Making North America

Host Kirk Johnson explores how the continent was shaped—and how it shaped us. Airing November 4, 11, and 18 at 9 pm on PBS Airing November 4, 11, and 18 at 9 pm on PBS

Program Description

Mighty, elemental forces molded North America—fiery eruptions, titanic floods, the grinding of great ice sheets, and massive impacts from space all shaped our homeland. The epic three-part series unfolds in a forgotten world that existed long before our own, crossed by long-lost mountain ranges, deserts the size of Africa, and vast inland seas spanning the length of the continent. Explore beloved landmarks like the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls from the inside out as we witness the clash of nature’s creative and destructive forces. Hosted by renowned paleontologist Kirk Johnson, this spectacular road trip through a tumultuous deep past explores three fundamental questions: How was the continent built? How did life evolve here? And how has the continent shaped us? “Making North America” reveals the incredible story of a majestic continent.

Education and Outreach Resources

Making North America educator materials are available on PBS LearningMedia. Explore our collection of Earth science video resources, background essays, lesson plans and more.

Interested in bringing your local community together through a Making North America screening or “ancient rock show?” Email novaeducation@wgbh.org for more information.

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Making North America: Origins

Experience the colossal geologic forces that shaped our continent over billions of years. Airing June 29, 2016 at 9 pm on PBS Aired June 29, 2016 on PBS

  • Originally aired 11.04.15

Program Description

The epic 3 billion-year story of how our continent came to be. From the palm trees that once flourished in Alaska to titanic eruptions that nearly tore the Midwest in two, discover how forces of almost unimaginable power gave birth to North America.

Broadcast Credits

HOSTED BY
Kirk Johnson
Making North America
Origins
SERIES PRODUCER
Peter Oxley
DIRECTED BY
Peter Oxley
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS FOR WINDFALL FILMS
David Dugan Rob Hartel Carlo Massarella
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FOR NOVA
Julia Cort
EDITED BY
Paul Shepard
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Piers Leigh
ADDITIONAL CAMERA
George Hupka George Woodcock
DV DIRECTOR
Mat Stimpson
PRODUCTION MANAGER
Farne Sinclair
SERIES RESEARCHER
Heather Cruickshank
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Ali Lewis
ARCHIVE RESEARCHER
Cristina Miro
SOUND RECORDISTS
Atlantic Television
DRONE OPERATORS
Beyond LA Productions Altitude Filmworks
ANIMATION
Fluid Pictures
ADDITIONAL ANIMATION
Edgeworx Studios, LLC
ORIGINAL MUSIC
Ty Unwin
ADDITIONAL MUSIC
APM UPPM
EDIT ASSISTANT
Philip Michael D
COLORIST
Michael H. Amundson
AUDIO MIX
Heart Punch Studio
ARCHIVAL MATERIAL
AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd ARTBEATS Axiom Images Ron Blakey Colorado Plateau Geosystems Inc. Corbis Images Getty Images Grand Canyon Resort Company Hualapai Tribe Pond5 Tongass National Forest Volcano Video Productions
SPECIAL THANKS
Smithsonian Institution
James Baichtal US Geological Survey Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Trails Ray Troll Ian Putnam Barth Hamberg Tanya Atwater Ann Benbow Marcia Bjornerud Erik Klemetti Suzan van der Lee Doug MacDougall Keith Meldahl David B. Williams California State Parks Department of the Interior /NPS New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Harry Shick
FOR WINDFALL FILMS
MANAGING DIRECTOR
Kristina Obradovic
ACCOUNTANT
Sue Harvard
NOVA SERIES GRAPHICS
yU + co.
NOVA THEME MUSIC
Walter Werzowa
John Luker
Musikvergnuegen, Inc.
ADDITIONAL NOVA THEME MUSIC
Ray Loring
Rob Morsberger
CLOSED CAPTIONING
The Caption Center
POST PRODUCTION ONLINE EDITOR
Spencer Gentry
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Jennifer Welsh
PUBLICITY
Eileen Campion
Eddie Ward
RESEARCH
Diane Toomey
SENIOR SCIENCE RESEARCHER
Caitlin Rotman Saks
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Linda Callahan
PARALEGAL
Sarah Erlandson
TALENT RELATIONS
Janice Flood
LEGAL COUNSEL
Susan Rosen
DIGITAL MANAGING PRODUCER
Kristine Allington
SENIOR DIGITAL EDITOR
Tim De Chant
DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL MEDIA
Lauren Aguirre
RIGHTS MANAGER
Lauren Miller
UNIT MANAGER
Ariam McCrary
POST PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Brittany Flynn
SUPERVISING PRODUCER
Kevin Young
POST PRODUCTION EDITOR
Michael H. Amundson
BROADCAST MANAGER
Nathan Gunner
BUSINESS MANAGER
Elizabeth Benjes
DEVELOPMENT PRODUCER
David Condon
PROJECT DIRECTOR
Pamela Rosenstein
COORDINATING PRODUCER
Laurie Cahalane
SENIOR SCIENCE EDITOR
Evan Hadingham
SENIOR PRODUCER
Chris Schmidt
SENIOR SERIES PRODUCER
Melanie Wallace
DEPUTY EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Julia Cort
MANAGING DIRECTOR
Alan Ritsko
SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Paula S. Apsell

