ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A hippopotamus skull, wooden cut-outs for creating animal foot prints, and a spitting cobra.
They were all needed Wednesday in St. Augustine for the making of a new Xbox Kinect game.
Although the props, cameraman, and audio operator made a wooded lot next to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm look like a movie set, this was not movie or video game making.
"This is not a video game. This is two-way TV," producer Marie Whallon said.
Brady Barr, television host and scientist with National Geographic, is teaming up with Microsoft's Xbox to create an interactive game for kids and families.
"This is something totally different for me," Barr smiled.
Barr is the host for the two-way TV project and is shooting here for a couple of weeks.
"The premise is they're is taking existing scripts of mine and cutting them down and making them shorter," Barr explained, "and then we're shooting little bits and bobs that go on either end. We also insert them in the middle to give kids choices."
"These are a little like a choose-your-own-adventure books," Whallon said. She is a lead producer with Microsoft.
She gave an example of the choose your own adventure concept: "So we might come along a king cobra and our host, Brady, is going to say, 'What should I do next?' Depending on what the child answers, that's what Brady will do."
The crew needed to shoot in a place which looked like an African setting. They also needed an Asian setting.
St. Augustine Alligator Farm Director John Brueggen has worked with Barr in the past. Brueggen told Barr he had just the right places inside the Alligator Farm and on land surrounding the zoological park.
"That's what's great about St. Augustine," Barr exclaimed. "We can fabricate a number of environments. We have the animals and the environments to pull that off right here."
Other zoos in the area have helped supply the props and animals that the St. Augustine Alligator Farm did not have, such as the spitting cobra.
Before Barr worked for National Geographic, he was a high school teacher, "and education is important to me," he said. "This interactive experience is educational in nature."
For two weeks, the crew will shoot at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. It's a shoot, like Barr said, that is different from his television show.
"It's different because I'm working off a script," Barr noted. "There are very few surprises, and I'm not getting snakes attached to my behind or crocs exploding out of the water! It's a lot less dangerous than what I normally do, and that's always a good thing," he grinned.
Barr's Kinect National Geographic TV is available only on Xbox and Whallon said it will come out in September.
First Coast News