Dinosaurs at the AMNH like two cogs in an intertwined concept. So much content is already there, fantastic presentation, etc. A television module could expand reach to a much larger audience and also contribute more to visual content creation.
Hi guys. This is Kentrosaurus. Or at least it will be… bear with me and some very rough w.i.p’s. But look at him. What a freaky, dragon-like beast! What I love about this is that I never would have thought of a Kent moving like this. I mean, I read the svpow lying neck posts like everyone else, I know how vertically stiff the tails must have been and the size of this guy at the museum is just… chin-height. But sometimes it takes a scientist to kick you in the ass and actually try out what all that might mean. And then – despite all its unpolished keyframes and problematic deformation – a noble, strolling dragon appears. Who’d a thunk it?
Apparently, Heinrich. More to come.
Color me increasingly skeptical after seeing the new batch of Dinosaur Revolution preview clips up at Discovery. I’m drawn to anthropomorphized concepts myself, and to my horror – the show is very close to things I’ve been working on. My inner reaction is a clean split between respect for the courageous attempt and shock at how vague the line between projected motivational character and transport of scientific content has been drawn. I want to love this thing – I mean, hey, wordless presentation of dinosaurs living their lives. Yo!
That’s the promise, but that’s not what’s in the box. Barring the possibility that these previews slant the content for some misunderstood press campaign, the show is flaunting … animation. This is a tip-of-the-hat not to Raptor Red, but to Gertie the Dinosaur. The dinosaurs are there to make the stories more interesting, not the other way around. Bakker’s format painted a vibrant scenario rife with conflict and resolution cleverly riddled with commentary that propped these stories up on science. The above sequence of a young Allosaurus getting a sauropod thrashing is no doubt entertaining, but it doesn’t rise to the occasion of melding documentary with drama.
One of the main elements pushing me to this skepticism is the hyped revolutionary aspects – the show will do away with preconceptions. Yet we have memes galore: a sauropod shaking its head like my-little-pony, a mosasaur nonchalantly birthing at high speeds in shark-infested deep ocean (oddly raising memories of Monty Python’s Meaning of Life) and talking-head specialists still deprived of their working environments but now in cinemagic hologram form. Animation quality differs greatly – from beautiful character work to what seems to be deadline plagued lovelessness, including the physically careless (mosasaurs flying through water or a sauropod being knocked to the ground by a theropod shove).
So – color me skeptical, but grateful. There will be loads to learn from this show.
I hope that readers [will understand my intention] and not depart in the usual never-ending defenses of creative freedoms, the inexplicable value of art and other commonplace excuses – all of which has nothing to do with the intellectual dishonesty of more or less shamelessly peddling fiction for documentary.
Andrea Cau, on the forthcoming documentary (?) Revolution – “the scenes are punctuated by comments from real paleontologists and researchers?”