A NOVA Production by Windfall Films for WGBH Boston

© 2015 WGBH Educational Foundation

All rights reserved

This program was produced by WGBH, which is solely responsible for its content.

Original funding for this program was provided by Google, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, The David H. Koch Fund for Science, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The George D. Smith Fund and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

IMAGE:

(Roxborough State Park)
© WGBH Educational Foundation

Participants

Kirk Johnson
Sant Director, National Museum of Natural History
David Loope
Sedimentologist
Cameron McLean
Exploration Manager
A. B. Olevic
Project Superintendent
Lisa White
UC Museum of Paleontology
Emily Wolin
Geophysicist

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Making North America: Life

How did massive volcanic eruptions, inland seas, and land bridges pave the way for life? Airing July 6, 2016 at 9 pm on PBS Aired July 6, 2016 on PBS

  • Originally aired 11.11.15

Program Description

How did life emerge on our primeval continent? Why was North America home to so many iconic dinosaurs like T. rex? And how did a huge sea filled with giant marine reptiles end up covering Kansas? We tell the surprising intertwined story of life and the landscape in North America. 

Broadcast Credits

HOSTED BY
Kirk Johnson
Making North America
Life
SERIES PRODUCER
Peter Oxley
VFX SERIES PRODUCER
Rob Hartel
DIRECTED BY
Gwyn Williams
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS FOR WINDFALL FILMS
David Dugan
Carlo Massarella
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FOR NOVA
Julia Cort
EDITED BY
Paul Shepard
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Piers Leigh
Ian Watts
ADDITIONAL CAMERA
Simon Fanthorpe
George Woodcock
DV DIRECTOR
Mat Stimpson
PRODUCTION MANAGER
Farne Sinclair
SERIES RESEARCHER
Heather Cruickshank
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Ali Lewis
ARCHIVE RESEARCHER
Cristina Miro
SOUND RECORDISTS
Atlantic Television
ANIMATION
Fluid Pictures
ADDITIONAL ANIMATION
2K-12 Studios
Edgeworx Studios, LLC
ORIGINAL MUSIC
Ty Unwin
ADDITIONAL MUSIC
APM
UPPM
EDIT ASSISTANT
Philip Michael D
COLORIST
Michael H. Amundson
AUDIO MIX
Heart Punch Studio
ADDITIONAL EDITING
Vin Liota
ARCHIVAL MATERIAL
Axiom Images
Ron Blakey
Bureau of Land Management
Colorado Plateau Geosystems Inc.
Duke Lemur Center
First Act Films
Getty Images
National System of Public Lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah
NHNZ Moving Images
Pond5
Volcano Video Productions
Wazee Digital
SPECIAL THANKS
Smithsonian Institution
Dino-Lite Digital Microscopes
Tanya Atwater
Ann Benbow
Marcia Bjornerud
Mark Boslough
Peter Brown
Peter Schultz
Erik Klemetti
Suzan van der Lee
Doug MacDougall
Keith Meldahl
David B. Williams
Chris Beard
James Zachos
Robert Duncan
Pamela Reid
Mike Everhart
Cornelia Class
Esteban Gazel
Aldo Rincon
John Stolz
Kevin Krajick
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
FOR WINDFALL FILMS
MANAGING DIRECTOR
Kristina Obradovic
ACCOUNTANT
Sue Harvard
NOVA SERIES GRAPHICS
yU + co.
NOVA THEME MUSIC
Walter Werzowa
John Luker
Musikvergnuegen, Inc.
ADDITIONAL NOVA THEME MUSIC
Ray Loring
Rob Morsberger
CLOSED CAPTIONING
The Caption Center
POST PRODUCTION ONLINE EDITOR
Spencer Gentry
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Jennifer Welsh
PUBLICITY
Eileen Campion
Eddie Ward
RESEARCH
Diane Toomey
SENIOR SCIENCE RESEARCHER
Caitlin Rotman Saks
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Linda Callahan
PARALEGAL
Sarah Erlandson
TALENT RELATIONS
Janice Flood
LEGAL COUNSEL
Susan Rosen
DIGITAL MANAGING PRODUCER
Kristine Allington
SENIOR DIGITAL EDITOR
Tim De Chant
DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL MEDIA
Lauren Aguirre
RIGHTS MANAGER
Lauren Miller
UNIT MANAGER
Ariam McCrary
POST PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Brittany Flynn
SUPERVISING PRODUCER
Kevin Young
POST PRODUCTION EDITOR
Michael H. Amundson
BROADCAST MANAGER
Nathan Gunner
BUSINESS MANAGER
Elizabeth Benjes
DEVELOPMENT PRODUCER
David Condon
PROJECT DIRECTOR
Pamela Rosenstein
COORDINATING PRODUCER
Laurie Cahalane
SENIOR SCIENCE EDITOR
Evan Hadingham
SENIOR PRODUCER
Chris Schmidt
SENIOR SERIES PRODUCER
Melanie Wallace
DEPUTY EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Julia Cort
MANAGING DIRECTOR
Alan Ritsko
SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Paula S. Apsell

