Journal

Chapter 1. Nemicolopterus: tiny, picky and very talented

Our whole team is eagerly awaiting the release of the first app about the adventures of little Ginkgo. The application will consist of two parts - an interactive game and a mini-encyclopedia written by paleontologists. We just can’t wait to take you on a trip in the prehistoric forest to show you the dinos, flying and marine reptiles Ginkgo will meet! The app will be released in a month. In the meantime, to make the wait easier, we have decided to share some tidbits from the app: info about the characters, sketches and videos, and short “making-of” stories. We will also be happy to publish some excerpts from the scientific articles of our mini-encyclopedia.

While selecting characters for our application, we really wanted to find an interesting flying reptile. Pteranodon and Pterodactyl did go through our ‘casting’, but as it turns out they are already famous stars, always busy shooting BBC documentaries, Hollywood movies and popular cartoons. For example, Petrie, a little Pterodactyl, starred in The Land Before Time (our kids adore this cartoon). And an entire family of Pteranodons got leading parts in the cartoon series Dinosaur Train !

The Land Before Time

is a 1988 American-Irish animated adventure drama film directed and produced by Don Bluth and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, and Frank Marshall.

Dinosaur Train

is an American/Canadian/Singaporean animated series created by Craig Bartlett. The series features a curious young Tyrannosaurus rex named Buddy who, together with his adopted Pteranodon family, takes the Dinosaur Train to explore his time period, and have adventures with all kinds of dinosaurs.

We lost sleep over this issue. Directing and producing is a pretty tough job... Then one day, after a lot of puzzling and searching, we came across the drawing of a Nemicolopterus. It was love at first sight. It’s a mysterious reptile, believed by some scientists to be a baby Pterosaurus, while other paleontologists claim that he belongs to its own separate species. That’s a curious biography that would appeal even to the most sophisticated young viewers. So we apologized to Pteranodon and Pterodactyl, asking them to be understanding: we just had to give that young budding actor a chance :)
When filming, Nemicolopterus was very picky. We had to change the animation and redraw the sketches many times. Some team members even offered to cut it out from the script. Fortunately this did not happen. So...

Meet Nemo, the unique and amazing Nemicolopterus!

"... For now what’s certain is that Nemicolopterus is part of a very interesting group of ancient reptiles that mastered flight and conquered the Mesozoic skies. These flying reptiles are called pterosaurs. They evolved a bit later than dinosaurs, about 228 million years ago, and became extinct at the same time dinosaurs did, 66 million years ago. These creatures developed wings that are completely different from those of birds. Their forelegs, with their extremely long fourth fingers, formed a frame for a leathery membrane, the bottom of which was attached to their short hind legs." (the quote from our mini-encyclopedia)

The Nemicolopterus turned out to be a very complicated character. First its forelegs did not look like the limbs of a flying reptile, then its wings would bend in a wrong way, or the leathery membrane on its forelimbs would look like anything but a membrane. At the same time we realized that the character would be the size of a fingernail. But we hope you’ll enjoy the result of all that hard work anyway!

Funny stories from the life of developers

DIALOGUE 1. 
Characters: Project manager, Animator

Project manager: Listen, here’s the thing… Our paleontologist saw the animated character. The Nemicolopterus, I mean. She says it couldn’t fly this way. Its wings bend too much and, on the whole, it looks like a flying cross between a crow and a penguin.
Animator: Okay… But in The Land Before Time it could.
P. m.: I Don’t get it. What does The Land Before Time have to do with it?
A.: You showed me as an example the way some funny guy from that movie flew, didn’t you? It’s written in black and white in your script.
P.m.: Did we? Well, let’s watch “The Land Before Time” once more. [after seeing Petrie fly] Well, you’re right, he’s flying exactly like our little guy does. Listen, maybe they just didn’t know what the “correct” way for it to fly was? We could open their eyes.
A.: Whose eyes? That of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas? (executive producers of the movie The Land Before Time)
P.m.: [with some hesitation] Why not… [rather shy] They simply haven’t seen a real Nemicolopter fly.
A.: Oh… well, then it’s fine. No need to worry. The paleontologists surely have.

Nemo #1: "a flying cross between a crow and a penguin" :)

DIALOGUE 2. 
Characters: Project manager, Animator, Illustrator

One month after the Dialogue 1. The rest of the characters have been created. The team proceeds to revision.

Animator: Well, time to “edit” the Nemicolopterus, huh?
Project manager: Yes. Let’s start. But the scetch of the Nemicolopterus doesn’t quite fit now.
Animator: ?? [there was an ominous silence in the Skype air]
P.m.: The paleontologist looked at the illustration and said Nemicolopterus’ hands look like sticks.
Illustrator:  [ironiccaly] Did it have hands?
Project manager: Well, its forelegs :) It must have a humerus, a forearm and a hand with a LONG finger to hold the wing…
A.: Do you realize that it was the tiniest flying reptile of that time and that on a screen it will be no bigger than a fingernail?
P.m.: I do. But without that long finger it will still fly like a cross between a crow and a penguin.
[If we weren’t in different countries, the animator’s and illustrator’s glance would have reduce me to ashes.]

Nemo ## 2, 3, 4. Better, but not perfect.

Nemo # 5. Hmmmm

Notes from our paleontologist, who was tired of our art

DIALOGUE 3. 
Characters: Project manager, Animator

Animator: My Nemicolopterus isn’t working out.
Project manager: Like… at all?
A.: Yep.
P.m.: Do you want some inspiration?
A.: Go ahead.
P.m.: No one before you has ever tried to animate this character. It was drawn a lot, but never animated. Thank goodness we have you. And you’re gonna be the first! The very first one to do it!
A.: Wow, really? That changes everything :)
[We love people with professional ambitions and we are sooo lucky to work with this animator - he’s extremely talented and a perfectionist, in addition to that].

Тэги: Ginkgo Dino
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