In episode 67 we talk about Arlo, the Apatosaurus from Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur.
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In addition to Arlo, we talked about all the special features in The Good Dinosaur, Land Before Time, and We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story. And we had the pleasure of talking to Chris Coulson, the owner of and dinosaur man behind Rent a Dinosaur. Learn more about Dexter, the life-sized baby T-rex, and see videos of Dexter in action on http://rentadinosaur.co.uk/ and on Facebook. You can also reach Dexter on Twitter, @rentadinosaur.
Below are some amazing images of Dexter, in the process of being made and as a happy baby T-rex playing with others, that Chris was kind enough to share. Enjoy!
In this episode, we discuss:
- The dinosaur of the day: Arlo the Apatosaurus
- In creating Arlo, director Peter Sohn always knew that he wanted the character to start out very weak
- He considered having Arlo attacked early on setting the stage for his fear, but decided that he wanted it to be more of a character trait than a one time event.
- From the very beginning Arlo is portrayed as the “runt of the litter,” including coming out of an enormous shell to emphasize his small size
- Arlo has very knobby knees and skinny legs compared to what a real dinosaur would look like
- They also say that when he is weak he walks a little bit more like a camel with his legs bent.
- Early in the story he often kinks his neck to show a lack of confidence in a way that Apatosaurus probably could not
- Luckily for Arlo other members of the crew suggested little behavioral traits aside from just fear to add depth to his character.
- Arlo has large feet that resemble an elephant’s and they are much wider than the leg
- Like many animated characters Arlo’s eyes are much bigger than they would be on a real animal and even compared to the rest of his family.
- His eyes also have a large white amount relative to the iris and pupil. In nature very few animals have this, but humans and dogs are two of the major exceptions. (Necessary so that you can tell where they’re looking and express more emotions with their face)
- In the Good Dinosaur Arlo is shown at three ages: when he hatches, as a young child, and finally as a preteen. As he gets older his posture gets more dinosaur-like with shoulders straight down rather than a sprawling posture.
- Arlo has about 20 teeth
- In the movie Arlo is definitely an herbivore, but he never eats plain foliage. He eats corn that his family cultivates, and he eats berries after Spot brings them to him (after first being offered a bug and a lizard)
- It’s an interesting choice because with that diet he wouldn’t need the dental battery and large number of teeth that Apatosaurus probably had.
- Arlo knows how to swim, at least after learning from spot, so not surprisingly he basically swims in a doggie paddle type way.
- Fun fact: Fireflies or lightning bugs or more technically the family of beetles Lampyridae. The first proto-firefly may have evolved as early as 150 million years ago, and fireflies that resemble what we would see today evolved about 20 million years ago, so there was definitely a chance that Apatosaurus or at least some other dinosaurs would have seen fireflies.
For those who may prefer reading, see below for the full transcript of our interview with Chris Coulson:
Sabrina: We’re here today with Chris Coulson, who is the founder and owner of Rent a Dinosaur, an exciting new company that actually just started a few weeks ago, and Chris is already making waves. People know him as the dinosaur man. Pretty exciting. So thanks for being with us today Chris.
Chris Coulson: Hi there.
Sabrina: So what first got you interested in dinosaurs, what is it about dinosaurs you find so fascinating?
Chris Coulson: Well I mean everybody loves dinosaurs, don’t they? From an early age there’s just something magical about these huge monsters that aren’t actually a fairy tale. They really did exist. And so everybody loves dinosaurs from a very young age. But then recently I saw this, I mean it was probably about three months ago that it all started, that I saw a YouTube video with one of the Walking with Dinosaurs arena show dinosaurs in it. And I was just so amazed at the behavior that these puppeteers could portray, and I just thought what a shame I’m never actually gonna see one in real life because it’s probably owned by a film studio or something like that.
And I just, I looked through other videos and the same sort of thing, and eventually I found out you can actually buy these things. And then I thought well if my initial reaction was that, then maybe other people’s initial reaction might be similar. And I just started on this crazy journey that had nothing to do with my real life, and just started looking into this idea about starting a business. And I thought well you know corporates could hire me and that sort of thing.
And to be honest as well, it was a little bit like I’ve got to have one, how can I justify it?
Sabrina: What were you doing before Rent a Dinosaur?
