Though it was released in 1993 and featured giant dinosaurs roaming the earth, Jurassic Park looked amazing at the time. And now, over two decades later, after three sequels, a tsunami of CGI reliant Hollywood blockbusters, and massive improvements in computer animated visual effects technology, it still looks amazing.
Few movies that used CGI have aged as well aesthetically as Steven Spielberg‘s dinosaur mega-hit, which would look incredible if it were released today. Heck, plenty of movies with a lot of computer-generated special effects weren’t even “born” looking good (we see you over there flying Neo from The Matrix sequels). But why? Why did they get it so right in the early 90s, but so many films since then have failed to look even remotely believable?
A new video from the YouTube channel kaptainkristian explains why, and it’s because the creators of Jurassic Park understood CGI was a tool, not the only tool.
The film contains only “14 minutes of dinosaur visual effects” in the movie’s 127 minute run time, with only six of those using CGI. The entire movie has only “63 individual visual effects shots.” How few is that? Jurassic World used over 2,000, and that doesn’t look nearly as good or as believable as the original. Not even close.
Besides an economical use of CGI, Spielberg also used other techniques to help make the dinosaurs look real, including large scale animatronics and puppets (especially for close-ups to give our brains a practical effect looking basis on which to view the computer made shots), an understanding of the technology’s limits, a focus on how animals move and the weight behind those movements, as well as filming those sequences both from a human perspective to give them a sense of scale and in real environments.
All of that care made it so computer generated dinosaurs look as good today as they did in 1993, a lesson we wish more filmmakers would remember when deciding how much CGI and green screen effects they want to use in their film (one Mad Max: Fury Road understood, and that’s the best looking movie of the century).
Jurassic Park was where dinosaurs ruled the world, but visually it still reigns supreme.
What other movies do you think understood the lessons of Jurassic Park? Tell us in the comments below.
Images: Universal Pictures