Jurassic Park was the first significant occasion where we witnessed CGI being employed in the creation of textured, living, breathing creatures and the results were nothing sort of breath-taking. Whether it was our first sight of a Brachiosaurus filling the screen, or the swift menace of the Velociraptors or a T-Rex roaring, running and biting, Jurassic Park’s seamless transitions between CGI and puppet/animatronic work continues to impress, refusing to age in the way that many effects of that period sadly have.
There have, of course, been countless leaps and bounds made in the realm of CGI since JP, but what we’re going to focus on here are those changes that built on, were inspired by or bear close resemblance to, the ground broken by Spielberg and ILM.
The films might not have always measured up, but in each case the CGI proved to be something to behold.
They’re Flocking This Way – Starship Troopers
Gallimimus. A whole herd. More like a flock really, a flock of birds. Suddenly Dr Grant and those pesky kids are in the middle of what is rapidly turning into a stampede as they flock towards their position. Integrating a number of similar dinosaurs as they run past human characters and bump into each other before the T-Rex starts to munch down on them was quite a feat. The progression from that to the Zulu-alike sequences in Starship Troopers where the Bugs set upon the mobile infantry’s position on Klendathu was impressive to say the least.
As with a flock of Gallimimus, thousands of Bugs took a considerable amount of rendering, but also a sophisticated enough program to enable them to seem to operate as individuals, but undeniably members of a group, acting collectively. The overall effect has endured, despite the CG work noticeably deteriorating through successive (and successively under-funded) sequels.
Like JP’s assorted dinosaurs, the Bugs of Klendathu had texture, distinct traits and personalities and the immersive interaction with “real” actors was top draw. A genuine CG-triumph.