A NOVA Production by Windfall Films for WGBH Boston

© 2015 WGBH Educational Foundation

All rights reserved

This program was produced by WGBH, which is solely responsible for its content.

Original funding for this program was provided by Google, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, The David H. Koch Fund for Science, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The George D. Smith Fund and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

IMAGE:

Image credit: (Monument Rocks)
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2015

Participants

Chuck Bonner
Fossil Hunter
Doug Boyer
Duke University
Kirk Johnson
Sant Director, National Museum of Natural History
Tyler Lyson
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Noah Planavsky
Yale University
Pamela Reid
University of Miami
Joseph Sertich
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Barbara Shelton
Fossil Hunter

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Making North America: Human

How has the land shaped our lives, from the arrival of the first Americans to today? Airing July 13, 2016 at 9 pm on PBS Aired July 13, 2016 on PBS

  • Originally aired 11.18.15

Program Description

Explore the intimate connections between the landscape, the colonizing of the continent, and the emergence of our industrial world. Beginning with Native American ancestors who crafted hunting weapons from stone traded across hundreds of miles, the program shows how pre-Columbian civilizations developed an expert knowledge of the landscape and its resources. With the arrival of Europeans, North America’s hidden riches became to key to prosperity, from the gold rush to today’s oil and gas boom. As a result, human activity has transformed the continent on a scale that rivals the geological forces that gave birth to it billions of years before. Yet, scientists warn of sleeping giants like the Cascadia fault, and the earthquake/tsunami one-two punch it could unleash on the Pacific Northwest. Even as we re-mold the continent to suit our needs, geologic processes inexorably continue, and they raise potential risks of catastrophe to our human civilization. 

