Jurassic Park’s T-Rex Paddock Attack – Art of the Scene


Imagine a rainy day. You are stuck in traffic. You’re throat’s parched, and
you sip on a glass of water. Suddenly, thump, thump. A percussive force ripples rings
across the surface of your water. And, even though it has been 57 million
years since the K-T extinction event, you can’t shake the thought that you’re
about to be eaten alive by a Tyrannosaur. Luckily, you know exactly what to do. – (Noise) When you gotta go, you gotta go. – Now that we have your
undivided attention. Welcome to ‘Jurassic Park’ as we break
down the innovation, creativity and straight up hard work that went into
creating the T-Rex panic attack. We’ll explore how that one scene seem so
heavily influenced CGI techniques and the ripple effect it had
on filmmaking overall. (Sound) Sorry, I couldn’t help it. (Music) In 1993 ‘Jurassic Park’ brought dinosaurs
to life on the silver screen with a breathtakingly convincing,
if not completely faithful adaptation of “Michael Crichton’s” bestselling
novel of the same name. However “Steven Spielberg” didn’t pull off
this feat by genetically manipulating dino DNA but rather by assembling an A team of
the era’s premiere special effects houses. “Industrial Light and Magic”, “Stan
Winston Studio” and “Tippett Studio”. Now most CineFix film fanatics
are familiar with the first two legendary shops, but unless you’re
a stop motion aficionado the name “Phil Tippett” likely leaves
you scratching your head. But you’re certainly
familiar with his work. “George Lucas” hired him to
create the stop motion clay chess scene on Millennium Falcon,
in ‘Star Wars, A New Hope’. And rehired him to head up
Industrial Light & Magic Animation, to build the tauntauns and
AT-ATs in ‘Empire Strikes Back’. In between the two films,
“Tippett” co-created, what would be the final significant
advancement in stop motion technology. In traditional stop motion,
the animation appears unnaturally crisp. This occurs because the motion of
the object is actually a series of still frames shot of motionless objects
arranged in rapid sequence. The result is undeniably impressive, but doesn’t pass as believable
due to the lack of motion blur. The momentary image fuzziness
that occurs when an object moves faster than the naked eye can track. The animation comes off more human
than human, or, in this case, more skeleton than skeleton. What “Tippett” co-created between
‘Star Wars’ and ‘Empire’, was a process that approximated this
real world motion blur called go motion. Prior to “Tippett”, motion blur
technique consisted of rudimentary hacks such as smearing petroleum jelly on a
sheet of glass held in front of the lens. Bumping the puppet moments before
the still frame is snapped or lately during the table or
background set during exposure. These painstaking processes create
miniscule blurs during the individual still shots. That, when linked together,
roughly scan to the eye as motion blur. Very, very roughly. However, “Tippett’s” revolutionary Go
motion elevated motion blur approximation to new believability by applying
computer-forward approach to film making. “Phil’s” team would create stop-motion
puppets around a skeleton of rods attached to motors linked to computers. The animators would move the puppets
to the positions they desired and the computers would record the rod and
motor orientation. After sufficient puppet movements were
made to execute the desired snippet of an animation sequence, the puppets would
be reset to their starting position. “Tippett” aimed the still
camera to shoot and then triggered the computers to send
playback data commands to the motors, making the puppets move as
the camera shot a still frame. Since the puppets were going, the motion was captured on
film with an authentic blur. Hence, Go motion. Look, “Phil” was an inventive guy,
except when it came to naming his (Bleep). The success of “Phil’s” new technique
led him to forming his own company, “Tippett Studios”, which was hired to
animate the ED-209 film ‘RoboCop’, and won a primetime “Emmy” for its work on
the 1985 CBS documentary, ‘Dinosaur’! Thus, it came as little surprise
that “Spielberg” would tap “Phil” to bring the T-Rex,
Velociraptors, Gallimimus, Brachiosaurus, and
Dinosaurs to life for ‘Jurassic Park’. As shooting began on August 24, 1992,
“Spielberg” had a clear plan of attack. The dinosaurs would be created on
a small puppetry scale by “Tippett” and on a large animatronic
scale by “Stan Winston”. Then in post production,
Industrial Light and Magic would composite the special effects