Chris Coulson: Well I have a YouTube channel called The Cat Behavior Channel, which is kind of about animal behavior. And also I fix computers. So nothing really to do with dinosaurs. My background initially was more marketing and that sort of thing, so I’ve got a reasonable spread of skills but you know, nothing to do with dinosaurs at all.
Garret: Yeah we loved the Walking with Dinosaurs show. It was on tour like a year ago I think that we saw… yeah that was super awesome.
Chris Coulson: It had something like a billion people watching or something. It is a big deal though isn’t it? I mean full-sized dinosaurs is just, if you hadn’t seen it you’d think well how on earth do they do that?
Garret: Yeah, and they’re so much more lifelike than a lot of the animatronic dinosaurs. Like they can actually walk around and they can move in so many more directions, and a lot of them are in a park and they just sort of open their mouth and close their mouth.
Chris Coulson: Yes I mean I’m kind of disappointed when I see those because they’re not really lifelike, but they’re really popular, and every zoo and dinosaur exhibition has them. So you know, that’s why I love this sort of baby T-rex so much because it’s not robotized. It actually behaves like a real animal.
Sabrina: How did you decide to have a baby T-rex?
Chris Coulson: Do you mean as opposed to a Velociraptor?
Chris Coulson: Well T-rex is the best one, isn’t it? I don’t know I looked at them and I thought, actually the thing that persuaded me was that I could have the T-rex with feathers, and I think that’s a popular look whereas the Velociraptor I’m not sure is so sure about having feathers. Is it? You’re the experts.
Garret: Also Velociraptor, just to be a technical pain in the butt, was this really small thing that did have feathers…
Chris Coulson: Well exactly.
Garret: … But then I think Deinonychus or Utahraptor they’re not as sure about, that’s like the bigger one that people like. But there’s this one really awesome new one called Dakotaraptor that might be my new favorite dinosaur because it’s the size of a Utahraptor, or about the size of a baby T-rex, but it had feathers all over it, including like real wings. But it couldn’t quite fly.
Chris Coulson: It’s that chicken from hell you were talking about the other week?
Sabrina: No, oh there are a lot of dinosaurs with nicknames from hell, but…
Chris Coulson: Yeah that’s it.
Garret: Dakotaraptor is the biggest one that had real wings and feathers.
Sabrina: Yeah I don’t think it actually got a hell nickname.
Chris Coulson: That’s weird isn’t it?
Garret: I think because it had raptor in the name that was good enough for people.
Chris Coulson: The other thing I tell people as well is that it’s only a baby T-rex, whereas if it was a raptor it would be a fully-grown one. So yeah.
Sabrina: That’s true, you can imagine how much bigger…
Chris Coulson: But the result has just been so amazing so far that already we’re thinking you know do we need a second one or something? And what do you get for a second one? And it probably would be the raptor one.
Sabrina: How far do you think this could go? Like how many do you think you might have?
Chris Coulson: Well my house couldn’t fit more than six or seven I think.
Garret: So do you keep them all in your house, like just in like the living room or something?
Chris Coulson: No I’ve actually got a horse box, I’m not sure what American horse boxes are like, but I had to buy a, have you heard of a […] (00:05:19) horse? It’s like a particularly large plow-pulling horse, and I bought a horse box for two of them, and Dexter, that’s what my T-rex is called, will only fit in it on his own. I couldn’t fit another one in there. Even then his tail has to be curled around.
Garret: Is that where you sent us to the picture of it kind of peeking out of the thing?
Chris Coulson: That’s it yes. So the horse box is three and a half meters long, and Dexter’s four meters long, so there’s not too much tail curling to be done, but he doesn’t complain.
Sabrina: So do you just keep it in your backyard or something?
Chris Coulson: I keep it in my front yard.
Sabrina: And what do the neighbors say? Do they speculate about what’s in there, or they know?
Chris Coulson: Well yes we’ve had a few training sessions with the actors, and of course everyone comes out of their house because wouldn’t you if you saw a dinosaur walking around in the street outside your house?
Chris Coulson: And a few young children have been in trouble at school for telling tales and saying my neighbor’s got a dinosaur. And the teacher says: “I’ve told you before about not telling the truth.”
Sabrina: Are the kids in general are they excited to see Dexter, or do they get a little bit scared?
