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Re: Featherless Velociraptor on Nat'l Geographic Channel Feb. 8

Feathers are a pain to do ( a lot of rendering time) but not impossible on a smaller budget. I think DInosaur Planet did a great job of the feathers for a low budget. I've worked on a couple of movies with feathers involved and the problem was that every guy who's job it was to create the feathers always felt he/she had to reinvent the wheel and create their own "better" version of a feather program which has eaten production time up. Given time the results are amazing. Even movies as far back as Stuart Little 2 have had great results. I believe that there are decent feather generating programs or plug-ins out there, but again, its render time. Realistic feathers have irridescence and all kinds of render time sucking properties for each feather to be created. There is extra time needed to make sure no feathers collide with each other or making a clean matte if the creature needs to be against live action footage.. The hardest thing to do is show an onscreen wing folding. You might notice the shot will cut just before that happens.
Often CG dinos look furry, which is the easy way around it but it makes them look like terror-muppets.

David Krentz

On Jan 24, 2009, at 11:01 AM, Ralph Miller wrote:

Apparently documentaries have to use CG because it's "state of the art."
Too bad the state of the art wasn't up to the requirements of the program!
Feathers have certainly been simulated beautifully in CG, but only when
facilitated by ample budgets and schedules PLUS CG companies capable of
producing feathers. Maybe the budget, the schedule, and the CG studio's
capabilities should be carefully considered before contracts are signed.
Imagine that.

Anyone who has been keeping up with current Mesozoic events must recognize
that the naked dromaeosaur hypothesis has been soundly refuted by fossil
evidence. Furthermore, a documentary that is explicitly about the
dinosaurian origin of birds _must_ present dromaeosaurs as feathered because
the presence of feathers and the metabolic implications of this
characteristic are among the most compelling arguments for the dinosaurian
origin of birds. Moreover, lay people find it much easier to visualize and
accept the transition from non-avialian theropods to flying birds --- the
"morphing" that is itself the very title of the program -- when they see
feathers on the dromaeosaurs. Leaving feathers out of the picture defeats
the whole purpose of the show. You might as well omit flippers from
discussions of whale evolution.

Ralph W. Miller III
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
Dinosaur and Fossil Education
Member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
-----Original Message-----
Brad McFeeters writes:

Perhaps the documentary producers should stop insisting that all dinosaur
animations be CG! Do you think it would be much of an added challenge to
make feathered dinosaurs look good in stop-motion animation?