Creating an iconic dinosaur

Glen McIntosh, animation supervisor of Jurassic World, had a quick chat with me about the making of the film, on the eve of its Indian television premiere

Glen McIntosh spent almost three years working on Jurassic World. As animation supervisor, he was in charge of drawing, design, storyboarding, and heading the 50 animators who worked out of San Francisco, Singapore and Vancouver. Much of his work for the film concerned the development of the Indominus rex, a hybrid dinosaur in the film that’s shown to be created by the combination of multiple dinosaur genes, including those of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Velociraptor. The instruction to Glen was clear: Make the Indominus rex iconic.

“It had to be menacing, and yet, appealing. So, we took a lot of inspiration from Nature,” he says. It’s his belief that inspiration from the real world helps create believable fictional creatures. That’s why the Indominus rex’s eyes come from a North American hawk, its scales from a monitor lizard, and its spikes and teeth from a saltwater crocodile. Even its movement was inspired. “We wanted to show that the Indominus rex could match the cheetah in speed. We took inspiration from the ostrich, which is the largest, fastest two-legged bird in the world. Even the shape of the dinosaur’s legs and claws is ostrich-like.” Jurassic World was the first film to make prominent use of motion capture. “We were lucky to have the expertise and experience of Dennis (Muren, VFX Supervisor, Industrial Light & Magic). We studied the behaviour of the cassowary. It was a perfect reference for our motion capture artistes,” says Glen. For these sequences, as many as 44 infrared cameras were used.

Glen remembers how awed he was by Jurassic Park as a child — a time when VFX wasn’t taken for granted. “The Spielberg film had just 67 CGI shots. This film has over a thousand.” He doesn’t have a problem with how good CGI work goes almost unrecognised these days. “If it draws your attention, that’s when there’s a problem,” he says.

He suggests that the Indominus rex is like a Frankenstein monster. “There’s a tragic quality to it. Man creates it without quite understanding it or being able to control it. That’s why the final battle is between the real dinosaurs, and this hybrid. We’re also trying to make you feel sorry for her at the end,” he says.

He remembers with relief that the film did well when it released last year. “We work just as hard on films that don’t, but it’s gratifying when our effort gets rewarded.”

Jurrasic World premiered on Sony Pix, October 22, 1 pm and 9 pm.

This interview was written for The Hindu.  All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to this page if you’d like to share it.

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