The DNA of Jurassic Park

We spent a day at Frontier Developments in Cambridge and played Jurassic World: Evolution!

Book Now!


Featured Article

Velociraptor (Film Universe)
There are three distinct variations of Velociraptor which were cloned by InGen, not counting sexual dimorphism seen within each individual version. However, despite the surface level variations, each sub-species remains relatively similiar in terms of physical attributes. Each species is roughly 6 feet tall…

Read More

Creature Designer Neal Scanlan Talks Through His ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Dinosaur Animatronics

Animatronic dinosaurs have always been a staple of the Jurassic Park franchise. The original movie was considered to be a breakthrough in terms of visual effects and the seamless way the filmmakers blended both the computer-generated dinosaurs and the physical on-set animatronics.

Jurassic Park – and it’s subsequent sequels – pioneered special effects in the film industry and the dinosaurs put on screen to this day still hold up against modern visual effects.

That’s why in 2015, many audience members felt as though Jurassic World didn’t quite fulfill what the franchise had established with the first trilogy, utilising only one animatronic dinosaur in the entire movie, with the rest of the dinosaurs being computer-generated by the talented artists at ILM.

That all changed however when writer/producer of the upcoming sequel Colin Trevorrow announced to us that animatronics will return in the sequel.

It was later revealed that Neal Scanlan and his team, fresh off Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will be making and puppetering the animatronics for the sequel, and judging by some of the dinosaur reveals in the trailer and behind the scenes reel, it has paid off!

Today, Neal himself gave the LA Times a bit of a tour of his work for the movie and shared details on how the dinosaurs are operated this time around.

“We tried to take onboard, to some extent, the ever-moving understandings of what dinosaurs may or may not have really looked like. One has probably assumed in the past that they were rather muted, but when you look in nature color is an important attractant. And would that have not been the case with these animals?”

As seen in both the behind the scenes reel and the trailers, Neal’s team built a full size T. rex along with animatronic models of Velociraptor ‘Blue’ and the new hybrid dinosaur, the Indoraptor. They created puppeteering aids, rod puppets and several prop dinosaurs for use on set, which were all imagined by both Neal’s team and ILM’s David Vickery to help the post-production process and to aid the seamless look between both VFX and the animatronics.

The animatronic model of Blue required 15 puppeteers hidden below to move the cable levers and use the radio control mechanism that brought her to life. They rehearsed the movements for each particular scene in advance so that the dinosaur could react to Bayona’s direction on set.

“Like a dance team we’re not thinking about the individual steps,” Scanlan says. “We’re just doing it. You’re thinking about it in a much more consuming way, like ‘Can you make her more aggressive? Can you make her more agitated? Can she breathe more heavily?’ It’s like music in an orchestra – everyone knows how to bring up the crescendo.

Recently, ‘Fallen Kingdom’ made headlines for having “the most animatronic dinosaurs since ‘Jurassic Park'” – while this is untrue, it no doubt is an homage to the classic trilogies heavier use of practical effects. Most of the dinosaur animatronics in Fallen Kingdom are head and neck only, attached to a static lower detail body model that’s to be replaced with CG in post. This particular approach can be seen with the Stegosaurus head animatronic from the Snapchat video:

Fallen Kingdom’s approach to animatronics is different than past Jurassic films, with all but the Indoraptor being built for laying down in a restrained and sedated pose. While the Indoraptor animatronic emulates the classic Jurassic style more, it seems it will be entirely replaced with CG in the final film, though the CG certainly is phenomenal and greatly benefited from the animatronic as its reference.

Needless to say both director JA Bayona and Neal Scanlan are striving for perfection with the practical and visual effects. From what we have seen in the trailers so far, both sides of special effects are excelling in this movie, which could potentially make it the sequel with the best visual effects.

