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Apple TV+’s Prehistoric Planet uses visual effects and the latest paleontology research to show viewers how dinosaurs lived 66 million years ago.
The streaming service took the same art meets science approach ahead of the launch of the show’s second season Monday, by enlisting landscape artist David Popa to create murals depicting the creatures in the areas where they once lived.
“As a kid, I would skip school on my birthday with my dad and go to the Museum of Natural History in New York City, where I grew up,” Popa told Adweek. “Entering into its halls and marveling at the dinosaurs sparked my imagination like very few things have. I am just happy to continue to keep that fire alive for others.”
Popa had been planning a series focused on the idea of unearthing fossils of extinct animals before he was approached by Apple TV+, who wanted exactly that for its launch campaign. He crafted giant murals of Tyrannosaurus rex, triceratops and hatzegopteryx based on the latest findings on what each species would look like.
“What we attempted to do was push away from the cliche, monstrous creatures that some of the dinosaurs could be perceived as and have them embodied as characters living out their lives on this incredible planet,” Popa said. “That gets reflected in the portraits shown; for example, the subtle yet majestic portrait of the T. rex or the incredible stone texture of triceratops mimicking his rich textured skin.”
Each work took more than 12 hours to complete and was made using the same materials thought to have been used in the earliest cave paintings, such as ground shells, charcoal and local chalk, plus water sourced from the area. The works can only be fully viewed by drone and Popa has shared images and video of the project across social media.
“My inspiration for taking up this approach to natural eco-art was the desire to fully immerse myself in the beauty and mystery that nature can offer,” Popa said. “Using natural, ephemeral materials allows me to have that dialogue, just as early cave painters did thousands of years ago, and it can help me build out that narrative.”
Each was crafted in the habitats where the dinosaurs once lived, with the T. rex appearing in Moab, Utah, the hatzegopteryx on a remote island in Popa’s native Finland, and the triceratops in the fossil-rich area of Dorset, England known as the Jurassic Coast.
“This approach of natural eco-art fits perfectly with the themes explored in Prehistoric Planet and allowed me to bring to life some of the incredible dinosaurs featured in the new series in a unique way,” Popa said. “Interestingly, the raw materials and pigments I use are the same that would have been plentiful millions of years ago when the dinosaurs roamed the planet.”