Mark Dippé, Dennis Muren
, Steve Williams
ILM's "Jurassic Park" is a unique and outstanding work of computer animation. Not only the diosaurs' movements but also their personalities make the audience believe these creatures are real and not computer generated.
The computer graphic dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park" are the culmination of experimentation and progress that began at Industrial Light & Magic 14 years ago, when George Lucas set up the computer graphics department. It is now their most potent creative tool. Yet, the work in "Jurassic Park" is more than that: it is a quantum leap forward, forever changing the way films will be made.
Spielberg consulted with ILM early in the process, having collaborated with this effects house on previous films. ILM's effects supervisor, Dennis Muren, a seven-time Academy Award winner, was anxious to participate in "Jurassic Park", but since Spielberg hoped to use full scale dinosaurs and Go-Motion, Dennis was unclear about ILM's role in the project.
Muren had the ILM computer graphics team begin experimenting with an idea for "Jurassic Park" - they built the dinosaur bones and skeleton on a computer, and from that, they created a herd of Gallimimus dinosaurs and a walking T-Rex.
Impressed with ILM's test results, Amblin Entertainment soon gave ILM the green light to take on several additional test shots, including a stampede and several wide-angle scenes that illustrate a herd of dinosaurs, against a sweeping vista. When Muren next returned to Amblin, he astounded the film makers with a computer-generated sequence of the T-Rex walking in daylight. It appeared that with the advent of computer-generated images, Go-Motion might soon be extinct.
Over the next 18 months, a team of over a hundred ILM creative and technical artists brought computer graphics to new heights, ultimately contributing over fifty dinosaur shots.
One of the most critical tasks the ILM team faced was making sure these dinosaurs moved naturally. They wanted them to come across as real animals, not movie monster stereotypes. The dinosaurs were not just computer generated beasts, they were real characters with heart and soul and a distinctive attitude. To accomplish this, the ILM team, under the guidance of Dinosaur Supervisor Phil Tippett, studied animal behaviour, including the movements and body language of elephants, alligators, ostriches and lions. ILM's animators received special training, including movement lessons, so their animation would capture these behavioural nuances. In addition, Phil Tippett's shop in Berkeley supplied animation for over a dozen of ILM's "Jurassic" shots.
"People will never believe our dinosaurs were made in a computer. Notice that as the bigger animals walk, their bellies sway to and fro from the weight. When theyrun, their entire bodies reverberate with each footstep," Muren explains. "Look for subtleties in the way the velociraptor tenses her body when she is startled. She looks alert and intelligent."
"Working on "Jurassic Park" has been the most exciting and challenging experienceI've had in all my years as a visual effects supervisor," concludes Muren. "The results we achieved on this film exceeded my wildest expectations. Using computers to create full-motion dinosaurs - creatures that look, move and behave like real dinosaurs, was immensely satisfying. The fact that viewers cannot tell these creatures were computer-generated is the strongest evidence of our success."
HW: SGI Image
SW: Alias, Softimage, Parallax, Pixar (RenderMan)