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Why Did the Producers of Jurassic Park Decide to Use CGI?

The Jurassic Park movie is an American science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1993. While the film may not have been the first to feature dinosaurs, it did show them in the most realistic way possible. But did you know they didn’t want to use CGI at the start?  

Jurassic Park was set to use stop-motion and animatronics for the movie. Two artists secretly worked on a CGI of a T-Rex and left it playing on a monitor when producer Kathleen Kennedy walked in. They saw the potential and went with CGI instead.

What made Spielberg decide to use CGI for Jurassic Park?

After the 1991’s commercial failure of Hook, talented director Steven Spielberg made a comeback with two enormously popular movies. Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List debuted in 1993, showcasing Spielberg’s innate filmmaking talent.

Jurassic Park was an adaptation of Michael Crichton’s 1990 best-selling novel. The novel was about dinosaurs that were re-created in modern times and kept on a remote island for the public to view. (Source: Britannica)

When Spielberg heard about the novel, he wanted to direct it. He got the opportunity to do so. Being a creature film, the great director already set in motion the creation of models and animatronics of the dinosaurs. Spielberg worked closely with Stan Winston Studios to create elaborate puppets of the different dinosaurs to be featured in the film. He also onboarded Tippett Studios, one of the pioneers of stop-motion technology.

He also tapped Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), asking if they could simply implement motion blur into the scenes he’d capture with Winston and Tippett Studios. ILM co-animator Steve Spaz Williams and co-visual effects supervisor Mark Dippé were so excited with the idea that they will be using the technology they used in The Abyss and Terminator 2 for Jurassic Park. (Source: Cinemablend)

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the plan for the dinosaur movie. The animators secretly worked on a CGI of a T-Rex, despite knowing that Williams and Dippé wouldn’t be allowed to pitch their idea. Once they were done, they filmed a video test using the model they had created.

Jurassic Park producer Kathleen Kennedy visited the ILM office one day. The two discreetly let their T-Rex play on a monitor while Kennedy was at the office. The video caught the eye of Kennedy, who then shared it with Spielberg and the rest of the team, convincing them to use CGI over the traditional stop-motion technique. (Source: Screen Rant)

Jurassic Park’s Impact on the Movie Industry

The film won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, signaling the evolution and advancement of CGI. Even though only a few minutes of CGI was used in the film, it showed the audience and moviemakers that CGI changed how movies are made. (Source: Screen Rant)

Two years later, CGI technology was used in many films. The world witnessed the first C.G. main character through Casper and the first feature-length computer-animated movie, Toy Story. Between 1996 and 1999, special effects films started to create entire cities out of CGI like movies such as The Fifth Element, Starship Troopers, Twister, The Mummy, Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace, and The Matrix.

Today, almost all films utilize some form of CGI, whether it is a sci-fi film or a comedy. It is an easily accessible tool used by moviemakers to achieve their artistic approach to the stories they are trying to tell. (Source: The Atlantic)

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