Chris Coulson: So far, I mean one of our first test visits was at a children’s summer camp, and there were about twenty or thirty children, and they had no trouble whatsoever. I mean they could spot straight away that it wasn’t real; you can see the actor’s legs underneath, but the pretense and the behavior is still there. So they love, they, it’s still so big, and when there’s nine feet of teeth looking down at you, you’re not looking at the legs are you?
Garret: Yeah that’s true.
Sabrina: How did you come up with the name Dexter?
Chris Coulson: Well we had a list of about forty names, and we just settled on Dexter because Dexter the Dinosaur, and Dex-rex. So yeah there were a few other ones but you know, names beginning with R have all gone by all the other dinosaur people in the world. The letter R has gone for the T-rex name anyway.
Garret: So how did you find this place that would make the giant dinosaur?
Chris Coulson: Yes that’s quite an interesting story because it’s difficult buying from China, because you can’t go out there. Unless you’re a millionaire you can’t go out there and check the goods before you buy them. And you, I almost got in a lot of trouble with the first company I visited because I was about to place the order, and I’d gone through a few weeks of negotiating and talking to them and that sort of thing, and then eventually I said I think I’d like this dinosaur that’s on your website. And they said I’m sorry, if you want that one, that’s twenty thousand dollars extra. And it’s all got to go to America to have the details done on the face. And I thought that’s a bit weird. That just made me suspicious and, you know, I stopped the deal there and then. And afterwards I found out that was actually a picture of one of the Walking with Dinosaurs dinosaurs, they hadn’t made it at all. And of course that’s terrifying because you can’t sue a Chinese company from England unless you’re that huge.
And so I was lucky to get out of that, and then I found another company and spoke to them. And they were really nice, they were more than happy to just, I would be chatting to them on Messenger and they would go out to the workshop, take a photo of themselves holding a piece of paper with my name on it, and then come back to Messenger and send it to me. And so that really put my mind to rest. And I could actually see my dinosaur being made, and they would show me updates. Every morning I’d get out of bed, check my messages, and they’d have a photo of what they’d been doing that day. And it was just amazing to see him taking shape.
And having to make decisions about the color as well, that was another thing that terrified me because you can’t send it back and have it touched up, can you? You’ve gotta get it right the first time.
Sabrina: And so how did you decide on colors? Just kind of do any polls or anything?
Chris Coulson: Well I kind of wanted it orange with black spots like a leopard or something along those lines, but you know that was just because I love cats, and my cats are Bengal cats which have that coloring. But then I thought hang on a minute, that’s a bit too much about me and I want one that’s dinosaur colored, or you know a popular vision of dinosaur colored, because I don’t want to have to keep explaining that no we didn’t know what color they were, and you know they might have been purpose with blue spots or you know. So then I went with something that just kind of looked realistic, looked cool as well, and I went for the sort of green and sand colored…
Sabrina: Yeah it looks nice, we can see it on your website which is, it’s a great website. Dexter’s front and center.
Chris Coulson: Yeah. I mean that’s the other thing: he is so striking when you, I mean you had one at your wedding didn’t you?
Sabrina: Yes, but the kids at our wedding were terrified.
Chris Coulson: Really?
Garret: I think they might have been a little bit younger though.
Sabrina: Yeah could be.
Garret: The ones that, I think about ten was probably the cutoff for being terrified. If you’re under ten or if you’re over ten you can kind of figure out that it wasn’t a real dinosaur trying to eat you.
Sabrina: Yeah the ones under ten just they saw, his name was Duncan, and then just started crying immediately.
Chris Coulson: Well do you know it’s interesting because at this children’s holiday camp there were, I think they were about three to seven year olds. And what happened is when we got in there you got them to shout: “Dexter, Dexter,” to call him in. So then straight away he was coming in because they told him to come in, and then he kept a respectful distance from him, and then we got them to feed him. And we got these foam things that we called Triceratops chops and Stegosaurus steaks and Tyrannosaurus T-rex t-bones, and got them to feed him. And so they could hold the food out for him, say open, and then he’d open his mouth, and they could put the food in his mouth and then they’d say close and he’d close his mouth. And then say drop it, and he’d drop the food at their feet. And it was just a great way of getting them interacting with him and in control of him. And it’s amazing but we didn’t have any tears at all that day. And there’s some photos on our Facebook page as well.
