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Stan Winston’s Dinosaurs: Classic Footage of Bringing Extinct Species to Life

Our Adorable Past


Jurassic Park was right on the edge between physical effects and computer animation, and you might, for example, get to a point where you’d hired a ton of talented puppeteers before your visual effects guy introduced you to this new technique where you could make a dinosaur in a computer.

And then, you had to figure out what to do with your puppeteers.

Now, Steven Spielberg didn’t abandon Stan Winston‘s amazing talents for physical effects entirely for Jurassic Park. Many of the CG shots in the movie were created by making CG models that were controlled by puppet versions of animals (that didn’t have to look as screen-perfect as the ones used for shots on location), so the puppeteers could still ply their trade. A lot of the more impressive shots in the movie, including much of the Tyrannosaurus attack on the tour cars and a lot of the velociraptors were done entirely with real animatronic puppets on set. In the case of the Rex, very large animatronic puppets.

The Rex puppet above was skinned in foam rubber, a material that’s pretty porous, and, as the crew found out during the extended rainy night shoot, absorbs water pretty well. When the rubber got waterlogged, it would get heavier; heavier, in fact, than the hydraulics in the puppet were designed to deal with, and the Rex would come down we a really seriously creepy case of the shakes.

If you’ve ever wanted to see what an epileptic Tyrannosaur would look like, and be really scared of encountering one in the wild, go no further.

Oh, and here’s something I can’t not post when posting movies of Jurassic Park dinosaurs.

(Stan Winston videos via Blastr.)

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Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.