Friday, June 3, 2011

London's Natural History Museum "Age of the Dinosaur" Exhibition

Here is my last London report that i've totally forgot to post when i came back early last month. It's not related to Disney but don't go away as you'll see great Audio-Animatronics dinosaurs "live"!

The London Natural History museum is currently doing a great Dinosaur exhibit with animatronics Dinosncreated by Kokoro, the japanese robotics company which is doing some really good AAs dinos as you will see on the video.

The reason why i didn't wanted to miss this exhibit while i was in London is in relation with the big Dinosaurs attraction concept i've designed 8 years ago with my good friend and WDI Imagineer Jeff Burke. I've posted last year on Disney and more this "Back to Dinosaurs" ride concept and if you've never read it i strongly suggest you to jump HERE to discover it and then HERE to read "how we would do it". It's a big E Ticket ride, so a quite expensive one and i'm not sure we will ever find the money to do it, but who knows?

Let's come back to the Natural History Museum. Those of you who never came to London's Natural History Museum have to know that it's one of the best museum on Earth to see genuine dinosaurs skeletons. As a matter of fact, from the moment you enter inside the beautiful gothic building you're face to face with a huge Brachiosaur skeleton (or may be it's another species of dino as i don't remember exactly which one it is).

Anyway, the skeleton is so huge that the best way to have a good shot of it is probably a panoramic picture - click on the one below to enlarge the picture.

The regular Dinosaur exhibit is free and children of all ages enjoy to walk through the giant skeletons...

At the end of the Dinos section guests can see a really impressive audio-animatronic T-Rex which is here permanently as the museum bought it some years ago, and i will tell you more about it in a few minutes.

By the way, talking about skeletons, the Natural History Museum also have a spectacular area about mammals with both whales skeletons and a reconstitution of a real size whale as well as others animals.

Let's talk about the "Age of the Dinosaur" exhibition. It's a small but interesting exhibit with interactive elements that will delight young kids. And the robotic figures are very good as always with Kokoro.

The first dinosaur that visitors can see is a Camarasaurus described like this by the museum: "Step into the Jurassic zone and meet your first moving animatronic dinosaur. From the luscious forest habitat, an enormous head and neck of the plant-eating Camarasaurus, sways towards you, probably with a mouthful of ferns. Camararasaurus was prominent in the Late Jurassic, 151 to 145 million years ago".

You'll see only the neck and head of the Camarasaurus - a bit like a similar scene in the "Dinosaurs" attraction at Animal Kingdom - but both are moving well and of course it's possible to get the same AA with the whole body which would be perfect for the first big scene of my Dinos ride, i.e this one below.

The next AA of the exhibit is a small Archaeopteryx and "Scientists think Archaeopteryx lithographica was the first bird. Archaeopteryx is important because it proves the theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs, with its bird-like features, and also its sharp teeth and long, bony tail like a meat-eating dinosaur. Get close to the animatronic dino-bird and watch it move in its natural habitat in the Jurassic zone".

It's indeed a small robotic figure but it's always good to have smaller figures in a ride and it was interesting to see it.

The next one in the exhibit is a Protoceratops which looks a bit like the famous Triceratops but unfortunately i couldn't get a good picture of it. However, i have a good one of the next dino, which is a Gallimimus - remember the herd of Gallimimus running in the first Jurassic Park movie? Here is the museum description: "The tall Gallimimus bullatus animatronic model is another mesmerising highlight of the Cretaceous zone. With its large eyes, Gallimimus probably had good all-round sight that helped it to see approaching predators and escape before it became dinner. Its long, toothless jaws were probably covered by a horny beak that it may have used to crack open the eggs of other dinosaurs to eat".

In one of the best scene of the exhibit you'll discover T.rex's terrifying twin, called Tarbosaurus and threatening another dino species protecting his eggs. It looks like a T-Rex but it's not exactly one and it's probably the first animatronic ever done of this species. More from the official description: "You'll hear the terrible roars of Tarbasaurus bataar long before you come face to face in the Cretacous desert. Be transfixed by this fearsome twin to T.rex as it bares its massive teeth and claws. Unlike Tyrannosaurus who lived in North America, Tarbosaurus inhabited Mongolia in Asia about 70 million years ago. It was a top predator and ate other dinosaurs".

The exhibit also include other animatronics like one of a Velociraptor as well as giant touch screen to learn more about the Dinosaurs era.

Before you watch the video, a few words about the T-Rex of the regular Dinos section that you will see at the end of the video. I was impressed how good this T-Rex AA is - or, should i say, still is as the robotic figure worked just as well as when i saw it for the first time five years ago. Considering the fast movements the T-Rex body is doing it's amazing that the AA is working as well as on opening day. And i add that this animatronic T-Rex would be just perfect for another scene of my ride, i.e the one below.

About the Animatronics of the Age of Dinosaur exhibit, now: when you will watch the video you must keep in mind that the figures are programmed for an exhibit with guests walking around, stopping to watch , etc... It's not the kind of programming you usually have on a ride where guests generally see a AA for just a few seconds. but that's not the problem, what is interesting is the potential of the robotic figures and how smooth the movements are, or not. That said, enjoy the video!

Pictures and Video: copyright Disney and more

Dinosaurs Animatronics created by Kokoro

Artwork: "BACK TO THE DINOSAURS" is a theme park attraction concept by Alain Littaye and Jeff Burke. The scenario and the illustrations, including the ideas contained in this article are copyright Alain Littaye and Jeff Burke 2003. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without prior written approval.

All uses of this text, illustrations and the ideas contained in this article for any purpose whatsoever is prohibited without prior written approval.


Anonymous said...

YouTube says "This video is private".

Alain Littaye said...

I think it's working now, let me know if it doesn't.

Angus said...

The Natural History Museum is a wonderful building, and it fits quite well in a Disney Park blog, the whole building is themed.
There are animals sculpted everywhere, birds and monkeys along the arches surrounding the brachiosaur, one of the gift shops has a lovely series on sea life surrounding its windows,and as you walk follow the dinosaur exhibition, the elevated walkway lets you see the top of the columns, with animals hiding in high grass. The panels under the roof are painted with various plants too, even empty, you would be able to know the purpose of the building.
And do not forget to visit the Mineralogy collection... not the easiest to find, but very impressive.

Anonymous said...

The youtube works fine.
And im realy impressed with the T-rex the way it moves around, seems they've been using one of the latest animatronic technoligie's.