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IRA FLATOW, host:

Shifting now from chemistry to blockbuster-movie wizardry. If you spent any time in the movies over the past decades, you've watched the progression of special effects, maybe you even remember "Smell-O-Vision." Do you remember that one? I do.

Then there was also 3-D, which is still my favorite, and then we had wide screen movies to take on television, computerized movies that changed the industry, movies like "Star Wars" for example, and the list of movie technologies goes on, and on, and on to today's completely digitally-produced films.

I guess it's hard to even call them film if they're not shot on film, but they're distributed on film. Here to talk about how we went from black and white to Technicolor and beyond is Scott Kirsner. Scott is author of the new book "Inventing the Movies: Hollywood's Epic Battle between Innovation and the Status Quo, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs." Welcome to Science Friday.

Mr. SCOTT KIRSNER (Author, "Inventing the Movies: Hollywood's Epic Battle Between Innovation and the Status Quo, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs "): Oh, it's great to be here, Ira.

FLATOW: Well, I'm interested in your title, before we get into the innovations themselves. You say the, "Hollywood's Epic Battle between Innovation and Status Quo." They didn't ever wanted to change?

Mr. KIRSNER: I think Hollywood, like every established industry, really hates change, and wants to resist it. And so, you see if you look at the movie industry from its beginnings in the 1890s to today or to yesterday, you see these kind of two camps always emerging and one camp is the innovators who have a new idea like "Smell-O-Vision" or let's make a computer-generated, animated movie.

And then you have the rest of the industry, which I think is really the majority of people in Hollywood and in any big, established industry, who just want to keep doing things the way that they do them...

FLATOW: Mm-hm.

Mr. KIRSNER: They're comfortable with the tools that they use today, and they don't want to change their business models.

FLATOW: So, it was actually these folks with new technology that chased Hollywood, rather than Hollywood chasing them.

Mr. KIRSNER: I think that's really true that it has been kind of pushing technology on the industry, rather than the industry pulling it, and it's, you know, it's pretty incredible to think that if the movies were still silent and in black and white, they probably wouldn't have survived much past the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s. It just would have been a blip on the pop culture.

But it's really because Hollywood has had its back pushed up against the wall, really, time and time again, that the movies have evolved and even proved, and now you can go see "The Dark Knight" on an IMAX screen with digital sound...

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. KIRSNER: And, you know, it's an incredible experience.

FLATOW: But you say that even Hollywood resisted color. That's hard to believe.

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah, I'm glad that you bought up the color transition, because I've lived in Boston for a long time and Technicolor, the company that really brought a rainbow of colors to the silver screen, was founded in Boston in 1915, and it was a bunch of engineers or a trio of engineers, two of them from MIT, who got enchanted with the movies in the teens, before sound, and really thought that it was movie's destiny to be in color.

But it took them almost 25 years to convince the industry that it wanted to be in color. And it was just an incredible progression of both improving the technology so that, you know, you could shoot movies in color that didn't require really hot lights...

FLATOW: Mm.

Mr. KIRSNER: And you could run the Technicolor film through the projector without it getting warped. And they needed allies in the industry along the way. Douglas Fairbanks made one of the first Technicolor movies called "The Black Pirate," and then Walt Disney picked it up. But it wasn't really until 1939 that the technology was good enough, and that mainstream movies started to experiment with, and 1939 was the year that both "The Wizard of Oz" and "Gone with the Wind" came up both in Technicolor.

FLATOW: Mm-hm.

Mr. KIRSNER: "Gone with the Wind' won the best picture Oscar that year, and beating out "Wizard of Oz." And that was kind of the beginning of the industry. It was the start of the tipping point really...

FLATOW: Mm.

Mr. KIRSNER: That convinced the industry that, yeah, actually color movies are a good idea.

FLATOW: Talking about the technology of movies this hour on Talk of the Nation: Science Friday from NPR News. I'm Ira Flatow talking with the author of "Inventing the Movies: Hollywood's Epic Battle between Innovation and the Status Quo, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs," Scott Kirsner.

And you seem to say in your book we're facing that same resistance now into the digital age, even though that we now think all these films are made in digital, very few are.

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah, it's still a rarity even in 2008, you know, you can count the movies on one hand that were shot with a digital camera. A lot of cinematographers are still comfortable with film.