Sabrina: That’s really great. So when you, you’ve done a couple of events already, this one the camp do you also teach them about dinosaurs or about T-rex, or is it more about the immersion?
Chris Coulson: I’ve got a collection of fossils that I’ve bought, I think Dinosaur […] in America has a nice tooth, I don’t know if you’ve seen the forecast tooth. And its people just love to hold things and touch them. I couldn’t get a real fossil of a T-rex for obvious reasons. I actually have a dinosaur shop that’s about a half an hour’s drive away from me, and I popped down there and explained to him what I was doing. And we just chatted for like an hour. But I came away with a Spinosaurus fossil tooth because they’re relatively cheap. And it’s not as impressive as a T-rex tooth of course, but it’s nice to have something physical that people can touch and hold. And then we got the children to actually hold the foot claw up to Dexter where the real foot claw would have been, and the hand claw as well we’ve got as well. And they, you know they, it was amazing actually how much they knew. I mean we’re saying what’s a carnivore and what’s a herbivore, and can you name a herbivore that’s alive today, and they knew all the answers. And these are like four year olds. And I was thinking I’m not sure I knew that when I was four.
Garret: Yeah we love the dinosaur replica stuff too. We’ve got an Allosaurus hand and a stegosaurus plate replica that are a lot of fun. It was funny when we bought the Allosaurus hand at this museum, they were like are you guys teachers, why do you want this? And we said well we just like it, we just want an Allosaurus hand.
Chris Coulson: You just said, ‘Who wouldn’t want one?’
Sabrina: So how long did it take the company to make Dexter?
Chris Coulson: It took I think two and a half months. And it’s about a month and a half to actually make him, and then thirty days at sea.
Garret: Wow that’s not really long at all.
Chris Coulson: No, but I suppose in China labor is cheap, but because everything is so labor intensive they still have craftsmen. Whereas I think nowadays with modern robotics and that sort of thing in a way the Western world has lost the art of craftsmanship because we don’t need it. We can get robots to do exactly the same thing just as well.
Sabrina: Robots making robots.
Chris Coulson: Yes, and I’ve seen a video of how they make it, and it is amazing to see how they build this metal frame and then just stick square lumps of foam on it, and then just sculpt the foam to like an animal. And then, and they do texture work on the skin as well, and then stick the, sort of stick a skin covering on top of the foam to make it hard-wearing. And it’s just staggering to see how they make it, and the skill.
Garret: Yeah that’s really cool.
Sabrina: What’s the skin covering made out of?
Chris Coulson: In English it’s called tights, and I think in American it’s panty-hose. It’s kind of like a stretchy flexible thin material, and they put silicon on the foam and then dab this panty-hose material on top of it into all the cracks in the skin at sort of the scale of the foam. And it just, it’s a wonderful idea because of course foam wouldn’t last five minutes with rubbing on it, but with this material on top of it it’s fine. And then finally once that’s stuck on they spray it with a kind of colored silicon spray, and then so the whole thing’s waterproof as well then.
Garret: Nice, that’s good when you’ve got kids grabbing at him.
Chris Coulson: Yes, and of course they all try to stick their fingers up his nose and poke the eye and things like that. And I think the actor got his bottom pinched at one point as well.
Sabrina: How many actors do you have playing Dexter?
Chris Coulson: We’ve got three, and that’s mainly because we can’t employ them fulltime because we’re not working full time, so they are jobbing actors or creature actors rather. And so they have other jobs as well, so when I get a job I just book one in rotation. And hopefully if they’re free they’ll come and if they can’t I try a different one. I think three is a safe number to spread the work around.
Sabrina: Definitely. So how did you train them? You said they came to your front yard. Did you have somebody helping them or was it just you training them?
Chris Coulson: Well we had all the videos on YouTube. As part of my business plan, for research purposes of course, I watched every dinosaur video there is to watch. And so I had a playlist of those, and we all sort of sat down and studied them and noted down the behavior that we liked and where we thought it wasn’t very realistic. But of course then you’ve got the additional problem that from inside the dinosaur you can’t actually see what you look like. So the dinosaur has a camera in the middle of his nose, and so he has a TV screen inside so he can see where the head is looking. But if you say turn the head to the right, he can see it’s moved some to the right, but he doesn’t know how much or what it looks like. And then he had a brilliant idea of with a GoPro camera you can actually stream to an iPhone, and so he can have an iPhone inside and we can film it from a GoPro from outside. And that’s a really good trick.
