Hydraulics in the Jurassic Park Series Animatronics

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hydraulics in the jurassic park series animatronics

Everyone still remembers the very first version of Jurassic Park series released in 1993. This film received worldwide popularity and so many achievements for the effort the production team has taken. The groundbreaking effects and remarkable animal characters of the film made it more realistic and thus captivate the memory of everyone who watched. I think that the gigantic dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park series will definitely make you wondered. But here, this article will uncover the facts behind those dinosaurs and how they were operated successfully.
As you know, the dinosaurs were not real. Behind the scenes of the science fiction film Jurassic Park, it was animatronics and computer-generated graphics employed for dinosaurs working. For recording live actions in close-up shots, animatronics was utilized and computer-generated graphics were used for full-view shots. Hydraulics was the technology utilized for animatronics for Jurassic park series.

What Is Animatronics?

Animatronics is a technology that helps to animate the replica of human or animals. Before the popularity of digital animations, animatronics was utilized to create fake characters in the cinematic world. I.e; animatronics device is a mechanized puppet with limited movements that can be controlled remotely or preprogrammed. The animatronic devices are powered by hydraulic, pneumatic or electrical means. The first hydraulic-powered animatronics was Enchanted Tiki Room animatronic singing birds(1963) at Disneyland. Hydraulic fluid was pumped to turn arms, wings, heads, etc.. of these animatronic singing birds. The first animatronic human figure was Abraham Lincoln(1963) placed at Disneyland. Recently, the world’s largest animatronic figure is the 13 meters tall King of Kongs gigantic ape at Carthageland theme park in Hammamet, Tunisia.
This is all about the history of hydraulic-powered animatronics. Let’s discuss the details of hydraulic implementation on animatronic dinosaurs in Jurassic Park Series. The T-Rex animatronic in the Jurassic Park I series to Spinosaurus animatronic in Jurassic Park III used hydraulic power for the movement of dinosaurs.

Read More: Basic Hydraulic System

Jurassic Park Animatronics Dinosaurs

As mentioned, the three Jurassic Park series used animatronic dinosaurs to generate thrilling and spine-tingling actions scenes. Among the dinosaurs series, the full-sized T-Rex(Tyrannosaurus) was the first and largest hydraulic-powered animatronic figure for the film industry constructed by Stan Winston Studio and it takes 2 years for the team to complete the development work.
In the initial stage of T-Rex animatronics development, a lot of research and studies undergone. The members analysed all the required parameters like the design, speed of operation, required motions, etc… Then, in the second stage, a miniature of fully-functional T-Rex was developed in the lab to examine its feasibility. And as a final stage, they developed almost 20 feet(6.1) tall 40 feet(12 m) length T-Rex animatronics that weighs 9000 Pounds.
Electric power was not used due to the speed limit. Instead, hydraulics was used for creating fast and safe actions like tilting side to side, raising up, blinking eyes, knee motions, three-axis hip motion, calf rotation using double mounted bearings, etc… For this animatronics T-Rex operation, different valves pump almost 60 gallons of hydraulic fluid in a minute. This pressurized hydraulic fluid passes through narrow hoses and tubes to create faster movements of T-Rex dinosaurs. Hydraulic cylinders were used to control the motion base and the miniature of this motion controller is called Wally.
The working and construction of all the animatronic dinosaur series will be similar. Some important statistics of Spinosaurus introduced in Jurassic Park III is also discussed here. The hydraulic-powered spinosaurus was 43.5 feet(13.3 m) long that weighs 24,000 pounds. For controlling the operations of Spinosaurus animatronics, 42 hydraulic cylinders and approximately 2,200 feet hydraulic hoses were used.
The most remarkable scene of Jurassic Park III was the fight between T-Rex(Tyrannosaurus) and Spinosaurus. Have you seen it? If yes, then you must be feeling it as a real fight between two dinosaurs species. In the end, the Spinosaurus won the fight by broking the neck of T-Rex. The studio team explained this scene as a sad ending. Because after the fight scene, the T-Rex head was collapsed and hydraulic fluid shot out like blood spurting.

Why Chose Hydraulic power for Animatronics?

Most of the animatronics productions from Stan Winston Studio utilized the power of fluids. I.e; hydraulics technology. One of the major reasons for this was the speed limitation for electric power. The dinosaur’s body needs to move rapidly according to the comments transmitted. This is possible only if fluid power is used. Other reasons for hydraulic implementation in animatronics are pointed below.

  • Precise control of large forces
  • Smooth motion
  • Easy to control
  • Less expensive and low space consumption
  • Minimum heat production
  • The hydraulic pump can be located remotely

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