The original Jurassic Park trilogy managed to add weight and menace to its dinosaur creations by using actual animatronic machines instead of relying completely on CGI. By the time the Jurassic World reboot came along, CGI had advanced so much that it did most of the heavy lifting when it came to bringing the prehistoric behemoths to life. In an interview with Collider, director Colin Trevorrow revealed that the franchise is going back to its roots for the upcoming Jurassic World 3, in once again using animatronic puppetry to create their dinosaurs.
"We've actually gone more practical with every Jurassic movie we've made since the first one, and we've made more animatronics in this one than we have in the previous two. And the thing that I've found, especially in working in the past couple months, is that we finally reached a point where it's possible to... digital extensions on animatronics will be able to match the texture and the level of fidelity that, on film, an animatronic is going to be able to bring. And you didn't use to be able to really mix them. You could really see the seams. And so that part of it is very exciting for me."
Of course, with the massive strides, CGI has taken in terms of realism in the past decade, it would be counter-productive to eliminate VFX visuals completely from the mix in favor of animatronic dinosaur puppets. Trevorrow explained how the rebooted franchise is combining the two special effects disciplines to bring the dinosaurs to life on screen.
"[Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director] J.A. Bayona really, he found the value in creating really photo-real, just beautiful lighting references that could be articulated just slightly. Just a head and a jaw that could move, but painted beautifully, hand-painted. And we do it for all of the dinosaurs now, so when we put it into a space, you can see how the light reacts to the skin. And even if they ultimately do make that a digital animal, there was always something there reacting to the light in that environment ... just puppetry in general, just really simple puppetry is proving to be amazing."
While using puppets in place of CGI might seem old-fashioned to modern moviegoers, the popularity of The Mandalorian breakout star Baby Yoda, which is brought to life by superimposing CGI on an onset puppet, proves the technique can be used to great effect for modern storytelling. Of course, the dinosaurs are supposed to look terrifying instead of adorable, so it will be interesting to see how the latest installment of Jurassic World will stack up in the giant monsters department in comparison to the original Jurassic Park movies.
Directed and co-written by Colin Trevorrow, Jurassic World: Dominion stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Mamoudou Athie, DeWanda Wise and Dichen Lachman. If shooting is finished on time, and circumstances allow it, film is currently scheduled to arrive in theaters on June 11, 2021. This news comes courtesy of Collider.