Thread: The Superiority of Disney's Dinosaur

  • avatar
    • 11 years 29 days ago
    • Posts: 404
    For even anyone who didn’t already think that Disney’s Dinosaur was horrible, bland, and lame, comes my belief on Disney’s ill-fated, ill-received, forgotten but important, innovative and awesome CGI film, Dinosaur (2000).

    Overlooked and Dismissed on its initial release on May 19, 2000, Disney’s Dinosaur is still an important milestone in VFX and Animation History and a Disney Masterpiece ahead of its time. It is the first movie to blend all 3D CGI animated characters with a world fabricated from Live Action Backgrounds.

    Released right between a brutal high school shooting at Columbine High on April 1999 (just two months before Disney’s innovative Tarzan was released in theatres in June 1999) and an even more brutal Al Qaeda Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center in New York on a tranquil Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, Dinosaur probably couldn’t come along at a worse time in terms of its goals of becoming a popular success.

    The uproar over its talking dinosaurs and lemurs and its script may have contributed to the film’s initial lack of acceptance, but Disney’s Dinosaur still threw down the gauntlet among VFX and animation professionals for what have been the most persuasive use of CGI characters and live action backgrounds.

    The origins of Disney’s Dinosaur actually date all the way back to 1988, when the studio’s live-action division acquired a screenplay called "Dinosaur" by Walon Green. At that time, Paul Verhoeven and Phil Tippett were interested in making the film but it would have been very different now. It would have stayed 100% true and faithful to the tradition of Walon Green’s 1988 screenplay.

    Anyway, towards the end of 1994, Walt Disney Feature Animation got their hands on Dinosaur and began shooting various tests, placing CG characters in miniature model backdrops before deciding to take the unprecedented route of combining live-action scenery with computer-generated character animation in either 1995 or 1996.

    Six years in the (actual) making and with a budget of approximately $127 million (some reports have it as being much higher!); Dinosaur is STILL one of Disney’s biggest, important, and innovative animated movies. It’s also one of its biggest risks, for you guys threw everything you could at this VERY important masterpiece at the time of its release.

    Dinosaur, co-directed by Ralph Zondag, who also co-directed We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (1993) and Eric Leighton, a stop-motion animator, is only the second PG-rated animated feature the studio has ever released but that changed with the release of the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

    There ain’t any singing in the film, other than the earth-shaking roars and calls of the dinosaurs, and the character design is extremely realistic. Disney is hoping the action-packed film will draw teenage and adult audiences, but all of you kept slamming it for its characters and story!!!!

    One of the key themes of Dinosaur is also a description of the production process: it's not about one individual but rather the strength of the group. The credit sequence says it all: You got the two directors and a production crew of over 500 people. The artists were organized in teams according to the stages of production: Visual Development & Character Design, Workbook, Look Development, Model Development, Digital Image Planning, Animation and Scene Finaling, aided by production staff and several teams devoted to technology, software implementation and rendering.

    From the storyboards by even Thom Enriquez, a "3D Workbook" was created to give all of the department supervisors an idea of what each scene will look like. Using the 3D workbook as reference, a film unit shot background plates in beautiful and exotic locales around the world, including Australia, Venezuela and Samoa, all over an 18-month period. This footage was digitized and composited to create fantastic settings that never existed in the real world.

    48 animators worked on the film, one-third of who were already versed in computer animation, while the other two thirds came from traditional hand-drawn animation and stop-motion animation backgrounds. Early on, Eric Leighton recruited several animators he knew from being a supervising animator on The Nightmare Before Christmas including Mike Belzer, Joel Fletcher, Angie Glocka, Owen Klatte and Trey Thomas, right?

    But learning the ropes at Disney was like starting from scratch because of differences in the proprietary software at both studios. The animators worked mainly in Softimage, but the Dinosaur software group wrote 70,000 lines of code to fine-tune the controls for the animators.

    They animated fleshed-out skeletons (Model Development Supervisor Sean Phillips compares the rough model parts to Tootsie Rolls) for the first run, then after rough animation, the Model TDs (technical directors) added muscles according to the animators' directions.
    The extreme realism in the animation of the dinosaurs was achieved by taking this layering technique very seriously, you guys!