They can get film to look great, you know, they can shoot a sunset and that sunset is going to look like the most beautiful, brilliant sunset you've ever seen on the screen. And I think a lot of them look at these digital cameras and say, they're not good enough yet, or I'm not comfortable yet enough with this technology, or I just don't have time, you know.

Cinematographers in Hollywood go from one project to the next to the next. And when I interviewed a few of them, they just said, I didn't really have time to evaluate.

FLATOW: Mm.

Mr. KIRSNER: I even talked to Peter Jackson around the time that his "King Kong" remake was coming out, and he said that, you know, to be honest, I just haven't had time in between projects to evaluate the latest digital cameras...

FLATOW: Mm.

Mr. KIRSNER: And he's actually started, he just shot last year an experiment with a new digital camera. So, but it is true that most of the movies you'll see at the multiplex this weekend were shot on film, and they're still playing in - up in that projection booth behind you on film.

FLATOW: Whatever happened to 3-D? That was my - I - when I saw "Dial M for Murder" in 3-D. That was terrific. I mean, I've seen a few 3-D movies, you can't find them, but they seem almost to be coming back now.

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah, there's really a resurgence of 3-D, I think. The first boom of 3-D was - I don't want to date you, Ira...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KIRSNER: But you know, the first boom was in the 1950s with movies like "Dial M for Murder" and "Bwana Devil." And it didn't last into the '60s really. And that boom was caused by television. The movie industry was looking for any technology. There were actually 3-D movies as far back as the teens and '20s, but in the '50s, the movies needed a technology to differentiate themselves from television.

FLATOW: Mm.

Mr. KIRSNER: They saw television starting to come in to our living rooms, and they said, we need to make the experience at the movie theater different from television, and so you got cardboard red and blue glasses, you got movies like "Dial M for Murder" in 3-D. A lot of people said they got headaches from watching those movies.

And now, you're having this digital 3-D resurgence. The latest one I think was "Journey to the Center of the Earth" this summer, that was shot with a digital camera. Brendan Frasier was in that.

FLATOW: Mm.

Mr. KIRSNER: And people say that it's definitely a lot crisper, less fuzzy than 3-D in the 50s, and again it's being driven by technology in the home, you know, DVDs and high-def DVDs look great if you have a plasma or an LCD TV at home. And the movies are really struggling to continue...

FLATOW: Yeah.

Mr. KIRSNER: To give people a reason to, you know, to come out on a Saturday night and spend, you know, 20, 30 bucks for a date night.

FLATOW: Even the IMAX CDs - 3-Ds are terrific also.

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah. You know, IMAX is - can be a great experience. Sometimes I feel like when you're watching Hollywood movies on the IMAX screen that it's a little bit too absorbing, and you know...

FLATOW: Mm-hm.

Mr. KIRSNER: I want to have my peripheral vision back. You know, I feel like I've been dominated in some way.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: All right. OK. Yeah, that is pretty - it was a pretty overwhelming experience, but I - you know, I remember a "Galapagos" IMAX 3-D that just, you know, I thought I had the animal sitting there on my lap. We're going to take a short break. Well, hang on...

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah, I was just going to say, I think the science documentaries tend to work better on IMAX than some of the Hollywood movies.

FLATOW: They do. You really get to see, you know, close up and in 3-D, what these animals look like and it's a life-changing experience, I think. Stay with us, we're going to come back and talk lots more with Scott Kirsner, who's author of "Inventing the Movies: Hollywood's Epic Battle Between Innovation and the Status Quo, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs." Your phone calls, stay with us. We'll be right back.

(Soundbite of music)

FLATOW: You're listening to Talk of the Nation: Science Friday. I'm Ira Flatow with a program note. On Wednesday, Neal Conan will broadcast live from the Newseum in Washington along with Ken Rudin, NPR's political junkie, and if you're going to be in Washington and want free chick - tickets to join the audience for a live broadcast, send an email to tickets@npr.org.

We might even know who will Barack Obama's running mate is by then. You never know. We're talking this hour about how inventions have changed what we see at the cinema. My guest is Scott Kirsner, author of the book "Inventing the Movies," 1-800-989-8255. Let's go to the phones, to Terrence in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Hi, Terrence.

TERRENCE (Caller): Good afternoon.

FLATOW: Hi there.

TERRENCE: At - in about the year 2000, a special-effects artists told my alma mater that the next frontier, the final frontier, was rendering realistic-looking humans. And I know that there's some - with computers...

