JURASSIC PARK III
The biggest challenge facing veteran effects
technician Lantieri and his crew involved
simulating the 44-foot Spinosaurus' attack on a downed plane in Isla Sorna's dense jungles. This task required close collaboration with Winston's crew.
Rosengrant oversaw the construction of a full-scale Spino leg prop (a la King Kong's hand holding Fay Wray) that would be suspended from poles guided by two Winston puppeteers.
For one series of shots, Johnston directed the puppeteers to slam the leg down on the plane
fuselage — a full-scale prop built by Lantieri's team. Once director Johnston completed that portion of the sequence, another prop fuselage was placed on the sound stage. Lantieri rigged this plane with a hydraulic machine that crushed the fuselage from inside, creating the illusion that the Spinosaurus weight was squashing it. ILM added the complete rendering of the animal, Johnston filmed the actors rolling around in yet another prop plane, and the scary scenario was complete.
Before the plane falls through the trees onto the jungle floor, the Spinosaurus attacks it as it dangles from a treetop 15 feet above the ground. For the opening portion of the scene, Lantieri designed a tree that was really a gimbal. "We put the airplane up on this and were able to move it around, shake it, tilt it, slide the actors in-and-out. It was a pneumatic gimbal with 100 horsepower powered by hydraulics and hoses."
The fuselage also had a breakaway cockpit, where actors Michael Jeter and Bruce Young pilot the vehicle. After the plane falls into the trees, the nose of the cockpit blows off and
Winston's 44-foot, 1,000 horsepower Spinosaurus attacks the plane and its occupants. The creature bursts into the cockpit as the actors scramble to the back of the plane. While ILM embellished the sequence with digital graphics of the dinosaur, much of this scene was filmed live on the stage with the real actors (not stunt doubles).
After the plane sequence was completed, the very same gimbal was moved to Universal Studios' backlot for the climactic lake sequence involving the Spinosaurus.
"This was by far the most physical of the three Jurassic movies," Lantieri said. "We had a cast that was willing to get real bruises and bumps, be around real heat, and actually go
underwater. So, it became much more of an action—adventure picture, and not just computer generated.
"If you go completely CGI, you end up with a movie more like Toy Story," he continued. "If you just go with the physical effect, you are limited by physics. The idea is to combine them, defy physics and do things the audience would never suspect is possible. It's a huge help to have a director with a
background in visual effects, mechanical effects and storyboarding like Joe, who also wraps it all up in intense dramatic structure."
Before settling on the Universal Studios backlot, the company traveled to Hawaii to film on Kauai and Oahu at sites including Dillingham Airfield, the Heeia Kea Ranch, the rain forests in the Manoa Valley, the Mary Lucas Ranch, the Wailua River, the Hanalei Valley and the Molokai coast. Los Angeles-area locations included South Pasadena, which stood in for Dr. Sattler's Washington D.C. area home, plus Occidental College, a rock quarry in Irwindale and a warehouse east of downtown L.A. for the interiors of InGen's breeding tanks.
The filmmakers then moved to Universal Studios sound stages for 96 days. Perhaps most notable among production designer Ed Verreaux's sets was the jungle rain forest, which filled Stage 12, one of the largest stages
in the world. Verreaux and seasoned greensman Danny Ondrejko (Jurassic Park, Congo) fabricated a spectacular jungle that looked and smelled like a tropical forest. With mist and fog piped in by Lantieri's technicians, they replicated the humidity that soaked the crew during the Hawaiian portion of f
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