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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Reader Comments

  1. EraserRain Lantier

    Just amazing. When I was sitting in the theater seeing this scene the first time was chilling. I wonder after seeing this video what Ray Harryhausen thoughts were to see Stop Motion Animation evolve into what CG is known as today? It blows my mind that to this day some stop motion is likely still used during production. It one Hell of a legacy he left us in his passing.

  2. Chris Sweetleaf

    DUDE (old vid but) It's 'At, At' not a.t.a.t. 'edd' 209 not e.d. 209, and gala-'mime'-us. (Kid says it in the film…) Apart from that, nice video!

  3. Two Dinosaurs

    For some reason they changed the look of the trex in Jurassic world when the trex roars it looks unconvincing and not real as the CGI in Jurassic park

  4. Chris L

    Imagine doing all of this on early 1990s technology. Using those big fat computers that we all had when we were kids. I could hardly use the paint application on those things and these guys created a billion dollar movie

  5. Nikko Phases

    I remember this during my highschool days its amazingly breathtakingly beautifully welldone speciall the t rex and raptor scenes,historically unforgetable a thanks to mr spielberg mrwinston and of the big in hollywood…

  6. MrGamerman001

    You know what I think would be cool? Far Cry: Jurassic Park. It could take place between Isla Nublar and Isla sorna during different time periods. Isla Nublar could be more a survival style part during the first part of the game, where at a later point you transition to Sorna and you have to deal with the InGen hunters as a major part of the story, while the dinosaurs (Even something as simple as raptors) could be considered formidable opponents. No wing suits, no OP weapons or anything would be available though. Things like rocket launchers and grenades would be incredibly rare and cherished. The goal would be to go about Sorna, taking down hunter camps, or helping research camps. The research camps would have you searching for photographic evidence of the dinosaurs flourishing, such as searching through nests or photographing dinosaur herds. Or even preventing hunting teams from capturing the dinosaurs. OR, the game could have an option to support the hunters in some scenarios, such as taking out espionage units, or helping the hunter units capture and round up dinos.

  7. ihateoregonians

    Great video! funny as well.

    I had to watch a video on CGI because everyone and their mama talk shit on it and I never could understand why.

    I guess cuz I grew up poor, I didn't see a colored movie til 2006. Yes really and it impressed me more than when I seen night of the living dead in black n white. So growing up super poor I myself cannot judge a movie and it's CGI like everyone else.

    So thanks for the information!

  8. Ryan James

    Actually, the T-Rex survived the KT extinction event. They lived long enough to become modern chickens before possibly becoming extinct through hunting instead of the KT extinction event. Not all of the dinosaurs died. If every last one of them were affected, we wouldn't have birds.

  9. adegiare

    I am 30 years old. Every time it rains, every single time I hear the rain drops, jurassic park comes to my mind and feels like I live this universe, this movie is my favorite and had the biggest impact on me growing up to this day loving Dinosaurs. Never kill your inner child 🦖🦕

  10. Mike Barksdale

    God wasted the name "Jack Horner" on an adult male who plays with dinosaurs all day. With a name like Jack Horner he should be pulling a Fredo and banging cocktail waitresses two at a time.

  11. Alienadin

    What are you people smoking? You must be blind if you think the visual effects of JP look better than most modern visual effects heavy movies, including the Jurassic World movies, which look far more realistic. The complexity of modern day visual effects is lightyears ahead of those in JP. Sure, there are movies that over do it, where the director doesn't know what looks real, there wasn't enough time and money, etc., but overall, you have no idea how much of the things you see on screen are actually completely digital nowadays.

  12. Heres Johnny

    It's sad that CGI and special effects have reversed with quality over time looking at today's movies compared to jurrasic park. This movies special effects are still some of the best out there after 25 years!

  13. JJ 1994

    When i first watched Spielberg Jurasic Park i was shocked and scared it was directly communicating to audience but now we could pretty much predict

  14. Emma Taylor

    Its good to remember that they used giant ass robots/puppet things to make this scene, they just cant do that for all big blockbusters these days. Did you hear how long they said the bigger ones took?

  15. Skye Reynolds

    I don't know how to feel about this. The T.rex return was crucial in making the film's ending work, yet it came at the cost of putting up with 80 minutes of Jar Jar Binks in Phantom Menace.

  16. The Yautja Warrior

    To be honest, I think the film would've been just as successful if they decided to keep Tippett's Go-motion dinos, but I'm not judging spielberg . If I was him and I saw those initial CGI tests of the Rex and the gallimimuses I'd have probably gone the CG route too. If you have a better option available, you don't ignore it, and I say this as someone who strongly prefers real effects to CGI.

  17. Shattared Entertainment

    Cgi is shit bring back stop motion it's so better!! And now knowing Lucas directed parts of this movie made this movie crappier. Thanks my childhood is finally dead. Meeeeeeeeh….

  18. Arjay

    I've never understood why they went to so much effort to get the ripples in the cup of water. I've done it by just putting a glass of water on a table and bumping the table gently. The ripples are identical to the ones in the film. Perfectly circular, perfectly emanating from the centre of the water, everything. Anyone can try it. Why on earth did they feel the need to do some complicated ass shit with a guitar string rigged to the underside of the dashboard?

  19. Xenosaurian

    I'm in agreement with many others on here saying the the special effects in this film and its sequel are better than that in modern movies.

  20. Lord Baktor

    When a film uses a new technology, they tend to go all in. When later films replicate it they want to make it cheaper, faster, more streamlined, etc. That is why the effects of Jurassic Park still hold up decently after so many years and an amazing amount of newer movies look like PS1 cutscenes.

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