You ever wondered how Jurassic Park made the dinosaurs? First off, this question can be answered differently depending on what you’re actually looking for. Let me explain. You can be searching for how they were made as in Jurassic Park, the movie itself, as in its own story. The other question is, “How did the producers make the dinosaurs?”
Well, I’m going to give you the answers to both questions! Because let’s face it, now that you’re here, it’s better to provide you with the full information.
How the dinosaurs were made in the story
However, what really triggered a real scientific debate about Jurassic Park was the explanation of why people and dinosaurs coexist in the film. In all Jurassic Park media, dinosaurs are copied by the scientists of InGen. The dinosaurs are cloned using paleo-DNA from bones or the intestines of mosquitoes in amber.
It all started with a discovery of a mosquito in amber, as we see in the first film. In the first Jurassic Park, they explain how they brought the dinosaurs back to life. However, changes were made to the dinosaurs. So they would all be females. That’s because Professor Wu said, “all vertebrate embryos are inherently female.” That was to gain control over the dinosaurs without them reproducing their-selves.
With all that said, Jeff Goldblum’s character did say that nature will always find a way! And that was also the case! In the 80’s it was found that female frogs could become fully functional males. And who had frog DNA in them? Yep, the dinosaurs, so in the end, they were reproducing anyway.
I also added the video with the explanation tour to make it easier for you!
How Jurassic Park producers made the dinosaurs
Spielberg first thought of hiring Bob Gurr, who designed a giant mechanical King Kong for Universal Studios Hollywood, to create the dinosaurs. On closer inspection, he felt that life-sized dinosaurs would be too expensive and not convincing at all. Instead, Spielberg went in search of the best effects supervisors in Hollywood. He brought in Stan Winston to make the animatronic dinosaurs; Phil Tippett (credited as Dinosaur Supervisor) to make motion dinosaurs for long shots; Michael Lantieri to oversee the on-set effects, and Dennis Walls from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) to do the digital composing. Paleontologist Jack Horner oversaw the designs to help fulfill Spielberg’s desire to depict the dinosaurs as animals rather than monsters. And we all know Spielberg is a true genius when it comes to bringing his imagination to life.
In other words, dinosaurs you saw that were close to the character were mostly huge robotic puppets. When they were afar, it was mostly special effects.
Winston’s department created fully detailed dinosaurs’ models before they formed latex skins, which were applied over complex robotics. These were used for the following dinosaurs:
- Brachiosaurus: The dinosaur’s head and upper neck was the largest puppet built for the film without hydraulics. For people who don’t know For people who do not know what hydraulic engineering is, it’s a technology and applied science that uses chemistry ,engineering, and other sciences related to the mechanical properties and use of fluids.
- T-rex: Winston’s animatronic T. rex was 6.1 meters long, weighed 17,500 pounds and was 12 meters long. Even Jack Horner said that this was “the closest I’ve ever been to a living dinosaur. While the consulting palaeontologists disagreed with the dinosaur’s movement, particularly on how it was running. Animator Steve Williams created a T. rex that moved at sixty miles per hour, even though its hollow bones would have broken if it ran that fast. The main reason was the T. rex chasing a Jeep, a scene that lasted two months. The dinosaur was depicted with a vision system based on movement, although later studies indicated that T. rex had binoculars similar to a bird of prey.
- Velociraptor: they play a major role in the film. The creature’s representation is ultimately not based on the actual dinosaur genus in question, which was also significantly smaller. For the attack on the character of Robert Muldoon and also some parts of the kitchen scene. Well the raptors were actually played by men in suits.
Did you know? Stan Winston’s Studio made a baby triceratops. However, it was never used. Stan Winston’s Studio’s brilliant work for Jurassic Park included the sick Triceratops that Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant are trying to take care of. Well, you might be surprised that it wasn’t originally going to be the only three-horned dinosaur in the blockbuster. During pre-production, the effects house also went through the effort of making a baby Triceratops, although it was never actually used. Fortunately, images still exist behind the scenes!
Movement of the dinosaurs
Tippett created stop-motion animations of the kitchen raptors and the Tyrannosaurus that attacked the car. Despite the blur of go motion, Spielberg found the end result unsatisfying for a live-action feature film. Walls told Spielberg that he thought the dinosaurs could be built using computer-generated images; the director asked him to prove it.
ILM animators Mark Dippé and Steve Williams developed a computer-generated loop cycle for the T. rex skeleton and were approved to do more. When Spielberg and Tippett saw an animator of the T. rex chasing a herd of Gallimimus, Spielberg said, “You have no more work,” to which Tippett replied, “Don’t you mean extinct? Spielberg injected this exchange later in the script, as a conversation between Malcolm and Grant. Although no movement was used, Tippett and his animators were still used by the production to monitor the dinosaur movement.
Tippett acted as an advisor on the anatomy of the dinosaur, and his stop motion animators were re-trained as computer animators. Tippett’s team’s animations were also used, along with the storyboards, as a reference for what would be shot during the action scenes. ILM’s artists were sent on private tours to the local animal park so that they could study large animals – rhinos, elephants, alligators, and giraffes – up close. They also took mime lessons to help them understand movement.
