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. 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 one of the best pieces of science fiction of the 1990s.
One of the biggest challenges of making extinct dinosaurs realistic were 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. Winston used the same technique he had 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.
Once they nailed down the prototype and insured the velociraptor suit wouldn’t buckle or fall apart, they began the long journey to build the suits that were used for the movie. The following video is from the Stan Winston School of Character Arts, and details the joys and pratfalls of creating a believable velociraptor suit. John Rosengrant, a Stan Winston Studios supervisor, narrates.
Even today, Jurassic Park‘s blending of practical effects and CGI is an amazing accomplishment. Cue John Williams’ score…