Most people assume that all of the dinosaurs in Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking 1992 adventure film "Jurassic Park" were either complex animatronic puppets or computer-generated visual effects. However, what many people probably don't realize is that the film also employed an age-old movie technique: a man in a suit.
The creature effects wizards from the Stan Winston School of Character Arts (an offshoot of the legendary effects house responsible for famous cinematic monsters like the Terminator, the Predator, and the Xenomorphs from "Aliens") recently posted a lengthy blog post chronicling some of its parent studio's notable suit design work on Spielberg's "Jurassic Park."
Although most of the velociraptor effects in the film were done using a combination of puppetry and VFX, several scenes required full body shots of the dino — shots that could only be achieved by having a person in costume. John Rosengrant was one of the late Stan Winston's protégés, and not only helped design the man-sized raptor costume but was also chosen to perform inside the suit. In the video below, Rosengrant describes the development and testing of the raptor suit, the rigors of performing inside of it, and his "15 seconds of fame" in the memorable kitchen scene from "Jurassic Park."
The video offers a candid look inside one of Hollywood's greatest special effects studios at a time when practical SFX design was at its pinnacle. Computer-generated effects would soon became all the rage, but thanks to the multiple Academy Award-winning work of Stan Winston Studio, there would always be a place for practical special effects like this -- even the man-in-suit trick.
The studio, which was renamed Legacy Effects following Winston's untimely death in 2008, continues to do incredible practical effects work to this day. Some of Legacy's recent efforts include building the exoskeleton armor for the "Iron Man" and "Avengers" movies, character designs and mechs for "Avatar," and design and costume fabrication work on both José Padilha's upcoming "Robocop" reboot and Guillermo del Toro's robo-battler "Pacific Rim."