The Jaw-some Tech Behind Shark Week
August 16, 2012 12:48 PM As Shark Week celebrates its 25th year with jaw-filled images, a slew of new technologies drive both content production and distribution.
Who Are You Calling Big Mouth?
For "Sharkzilla," which aired on Monday, researchers built a full-size animatronic version of the prehistoric Megaladon, the largest shark yet discovered. Because sharks' bodies are almost entirely cartilage, however, the design had to be reverse-engineered from fossilized teeth--the only traces of the ancient animals that still remain.
The living animal was up to 60 feet long and weighed at least 50 tons. Its jaws measured six feet wide and eight feet tall. Brooke Runnette, Shark Week's executive producer, said the animatronic model's foundation was composed of hydraulic jaws built around a steel frame. Inflatable material was used to fill out the rest of the body, which included a seven-foot dorsal fin. The final product was approximately the size of a city bus.
"CGI is never as cool," claimed Runnette in explaining the decision to reincarnate the creature through a physical, rather than digital, approach.