    One of the animation principles Disney always adheres to is ‘secondary action,’ which in this film is mainly the rippling skin and jiggling flesh of the dinosaurs as well as the fur of the lemurs. Baylene, the biggest dinosaur in the bunch, is a prime example of secondary action in animation. When she stomps her foot on the ground, several complementary motions accentuate the action: a ripple rises through her body and a rotation twists her leg slightly. Baylene’s foot alone contains four types of controls for distributing weight.

    Throughout the production, the directors and animation guys at Disney did a considerable amount of research. They met with paleontologists, including Stuart Sumida, who lectured to the artists about dinosaur locomotion and anatomy. (Sumida is writing a book called Anatomy for Animators.) They took frequent trips to the Los Angeles zoo to observe elephants, rhinos, ostriches and giraffes, but zoo animals are remarkably sedate, you guys!
    After animation was completed, intricate skins were painted on using a technique that matched points on the skin to the muscles underneath, creating a believable effect. Hundreds of shaders were written to create the unique look of surfaces, lighting and shadows. Additional effects such as dust and splashing water were filmed in live-action then applied to the characters. Integrating the CG and live-action elements proved to be quite a challenge at the time.

    Y’know, Bringing Dinosaur to life required 3.2 million processing hours and the filmÕs total elements occupied 45 terabytes of disc space (45 million megabytes) stored on 70,000 CD-Roms. The studio's render farm consisted of 250 dedicated computer processors and another 300 desktop processors at the workstations. On average, 30,000 processing hours per week were devoted to rendering and compositing the film.

    At the conclusion of production on Dinosaur, the digital studio joined with Disney's effects division Dream Quest to form a new entity called the Secret Lab, now co-located in a modern building near the Burbank airport. The name accurately portrays Disney's closed-door policy about projects in development. Even family members are not allowed in the studio. Eventually, unable to overcome the losses incurred by Dinosaur, the Secret Lab folded into bankruptcy in 2001.

    James Newton Howard was responsible for the awesome score (which you thought was better than the film itself.) Well, let’s focus on the sound…

    Sound Designer Christopher Boyes (Jurassic Park, The Lord of the Rings, King Kong (2005), Pirates of the Caribbean (2003-7) and most recently, Iron Man (2008)) always knows dinosaurs. He knows how they walk, how they look without digital skin, how they bellow in fear or anger or joy. He knows the differences between a carnivore's salivating growl and a leaf-eater's quiet chew.

    And he should, because he has been directly or indirectly responsible for most of the sounds in the dinosaur craze throughout the 1990s, starting with Jurassic Park, where he recorded most of the original sounds that were later designed by Gary Rydstrom, followed by an assistant sound designer credit on The Lost World. For the past two years, with breaks during which he worked on Titan AE and a number of other design/mix projects, he worked up vocals for iguanodons, raptors, brachiosaurs and the like for Disney's ill-received Dinosaur.
    "It's deceiving, because you're not going to hear two years' worth of effects on the screen," Boyes laughs from his edit suite at Skywalker Sound. "It was more about the process, with issues that were addressed and resolved over that two-year period. Disney would give me shots in progress to work on, and once a week I'd fly down to Burbank to play them tracks. The first concept was that they wanted Aladar, our hero, to speak like a big dinosaur but in a rhythmic fashion that would give him a signature quality of a lemur."

    After establishing the basic lemur vocalizations, Boyes tried to fit elements into Aladar but found they didn't really work. Instead, he let Aladar be a dinosaur, with the compromise being that he would be more melodic and vocal than his brethren.

    The big challenge on Dinosaur was to create a series of languages," Boyes says, "evoking emotions that were everything from joyful and happy, to mournful and sad. With the human language, we can inject emotion very easily, but to try to do that by twisting sounds that originally came from animals was a challenge and perhaps the most difficult part of the film."
    Boyes tried using real lemur calls, but found them too mournful to be twisted into something joyful.

