The real story of dinosaurs Jurassic World Dominion

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Of all unexpected sight in Jurassic World Dominion— dinosaurs frolicking in the snow, pterosaurs flying in the air currents over New York — there is one creature that stands out. The pyroraptor has a mouth full of serrated teeth, sickle-shaped claws curved at a sharp point, and a shock of fiery red feathers. That’s right, feathers.

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Ever since the first Jurassic Park When the film was released in 1993, paleontologists demanded that the franchise be more scientifically accurate. The scaly reptilian creatures that rampaged Isla Nublar may have flocked like birds, but they didn’t look like them, which meant the films soon drifted away from the scientific consensus. “This is what we’re all waiting for – Jurassic Park where there are no more naked dinosaurs.” – Robert Bakker, paleontologist who advised the first film (and inspired the character in the second), said National Geography in 2016.

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To be fair to Steven Spielberg, the notion that dinosaurs could have feathers wasn’t common knowledge when the original movie came out. The connection to birds has been widely discussed since about the 1960s, and fossils of the winged dinosaur Archeopteryx have been discovered since the 1960s. eighteen60s, but no one has unearthed important evidence.

The situation began to change in the late 1990s, says David HawnQueen Mary University of London paleontologist and podcast co-host Terrible lizards. In April 2001 – a couple of months before the release Jurassic Park 3-a paper In the magazine Nature set out the first solid evidence that even flightless dinosaurs were likely feathered, thanks to a fossil discovered by a farmer in the specimen-rich Liangdong province in northeast China.

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However, by that time the appearance Jurassic the series came to dominate public perception of dinosaurs. “You can’t just change the design of creatures in the middle of a franchise,” says David Vickery, Head of Visual Effects. Dominion. “It would be like replacing an actor with a completely different actor. These structures have been established.

There’s also a handy in-universe explanation – frog DNA and all – why lab-bred InGen creations might not look exactly like their ancient relatives, and why that might suddenly change from Dominion, in which InGen’s rival BioSyn finally brings its own more genetically pure creatures to life. (These are the ones who tried to steal the embryos using shaving bait in the first Jurassic Park.“They’re not 65 million years old,” says production designer Kevin Jenkins. “They were modified by the company for their own purposes. In that sense, they don’t look like real dinosaurs.”

Original creators Jurassic Park the movies couldn’t add feathers to their dinosaurs even if they wanted to, says Vickery. “You could barely make dinosaurs,” he says. “In 1993 they had fantastic success with animated dinosaurs, but the feathers might not have been good enough.”

Do it for Dominion required a combination of practical effects and digital deception, which has become a hallmark of Jurassic movies. Like Spielberg before him, Dominion directed by Colin Trevorrow was determined to capture as many dinosaurs “on camera” as possible using animatronics rather than resorting to CGI, and spared no expense.


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John Nolan, who previously worked on the Harry Potter films and the Netflix prequel Dark Crystal– was given the task of creating 38 animatronic dinosaurs from 14 different species. They ranged from the ink-eating Dilophosaurus, beloved by Nedry’s fans (which required 12 puppeteers to control), to the Giganotosaurus, which is a 25-ton, 15-meter machine with a car-sized head controlled by someone. wearing what Nolan describes as a “sock mechanical puppet” and opening and closing an arm to open and close the creature’s jaws (by far the greatest work in the world).

Every dinosaur started life as a miniature clay model. Per Dominion, Trevorrow brought in Steve Brusatt, a paleontologist from the University of Edinburgh, as a consultant. promising a scientist at their first meeting that he planned to add feathered dinosaurs to the franchise. (Hon, who says he has a “love-hate relationship” to the series, points to two flirtations with feathers in previous films: needles on the heads of velociraptors in Jurassic Park 3and catch a glimpse of a feathered lizard in Henry Wu’s laboratory Jurassic world.)

Brusatte checked each dinosaur’s design to make sure it was accurate, and some changes were made based on the latest scientific findings: the tails are stiffer because the vertebrae are thought to have fused; Velociraptors’ wrists no longer sit upright like they’re playing a piano, but are turned inward – bent to look like the precursors to wings. “A lot of people scold us for doing it wrong, but we did it very well,” says Jenkins.

The Industrial Light and Magic team then scanned a small clay mock-up of each dinosaur to create a digital version. This digital scan was then given to Nolan’s team to use as a blueprint for their physical animatronic dinosaur. At least one dinosaur, a feathered pyroraptor, was eventually built as some kind of mythical animal – CGI in the back half, with an animatronic head and neck. “Each individual feather was dyed, colored, cut and trimmed and then hand woven into this stretchy mesh material,” explains Nolan. “This net was then attached to the top of the animatronic dinosaur so that when the head moved, the feathers would naturally move with it.”

The digital side turned out to be a bigger technological challenge. “There is a terrifying line in the script: ‘Pyroraptor jumps out of the water, covered in snow and ice,’” says Vickery. “Feathers are very hard to do digitally, water is very hard to do digitally. So if you put them together, you’re in the perfect storm of technological complexity.”

Vickery’s team has created an entirely new system for rendering feathers in Houdini’s animation software, where each feather is defined by thousands of curves – one for the central feather (called the axis) and one for each of the individual notches that emerge from the side. “Each pen can have up to a thousand curves that define it,” Vickery says. “This dinosaur has thousands of feathers, so you end up with a creature that is defined by millions and millions of curves.”

ILM’s visual effects artists and Nolan’s animatronic work complemented each other. For example, for Dilophosaurus, ILM provided a CG animation of the creature walking so that the 12 puppeteers controlling it would have a reference to the job. But they also recorded the movements of the puppeteers and brought them back into digital animation for a more natural effect. “When you coordinate 12 puppeteers, you make happy mistakes and it looks plausible,” explains Nolan.

It was the same with feathers. “This is where our two disciplines really come together and complement each other,” says Nolan. They gave the visual effects artists samples of the feather net they had made. “They could put a hair dryer on it and see what the feathers do when the wind blows on them, and then they would incorporate that into their animation.”

Dominion takes place several years after the events Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and for the first time shows dinosaurs in the world in full – they roam the northern forests, terrorize cinemagoers, treat Mediterranean squares like tapas plates. It may seem absurd to strive for scientific accuracy in the placement of prehistoric creatures in what is now Malta, but it is not an easy task. DominionThe VFX team took this very seriously, although as Jenkins points out, “there comes a point where we tell a story.”

But perhaps this turn towards realism is part of what gives these films their enduring power, three decades after the herd of smooth-skinned sauropods that first hit our screens in Jurassic Park. “Dinosaurs are so intriguing because they were real,” Vickery says. “This is not a myth. They are not a legend. They really existed.”

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