Sabrina: That is.
Garret: Yeah, that’s a really good idea.
Sabrina: About how long did it take for an actor to get comfortable in the suit?
Chris Coulson: I’d say, I mean they’re comfortable after an hour. That’s nowhere near, I mean that’s time to get comfortable. And then once you get comfortable you can start acting. And it’s like in normal acting, if you don’t you learn your lines, you can’t actually act. So you know you have to learn your lines before you can even try acting, and so with them you’ve gotta feel comfortable in the costume before you can even start trying to portray behavior.
Garret: How long can they wear this suit? We had heard that, I think at our wedding they had said you can only wear it for like a half hour because it was really heavy and you were in kind of like an awkward pose. Do you have that same kind of problem?
Chris Coulson: Yeah they’re aiming at sort of fifteen to twenty minutes, and we haven’t really tried longer than that. But I don’t know, this one is, I don’t think it’s a particularly heavy one although funny enough the feathers added two kilos, and that’s because they used two tubes of silicon to glue the feathers in. But it’s always a brilliant story when you say the feathers are two kilos.
Sabrina: Does Dexter make any sounds?
Chris Coulson: Yes he’s got eight sounds, and the operator can choose one of those eight. And also when he closes his eyes he makes a sort of purring sound as well. But I’m actually working on a different one that gives me eighteen sounds and a forty watt amplifier, so I want to be able to scare people properly if I want to. But funny enough it’s quite nice as well because the Chinese company is actually very interested in what I’m doing, because only last year they had a single sound for him. So they’ve upgraded their model to eight sounds, and they’re very interested in how I get on upgrading mine to eighteen. They may adopt it if it works well.
Sabrina: Wow, great. So what kind of sounds does he have other than the purring?
Chris Coulson: They’re kind of different lengths of roar, and the sounds that I’m kind of interested in is a kind of, I want behavioral sounds. So kind of an excited yelp, and a not quite a squeak but a very short squawk or something like that. And you know a big triumphant roar, like a show off look at me sort of thing. And just a variety of sounds that portray the behavior that I want to be making. Whereas the ones that it comes with are kind of generic roars of different lengths, and I’m an ex-audio engineer as well so I just wanna fiddle.
Garret: Yeah we were talking in one episode about how they don’t really know how T-rex sounded like, and everyone’s kind of adopted the Jurassic Park, when we were watching some of these older things it seems like T-rex always sounded like Godzilla until Jurassic Park came out. And now it always has that crazy roar that’s a combination of a whale and a tiger and a bunch of stuff.
Chris Coulson: Yeah I’m sticking with the bird-related things, so I’m gonna use chickens and ducks.
Garret: Yeah I like that.
Chris Coulson: Chickens and ducks are what I’m gonna make mine sound like.
Garret: We like the idea of it either like chirping or some scientists were saying might have been just totally silent, which might have been, maybe even been scarier, but then you know it’s not as fun.
Sabrina: That’s not as fun at a party, yeah.
Garret: I like the chirping idea though, that’s great.
Chris Coulson: Yeah, one of my friends on Facebook said I do need to have one sound that’s like a cat meow. So yeah it has to be done.
Garret: Yeah you can make a little comment like I think he might have gotten into the cats.
Chris Coulson: But you see with this new one I’m developing its got a memory card slot, so you can just have you know a ridiculous memory card and a serious memory card or you know it doesn’t matter which ones you use. So it’s lots of fun.
Sabrina: You’ve got quite the skill set. Like any little piece that you think you need, like audio engineering…
Chris Coulson: Yeah I’m just a big nerd. You know, I just love fiddling with things and seeing how they work, and you know, it saves money when you have to do it yourself.
Sabrina: Yeah that’s awesome. If you don’t mind us asking how much did it cost to make Dexter?
Chris Coulson: I’m sworn to secrecy on that I’m afraid.
Sabrina: Fair enough.
Chris Coulson: But I did ask my special effects friend how much it would cost to make one in England, and he was saying at least sixty thousand pounds. But yeah, so that’s what I’m going for. If you wanna buy him off me that will be sixty thousand pounds.
Garret: You can start a second hand dinosaur importing business.
