Let's go to the Park
In honor of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom‘s release, EW is taking a look back at how the franchise’s first dinosaurs were brought to life. The game-changing cinematic achievements of Jurassic Park‘s F/X team were nearly as astounding as the advances of John Hammond’s genetic scientists!
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The 20-ft.-tall, 13,000-lb. mechanical T.rex proved terrifying on the big screen.
King of the dinosaurs
Initially Steven Spielberg intended for all of his dinosaurs to be full-size robotic creatures. That led him to Stan Winston (above), the creature F/X magician who had worked with James Cameron on Aliens and Terminator 2.
Even after Spielberg shifted tack and decided to rely more heavily on groundbreaking computer-generated dinosaurs, he leaned on Winston’s team to construct convincing life-size animatronic heads and torsos, like the T. rex and this Brachiosaurus, in order for them “to act” on-camera opposite the human characters.
He hired a mime to teach the ILM animators how real bodies move and helped create the Dinosaur Input Device. “It was essentially a stop-motion armature that was a very early form of motion capture,” Tippett says.
Stop-motion-animation legend Phil Tippett (on the right) rebounded from the personal disappointment that the dinosaurs would be mostly digital by becoming the guru who tied all the F/X disciplines together.
Some strings attached
The villainous velociraptors were intelligent and stealthy. For the spine-tingling scene in which they stalk two children in the park’s kitchen, Tippett helped the team with an animatic blueprint — a stop-motion video storyboard that captured every shot and angle. From there the artists made use of full-size puppetry and post-production CGI to piece the performances together.
Three heads are better than one
To animate the Dilophosaurus that spits venom at Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight), Winston’s team created a full-body puppet with three interchangeable heads. The initially unassuming spitter was one of the few dinosaurs to rely completely on Winston’s puppeteers for motion and mobility, with no CGI enhancement.
And the Oscar for Best Raptor in a Supporting Role goes to...
Actors in raptor suits were also employed to capture the velociraptors. “We broke everything down in terms of what Stan’s characters could do,” Tippett says. “And then we just sort of checkerboarded back and forth between what the capabilities of the different effects were and used them all to their advantage.”
Stan Winston is pictured here at left, orchestrating a key scene involving the velociraptors.