On Monday February 17th, Andy Day will be setting off on a brand new series of adventures, travelling back in time to millions of years ago to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Mark Jones, the producer of the series, dropped by to tell us exactly how you go about transporting a CBeebies presenter through time on a prehistoric adventure...
Andy Day is transported back in time to face a T-Rex in Andy's Dinosaur Adventures
Hi Mark! Can you tell us a bit about Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures?
Andy is back for a brand new series of jaw-dropping adventures – only this time he’s going back in time to search for the dinosaurs that once roamed our planet.
Each adventure begins in the dinosaur gallery of the ‘National Museum’ where Andy works alongside the resident palaeontologist and all-round dinosaur expert, Hatty.
In each episode, Hatty is busy preparing a new dinosaur exhibit ready to show off to the children when the museum opens later that day. Andy arrives on the scene, eager to assist in the final preparations of the display. Something goes wrong which threatens the grand opening of the exhibit and it’s up to Andy to put it right.
Using the magic of the old museum clock Andy travels back in time, re-appearing in a land of dinosaurs, millions and millions of years ago…
And so begins an adventure into prehistoric time in which he comes face to face with the ‘live’ version of the dinosaur that the museum’s exhibit is based on.
How did you transport Andy back to the time of dinosaurs so convincingly?
Andy’s interactions and encounters with the dinosaurs were made possible by extensive use of dinosaur archive, a green-screen studio and lots of visual effects!
We used footage from the 1999 series ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ which featured computer generated images (CGI) of dinosaurs set in a real world. After selecting the key dinosaur scenes from that series that we wanted Andy to appear in, we then filmed all his action in front of giant green screens at a studio near the BBC in Bristol. This is a technique used in television and film when it isn’t possible to do something for real. By filming him in front of green, we then have the ability to replace the green backdrop with anything we like – in this case, the dinosaur footage - making it look like Andy is part of that prehistoric scene. Our visual effects team then add any dust, water or other special effects to make the scene even more believable.
What made you want to make a show about dinosaurs?
There is no doubt children hold a deep fascination with dinosaurs. They ruled our planet and their bones are scattered throughout museums around the world creating mystery and intrigue. Some were as tall as trees, others longer than 2 buses end to end, some swam in the oceans, others ruled the skies. We can only imagine what that world was like and bringing that world to the screen for our young audience was our goal.
What do you hope children will get from the series?
Whilst it is a fun, mission-based adventure, the show is crammed with facts and visual memories along the way. Andy slides down the neck of the tallest animal to walk our planet, the brachiosaurus. And he watches baby diplodocus emerging from eggs buried underground for the very first time. Imagine that, an animal that grows as long as 2 double decker buses starts life in an egg! And given Andy is in most of the scenes and engaging with the audience all the way, I think children will take away an even deeper fascination, understanding and interest for dinosaurs.
What did you enjoy most about making the show?
Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures is a lot of fun to make. We put Andy into all sorts of situations within the studio that if you take a step back from and take a look at what you’re doing, just makes you giggle. For this series, we bought in a harness flying rig from which we suspended Andy mid-air to simulate him flying. Over the course of the day he was performing mid-air forward rolls and even being lifted off the ground at great speed to simulate a diplodocus picking him up by the backpack. He’s such a fun great performer and enthusiastic presenter to work with and he brings every scene alive with his inimitable style. I admire him greatly because it takes incredible acting ability on his part; not only has he got to remember his lines but he’s got to imagine where the dinosaur might be in that scene and where he needs to walk to. He’s a genius and for me, it’s Andy who makes working on this show enjoyable.
Sounds like filming was a lot of fun! Do you have one memory that will stick with you from the making the series?
There was one occasion where we were recreating a beach scene whereby Andy meets a herd of Iguanodon and has to make a plaster copy of one of its footprints. To film this scene we went to an actual beach on a very windy day. It was a nightmare! Sand blew everywhere and our poor visual effects team were carrying around a portable green screen that kept blowing off down the beach. We’re still finding sand in our filming equipment even to this day! We got the shots though – a credit to our filming team.
Do you have a favourite dinosaur?
Would have to be the T-rex. An incredible dinosaur, the ultimate meat eater on the planet!