Chris Coulson: Yes, or Pimp My Dinosaur, with sounds and things.
Garret: Yeah, you can do the version where it’s twenty thousand pounds just to add the extra specialized teeth.
Chris Coulson: Get the face textures, yeah.
Sabrina: So other than the camp, what other events have you done so far?
Chris Coulson: We’ve done an exhibition in my local city, and that was like an opportunity for local businesses. And when I first went to the networking meetings when I first got Dexter I’d stand up and do like a sixty second introduction. And of course I stood up and said I’ve just bought a four meter long dinosaur. And then everybody would stop what they were doing and actually look at you, and you know pay attention. And so I did that at a couple of places, and one of the organizers of this exhibition came up to me and said: you’ve got to bring your dinosaur to our exhibition. And they gave me the stand for free, and sort of decorated it with sort of jungle plants and camouflage netting and things like that, and it was just, it brightened up the exhibition no end. And there’s a video on the Facebook page of that, and just everybody laughs. And they just have such a lovely time. And adults become children when dinosaurs are around.
Garret: Have you seen any of the videos of, I think there’s like a really simple inflatable T-rex costume that they started selling with Jurassic World, and people are running around doing like ice skating or…
Chris Coulson: Well do you know, that doesn’t impress me at all. Because when you’ve seen a four meter long dinosaur skating and jumping around on a trampoline, then that’ll impress me. But yeah, I’m a bit nervous of that at the moment. But can you imagine doing one of those stunts with my one?
Garret: Yeah that would be really terrifying.
Chris Coulson: But no for Christmas somebody bought me an inflatable one, but it’s not the same as the tall brown one that’ sin all the videos. But this one is like you’re actually sitting on its back. So your legs are the dinosaur legs, and it’s got inflatable legs down the side. And that’s just hilarious. I’m thinking when a corporate hires me for a huge amount of money then I can just run in with that and say here you are.
Sabrina: Well wear it to all your pitches.
Garret: It’s easier to get around.
Chris Coulson: Yeah I think the opportunities are endless with jokes with that.
Garret: We talked a little bit about future plans, but if you had like an ideal stable of dinosaurs, like if you had three or four, would you be interested in anything other than Velociraptor and T-rex? Like you could do some kind of herbivore or something?
Sabrina: How big would you go I guess?
Chris Coulson: Well yeah you’ve still gotta have the puppeteer, haven’t you? And the great thing about Tyrannosaurus rex is that it’s a theropod, so you’ve only got two legs. But with a quadruped somebody’s gotta do the back end.
Garret: Yeah that’s true.
Chris Coulson: But I mean where’s the fun in an herbivore? You can sort of nuzzle someone or something like that, but they’re never gonna be afraid of you if you’re eating them, are you? Carnivore is where the fun is. It would be cool to have a full-size Diplodicus. […] (00:25:59) talk about the Natural History Museum in England, and you know it’d be really cool to have something forty meters long that was animated. I wonder what happened to the Walking with Dinosaurs ones? Maybe I could buy one of those, drive it down the street.
Garret: Yeah those were so impressive, and they had like the little, it was like a little car underneath it that kind of blended in. That was so slick.
Chris Coulson: I want one of those actually. That’s the next thing.
Garret: That would be awesome.
Chris Coulson: But as far as I know the show’s finished, and that’s it. I don’t know what they did with them.
Sabrina: Yeah that’s too bad.
Chris Coulson: Yeah.
Garret: Gotta get one.
Chris Coulson: They invented the baby T-rex model as far as I know, and in one of the videos they say it cost them a quarter of a million dollars. I mean I suppose with the research and development of that, that’s quite possible, but you know once someone’s worked out you can actually do this this way then it’s relatively easy to manufacture something like that.
Garret: Yeah, you figure out the steel and the foam and the silicon on top, you’re good to go. Just some good paint and a good actor.
Chris Coulson: Yeah, some teeth.
Garret: So with yours you said it can open its mouth, close its mouth, make noises, are there any other things that it does or that you wanna add that it can do?