Broadcast Credits

HOSTED BY
Kirk Johnson
SERIES PRODUCER
Peter Oxley
VFX SERIES PRODUCER
Rob Hartel
PRODUCED & DIRECTED BY
Gwyn Williams
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS FOR WINDFALL
David Dugan
Carlo Massarella
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS FOR NOVA
Julia Cort
Chris Schmidt
EDITED BY
Dan McCabe
ADDITIONAL EDITING
Ryan Driscoll
Robert Kirwan
ASSISTANT EDITOR
James Fetela
DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Piers Leigh
Ian Watts
George Woodcock
Jason Longo
DV DIRECTOR
Mat Stimpson
PRODUCTION MANAGER
Farne Sinclair
SERIES RESEARCHER
Heather Cruickshank
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Ali Lewis
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
Will Toubman
SOUND RECORDISTS
Eric Burge
Doug Dunderdale
Patrick Reilly
Steve Roseboom
Percy Urgena
DRONE OPERATORS
Jeremiah Kaynor
Garrett Meyers
ANIMATION
Edgeworx Studios, LLC
ADDITIONAL ANIMATION
Fluid Pictures
ORIGINAL MUSIC
Ty Unwin
ADDITIONAL MUSIC
APM
UPPM
COLORIST
Michael H. Amundson
AUDIO MIX
Heart Punch Studio
GAFFER
Rory Emmons
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
Crescent Moegling
RESEARCH INTERN
Danya Gordin
ARCHIVAL MATERIAL
Arizona State Museum/ Helga Teiwes
Associated Press
Clearwater Documentary Inc.
Colorado Plateau Geosystems Inc.
Corbis
FootageBank/ K2 Communications
George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Getty Images / BBC Motion Gallery
iStock
Mindscape3D BVBA
NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)
NHNZ Moving Images
Phil Orr
Pond5
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Shutterstock
The Granger Collection, New York
Turek Aerial Media
University of Arizona
Wazee Digital
SPECIAL THANKS
Smithsonian Institution
Henry “Hank” Heasler
Cheryl Jaworowksi
Brian Kemp
Porter Swentzell
Michael Voorhies
Crow Canyon Archaeological Centre
NorthStar Trekking
Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History Foundation
John H. Shaw
Keith Meldahl
Doug MacDougall
Marcia Bjornerud
Mark Van Baalan
North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services
American Experience
John Johnson
Oregon State University
The James Hutton Institute - Aberdeen, Scotland
Washington Dept. of Natural Resources
Keystone Gallery, Scott City, Kansas
Library of Congress
University of Southern California
California Historical Society
Deborah Lee Caswell Meyers
Jim Baichtal
Natalie Torres
Dale’s Diner
Rachel Cudmore
Yellowstone National Park
Dan Hollis
Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park
Kevin Krajick
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Harry Shick
Signal Hill Petroleum
Nodal Seismic
Scott Willis
The J. Paul Getty Trust
Yale University Libraries
Leo Warren
FOR WINDFALL FILMS
MANAGING DIRECTOR
Kristina Obradovic
ACCOUNTANT
Sue Harvard
NOVA SERIES GRAPHICS
yU + co.
NOVA THEME MUSIC
Walter Werzowa
John Luker
Musikvergnuegen, Inc.
ADDITIONAL NOVA THEME MUSIC
Ray Loring
Rob Morsberger
CLOSED CAPTIONING
The Caption Center
POST PRODUCTION ONLINE EDITOR
Spencer Gentry
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Jennifer Welsh
PUBLICITY
Eileen Campion
Eddie Ward
RESEARCH
Diane Toomey
SENIOR SCIENCE RESEARCHER
Caitlin Rotman Saks
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Linda Callahan
PARALEGAL
Sarah Erlandson
TALENT RELATIONS
Janice Flood
LEGAL COUNSEL
Susan Rosen
DIGITAL MANAGING PRODUCER
Kristine Allington
SENIOR DIGITAL EDITOR
Tim De Chant
DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL MEDIA
Lauren Aguirre
RIGHTS MANAGER
Lauren Miller
UNIT MANAGER
Ariam McCrary
POST PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Brittany Flynn
SUPERVISING PRODUCER
Kevin Young
POST PRODUCTION EDITOR
Michael H. Amundson
BROADCAST MANAGER
Nathan Gunner
BUSINESS MANAGER
Elizabeth Benjes
DEVELOPMENT PRODUCER
David Condon
PROJECT DIRECTOR
Pamela Rosenstein
COORDINATING PRODUCER
Laurie Cahalane
SENIOR SCIENCE EDITOR
Evan Hadingham
SENIOR SERIES PRODUCER
Melanie Wallace
MANAGING DIRECTOR
Alan Ritsko
SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Paula S. Apsell

A NOVA Production by Windfall Films for WGBH Boston

© 2015 WGBH Educational Foundation

All rights reserved

This program was produced by WGBH, which is solely responsible for its content.

Original funding for this program was provided by Google, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, The David H. Koch Fund for Science, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The George D. Smith Fund and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

IMAGE

(Mesa Verde National Park)
Courtesy: Caitlyn Willows/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Participants

Brian Atwater
U.S. Geological Survey
Doug Bamforth
University of Colorado
Chris Goldfinger
Oregon State University
Carrie Howard
Lead Preparator
Kirk Johnson
Sant Director, National Museum of Natural History
Patrick Mahaffy
Homeowner
David Montgomery
Author, The Hidden Half of Nature
Bob Patten
Author and Flintknapper
Scott Travis
Park Archaeologist
Joe Watkins
National Park Service
Lisa White
UC Museum of Paleontology

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