A new video reveals how the CGI dinosaurs were created for Jurassic Park, and how they convinced Steven Spielberg to drop some stop-motion shots.
A new video reveals how the CGI dinosaurs were created for Jurassic Park, and how their creation convinced Steven Spielberg to drop some stop-motion shots for the film. The original movie in the franchise, frequently referred to as a perfect blockbuster, changed cinema forever when released in 1993. Up until that time, blockbusters primarily had to rely on physical visual effects tricks, like stop-motion animation for creatures, composite matte paintings for fantasy sets, and miniatures for space vehicles and the like.
But Jurassic Park’s CGI dinosaurs, which took up a large percentage of the movie’s dinosaur scenes alongside more traditional stop-motion animation, showed the world that CGI could be realistic and convincing. Even for viewers watching the film today, the CGI shots still hold up 27 years later. But, given the limitations of the times, Steven Spielberg’s original intention was to use visual effects supervisor Phil Tippett’s stop-motion models for all of the dinosaur shots. However, that all changed thanks to one test video.
A video by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences tells how the CGI dinosaurs were created. Featuring interviews with the Industrial Light and Magic staff who worked on the movie, the clip reveals that two artists worked on a CGI T-Rex model in secret. Once done, they filmed a video test using the model and put it on a video screen when producer Kathleen Kennedy visited their offices one day. That test resulted in Kennedy, Spielberg, and the rest of the team deciding to use CGI for the motion scenes, given that it looked more realistic than the clunky old stop-motion effects they had been planning to use. You can watch the video below:
The video is a reminder of just how ground-breaking Jurassic Park was at the time. In a modern age where almost anything can be realistically reproduced in CGI, it’s difficult to imagine just how mind-blowing the CGI dinosaurs were for those who were lucky enough to watch the movie on the big screen in 1993. The video also reinforces just how pivotal the decision was in the context of all cinema. Following the success of Jurassic Park and its subsequent Oscar win for Best Visual Effects, CGI became the gold standard in movies.
As the artists in the video say, if it hadn’t been them, someone else would have pushed the art form forward. Still, it’s fascinating to wonder just how different cinema would have been had a big-name director like Spielberg not taken a chance on CGI for one of his most expensive blockbusters yet. Of course, the result is history, and filmmakers from James Cameron to Peter Jackson and the Russo Brothers have Jurassic Park to thank for what they’re able to put on screen.