    "So I used a combination of penguins, a fox named Socks the Fox, and capuchin [monkeys]. The penguins had these wonderful whoops that worked well for movement, a jumpy kind of excited call. The capuchins were tremendously vocal and rattled off all sorts of little chirps. And Socks the Fox made these wonderful mournful yips and yaps that I was able to use both for happy and sad lemur. Then there's a wonderful scene, during mating season and just prior to the comet falling, where they're coming into the camera and have these happy bellows. For some of those key calls, I ended up with human voices-one of my Foley editors."

    Boyes, who edits in Pro Tools, relied on his Synclavier for design. "I'm making thousands of sounds," he says, "and you have to quickly figure out at what pitch the penguin fits with the capuchin. If I lead with the penguin, at what point do I come in with the fox? You're able to establish that arrangement on the Synclavier in a very natural, phonetic and musical way."
    While Aladar's vocals and the lemur language were meant to signify community and a wide range of emotions, the vocals for the raptors and Carnotaur-though equally complex-were built primarily to inspire terror.

    The basis of the raptors ended up being a 10-year-old Chihuahua with emphysema, which offered trills and growls and more than a bit of the menace. Boyes then layered in goose hisses and yellow-blackbird caws. "It worked well when the raptors are grouping together and surrounding their prey," he says. "There's a wonderful sequence when we first meet up with the raptors and you're lulled into thinking, 'These aren't bad creatures. We can make friends with them.' And they go from inquisitive and curious suddenly to these vicious creatures who want to rip our hero to shreds."

    Boyes gives much of the credit for the dinosaur vocals to his recording team, including assistant sound designer Beau Borders and field recordists Scott Guitteau and Kathy Turco. Early on, Borders went to Florida for some field recording and came back with, among other things, a leopard sound that became the basis for the vicious, carnivorous Carnotaur.

    "We called that 'pissed leopard,'" Boyes laughs, "because this guy was angry. Beau got some great recordings-real close, guttural, wet snarls and breaths and chuffs. In the first scene, Carnotaur is hidden in the forest, and he's breathing subtly and dripping, oozing liquid. It was very important to the director that he be wet and salacious. His salivary glands are in overload, and all he could think about was, 'Eat this thing.' So the pissed leopard with an elephant combination became this ethereal, regal, growling sound. Once he breaks out of the forest, I use the leopard with a pig sound-I think it's a large boar-and a macaw. The combination of those three gives a high shrieking element with a real feel for terror."

    The film overall offers a unique visual feel, with traditional and computer-designed animation integrated into real backgrounds (themselves digitized and manipulated). Sounds that Boyes recorded while on vacation in Hawaii provided the lushness for Lemur Island, while many of the wind techniques he honed working on Titanic proved useful once the dinosaurs embarked on the long trek through the desert.

    "We end up in the desert for a long time," Boyes says, "and I wanted to keep it interesting. There's a sandstorm, which was fun to design and edit, with the winds rushing and Foley putting in some great particle sounds. There's night sequences where we play with processed crickets. And there's daytime, where the winds allow you to create this incredible spatial quality so that you feel like you're in this vast, wide open area. There was very little to echo off of, and there was very little life, other than the herd itself. A lot of the initial sound design I did that [Disney] didn't buy off on for specific characters, we were able to use for herd. We created a background of group walla, of dinosaur sounds, that read specific creatures and mass of creatures. In a way, the herd became the most interesting background of this film. Music is big at that point, so the herd pokes through."

    Frank Eulner came on as supervising sound editor about a year into the project. Ethan Van der Ryn, fresh off Saving Private Ryan, cut the big opening and closing battle sequences, as well as the comet firestorm. Boyes, who usually mixes the films he designs, premixed the effects with Dean Zupancic on the Neve DFC at Skywalker. The stems were brought down to the main stage at Disney on Tascam MMR-8 drives, with original elements on Pro Tools drives. The re-recording team of Terry Porter on dialog, Zupancic on effects and Mel Metcalfe on music mixed on a Harrison console, with two Otari sidecars and Flying Faders automation.

