Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! Today is opening night for the final show of our 13th season here at Triad Stage (the “Lucky Season”, someone decided to call it). So while I am resting up, check out these links below:
It’s opening weekend here at the Santa Fe Opera! Two of our five operas open, the first tonight, the second tomorrow. It has been quite the hectic schedule, and we still have three more operas to open before July is out. Nonetheless, there is always time to read fun articles about props; here are a few that came out this week:
In “The Art of Animatronics: How Old School Movie Magic Compliments CGI“, Jim Nash looks at how practical effects are still being used despite the pervasiveness of computer-generated imagery. He points out how the technology that controls animatronics has gotten more sophisticated over the years, and how practical effects can sometimes be preferred for budgetary reasons. And the article has pictures of dinosaurs.
As if to reiterate the points in the previous article, the Stan Winston School blog has an article about the making of the Spinosaur for Jurassic Park III. Even with the advances in CGI since the first Jurassic Park movie, the third one still built a 12-ton, 1000-horsepower “puppet” version of the Spinosaur for many of the scenes. The iconic fight scene between the Spinosaur and the Tyrannosaurus Rex was mostly achieved by having several tons of robots crashing into each other. CGI simply enhanced it.
For a step back in time, Tested has a great article on the robot shark technology in Jaws. The mechanical shark in that film arguably ushered in the age of animatronic creature movies through the 80s and 90s. It’s a great look at how the shark was made, with some nice photographs as well (it looks like the shape of the shark was achieved with plywood!).
It’s hard to believe Jurassic Park came out 20 years ago this June. I remember lining up with my dad and brother to see the very first showing in our area when it debuted. I think it was around noon (I don’t think we had midnight premieres in those days). Now, you can catch the film again, this time in 3D.
While many of us remember Jurassic Park as a watershed moment in digital special effects, it’s worth pointing out that the animatronics used in the film were groundbreaking as well. Stan Winston Studios built essentially a full-size Tyrannosaurus Rex puppet controlled with hydraulics, which was virtually unheard of at the time (and has rarely been attempted since).
The building-of videos for the T Rex below are pretty incredible to watch. In addition to the technical challenges they overcame, a couple of other things are worth pointing out. First, most of the drawings for the build were hand drafted, because CAD was still in its infancy. Crazy, right? And although they had the means to build the skeleton out of either aluminum or carbon fiber, they opted for steel because that allowed them to instantly repair it on set if it were to break. I was also amazed at how they had to rebuild their shop to accommodate this monster (both in tearing out the concrete floor, and in literally raising the roof).
So check out the three videos below. Each is only four to four and a half minutes long. You may just gain a new appreciation of the film.
Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies