Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jurassic Park

When I was little, my cousin used to be obsessed with dinosaurs, just like almost every other child. But when we would watch Jurassic Park, I would be scared to death thinking that the T-Rex used in the movie would break out from Hollywood's captivity center and come raging through my neighborhood. That's when my father had to explain to me that the dinosaurs used in the movies were not actually real, but instead animated robots with computer created effects.

Well 15 years later, and I'm learning the basic process of how these dinosaurs were created. The amount of work that goes into every scene with these creatures amazes me still, and I believe that with the technology available at that time, Jurassic Park is a beautiful example of how visual effects can make a movie. The team responsible is ILM, Industrial Light & Magic, who are known for working on many of the films we consider classic today, such as Raider's of the Lost Ark, E.T., and The Empire Strikes Back. In this article you can see some of the behind-the-scenes work with Dennis Muren, the creative director of Lucasfilm's visual-effects, and the incredible process that they would go through to create such imaginative worlds.

Now while I am truly amazed with the scenes that involve the Jurassic Park dinosaurs physically interacting with the actors, the scenes that you wouldn't necessarily expect to have CG were beautifully and artificially created and amaze me all the same.

I found a whole walk-through of the process in "Making of the Lost World: Jurassic Park" on YouTube, where the videos go into detail of the Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production stages for Jurassic Park. These videos show the interviews with different people involved in the project and show how certain scenes were constructed on every level. The fifth video of the seven can be found here (embedding was disabled) and talks about how each of the dinosaurs was modeled and created.  But if you go back through each video, you can see bits and pieces of CG used in each scene.

I found these videos very interesting because they show the process of researching the dinosaurs, creating the models, using the live-action animatronics, filming the scenes that didn't have moving models, building the dinosaurs on computers, and combining the footage with the CGI.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park came out in theaters almost 15 years ago in 1997. Comparing what I know about computer graphics now and what was available back then, it's no wonder to me why Jurassic Park is considered one of the greatest examples of visual effects and why Industrial Light & Magic movies will forever be considered classic.

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