For the first Jurassic Park film, a number of hydraulically controlled animatronics, puppets, and elaborate costuming was created by Stan Winston Studios to be used to represent the films’ three main antagonist dinosaurs. Along with a single, fully animatronic rig, an animatronic head for close-up shots, a stand-in puppet used as a stand-in for later CGI insertion, a pair of mechanized wearable legs for shots of the feet, and two full body suits were crafted for the film’s production.
The Velociraptors were designed together by Stan Winston Studios artist Mark “Crash” McCreery, and paleontographer Dr. Mark Hallett, who based their designs off of Deinonychus antirrhopus, a North American relative of Velociraptor. Recruited by John Rosengrant, Dr. Hallett joined Mark McCreery in the early Summer of 1990. McCreery had already been working with other paleontologist consultants such as Dr. Robert Bakker, and Gregory S. Paul. It was because of Gregory Paul’s consultation that the nomenclature of the Jurassic Park Raptors is what it is. Gregory Paul had classified Deinonychus antirrhopus as well as other species of dromaeosaur all under the genus of “Velociraptor” due to his belief that the reconstructions of the Deinonychus skull at his time were incorrect (this later proved to be true, as Deinonychus‘ skull is currently believed to be closer to Velociraptor than to Allosaurids, as it was first reconstructed). Soon after the designs were drawn, despite protest from the paleontology consultants, the idea of feathers over the Raptors was dropped due to design difficulties. It was after the designing and construction of the Raptor effects that the scientific description of Utahraptor ostrommaysorum was made public, baffling Stan Winston, who was quoted saying, “Later, after we had designed and built the Raptor, there was a discovery of a Raptor skeleton in Utah, which they labeled ‘super-slasher’. They had uncovered the largest Velociraptor to date – and it measured five-and-a-half-feet tall, just like ours. So we designed it, we built it, and then they discovered it.”
Prior to being suggested of ILM’s computer effects, director Steven Spielberg originally wished to use Phil Tippet’s go-motion effects to effectively flesh out longer full body movements for the film’s dinosaurs. However, once Spielberg chose ILM over Tippet’s go-motion, Tippet believed he was out of a job. Instead, Spielberg kept Tippet on the project. Tippet worked closely with both ILM and Stan Winston Studios, the latter of which, Tippet worked on a poseable full-scale model that helped ILM visualize the shots where they would later be inserting CGI dinosaurs during post-production.
Full-Sized Animatronic Raptor
Of the multitude of effects used to bring the Raptors to life was a full-sized Raptor animatronic, constructed by Chris Swift. Measuring six feet tall and eleven feet long, the animatronic was fully mechanized, powered by cables that ran from beneath it. It was used primarily for long shots, and was designed for shots if the Raptor where it was giving quick, fluid movements. It took a total of fourteen puppeteers beneath an enclosed stage to effectively operate the mechanical puppets.
The other mechanical rig constructed by Swift was the walking rig. A mixture of costume and animatronic, the rig was a construction of the Raptor’s midsection, from the legs to the underside of the torso, and arms. The rig was designed based on the walking mechanism designed for the Dilophosaurus puppet. The walking motion was created by a human wearer but moved through mechanics. The arms were radio controlled, and the large sickle-clawed toe was cable operated. The feet had an internal platform lifting the operator, but were weighed to give the operator a sense of where they were going. The person inside the suit (who was John Rosengrant) had to be assisted by the other puppeteers to move forward.
John Rosengrant designed and built two identical, partially mechanical, Raptor suits for use on set. The arms were a mixture of cable and radio control, and the legs were triple jointed, forcing the operator to have to stand on toe-tip. The heads were mechanical, with radio-operated eye movement. Like the other animatronics built by Stan Winston Studios for Jurassic Park, the skin on the costumes was made of foam rubber.
Baby Raptor Animatronic
Also constructed was a tiny Raptor puppet for the scene in which the actors would gawk in amazement as the tiny creature poked her snout out of an artificial egg. Miniaturized robotics were used to move the rib cage in order to produce a simulated breathing effect, while cables were used to move the arms and legs. A single rod inserted beneath the tiny puppet gave movement to its entire body.
Raptors in the Kitchen
Among the most famous of the scenes in the movie was also the scene where the most extensive use of the Raptor costumes was made. John Rosengrant and Mark McCreery donned the Raptor suits for many of the shots, Rosengrant himself being in the suit for the infamous door opening shot. Many other of the practical Raptor effects were utilized in the scene, meaning very few shots in the scene had to be constructed through CGI.
The Raptors of Jurassic Park had the most complex sound designs of all the animals in the film. Samples from various birds such as cranes and geese, and various mammals such as dolphins, walrus, and horses, the sound effects gave the Velociraptors a language of their own. Dolphins and walrus made up the base of the Velociraptors famous screech, with horse sounds thrown into the mix for variation. The sounds also were mixed rigorously to create barks, hoots, cackles, roars, snarls, and hisses. These sound effects largely contributed to the reptilian feel that was used in the portrayal of the villains of the first film.