“I’ve worked on a few dinosaur shows over the years,” says Tom Brass, creative director at Jellyfish Pictures – the animation and production studio that led the concept art for Apple TV’s Prehistoric Planet series. But although Brass is pretty familiar with the ins and outs of putting extinct beasts on screen, he’s confident that the five-part series released earlier this year is like no other dino documentary – and a key part of that is the creative story behind it.
Jellyfish Pictures spent much of 2019 creating concept art for the show, producing environments, creatures and storyboards in partnership with a team of artists, and the BBC’s Natural History Unit. This initial work was hugely influential on the narrative of the final series, and played a significant role in informing the VFX work later created by MPC. It also established a less conventional approach to dinosaurs – something that’s exemplified by the image of the T-Rex swimming, which was used to promote the show, and sparked conversation around how the big lizards might really have behaved.
“What was really unique about Prehistoric Planet was that it was being made by the [BBC’s] Natural History Unit,” explains Brass. “They are amazing people who are the best in the world at what they do – going to far-flung places and getting the most extraordinary footage of incredible animal behaviour.