FLATOW: Mm.

TERRENCE: I know there's some resistance now, you know, with "Beowulf" and films like that.

But I was wondering if Hollywood actually wants to continue going in that direction, or are they just want to hi - you know, hire big-named actors and just stand in front of a green screen all day?

FLATOW: Good question. Isn't it cheaper to make all these computer-generated - because we're seeing so many more of them - than hire the actor?

Mr. KIRSNER: Well, there may be an actor strike coming up soon, so I think you know, having those computer-generated characters waiting for - waiting in the wings for their star turn, may not be a bad idea, and maybe that's part of the motivation, is that, you know, actors can be temperamental, sometimes you have to persuade them to come out of the trailer.

Computer-generated characters, you know, they're always ready and they - you know, they say the lines you give them. They don't try to change it. I don't really understand. I mean, I know that for graphics people, they just had the big computer graphics conference a week or two ago in Los Angeles called SIGGRAPH.

And they're always trying to make humans on the screen look more realistic, and there's this phenomenon called the "uncanny valley" where - have you seen a movie like "Beowulf' - there's a little bit of creepiness still...

FLATOW: Mm.

TERRENCE: Because it looks human, but then it's kind of got a little bit of plasticity to the skin, or it's a little bit robotic in the movements, and you just don't buy it, and you know, that's why I think Pixar has been so successful by sort of keeping that, you know, very stylistic...

FLATOW: Yeah.

TERRENCE: Cartoony look, and you know, you don't expect the characters in, you know, "Ratatouille" or "WALL-E" to look, you know, precisely human. But you know...

FLATOW: But the sets are all painted now, you know? I mean, you know even on television, HBO Series or in like "Rome" - things like that. They make this huge - you know, all the sets are just painted on and screen it(ph).

Mr. KIRSNER: And there's just a difference, you know. I was really mesmerized by the "John Adams" miniseries on HBO and, you know, the way...

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. KIRSNER: That they have created those environments...

FLATOW: Exactly.

Mr. KIRSNER: Of colonial America, but you know, that's a background and you don't subject it to the same scrutiny that you do an actor in the foreground, where you say, is that a human or is it not?"

I think, you know, you can do a great sailing ship, you can do a great 18th-century building with computers, but I'm not sure, you know - I sort of agree with the caller that I don't think computers are there yet in terms of believable humans, and I don't know if I would put money on them getting their...

FLATOW: Mm.

Mr. KIRSNER: I hate to say in our lifetime...

FLATOW: Mm.

Mr. KIRSNER: Because then I'll sound like I'm a, you know, a retrograde.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KIRSNER: But you know, let's say the next 10 years, that's still going to be, I feel like I'll go on the horizon.

FLATOW: Yeah. Hollywood has had a few clunkers in its attempts to make things different in the theaters. I'm thinking specifically - and you talk about it in your book - of "Smell-O-Vision."

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah, I'm glad you brought up "Smell-O-Vision."

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KIRSNER: And you said you saw the one movie ever released in "Smell-O-Vision?"

FLATOW: I think I did. It was in the '50s. I was only a little kid, but I do remember...

Mr. KIRSNER: Uh-huh.

FLATOW: I also remember "The Twingler" - "The Tingler."

Mr. KIRSNER: Oh, "The Tingler."

FLATOW: I think also had something in the seats or something.

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah, they had a joy buzzer in the seats.

FLATOW: That's what it was.

Mr. KIRSNER: And the idea was in "The Tingler" - you know, this was again in Hollywood's era of trying to figure out any gimmick, any technology to compete with TV. So "Smell-O-Vision" first, there was - I think a one or two-year period where you had not one but two competing smell systems or fragrance-distribution systems that showed up in theaters. One was called "Smell-O-Vision" and the competitor was called "Aroma-Rama," and neither of them survived. I think only one or two movies released in each one, because the smells...

FLATOW: But they have - go ahead. I was just going to say...

Mr. KIRSNER: Well, the smells would kind of merge in to one another, and eventually, it was like, you know, you were kind of in, you know, someone's basement with all these funky smells.

FLATOW: I think they had vibrating seats and things in some of these films? Don't you remember, was "The Tingler" or something?

Mr. KIRSNER: Well, yeah. "The Tingler" with Vincent Price.

FLATOW: Yeah.

Mr. KIRSNER: They put joy buzzers under - I don't think it was all the seats.