Chris Coulson: Well the head moves in all directions, and the neck also moves in all directions. So that’s up down left right and rotate. So there’s quite a variety of movement you can get, because you can have the head go one way and the neck go the other way. And I’ve seen cheaper dinosaurs where the head is actually solid on the neck, and they tend to walk around looking at the floor a bit too much. And you know I’m very sort of quick to spot that when the actors are doing that because I guess it’s a heavy head as well, you have to lift it up. But again that’s half of the fun, that we’re inventing something for the first time here. Because there’s not really a course you can go on to learn how to walk around in a puppet dinosaur.
And so one of the guys actually realized that he could, that the head has like a lock to lock it upright when it’s in storage. So sometimes when he’s walking around he can lock the head in and just relax his hands and arms, and you know, but it’s nice that they’re thinking for themselves and coming up with ideas of their own.
Garret: Yeah, good idea. The dinosaur we had at our wedding had the ability to poop, but Sabrina’s mom put the kibosh on that. She was like, ‘No pooping at the wedding.’
Chris Coulson: I’m just speechless. I’m tempted to ask what did it poop, but I don’t think I want to know actually.
Garret: It looked just like poop. I don’t know what it is.
Sabrina: They had that in Walking with Dinosaurs too.
Garret: No they pretended it pooped, they didn’t actually poop.
Sabrina: Oh okay, I see what you’re saying.
Garret: And they had one too that could sneeze, and then they put a little squirt bottle in it and it fed out through its nose. That could be kinda fun too.
Chris Coulson: Yes we’ve had a thought about that actually and we like the idea.
Garret: Because you could probably scare someone better with that.
Chris Coulson: Sorry, you broke up a bit there.
Garret: Oh sorry, I was just saying you could probably scare somebody better if you roar and sneeze on him at the same time.
Chris Coulson: Yes, I mean it’s, the possibilities are great. And I don’t care how heavy it gets because it’s not my problem, that’s the actor’s problem. So we’ll keep ten gallons of liquid in there.
Garret: That’s funny.
Sabrina: So then your actors…
Chris Coulson: So they will be encouraged to sneeze to make it lighter.
Sabrina: Your actors have to be in pretty good shape then huh?
Chris Coulson: They have to be absolutely ninja fit, because it is really hot in there and really confined, and you’re carrying I think it’s about thirty five kilos around the top of your head, so that your central balance is really high. And to move that mass quickly forwards and stop suddenly and then quickly turn it around, there’s a lot of momentum to overcome there.
Garret: Yeah I can see why it would take an hour just to kind of figure out how to wear it.
Chris Coulson: Yes, yeah.
Sabrina: So if someone on the street now just calls out, ‘Hey dinosaur man,’ do you respond to that?
Chris Coulson: I’d ask for their autograph. No it would be amazing. It would be nice if someone said you’re the man with that dinosaur, and everyone else would look very strangely and think what on earth are they talking about?
Garret: I just realized if you get the water spray going you’re only one step away from having it breathe fire. If you just substitute the water with gasoline.
Chris Coulson: Yeah, apparently it’s frowned upon to set fire to children though so I might not do that.
Garret: Save it for the corporate events.
Chris Coulson: Yeah.
Sabrina: Do you have a favorite dinosaur?
Chris Coulson: It is T-rex.
Garret: It’s a good one.
Chris Coulson: He’s just so cute and cuddly.
Sabrina: So soft with all those feathers.
Chris Coulson: I mean the thing as well with feathers was that we opted for a light covering on top of him rather than going for the full-body feather treatment, which I think the Saurian game is considering having the whole Tyrannosaurus rex covered in feathers. Which you know might be good for historical accuracy or something but when people see it they’re gonna say why have you got a great big chicken with teeth rather than T-rex?
Sabrina: Yeah, why is that chicken roaring?
Garret: Yeah I don’t think I’ve seen any animate, I’ve seen a picture or two of a feathered T-rex, fully feathered, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an animated one. It can be interested to see what they did, and maybe if it roars it can puff out all its feathers or something. Could be interesting. And you have to stop the feathers somewhere around its mouth I would think because with a snout you can’t really… could you cover the whole thing in feathers? It would be, I don’t know.
Chris Coulson: I mean Saurian seems quite serious with their realism, and I think they stop their feathers under the eyes so that the jaw and snout were skin only.
Garret: That’d be a pretty creepy looking head.
Chris Coulson: It’s just feathers aren’t so scary, are they?
Sabrina: Well if it’s with big enough teeth.
Chris Coulson: I mean I would still run from a nine foot chicken.
