Broadcaster Magazine

World Premiere for 3D Special on Discovery World HD

The last day of the dinosaurs may represent the first day of a new multi-platform immersive television environment.

Discovery Channel presented The Last Day of the Dinosaurs in a special evening of television simulcasts last month.

Together, they marked Discovery Channel’s most-watched special event broadcast ever, with 685,000 viewers tuning in for the landmark television event. Drawing in a combined reach of more than two million viewers, the special – an original Canadian production – was the #1 non-sports specialty program on Canadian television that Sunday night not only with total viewers, but also for A25-54 (293,000) and A18-49 (285,000).

The shows first aired in standard definition on Discovery Channel and in high definition on Discovery World HD.

Then, the world television premiere of two different 3D versions: on Discovery World HD, an anaglyph 3D version of the show was presented. On various cable and satellite 3D barker channels in Canada, an active 3D version was delivered.

Rich online content at and complimented the landmark TV broadcast, and one week later, the extravagant animated production screened online.

The program (a co-production for Discovery Channel, from UK film and animation company Dangerous, along with Montreal production company Handel Productions) points to a new TV reality: one version just won’t do.

As Discovery Channel President and General Manager Paul Lewis pointed out, one show, four versions, but little or no meaningful numbers at this early stage about the 3D audience in particular.

“It’s about setting the stage, leading the way,” he said. “We’re proud to air the world premiere of this 3DTV program, but we also see there will be a lot more 3D content coming.”

Ann Harbron, Discovery’s Director of Commissioning and Production, in describing some three years of development work on the show, noted that it began life as a 2D concept. Careful development of the informative and emotional storyline, coupled with the power of computer animation, lead to the realization that a 3D version was not only possible, but necessary to ‘future-proof’ the program.

The 90-minute special provided a visceral portrait of a path of destruction rolling across every continent, triggering a bitter ‘nuclear winter’, leading to a collapse in the food chain and the dinosaurs’ last day.

Created with cutting-edge CGI and stunning 3D environments, the production also makes full use of physical models, chroma-key effects, high speed motion photography and even some live-action nature footage.

More than 50 CG artists were tasked with recreating realistic environments and the creatures that inhabited them, all based on extensive scientific research and interaction with scientists, geologists, zoologists, planetary scientists and impact science experts.

Built with 18 months of scientific research, 30,000 hours of visual effects and animation work by a team of artists – rendering approximately 1,090,000 images! – the program was an incredible multi-disciplinary endeavour.

Discovery Channel Canada is a joint venture between CTV (Canada) and Discovery Communications Inc. Discovery World HD launched earlier this year.