'Jurassic' filmmakers recall video-effects nightmare

Apr 05, 2013 by Leila Macor
A dinosaur replica outside the Jurassic Park attraction at Universal Studios in Singapore, on March 18, 2010. The makers of the original "Jurassic Park" film are recalling the "nightmare" of using pioneering visual effects, as a 3D version of the Oscar-winning movie is released.

The makers of the original "Jurassic Park" film are recalling the "nightmare" of using pioneering visual effects, as a 3D version of the Oscar-winning movie is released.

's 1993 blockbuster used a combination of stop motion filming with dinosaur models and primitive computer generated technology, which was unprecedented at the time.

The filmmakers talked about the challenges involved at a screening of "Jurassic Park 3D" hosted by the Academy of and Sciences (AMPAS), ahead of its US release on Friday, 20 years after the original.

William Sherak said the most difficult scene was when the attacks the visiting guests in their car, in the rain, calling it "my personal nightmare" because of the complexity of effects needed.

"The best moment is the sequence of the car falling down the tree," he added, referring to a later scene in the landmark movie.

Adapted from a Michael Crichton novel, the movie starred Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum and won three Oscars in 1994, while making $920 million at the box office globally.

(From L) William Sherak, Martin Ferrero, Phil Tippett, Dennis Muren and Rick Carter, the men behind "Jurassic Park", on April 2, 2013. They recalled the "nightmare" of using pioneering visual effects, as a 3D version of the Oscar-winning movie is released.

There have been two sequels, in 1997 and 2001, and "Jurassic Park 4" is due out next year.

The 3D version gives extra depth and color to the original, although critics may argue that the adaptation—rather than making a film in 3D from scratch—adds little to what was already a gripping and spectacular film.

"This was really the first time the computer graphics were used to make what appeared to be a living animal in a feature film. And we didn't know if we could do it," visual effects specialist Dennis Muren told AFP.

"We started very slowly doing tests to see if we could have a computer image like a dinosaur because if you can do that, you can give them a performance that you can never see with robotics or stop motion or any other way."

He also pointed to his work on 1991's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," which helped pave the way for the Jurassic Park .

Aged 66, Muren is a Hollywood institution—he has won six Oscars, notably for special effects for Spielberg's "E.T." (1982), and some of the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" movies.

"The learning curve for me was very steep on Jurassic Park, because I didn't know the tools," said Phil Tippett, another special effects guru who has worked on "Star Wars" and the recent "Twilight" movies.

"It was a time where computer graphic animation wasn't at a very high level, so we developed technology that allowed stop motion animators to be able to manipulate (dinosaurs)—it wasn't software, it was more mechanical device."

Presenting the Beverly Hills screening, David Cohen said: "If we didn't have 'Jurassic Park' in 1993, we wouldn't have had Richard Parker last year"—referring to the computer-generated tiger in Ang Lee's stunning "Life of Pi."

Tippett, who shared the 1994 Oscar for special effects with Muren for "Jurassic Park," added: "Technology is always a pain in the ass."

"What you need is creative people, an artist. The technology doesn't do anything. It gets in the way," he said.

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alfie_null
1 / 5 (1) Apr 05, 2013
"What you need is creative people, an artist. The technology doesn't do anything. It gets in the way,"
Using what media? Film, for instance, CG or not, is a product of technology. His experience, no doubt, has been repeated often in the past as people come to grips with technological advances.

BTW, I don't consider Jurassic Park, or big Hollywood productions in general to be particularly artistic endeavors. And when you end up doing follow-ons, that doesn't speak well of your creativity.
Anda
3 / 5 (2) Apr 05, 2013
It was an enjoyable recreation of dinosaurs but full of errors.
The worst one was changing the name of Deinonychus to the most commercial denomination "velociraptor", a tiny feathered dinosaur discovered in Mongolia.
"Velociraptor (commonly shortened to 'raptor') is one of the dinosaur genera most familiar to the general public due to its prominent role in the Jurassic Park motion picture series. In the films it was shown with anatomical inaccuracies, including being much larger than it was in reality and without feathers" (wiki)
Sinister1811
1 / 5 (5) Apr 05, 2013
It was an enjoyable recreation of dinosaurs but full of errors.
The worst one was changing the name of Deinonychus to the most commercial denomination "velociraptor", a tiny feathered dinosaur discovered in Mongolia.
"Velociraptor (commonly shortened to 'raptor') is one of the dinosaur genera most familiar to the general public due to its prominent role in the Jurassic Park motion picture series. In the films it was shown with anatomical inaccuracies, including being much larger than it was in reality and without feathers" (wiki)


Yes, I couldn't agree more! The movie did have a lot of mistakes and inaccuracies. Maybe with the next Jurassic Park (if they make one), they could get things right. It was called "Jurassic" park, but many of those dinosaurs lived in the Cretaceous. Some of them even later.
Ophelia
3.5 / 5 (2) Apr 06, 2013
Yes, I couldn't agree more! The movie did have a lot of mistakes and inaccuracies.
Based upon the extant knowledge of 2013 or 1993? I recall several paleontologists of the 1993 era complimenting the film for its accurate portrayals based upon what was known at the time.