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

“Dark Crystal” Animatronic Creator John Nolan Heads to Jurassic World 3

Yesterday, Jurassic World 3 director Colin Trevorrow announced some big news about the animatronics that will be featured in the upcoming movie. Talking with the Empire Film Podcast about his involvement in Battle at Big Rock, Trevorrow reported that John Nolan and his studio had been tapped to lead the production of the animatronic dinosaurs in Jurassic World 3.

While you may not immediately recognize the name John Nolan, you probably have seen his work. Most recently Nolan and his studio put together the breathtaking animatronics used in the Netflix series “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.” If you have not watched the new series yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. It won’t take long to understand why we are excited about this new hire for Jurassic World 3. Nolan also worked on animatronics for numerous commercials, some films, and is well known for his work on the “Spy in the Wild” nature series.

(Note: the majority of non-animatronic puppetry work on Dark Crystal was done by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.)

It was previously reported that Neal Scanlan, who did the animatronics on Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, would be returning to do the sixth Jurassic Park film. However, Neal choose to depart the project due to other opportunities causing scheduling conflicts.

Trevorrow seems to be equally excited about the news. In the interview with Empire Film, he announced that work has already begun on the animatronics for the third film. Colin enthusiastically shared the following:

“We’ve got everyone [at Pinewood Studios] carving dinosaurs out of clay.

If any of you have seen the Dark Crystal on Netflix, John Nolan who did all of the animatronics for the Dark Crystal is doing the animatronics on Jurassic World 3. He’s starting to actually build things, and we’re going to his workshop and seeing the things he’s doing with eyes and joint movement. He’s really innovating in a really exciting way.”

The veteran Jurassic director is no stranger to animatronics, having used them in Jurassic World and Battle at Big Rock. Trevorrow tweeted out a picture of the full scale Allosaurus rig used for Battle and it is an impressive machine. While the Allo was ultimately replaced/augmented with CGI for the finished project (similar to some of the Indoraptor shots in Fallen Kingdom), it is still impressive to see the resources Universal was willing to put into this eight minute short film. We hope the trend continues for the rest of the franchise – though allowing animatronics to live in their own light, without CG makeup would be fantastic.

The Allosaurus was done by Stan Winston Studios and Jurassic Park alumni John Rosengrant, and the team at Legacy Effects who also worked on the first Jurassic World. The team there is built from Winston and Jurassic Park veterans, and were a perfect fit for a Jurassic outting like ‘Big Rock’.

What do you think about John Nolan joining the franchise? Do you think he skillful work on Dark Crystal will translate well into full scale dinosaur animatronics? Let us know your thoughts below!

Source: The Empire Film Podcast


25 thoughts on ““Dark Crystal” Animatronic Creator John Nolan Heads to Jurassic World 3

  1. I must disagree on the idea of 100% unedited animatronics IF polishing them with CHI will make the look more real. After all, it is NOT about animatronics for the sake of animatronics, but the fact that they make it feel more real. In this way, polishing an animatronic with CGI, if it can only help the realism, is NOT a bad thing!

    1. In general, I could agree, but nothing looks as real as this:

      or this

      It’s all about using the right animatronics and filming them the right way. When it can be 100% practical and work, it’ll be the the best. When done wrong, it’s the Spino in JP3.

          1. I see. I have no technical knowledge on shooting skills, but I can understand where you’re trying to get. As a lay man in this sort of art, all I say is that the spino turned out to be a weirdo. I would say the weirdest and lamest animatronic in the whole series. lol

  2. Anyone know if the animatronic appeared in Battle, or was all of it replaced? It definitely looked augmented in every shot. Could barely tell anything real was there.

  3. I agree that over-enhancing CG on the animatronics looks bad but some enhancing can make the design look better. While most of the animatronic work looked good in fallen Kingdom, Blue looked distractingly bad in my opinion. It needed CG enhancement or a different paint scheme. On another note, I 100% agree that the raptors and Rexy in the original film and TLW are as realistic as anything I have seen on film and are downright terrifying.

    1. But again, the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park when animatronics looked fantastic.

      It’s just how and when to use practical, and how to shoot it. There are times when CG makeup makes sense, but it’s not necessitated to look good. In the case of the Allo, we can see it was built for CG overlays, as its neck is just cloth or something of the sort.