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. KIRSNER: I think it was some, and the idea was if you could just make some people in the audience scream at few moments...

FLATOW: Right. They scream.

Mr. KIRSNER: Everyone else would go crazy.

FLATOW: Why does "The Tingler" - was this creature was running down the aisles, I mean, they tried to make it look like it was coming down the aisle towards your seat, if I remember it, and this was burned into my brain as you could see.

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah. It clearly had its effect. The Tingler looked like a lobster basically.

FLATOW: Exactly.

Mr. KIRSNER: It was kind of like a crustacean monster.

FLATOW: A crayfish coming down the aisle so...

Mr. KIRSNER: And the only way you could get it off you - the only way Vincent Price could get it off him was to scream. And so, the audience - the only way you could save yourself from the Tingler was to scream.

FLATOW: Yes. You know where this has been resurrected though are on these theme parks. You know, you go to Orlando, and some of the theme parks have all these little gimmicks in them. They like bolt you into the seats on a ride and you get sprayed with water, you get vibrated, smell-o-vision, that sort of thing.

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah, I actually think that those theaters and theme parks where, you know, where they're spritzing you with water or they're still doing, you know, they're doing smells. I think it's some of the Disney theme parks, you know, there's one word, they kind of do, you know, zap you in the seat and...

FLATOW: I think it's "Alien." I think it's the Alien ride or something.

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah. And I think that's, you know, it's incredibly inventive. They've taken a lot of the gimmicks and technologies from the 50's and kept them alive. And in a way, I sort of wished the neighborhood movie theater was doing more to be inventive about the experience and to make it kind of a four-dimensional immersive experience rather than just saying, you know, are value propositions to the audiences. You come here, you pay us money and you see something on the screen.

FLATOW: Yeah.

Mr. KIRSNER: And we'll sell you some overpriced popcorn.

FLATOW: Because now you're competing with the Wii and things like that that vibrate and you know, you interact with these home video things. Now, you think you're right. You'd want to create a - the next generation, stay a step ahead in the theaters.

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah. And there is that question about, do we want - do audiences want movies to be interactive? Do they want them to be more like video games where you're kind of navigating or choosing. I remember in the 80s, seeing the movie "Clue", where I think it paused at a moment and the audience could choose who they thought was the murderer and then they showed you a different ending based on what the audience thought.

FLATOW: Yeah.

Mr. KIRSNER: You know, I think you could do a lot more with, you know, with digital projection technology today and it's just still is a question that the industry has is how much do movies want to be like video games.

FLATOW: Do you remember "Tron?"

Mr. KIRSNER: I do. "Tron" was - I talked to the director of "Tron." I went to visit him in Santa Monica, and it was a real high point for me to meet someone who directed this, you know, great movie of the early '80s.

FLATOW: It was probably the first real digital movie I think, you know, with a digital character in it if I remember correctly.

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah. It was - it came out in '82 and it - Disney released it. And it really kind of was a flop. It had more computer generated imagery in it and some computer characters and environments than anything that had come before. And because it was a flop, people said it really set the industry back, you know, back a ways because, you know, if it had been a hit, people would have kept investing in the technology. But a lot of the people involved in "Tron" said, you know, it didn't resonate with audiences and so, Hollywood kind of wrote off the potential of computers.

FLATOW: Yeah.

Mr. KIRSNER: For a long time really.

FLATOW: Too much digitized motorcycle racing if I remember.

Mr. KIRSNER: They're making a sequel to "Tron" as you mentioned.

FLATOW: Is that right?

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah. "Tron II," it's coming.

FLATOW: Ramin(ph) in Kansas City. Hi, welcome to Science Friday.

RAMIN (Caller): Hey guys, how's it going?

FLATOW: Hi there.

RAMIN: Hey, my question is, you know, Blu-ray is a great technology and I have a Blu-ray player and the picture's really crystal clear. It looks awesome and I actually heard accounts from a co-worker that the next step was in five to 10 years or something like that, will be that they're going to release something like a Blu-ray but it's going to be holographic. I mean, if you're familiar with the movie "Minority Report," the scene where Tom Cruise is watching his home movies, and it's kind of coming out in 3D holographic image in front of him. I was just, wanting to get your opinion and see if you heard about that or is that true or what?