footage together, as well as apply slight digital painting effects,
including enhancement of the motion blur. “Stan Winston Studios” had already been
hard at work starting in 1991 on a 25 month pre-production process. By that point in his unparalleled career,
“Mr. Winston” was the unquestioned
king of creature building. He won Oscars for
‘Aliens’ and ‘Terminator 2’. He received nominations for ‘Predator’,
‘Edward Scissorhands’ and ‘Heartbeat’. And gained international renown for
1990’s ‘A Gnome Named Gnorm’. That’s “Gnorm” as in G-N-O-R-M. The G is silent twice,
it was a weird time. With apologies to “Sam Neill,”
“Laura Dern,” “Samuel L. Jackson,” and “Jeff Goldblum,”
“Spielberg” knew the dinosaurs would be the true stars of the film. And none loomed larger than
the T- Rex in the paddock scene. In the words of creature designer “Shane
Mahan,” the character had to feel 100% real, or the film just did not work. That’s why “Spielberg” brought
on renowned paleontologist, “Jack Horner”,
to consult with the pre-production team. Spielberg wanted the dinosaurs to be
viewed as animals, not B movie monsters. For the T-Rex, “Stan Winston’s” team initially built
a small one-fifth scale sculpture. Then sliced it into subsections,
projected those subsections onto a wall. Traced the outline and
then recut the larger scale wood pieces, which were then bolted to
the existing metal armature. The body was then lined with chicken wire,
and fiberglass, and roma clay and then was sculpted around the framework. This process alone took 16 weeks. The sculpture was then converted into
molds into which foam latex was poured to make the skin. Simultaneously, the robotic skeletons were
being built around pressurized valves that push 60 gallons of hydraulic
fluid a minute to move the beast. When, at long last, the skin was
fashioned over the skeleton and painted, the result was over
13,000 pounds of Engineering and artistry on a 20 foot tall by 40
foot long remote controlled frame. In parallel to this process, “Tippett” suggested to “Spielberg”
that their unprecedented undertaking of bringing dinos to life,
required a new approach to storyboarding. Rather than having a storyboard artist
sketch out static comic book styles images, “Tippett” proposed he
make 3D clay motion animatics to demonstrate the movement of
the dinosaurs relative to camera. “Spielberg” approved, and
“Tippett” sent to work, and almost immediately earned
the ire of “Jack Horner”. “Jack” expressly made it known that
dinosaurs should be represented as birdlike, not reptilian, which is why
he asked “Whose stupid idea was that?”. When he saw “Tippitt’s” claymation
animatic of the Velociraptor flicking it’s tongue like
a cobra in the kitchen scene. Fully chastised, “Tippitt” and
team redoubled their efforts, studying animal motion at zoos in
order to perfect dinosaur motion.>From tongues to talons, the final
result is the animatics of the T-Rex panic scene strike a striking similarity
to what “Spielberg” eventually shot. But not striking enough,
as “Tippitt” would soon discover. “Spielberg” appreciated the movement and the rhythm of “Tippett’s” early
Go motion raptor tests, but still was left unconvinced that
he was looking at a dinosaur. The sentiment was shared by
ILM’s visual effects pioneer, “Dennis Muren”, who asked “Spielberg”
to allow him to experiment with the technologies they had developed
making the T-1000 in ‘Terminator 2’. Knowing that his animator “Steve Williams”
had already been working in secret, after hours, on exactly such a project. (Laugh) “Dennis Muren”,
you sneaky (Bleep). Using cutting edge computers
from Apple and Silicon Graphics, “Muren’s” team were able to
capture to motion of a herd of Gallimimus with unprecedented
realism except for one small problem. They were skeletons. Like the liquid metal, or plastic To surface the T-1000
mimicked in ‘Terminator 2’. Bone was a far simpler surface to portray
than the studded, craggy dinosaur skin. It wasn’t until “Spielberg” saw
the screen test of “Steve Williams'” fully fleshed CGI T-Rex in
the harsh light of day. That he knew his production in film
making had just radically evolved.>From then on, if a director could
dream it, a computer could create it. ILM techies had finally harnessed
the power of the microprocessor and making movies would never be the same. When “Steven” showed “Mr.
Gomotion” the footage, :Phil Riley” responded-
– ‘I think I’m extinct.’ – Lucky for him, it couldn’t have been
further from the truth. “Spielberg” repurposed this line
from “Malcom” in the movie. – ‘Don’t you mean extinct?’
