Dino in a Blender


I see a lot of interesting stories in my line of work as a TV editor on Australia’s premier News and Current Affairs show. But one thing I didn’t expect to do was build a dinosaur!

It turns out that Australia has some significant fossils and in my home state of Queensland there is a small regional community that is pinning its future to these discoveries. The dinosaur museum at Winton plans to house an enormous new exhibit, a titanosaur named Cooper. But they haven’t cleaned him up yet and they haven’t built the shed to put him in either. Now how could we fix that? And how could we do it in just 2 days!

Well I thought, I’ve seen Jurassic Park, how hard could it be? I fired up Blender and started knocking out a cube extruded subsurfed model. I expected to rig and texture him in a week, sadly the story deadline was bumped up, leaving me just a couple days. So I had to cut the walking sequence (we found a documentary that could cover that) and just went with a shot of their existing shed and a dinosaur in front of it.


To give it a bit more life I decided to rig the neck and tail with some chain IK bones so that he could raise his head and wag his tail. The texture and general shape was from a scientific side elevation, I could basically trace him out and apply a mirror modifier to get the shape right.

I found the model a bit lifeless still so I looked at the shot for some other ways to inject movement. A simple crane up would be perfect but the shed had unique challenge. It was from a single angle and fairly low resolution. I used the BLAM addon to gather the lens and camera placement the roughly modeled the geometry to map the shed image onto. To make the crane shot more obvious I took the tree from the right of frame and placed it into the foreground (exaggerated parallax).


And here is the final piece: Except from 730report story about Cooper


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