FLATOW: Well, I think that Tom Cruise's machinery is true. I think they were using that kind of thing as a projector but not as a home item yet. That sort of thing. We've been talking about holographs for years, have we not?

Mr. KIRSNER: We have and I do think that that is sort of a Holy Grail. It's either 3D television where you hopefully wouldn't need to wear glasses and there's some consumer electronics companies working on that already and showing some demos. And then obviously, you know that holographic moment in "Star Wars" where you have Princess Leia saying, help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope. I do think there are a lot of people in the entertainment industry who want to get there.

There's one guy interviewed for the book, Doug Trimble, who did all the special effects for "2001 A Space Odyssey" and he tried that in the I think late '80s or early '90s and it was, you know, it was one of those things where the technology wasn't there at the time but I'm always confident with all of these technological revolutions in Hollywood, you see people trying a couple of times and failing first. Everyone concludes that it'll never work and then someone else is naive enough or you know, or bold enough to try again and 'lo and behold, you have "The Jazz Singer." "Jazz Singer" wasn't the first attempt to make a talking picture.

FLATOW: You talked about some of the movies that actually changed the industry. And one of them, you say is "Toy Story." Why "Toy Story"?

Mr. KIRSNER: Well, I love the story behind "Toy Story" which is that, you know, you have two guys or maybe you'd consider three guys - you have Ed Catmull who is really a computer graphics researcher, trained at the University of Utah and throughout the '80s, he was just obsessed with this idea of using computers to make an animated movie. And you know, he would visit the people at Disney and they kind of didn't really get what he was doing. He was making still images with the computer. He was making these very crude, you know, sort of volumetric or basically line drawings, dimensional line drawings in the screen and they just said, this is not animation. This is not what we do, you know, we're the studio of "Snow White" and "Fantasia," and all these great movies.

But he kept at it, you know, he told me for the book that, you know, it took - he thought it would take about 10 years to make the first computer animated feature film, and it end up taking 20. So, you often see innovators really underestimating how persistent they're going to have to be. And then he connected up with a former Disney animator named John Lasseter, who really kind of left Disney disappointed that they wouldn't let him explore computer animation there. He had seen "Tron," a Disney movie and said, you know, we should be exploring the potential of computers to make movies, and Lasseter and Catmull hooked up. You know, they had some patronage from George Lucas and Steve Jobs and now you have this company Pixar that hasn't yet - I think in eight or nine movies, hasn't yet had anything less than a giant blockbuster success.

FLATOW: Yeah. And that's why, you know, the subtitle of your book is, "The Epic Battle Between Innovation and Status Quo." You had to have these people leave the major studios and even start their own companies. So now, even sell the movies back to Disney, other companies like that.

Mr. KIRSNER: Well, that is, you know, the wonderful end note of the Pixar-Disney story is that Disney really even as Pixar was you know, making short films and showing them off and showing what computers could do, Disney still didn't want to let them make a feature. Disney was distributing Pixar's movies even though they were two separate organizations. And eventually, Disney had to shell out billions and billions of dollars to buy Pixar because their own animation group had just kind of lost its way and lost its focus. So now, who do you have running Disney animation? You have Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, the founders of Pixar.

FLATOW: Are any cartoons made with cells anymore. That's all over. No one pan-paints these?

Mr. KIRSNER: No. You still see movies. "Persepolis" was a recent kind of indie hit that was - that use hand drawn animation and the interesting thing - I still think there's going to be - I'd like to think that great art like that is never going to go away in the same way that oil paintings and frescos, you know, maybe frescos are not as popular as they once were. But oil paintings, you know, people still do that even though we have photography and videography. Interestingly, the guys at Pixar, now that they're running Disney animation, they have plans to do or they're in production now of a hand-drawn movie called "The Frog Princess," that I think is going to be out next year or 2010.

FLATOW: Talking about the movies at this hour in Talk of the Nation Science Friday from NPR News. I'm Ira Flatow here talking about the movies with Scott Kirsner, author of "Inventing the Movies." Any frontiers that you see that are developing we should keep an eye open for?

Mr. KIRSNER: Well, the question about holographic imagery and 3D was really a great one. I mean, I think that's - you know, that's an interesting frontier. I think that figuring out how Hollywood studios can take advantage of Internet video, kind of what are they going to do with video delivered over the Internet is really one of the big challenges today. And you see them still trying to say, we want to distribute our TV shows and our movies over the Internet, and we want you to, you know, we want to sell you or rent you a 90-minute movie over the Internet.

