See How Steven Spielberg Made The Velociraptors In Jurassic Park

By Rudie Obias | Published

Jurassic Park

These days we take special effects for granted in a lot of ways. It is just easy to think what happens on the big screen is, well, easy. But in 1993, director Steven Spielberg wanted to enlist the latest filmmaking technology with his upcoming film adaptation of Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel, Jurassic Park. Greenscreens and massive sound stages weren’t quite there yet.

At the time, CGI technology was still limited, and to bring dinosaurs to life Spielberg had to turn to visual effects wizard Stan Winston to blend practical effects with the not-so-practical effects of computer animation. The end result was Jurassic Park becoming one of the best pieces of science fiction of the 1990s.

Watching the dinosaurs in action in Jurassic Park was a complete marvel at the time. And though CGI effects have clearly improved by leaps and bounds over the decades, this original work by Steven Spielberg and company did have a very real feel on the big screen. Check out how they went to work and just be impressed by the time and dedication that went into this flick.

One of the biggest challenges of making extinct dinosaurs realistic was the velociraptors. The iconic villains of Jurassic Park were almost impossible to re-create as CGI, so Winston created a suit for a puppeteer to prance around in. Weird? Sure, but it totally worked.

Winston used the same technique he used in bringing the Alien Queen to life in James Cameron’s Aliens in 1986. He first built a model, then a prototype out of black garbage bags and foam. The puppeteer would rest inside and act as if they were a velociraptor. It doesn’t feel that way at all when you actually sit down and watch Jurassic Park, though admittedly it didn’t feel like it with Aliens either. At the time, they had sort of perfected this style of humans-as-monsters in movies.

Once they nailed down the prototype and ensured the velociraptor suit wouldn’t buckle or fall apart, they began the long journey to build the suits that were used for Jurassic Park. The time and care were more than worth it, and they just looked so damn real on the big screen.

The above Jurassic Park video is from the Stan Winston School of Character Arts, detailing the joys and pratfalls of creating a believable velociraptor suit. John Rosengrant, a Stan Winston Studios supervisor, narrated.

Even today, Jurassic Park‘s blending of practical effects and CGI is an amazing accomplishment. And this realistic interpretation of the original dinosaurs was one of the major reasons the franchise was able to take off in such a massive way.

Having the Velociraptors feel so real gave the movie the right kind of gravity and terror needed to build something for the future. Heck, the Velociraptors become major characters later on, going back and forth between bad and good “guy” throughout the franchise. They had staying power for sure.

Now, cue the John Williams score and get to watching Jurassic Park.