A new technology
When Jurassic Park came out, it became a pivotal point in the history of visual effects in the film. It came 11 years after the 1982 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan debuted with computer-generated images for a visual effect using a particle system that was created by George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic. That was to animate a demonstration of a life-giving technology called Genesis. In 1982, it included 15 minutes of fully computer-generated images, including the remarkable light cycle.
Yet historically, Jurassic Park stands out because it was the first time that computer-generated graphics, and even human characters, shared the screen with human actors, giving the public the illusion that the world of dinosaurs was real. Even then, on seeing the first digital test shots, George Lucas was surprised: He often said: “It was like one of those moments in history, like the invention of the light bulb or the first phone call… A big gap had been bridged, and things would never be the same again”.
According to some counts, computer-generated dinosaurs were only six minutes from the two-hour movie on the screen. Physical models and animatronics supplemented them. This juxtaposition of computer-generated and real images gave the audience the illusion of realism because the computer-generated images were on screen together with real images.
The sounds of the dinosaurs
Maybe a strange question, but how did they record that sound since these animals have been extinct for millions of years? The answer is really, very surprising.
You could have guessed that they appealed to existing animals. But what is surprising is that the animals were having sex at the time of several recordings. It’s something you’d better not have known as a child in the cinema auditorium. It was the task of sound engineer Gary Rydstrom to listen to these sounds for months to get them ready for the movie. “If people had known then where the sounds came from, they would certainly have given Jurassic Parc an R rating,” he jokes.
The different dinosaurs all have their own sounds in the film. Not all sounds result from sex, but even then, it’s still surprising where they come from.
The sound effects
- The Velociraptors: It wasn’t the T-Rex that caused the most terrifying moment in Jurassic Parc. It was the velociraptors demolishing through the kitchen. And it was especially the loud barking that gave us goosebumps. Well, now pay attention: that barking comes from … turtles having sex. However, it was mixed with dolphin screams, walruses bellowing and geese hissing.
- The Gallimimus: The impressive moment when this herd of the Gallimimus threatens to trample Dr. Grant and the children. You can hear the dinosaurs shouting loudly. Well, that’s the sound of a female horse being approached by a stallion, which makes her all excited.
- The Brachiosaurus: The first goosebumps in the film were when Grant and Satler saw a dino in person for the first time. The brachiosauruses are just about the giants among the dinosaurs, and they produce very high tones. How did they do that, do you think? Whales maybe? It could have been, but the answer is much more surprising: with donkeys. Rydstrom noticed the moment that the sound of a donkey skips. When you slow that piece down enormously, you create something magical, like the singing of the brachiosaurus. This technique of slowing down sounds is often used in the film.
- The Tyrannosaurus Rex: The star of Jurassic Park was the T-Rex. That must have been very heavy sex then? Nothing could be further from the truth because most of the sounds come from a dog, more specifically the Jack Russell of Rydstrom himself, who was attacking a rope. Of course, the heavy roar wasn’t produced by a dog but by a baby elephant. Of course, mixed with some other animals like an alligator and a tiger!
- The Triceratops: Another favorite of many dino fans back then was the triceratops. The sounds of these dinos came from cows from George Lucas’ movie site, Skywalker Ranch. That’s where Rydstrom works. But there is that one scene where we see a sick triceratops die, and actor Sam Neill lies down with his ear on the dinosaur’s chest to listen to his breathing. There’s a lot of cow in there, but Rydstrom made the sound’s essence by breathing in a simple cardboard tube with a spring.
Videos on Youtube
Youtube is a rich place where we can find all sorts of information! And you can find a lot about how dinosaurs were made in Jurassic park, but I’ll help you with the most important ones!
I found videos behind the making of the T-rex which are worth watching!
Building an animatronic T-rex:
Sculpting a full-size T-rex:
Skinning an Animatronic T-rex:
Click here for part 2
Want an entire playlist on how they made multiple dinosaurs? Click here!
What about the Spinosaurus of Jurassic Park III?
They had already learned a lot when building the T-rex. So now they knew how to start the Spinosaurus. There is a lot more detailed work this time. His skin was mainly made with clay, which they worked on upon with details.
The Spinosaurus was actually bigger than the T-rex!
According to director Colin Trevorrow, the technology used to create the new film’s dinosaurs was a mix of today’s advanced and perfected techniques in the 1990s. He revealed that he had hired the same company, Legacy Effects, that worked on the first three Jurassic Park films for World, and that they would be in charge of creating animatronic dinosaurs, just as in the first three films. However, CGI was also used extensively. The visual effects supervisor returned to create computer-generated dinosaurs. To do this, performance capture was used to make the creatures’ movements (especially the T-Rex’s) as realistic and detailed as possible.
Pretty cool, isn’t it? I’m glad it’s not full CGI. It may be more advanced now, but you have to give huge props to the first movie where the dinosaurs looked so real.