      1. The practical Stegosaurus that Wheatley pulls a tootj from looked GARBAGE. Meanwhile the animatronic rex with CGI enhancements in the blood transfusion scene looked BREATH-TAKINGLY AMAZING! As did Blue during the same scenes. But the prize of the whole film was the CGHI augmented, practical Indoraptor during Wheatley’s death. STUNNING! Honestly that was some of the best effects work I have ever laid eyes on!

        1. Homalocephale!!!!! The last JPOG Dinosaur and one that I always had free roaming my parks back then. If only JW:Evolution’s guests weren’t scared of EVERYTHING!

    1. honestly, i love the homocephale and dryosaurus (nigersaurus is just wrong) but this would have been the PERFECT way to finally have othnelia in something other than the original book

  4. I thought the animatronics in fallen kingdom looked very weak. I thought the cgi was very goodin fallen kingdom.That carnotaurus looked as real as any animatronic. I thought this short looked great as well. Also, the fact you can’t tell if it’s cgi or animatronic is a good thing I think. As long as it looks real. that’s all that actually matters.

  5. Above animatronics and CGI, what these films DESPERATELY need is interaction between predator and prey that DOES NOT involve chasing, killing and eating. Yes, Blue doesn’t kill Owen, but that is because she doesn’t view him as food, so that does not count. In nature, a Lion will relax in a field, soaking up the Sun while watching Zebra, Gazelle etc. play in a field, WITHOUT CHASING THEM! It will merely yawn and go back to sleep. This is because predators don’t usually kill unless they’re hungry. However what we continuously see in Jurassic World are predators being scary and hostile ALL THE TIME! Imagine an Allosaurus sleeping in a field, while people pass by on a trail on the other side, they notice each other, but the Allosaurus merely yawns and lays it’s head back down, because it is either full or uninterested.

    The ONLY time we have had this displayed in the films is the very end of The Lost World, when a herd of Stegosaurus pass by the Rex family and the Rex’s don’t care.

    1. That’s my main problem with the Jurassic World movies (especially Fallen Kingdom). Gone are the days when the dinosaurs acted like normal animals, they have been turned into nothing more but the hero/villain stereotype

    2. Yeah, that’s what these monster movies (which have ALWAYS BEEN MONSTER MOVIES, I don’t care what Spielberg publicity soundbites you regurgitate at me thirty years later) need. Not better story, coherent thematic structure, or special effects better than a Syfy Original. Walking with Dinosaur retreads!

      1. Ha ha. JP’s “monsters” as you claim still acted like animals. Consider the Tyrannosaurus rex with the Ford Explorers. It was basically a GIANT Cat playing with a Mouse.
        The light got her attention.
        When Malcolm ran, she chased out of instinct.
        She didn’t even eat Gennaro! Ellie and Muldoon found both halves of him.

        The only thing I will give you is the ending. But who would ever change that triumphant roar scene?

        Only ONE Dinosaur acted more than an animal in JP, and that was the Big One. She was raised by a man who HATED her and kept her locked up and electrocuted all her days. She became a psychopath as a result and enjoyed taking revenge on Muldoon as well as FINALLY being able to hunt. This is why she took her sweet arse time with the kids in the kitchen. She was literally savouring it.

        The Spinosaurus was extremely territorial like the Rexes and also got shot at then hit by a plane. So it’s behavior made sense too. For all we know, it had a mate and that is what Cooper shot with his big-arse gun! Or perhaps that is what the plane hit.

        The Indominus and Indoraptor were basically the same as the Big One. Treated horribly. Though I think there was something more going on with them. They had opposable fucking thumbs!!!!!

        I think that all up, all the films kept them pretty realistic, behavior-wise.

        But I would still LOVE to see some passive scenes involving carnivores. There’s too much focus on Godzilla-style battles instead of enjoying them as animals. Godzilla does the battles, leave them out of Jurassic! I am super glad that Battle at Big Rock wasn’t just a massive fight with the Ceratops. I really dislike the fights. They belong back in the 1940’s with Harryhausen.

  6. Also, the animatronics in the Dark Crystal? What animatronics? I saw a lot of puppets whose lips don’t even move. Like Team America-style crap ha ha. Nothing fit for Jurassic Park at all!

  7. I hope he does a nice job. I haven’t watched Dark Crystal, but these puppets look like shrivelled up chickens for 5 year olds. Maybe that was the intention, anyway. Like I said, I haven’t watched the show.

  8. Judging from what we got back in 2017, when Universal revealed the Fallen Kingdom title exactly one year before the film release, it’s nearly 9 months until we get to know the logo and title of the last film in the trilogy. It’s a pregnancy now. Can’t wait.

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 Boardgame