Saturday, January 5, 2008

Jurassic Park turns 15, looks better than most movies made today...

Why is that?

Now bear with me here. I am an audio guy, and really have no business talking crap about visual effects, so I'm kinda just rambling on as a movie fan, not an authority, but JP still looks awesome.

AMC is touting the 15th anniversary of Jurassic Park (though it's technically not til June), and Mrs Audio Guy, Biggelow, and I are watching it now. It's a great monster movie. Great jump moments, incredible creatures, fantastic music, dismemberment without being too icky, watered down plot, it's pretty much everything you could hope for in a family friendly creature feature.

When it came out I was entranced. I was already a HUGE dinosaur nut, and had read the book twice before the film was released. I blew my allowance on seeing this movie over 10 times in theaters (maybe even more after it hit the $1 theater). It made a huge impact on movie special effects, and along with T2, ushered in the CG era of film making.

So why don't movies look any better today?

OK sure, looking back there are some flaws and we have improved animation since then. The lighting and shadows don't always look quite right. Often the dinosaurs have a slight "green screened" look to them. The gallimimus look a little cartoony, but those points aside, I think the dinos look far better than anything we've done recently. They react properly to gravity. Their movement doesn't suffer from that weird CG wiggle (where muscle and skin seem to get WAY over animated). They impact their environment well. Just great work, still a high water mark for animation.

I mean comparing JP to Peter Jackson's King Kong is almost no contest. The textures and lighting are better in KK, but the dinos, well, not as good. The "brontos" look cartoon, every piece of the raptor moves independently of every other piece, the T-Rex looks great, but moves kinda goofy. Whenever I would complain, people would explain that the dinos were supposed to be "stylized", but I don't buy it, what with the level of detail that went into Kong himself (which does look REALLY good).

JP T-Rex

KK T-Rex

JP Raptors

KK Raptor (best shot I could find that wasn't a mess of motion blur)

Also, why doesn't anyone use puppets anymore? The Nedry scene is classic, and is accomplished without a single CG shot. I can just imagine if the same scene had been done today, or Dr. Grant lying on the Triceratops. I get really frustrated watching CG elements thrust front and center. We're not there yet. We're still smack dab in the middle of the "Uncanny Valley". We rely on this stuff more and more, but it almost always lets us down.

I just wish sometimes we could take a step back and realize that maybe CG Neo's and Jabba's aren't such a good idea, and that sometimes the T-1000 just needs to be a dude wrapped up in tin foil...

Anywho, Happy Birthday Jurassic Park! Here's to hoping that the plans to make Jurassic Park 4 fall apart!


Oh, and the JP T-Rex roar is one of the coolest sound effects ever produced. There's my audio tie in...


  1. I think JP was all puppets? thats why it looks better than modern CG.

    I watched JP on television a few days ago and it just amazed me. The plot curve, characters, etc. everything was right, rich, wide and credible. A lot better than most current movies which seem to be aiming to a quick bang and burn.

  2. I agree! JP was truly a spectacle when it came out. Rarely these days do movies live up to the superlatives that are thrown at them.

    That's what's so great about the movie! It's a near perfect blend of puppetry and CG. Shots of the T-Rex blend back and forth from a life size robot to CG, same with the Raptors. The Dilophosaur and Triceratops were all puppet, and the Gallimimus and Brachiosaur were all CG.

    Watching the new Star Wars, for example, or I Am Legend, it seems we're losing this type of art...

  3. I agree /w you JP is AMAZING!

  4. Hey thanks!
    I agree with your agreeing with me.
    [pats self on back]

  5. Listen, CG is the future and that's just something you're gonna have to deal with. I think if the recent movie Beowulf has taught us anything it's that puppets, actors, and hey even actual scenery are soon to be a thing of the past.

    I say good riddance! Who needs all that nonsense when you have handy dandy computing machines? Computers are the FUTURE! Eventually we won't even need programmers because the computers will write and create the movies for us. Until then more CG=more audio work right?

  6. LOL!
    OKAY! I stand corrected. Just excuse me while I file this post away under "Audio Guy waxes philosophical about the past being better than the present".

    Actually your Beowulf point is totally valid. When the ENTIRE world is CG then it looks awesome. See also 300 (where the ONLY non-cg elements are the people)and the Incredibles. Though I'm not very excited for speed racer...

    It's when you get into a mostly real world with a few blatant CG elements that we get into trouble.

    Take for instance Doc Ock in Spidey 2, His "arms" blend back and forth from practical puppets to CG.

    Though the more animation that comes in the more work I get, so I guess I shouldn't knock it THAT much....

  7. To barkus.
    lol. come on! I don't say that animation is all bad, I quite like animation when it's good you know, but many movies has proven to us that puppets and easy tricks is a better way to make movies, because it looks real, and it's easier for us to see. ( take a look at gollum and lor-movies, I mean, they use a lot of costumes and just tricks along with animation and those movies are gorgeous!)

    and to audio-guy,
    I KNOW!! I saw the jp-movies just yesterday with some friends and they where still as good as I thougt they where when I was eleven! I absolutley love them! (and I still have a chrush on Allan Grant)
    The third movie suck though.
    (sorry about my english, I'm a sweed)

  8. Wow annka!
    I'd say your english is great. I wouldn't be able to express this in Swedish...

    And you're right Sam Neil is he man! We're watching the Tudors right now. He's so EVIL! It's great.