'Making a ruckus' with dinosaur puppets

Raymond Carr will help make the dinosaurs come to life at the Colonial Life Arena this week.

As the head of voodoo puppetry for the show, he and his colleagues sit above the arena floor and use remote controls to make the dinosaurs move their heads, blink their eyes and let out a range of roars. (A driver inside each dinosaur's body moves the creature's legs.)

Carr's job is to help control the stegosaurus, the mother brachiosaurus and the young torosaurus as they stomp across the arena floor.

Carr has been working in the world of puppetry for years He's been part of the "Walking with Dinosaurs" show for 11 months.

"I think you'd be hard pressed to find any little boy who didn't grow up liking dinosaurs," he said.

But he didn't gravitate to the show because of a lifelong love of the creatures. Instead it was the show's scale and size that intrigued Carr.

"The sheer size of the production is breathtaking," he said. "All the dinosaurs are built to scale. It's something you can't imagine, you can't experience, until you're in the show with them and see how big they really are."

The learning process was the hardest part of the job, he said. The creatures are so large and intricate (each one costs about $1 million) and the show is so tightly choreographed that there's little room for error, he said.

"Still, there are moments in the show that make me hold my breath."

Is it really loud?

"Yes," he said with a laugh. "Not all the time, but there are predators and herbivores. ... They're making a ruckus the whole time."

Some of the dinosaurs are so large that when they walk, the sensors in their feet and speakers in the arena make it sound as if they are shaking the ground.

"All the dinosaurs have their own sounds and roars and calls, their own language," he said. "And it's all timed out to music."

- Megan Sexton

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