Sabrina: Yeah even ostriches are pretty intimidating.
Chris Coulson: That is true.
Garret: Also the craziness that birds have. Like when you look a bird in the eyes, you’re always just a little bit concerned that it doesn’t know really what it’s doing.
Sabrina: Or it knows exactly what it’s doing.
Chris Coulson: I’m kind of worried that it might be smarter than me.
Sabrina: I had an incident with birds once. I was eating some pizza at a table and it was like a coordinated I don’t’ know what, but all of a sudden one bird, the one pigeon flew over and it was a ledge a little bit higher than the table, and a few other birds flew in, and then this bird on the ledge lifted one leg, so it’s standing on one leg, and it’s like that was a signal because then more birds started coming in, and then they started circling the table where I was eating the pizza. And then one at a time would fly up and try to like peck at the pizza, and it looked like this coordinated event. It was really creepy.
Chris Coulson: That’s scary.
Garret: Sabrina also has an irrational fear of birds.
Chris Coulson: I’m not surprised now. I would.
Garret: She also had a hotdog stolen from her right out of her hand a couple months ago.
Sabrina: Well that’s to be expected from seagulls.
Chris Coulson: A hotdog’s quite big isn’t it?
Sabrina: Yeah but so are seagulls.
Chris Coulson: Especially if they keep eating hotdogs.
Sabrina: Exactly. They get aggressive. They know that they can get away with it.
Garret: We were at a zoo and there was a feeding of penguins, but it was an outdoor zoo, and they stopped because a bunch of seagulls showed up, and they were like the seagulls get really aggressive, so we had to wait for them to leave before we could keep feeding the penguins. Like the penguin’s twice as big as the seagull, but apparently the seagulls are just violent.
Chris Coulson: Well I don’t think birds get the respect they deserve actually because I think, I could be wrong of course, but I believe the bird with the biggest vocabulary of English, you know, human words, is the budgerigar. And that’s a tiny little thing, but it’s quite a famous bird on YouTube.
Garret: Cool, I don’t think I’ve seen that one.
Sabrina: Yeah me neither.
Garret: I’ll have to look it up. Did you see the, what did they call it, T-rex dissection I think?
Chris Coulson: Yes. I don’t know if you saw it in America but it was quite a big thing in the UK.
Garret: Yeah, and I saw some of the publicity stunts they were doing where they were driving around the big T-rex on a flatbed around Trafalgar Square and stuff.
Chris Coulson: Yeah that’s brilliant. I saw that in the making-of video that when they made the stomach, they said we’re putting some awful smelling chemicals in here, but we’re not gonna tell the actors because we want them to act really well.
Garret: Yeah, the whole time I was watching it I was just thinking they did a really good job making this so that when you cut into it, it still looks pretty realistic. That’s a whole other level of modeling.
Chris Coulson: Yeah. And actually I got in touch with the company that made the T-rex when I was doing research about the actors to see if they had any actors, and they’re actually called Crawly Creatures. But they were really helpful when I was sort of doing some research.
Sabrina: Yeah I imagine it took a long time to research everything and then figure out what companies to go with.
Chris Coulson: Yes, yeah it’s a whole sort of different business, because it’s entertainment and marketing but also acting and puppetry and special effects kind of gear. And so yeah it was, but I kind of, I enjoyed that sort of learning while you’re going and figure things out on the fly.
Sabrina: Great. What do your cats think about Dexter?
Chris Coulson: We’re a bit nervous of showing them to him because I don’t want to terrify them, and when cats get terrified and nervous in their own environment they can tend to get revenge on you.
Garret: Or they might think it’s a giant scratch toy and then that’s an expensive repair.
Chris Coulson: It would be a good video on YouTube though wouldn’t it?
Garret: It’s true. Cat versus T-rex.
Chris Coulson: Yeah.
Sabrina: Thank you so much for joining us today Chris.
Chris Coulson: It’s been a pleasure, I’m a big fan of I Know Dino since I, I mean I discovered you when I was doing my research and I just, I love your podcasts.
Garret: Awesome, thanks.
Sabrina: Thank you. Well from what we’ve seen Dexter looks amazing. It’s too bad we’re across the pond.
Chris Coulson: Yes, well whenever you come over here, come and meet him.
Sabrina: That would be amazing.
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