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Jurassic World cometh, and the rise & fall of CGI

Practical advice. / Kyle Leitch

Practical advice. / Kyle Leitch

A wiser man than myself once wrote a line for a dumbass to deliver. Aforementioned dumbass suggested that, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

When that concern involves dinosaurs, the answer should always be a most emphatic, “Abso-fucking-lutely.”

All Jeff Goldblum bashing aside, the inner child in me was delighted when Universal Pictures announced that the long-gestating sequel to the beloved Jurassic Park franchise would be released on Jun. 12, 2015. Besides naming Steven Spielberg as producer and Colin Trevorrow as director, no other announcements regarding Jurassic World have been made.

Of course, despite the awesomeness of dinosaurs, the release of Jurassic World has some potentially serious implications in the film industry. Did you know that VFX companies are getting so desperate for work that they’re actually low-balling themselves out of existence? Rhythm & Hues, the VFX company that animated Life of Pi, closed down because too much time and resources went into making that soap opera on a lifeboat.

Why bring any of this up? Because, gentle readers who cannot connect the dots, the original Jurassic Park (1994) was one of the first movies ever to incorporate heavy CGI. But, for the fifteen minutes that dinosaurs were on-screen, only about six were computer generated. That meant that nine pants-crappingly terrifying minutes of dinosaur action was puppetry and good old-fashioned robotics.

Practical effects have always been cool, but the pervasiveness of CGI has buried the genuinely great work of the practical effects artist, because too many people were enamored with the 400 shades of blue that James Cameron invented for Avatar.

If the discussion on the Internet is true, then it’s likely that we’ll see even more robotic dinosaur puppets in 2015. Practical effects, and the magicians that conjure them like alchemy, are coming back. If practical effects wizards come riding back into the picture on the backs of velociraptors, then all the better.

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