Source: LA Times


27 thoughts on “Creature Designer Neal Scanlan Talks Through His ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Dinosaur Animatronics

      1. I can’t speak for every shot of the film, but that entire shot of the Indoraptor pictured has been replaced by a brand new CG model. It’s not a mix.

        Not a diss on the film though, it looks incredible.

        1. Hate to say it, but these puppets don’t hold a candle to Stan Winston’s. These ones look like foam version with just enough detail to be passable on screen. Stan Winston’s had so much attention to detail in the scales.

          The Rex looks ok, but only about 80% of the original Winston Rexy. Blue looks damn good though. The scales in the front portion of the lower jaw of Indoraptor look horrible in the puppet version. It’s like they just wanted to tack on some generic scales. To me they look carved, not grown organically like Winston’s models.

  1. I was wondering why the most animatronics story wasn’t posted here. I like that you guys are all huge fans, while remaining honest – I get my hype in high doses here, with some good logic and well researched facts to supplement.

    Literally not another fan site out there like this one.

  2. pity that they are only a reference. the CGI does look great, but i dont see why to completely replace the animatronic with cgi.. if they only added some details it would have been n¡more than enough.. it´s like throwing away the hard work of the team that created them. I want to se the movie and feel that what Im seeing was actually there. and also.. why to build an animatronic Blue with so many puppeteers if later they are going to keep doing close shoots in CGI? one of them even looks bad

  3. I wonder what’s the point of spending so much money to create full animatronics only to replace them with CGI. If they needed some references for actors to look at, they can do that in cheaper way. I dislike they announced they would use so many animatronics, but they use it only for marketing sake and we won’t see them in the final movie probably. I’m sure Blue’s animatronic during surgery scene will be replaced in the final movie by CGI as well, I hope I’m wrong.

      1. As I said, added for marketing sake.

        I’d be irritated if they replaced Blue’s surgery animatronic considering she is so well done.

  4. You guys forget from the final trailer you can tell blue on the table is still animatronic, and the T. Rex in the trailer while it’s still asleep is an animatronic. So clearly there will still be animatronic dinosaurs, just not as many as we’d like to see.

    1. I don’t know about the T.Rex. Remember the leaked picture last year that showed the T.Rex, and it looked really lacking in detail, to the extent I questioned whether it was really a leaked photo. And the other Dinosaurs in them pictures looked the same. And then I realized it was because all of them were gonna be painted over with CG. Compare the Rex that was in those leaked pictures to the one in the trailer, and surely it’s got to be mostly CG?

  5. They can CG whatever they want as long as they fix the second tower on the main street. It shouldn’t be there as the Indominus was slammed into it and it fell during her fight with Rexy and Blue.

  6. Lets keep it simple guys: There will be next to nothing in the film that will be animatronic.
    Simple. I don’t care that much to be honest, not by comparison to most people on this topic.
    Sure, it’s great to see all the models they make and that’s always fascinated me of course, but there isn’t really a need for it in the film like there would of been years ago. The obsession with animatronics being used seems to me to be mostly just a want for nostalgia, basically animatronics for the sake of animatronics. Yes, we all thought those animatronics were great, and had great respect for how they were made and operated, they are creative brilliance, but if there is not the need for them now, then they would be making them just to satisfy are interest in seeing such things. It’s fun for us to see something that is real like that. Add to that, I think most of the talk about using animatronics is just the same old thought trend phenomena as usual. Someone says something enough, and their mind goes into someone else and they just repeat the same thing. It’s become cool to complain about CG.

  7. Yep, like everyone else here I agree that these new puppets don’t hold up & it’s not surprising that they replaced them with cgi. The detail looks very fake. There was a lot of publicity regarding the use of animatronics in this film & ultimatly the twopuppets that were used were thankfully only used briefly & not for close ups. More of a budget mid ground interaction type thing. Will be very surprised if they go the puppet route again for anything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Episodes


What is your favourite Jurassic Park video game?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Jurassic Park LP Soundtrack Picture Disc