Tim Alexander Q&A: ‘Jurassic World’ visual effects
“There was a lot of pressure,” admits Tim Alexander with a laugh when asked if he felt nervous about taking on the role of visual effects supervisor on “Jurassic World,” the latest entry in a franchise that has set a gold standard for special effects in movies. In our recent webcam chat, Alexander reveals it was the original “Jurassic Park” (1993) that got him interested in visual effects. He worked on the first sequel, “The Lost World” (1997), and has been with Industrial Light and Magic — the VFX company that has been a home for the franchise from the very beginning — for several years.
“What we really wanted to do was be sure we paid homage to the original films — it’s sort of our history, where we came from — but make this a new film, and hopefully something exciting that people hadn’t seen before.” Alexander and director Colin Trevorrow met early on with members of the effects team from the original film, including Oscar-winners Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett, to pick their brains about their work and what new direction they could take the series in. “A lot of the discussion centered around performance, and around what these dinosaurs should be doing, instead of what tech we were going to be using. It was a very creative discussion about how can we make this film its own device, and something people will be excited about.”
Art imitated life in the films story of a group of scientists create a genetically-modified dinosaur to attract tourists to the park. Alexander took us through the design and creation of the aptly titled Indominus Rex. “As with any main character on any film I’ve ever worked on, the design process went on for a very long time,” he says.
Alexander looked to the script and to Trevorrow for guidance, saying, “he really wanted the Indominus to have multiple weapons, and be able to attack in different ways. So she has big, powerful jaws for chomping, she’s got pretty long arms so she can grab things, and she uses her tail a lot to sweep. So those three things helped define the design for her.”
Alexander received an Oscar nomination for his work on “The Lone Ranger” (2013), and recently picked up the Hollywood Film Award for “Jurassic World.” Check out our full interview to learn more how this wizard of visual effects conjured up all the surprises in the film that grossed a staggering $1.6 billion worldwide.