– And repurposed “Tippett” and his animators to work with “Muran’s” ILM
to oversee the CGI dino’s body motion, as they were still the preeminent experts. With all the pieces in place, animatronics
and CGI to replace the Go Motion. At last, it was time to actually
shoot the T-Rex panic attack. The principal filming was shot
on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The cast and crew moved to Stage
16 on the Warner Brothers lot. To work with the behemoth
animatronic T-Rex. The robotic creature took
12 men to operate and only a little fake rain to ruin. The fine-tuned calibration became
unbalanced as the foam latex skin took on water, resulting in the T-Rex
getting a bad case of the shakes. Shooting with stop as the T-Rex was
dried off with massive fans and shamis until he could move
without quivering like a leaf. While the scene features the T-Rex
wreaking chaos on its environs on set it was an orchestrated
mechanical ballet. “Michael Lantieri” was tasked with making
the set respond to the T-Rexs’ rampage even if that particular shot
the T-Rex was completely absent, and would be added later via CGI. He and his team rigged the (Inaudible)
restraining wires to snap, the fence posts caved towards the car,
the jeep to crush like a sardine can, and even the water cup to ripple,
with practical on set effects. The rippling water was just a cup
they rigged to a guitar string that was plucked by a man
hiding beneath the jeep. Movie magic. Yet to “Spielberg’s” eye
the interaction of the CGI T-Rex tossing around the real world jeep
like a hockey puck still didn’t scan. As before ILM saved the day, the original
jeep was digitally painted out and replaced with a CGI jeep mocked
up completely from scratch. But this paled in comparison to
the heavy lifting they were about to undertake in post production. After “Spielberg” saw
an early cut of the film, he felt confident enough to go direct
‘Schindler’s List’, in what must be the most dramatic directorial back
to back total shift in history. In his stead, he left one of his
director buds, who knew a thing or two about visual effects himself,
“George Lucas”. “Lucas’s” employees at ILM had, of course, already scanned in “Stan
Winston’s” dinosaurs into their servers, arranged it into their data
with a program called Alias. Used Soft Image 3D to assign joint
placement on the dinos, rigged up the digital armatures to manipulate those
joints in motion, and then used ViewPaint to illustrate the skin texture and
map it over the data in the computer. But now they had to do it for
every CGI shot in the movie, not just a two second screen test
shorter than most modern day GIFs. Whatever, I hate technology. Initially, “Phil Tibbett’s” team
worked with ILM’s animators and were retrained to use the computer
programs to clack away at the keyboards to digitally illustrate the T-Rex’s movement. However, the traditionally hands-on
“Tibbett” compared this to animating while wearing boxing gloves. By now, you know he’s not one to give up
on a problem and he devised an ingenious solution, modify his go motion puppets
into being dinosaur input devices. With a few software tweaks, now when his
team of animators moved the puppets, it sent their positional
data into ILM’s computers which then adjusted the graphically
rendered CGI dinos accordingly. With the method of animation settled, there came came the logistical issue
of putting the computers to work. Processing the data into images. Despite having assembled the most
turbo-charged suite of computer graphics in history, each shot in the T-Rex jeep
chase sequence took 12 hours to render. For reference, this clip, where the T-Rex breaks through
the log is seventy five frames long. That was twelve hours to render. You just watched it in what? Like three seconds? – Rude. – After the CGI, itself, was rendered,
it needed to be composited together with live live action shots
involving the actors. The entire process of CGI building and compositing lasted from May
of 1992 to May of 1993. But at long last,
the scene was translated to film. “Spielberg” was so impressed by the CGI
that he changed the ending of the movie mid production to feature
the T-Rex battling raptors. Saying the audiences would hate
him if he didn’t give them another view of the film’s superstar. “George Lucas” was so impressed by the CGI that he said it inspired him to
finally make the ‘Star Wars’ prequels. – God damn it. – Because of the techniques the ‘Jurassic
Park’ team came up with in the T-Rex padock scene and how successfully they
were executed, nearly every blockbuster summer (Inaudible) relies on the blend of
CGI and practical effects to this day. But few, if any older begins
the originator of them all. When “Spielberg” and
ILM revolutionized filmmaking forever back in 1993 when CGI
dinosaurs ruled the earth. (Music) (Sound)
– We’ve digged down on dinosaurs enough for today, but we hope you guys are happy
to see new episodes of ‘Art of the Scene’. So subscribe to CineFix on the way out or
if you had unsubscribed for spite, now’s a great time to re-subscribe. And also let us know in the comments below what you’d like to
see on a future episode. Thanks for watching.

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