But really, I think what YouTube has shown us is that people are spending their coffee break or you know, goofing off at work watching these little two and three even four-minute videos, and so, I think, for the business and for the creatives, the challenges, you know, what do you do with the Internet? What do you do with this medium where the distribution is free. It cost them almost nothing to get the content to you. But, you know, people don't want to sit there, watching a 90-minute movie in most cases, you know, while they're - you know, while they're at work or while they're looking at their iPod on the train.

FLATOW: Just as Pixar had to start up to take on the Hollywood moguls, are we going to see other companies, maybe somebody from these smaller YouTube societies taking on Pixars making these smaller movies?

Mr. KIRSNER: Yeah. I think you're already seeing a lot of independent filmmakers and content creators doing interesting stuff on the Internet. You know, there are these video series that you wouldn't look at them and say, this is great cinema. But you know, there was this series called "Lonely Girl 15," that was kind of a confessional, you know, teenage girl talking to the camera in her bedroom. Michael Eisner is trying to do some short form video. He had a series called, "Prom Queen" that came out last year. Now that he is sort of not at Disney anymore, he's experimenting with the stuff.

And you have lots of people who are really outside of the Hollywood industry or on the fringes of the Hollywood industry saying, you know, this is a medium where we can kind of get our break, and it can be people like the guys who did the Mentos and Diet Coke videos that were so popular a year or two ago. You know, they live in Maine. You know, and they're up in the woods of Maine essentially with a video camera and suddenly their stuff is seen by tens and billions of people.

FLATOW: Yeah. So, let's keep our eyes out to the new talent. We don't know where it's coming from as usual.

Mr. KIRSNER: I think that's true. I mean, you know, you do see a few experiments. There was one a month or so ago, Joss Whedon who's kind of a very, you know, fairly mainstream TV and movie director. While the writer strike was happening last year, you weren't allowed to write movies or TV shows but there was kind of a loophole where you could create other kinds of content, and so he created this three-part series called, "Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." And he did it. But there's a creative experiment about how could you tell stories and create characters in these little seven or eight-minute segments. And I think, also as a business experiment of, you know, he kept the budget to, you know, 100,000 or 200,000 dollars which is very low. You know, that's the donut budget on most big movies. And you know, it's only work, too.

FLATOW: We're going to have to say goodbye to Scott. Thank you, Scott Kirsner for joining us.

Mr. KIRSNER: Oh, thanks for having me.

FLATOW: You're welcome. Author of "Inventing The Movies: Hollywood's Epic Battle between Innovation and Status Quo, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs." Speaking of movies and videos, Flora Lichtman, our producer for Digital Media is here with our weekly video pick of the week. What have we got today, Flora?

FLORA LICHTMAN: Well, it's actually a pretty good segue. So, I talked to this researcher in the U.K. who has used 3D motion capture which is what they used for "The Matrix" and "Lord of The Rings." But he strapped it on to elephants.

FLATOW: He strapped in on - so we have elephants with 3D.

LICHTMAN: Right. So, his main interest is how do these extra-large animals and he's looked at T-rex, too.

FLATOW: Right.

LICHTMAN: How do they move exactly? Because you know, they've got this big battle with gravity.

FLATOW: Right. And it's some mythology that he found a T-rex may not be as fast studying - by studying the locomotion of elephants?

LICHTMAN: So, his T-rex work predates his elephant work. But basically, he's trying to cover the whole extreme animal field. But he found, yes, that if - his model showed basically that for T-rex to be super speedy, a huge amount of its legs would have - a huge amount of its weight would have to be muscle in its legs.

FLATOW: Wow.

LICHTMAN: Like 40 percent of its weight would have to be leg muscle.

FLATOW: Right. That's up on our video pick of the week.

LICHTMAN: That is the pick of the week. He's got some pretty cool footage of dinos and bones recreated and elephants.

FLATOW: Flora Lichtman's. Check it out on sciencefriday.com, our video pick of the week. Thank you, Flora.

LICHTMAN: Thanks.

FLATOW: That's about all the time we have today. You can surf over to our Web site, it's sciencefriday.com for that video pick of the week and dozens of other videos that are on there. Also, we have podcasts and we're taking blogs and doing all kinds of interesting stuff on the website, and we invite you to send us email there. Have a great weekend. We'll see you next week. I'm Ira Flatow in New York.

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