Stan Winston Studio
JURASSIC PARK (1993)
I took on the challenge of creating all the various eye mechanisms for the dinosaurs, which included the T-Rex, Velociraptor, Dilophosaurus, Sick Triceratops, and the Brachiosaurus. Each Dino had unique functions as well as many different sizes ranging from 1” dia. to 4” dia.
Steven Spielberg - Director / Universal Pictures
American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is considered one of the founding pioneers of the New Hollywood era and one of the most popular directors and producers in film history. Spielberg started in Hollywood directing television and several minor theatrical releases. He became a household name as the director of Jaws (1975), which was critically and commercially successful and is considered the first summer blockbuster. His subsequent releases focused typically on science fiction/adventure films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and its later sequels as part of the Indiana Jones franchise, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) - <en.wikipedia.org>
All different eye sizes ranging from 1” to 4”. The T-Rex, Brachiosaurus, and Sick Triceratops were the largest. However, the T-Rex required a set of never-been-done-before ‘dilating’ eyes. Velociraptor was medium sized and required a ‘nictitating’ inner eyelid. The Dilophosaurus was the smallest at 1” dia.
I think the biggest challenge was simply that Steven Spielberg, being “one of the most popular directors and producers in film history”, was going to be looking at every detail, every motion, so the bar was set very high.
In-house Eye Production – To speed up delivery time and reduce cost, I created a set of molds and custom tooling for each set. This also allowed more flexibility with the eye designs that needed to be color tested before final delivery. Also, we could quickly make a new eye if one was damaged.
T-Rex - Eye Dilation Effect – The giant T-Rex was going to need a dilating eye (the Iris opens and closes). I came up with a design that simulated a real eyeball Iris in nature by combining a mechanical drive mechanism attached to a flexible membrane or ‘Iris’ inside the hollow eyeball that would drive open or closed. This was eventually operated by me using an r/c radio controller in back of camera.
Velociraptor - Nictitating Eye Blink – After watching a ton of nature videos of both Crocodiles and Komodo Dragon lizards, I came up with an Idea for these thin, milky-white, blinking membrane using vacu-formed shaped plastic lids actuated by electromagnetic drivers (like found in a pinball machine). The drivers moved very fast, and by triggering them with a r/c radio button, they would cause the lids to ‘blink’ up, then down with extreme speed.
Remote Control– Most of the large Dinos were driven with heavy duty hydraulic actuators running off a large pump hidden behind the stage. This would not be practical for tiny, delicate functions like the eyeball moves and the blinking eyelids which I designed and machined in-house to be operated by an r/c radio using small r/c servo motors.
The results speak for themselves: Jurassic Park “went on to gross over $912 million worldwide in its original theatrical run, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1993 and the highest-grossing film ever at the time” “Jurassic Park became the seventeenth film in history to surpass $1 billion in ticket sales. The film won more than twenty awards, including three Academy Awards for its technical achievements in visual effects and sound design. Jurassic Park is considered a landmark in the development of computer-generated imagery and animatronic visual effects”. (wikipedia.com)