    They are lot of things that are absent, from the T-Rex to the Mosasaur to Aladar's grandparents to the feathered dinosaurs and also the Kate Bush Song. The film's budget is $127 million although some report it costs $200 Million to make. The Film was released to theatres May 19, 2000 (well, that's not that retro to you, but that's OK.) and was released on VHS and DVD in January 2001 and was released on Blu-Ray Disc in 2006.

    And finally, the reaction. As you know, Disney's Dinosaur is a forgotten, ill-fated, but awesome animated masterpiece. Well, For all the bitching and moaning that has been raging over the plot, script, characters, and scientific inaccuracies of the film, you folks find Dinosaur lacking in the soul and spirit of the earlier 1988 screenplay and you thought it was way too Disney. You even thought it is the Plan 9 From Outer Space of Dinosaur movies. They all make mistakes, but Dinosaur was a honest one.

    A Critical And Commercial Disaster, Dinosaur is a movie that all of you who went to see Jurassic Park in the theaters and Watch Walking with Dinosaurs on TV would like to forget.

    You consider Disney's Dinosaur as the worst Disney 3D cartoon of all time. And it even piss you, the fans and critics off even more than Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Well, there are a lot of you out there who are purists about Dinosaur (2000). There are praises for the CGI and Live Action Backgrounds, but the main blasts came from all of you who are opposed to the plot, the characters, the inaccuracies, the script and such.

    This was Disney's great dream of making a dinosaur movie, but when it was released on May 19, 2000, and died a dog's death, the trust you put to this company is now broken. Dinosaur's critical and commercial failure led to the bankruptcy of the Secret Lab. In your eyes, Dinosaur is not a great blend of CGI and Live Action Backgrounds--It was a failure to all of you, plain and simple. And that film is not a mistake that Disney or the others will eager to repeat!!!
    And Finally, One more thing. The Making of Disney's Dinosaur has been less well documented to some of you, and for some of you, much that has been written about Disney's Dinosaur has been at best, inaccurate and at worst, just...plain...WRONG!!!

    When it came time to republish, revise, update, and expand the book, Disney's Dinosaur: The Evolution of the Animated Feature by Jeff Kurtii to coincide with the theatrical release of Dinosaur Redux and illustrated with all the artwork, illustrations, etc., etc., etc. made for Disney's Dinosaur during the development, making and release of the film, Kurtii and I will do our best to make sure that the account herein on the Development, Making and Release of Disney's Dinosaur is as 100% complete and accurate as possible, and hope that it will provide everyone, especially Disney fans and critics with new insight into this unappreciated Disney CGI film from 2000, Dinosaur.

    None of you wanted it. But the CGI, the Live Action Backgrounds kick ass! But...I Have a question. What Shall Disney do to improve and make over Dinosaur and to answer all of you who hated this, Disney's Dinosaur?

    P.S. You better be the first people to be convinced that Disney's Dinosaur is still a important milestone in the history of VFX and animation!!!!!
    • avatar
      • 11 years 29 days ago
      • Posts: 3307
      tl;dr
      [center]Game... ovahhhhhhhhh!!![/center]
      • avatar
        • 11 years 29 days ago
        • Posts: 397
        the movie is forgiveable due to great animation
        • avatar
          • 11 years 29 days ago
          • Posts: 883
          It was an awesome movie, but nearly forgotten.
          I am Ricky, hear me think!
          • avatar
            • 11 years 28 days ago
            • Posts: 404
            Yeah, Skeptical fans and critics have thrown they could at Disney's Dinosaur, but very soon, most will be silenced by my belief. This movie is forgiveable despite nasty reviews.
            • avatar
              • 11 years 28 days ago
              • Posts: 1207
              That was a long post.
              [IMG]http://i243.photobucket.com/albums/ff41/Rosieprower/funny%20pics/Dalekandstairsofmisscam.jpg[/IMG]
              [IMG]http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q75/RoCk__/newsigncopy.jpg[/IMG]
              [IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v159/Nighthellcat/Droid%2
              • avatar
                • 11 years 28 days ago
                • Posts: 404
                Well, you've said that Disney ain't gonna do what Pixar have done. They've tried with Chicken Little and though it was not as successful as Disney thought it to be, it was a success in Disney Digital 3D, and thus, Disney Digital 3D was born. In the future, even in the 2010's, Disney's Dinosaur would now be considered one of Disney's timeless masterpieces, despite the script.
                • avatar
                  • 10 years 11 months ago
                  • Posts: 404
                  Quote by futuramafan95
                  the movie is forgiveable due to great animation


                  Why, yes, I understand. It's a forigivable movie due to great animation, character designs, and effects. And, futuramafan95, in the future, even in the 2010's, Dinosaur will now be considered one of Disney's masterpieces, despite the unbelievably bad script (which to Disney fans and critics was even scarier than Jar Jar Binks and other aspects of Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace.)
                  • avatar
                    • 10 years 11 months ago
                    • Posts: 404
                    Quote by RetroRickster923
                    It was an awesome movie, but nearly forgotten.


                    Well, I understand, RetroRickster923.

                    The fact that the main characters are dinosaurs, the fact that the main character struggled for power, the fact that the dinosaurs talk, the fact that the main character was spearated from his kind when he was very young (as it turns out, he was still an egg when he was separated), the fact that different species of prehistoric animals, or dinosaurs, banded together to reach a goal, far, far, away, and to overcome differences to avoid being killed by predators, and the fact that the main character was raised by primate-like creatures (called Lemurs), among other things, is what made you people scream it copied Don Bluth's 1988 cartoon, The Land Before Time, Disney's The Lion King (1994) and especially, Disney's Tarzan (1999).

                    Disney's Dinosaur, was, in fact, loosely based on The Countdown to Extinction ride at Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, which was renamed Dinosaur, but it was often speculated to have been greatly inspired by Don Bluth's 1988 cartoon, The Land Before Time, Disney's The Lion King (1994) and especially, Disney's animated version of Tarzan (1999), due to numerous similarities between the four animation works. Some believe to be so.

                    Well, anyway, skeptical fans and critics have thrown everything they could at Disney's Dinosaur, but very soon, most will be silenced by my belief or something like that. This movie is forgiveable despite nasty reviews, RetroRickster923. Get it? Forgivable because of great animation, character design, and effects, in spite of it being overlooked and dismissed when released on May 2000.
                    • avatar
                      • 10 years 10 months ago
                      • Posts: 162
                      Ah, "Dinosaurs", I saw this one in the theaters and it easily counts as one of my biggest disappointments. This is because, apparently, "Disney" focused so much on the technical stuff that they forgot what truly makes a movie (or any work of fiction) come alive; namely, a good plot and appealing, memorable characters. Certainly, there are animated movies that I dislike more, but I can't think of any animated movie I've seen that sported such instantly forgettable characters as "Dinosaurs". Usually, no matter what I thought of a movie, I'm at least able to remember some of the characters, even if it's been years since I last saw it. With "Dinosaurs" however, my memory is completely blank. I can barely remember the main character's name; Aladar, wasn't it?

                      In conclusion: If you like this movie, that's fine, we all have our own opinions, but I'm afraid that I will never be able to see the inherent superiority of it.
                      You know what they say: If you wanna save the world you gotta push a few old ladies down the stairs

                      [img]http://fraphael.free.fr/images/ALIX/Arbaces1.JPG[/img]
                      • avatar
                        • 10 years 10 months ago
                        • Posts: 1525
                        I liked this movie. The dinosaures were actually highly accurate in their designs and the animation was great. Too bad it falls under the "Obscure Disney Movies" category.
                        "Did I ever tell you how much I like ants huh? Especially fried in a subtle blend of mech fluid and grated gears?"
                        -Rampage, Beast Wars

                        [IMG]http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p55/Commodore_Axilon/Forum%20Shit/kirk-cock.gif[/IMG]
                        • avatar
                          • 1 month 15 days ago
                          • Posts: 32
                          Are you a star?
                          Forum Staff
                          Super Admin: Vertex
                          Super Mods
                          Search