A behind-the-scenes look at the stars of 'Jurassic Park' COMPUTERS

June 21, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

Forget the dinosaurs. The real stars of "Jurassic Park" are the computers -- on screen and behind the camera -- that created the look and feel of this year's biggest blockbuster movie.

On screen

* APPLE: The control room for Jurassic Park, where the main characters seek refuge from rampaging reptiles, is packed with Quadra computers from Apple Computer Inc. of Cupertino, Calif. Look for a PowerBook in the Montana trailer-office where dinosaur scientists Sam Neill and Laura Dern first meet Jurassic Park owner Richard Attenborough.

* SILICON GRAPHICS: Jammed next to the Apple machines are Indigo Elan and Iris Crimson computer workstations and monitors from Silicon Graphics Inc. of Mountain View, Calif. The producers used Silicon Graphics computers behind the L.A. set to generate the displays in real time in response to instructions typed on the keyboard by actors.

* SUPERMAC: Hooked to the Macintoshes in the control room scenes are monitors built by Supermac Technology Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif. The production crew altered the circuit boards powering the monitors to slow down the displays to 24 frames a second, the speed of movie cameras.

* THINKING MACHINES: In the novel "Jurassic Park," author Michael Crichton picked a Cray supercomputer to run his imaginary island theme park.

But director Steven Spielberg didn't like the Cray's looks, so he picked a CM-5 supercomputer from Thinking Machines Corp. of Cambridge, Mass.

Because a real CM-5 costs $20 million, Thinking Machines lent Universal Studios the shell of a CM-5 -- a row of black boxes with blinking red lights -- visible along the back wall of the control room.

Behind the camera

* ILM: Most of the computer-generated special effects, such as the dinosaur herd racing across a meadow, were created by Industrial Light & Magic of San Rafael, Calif., owned by "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, using Silicon Graphics computers.

* MACROMEDIA: Animation software from Macromedia Inc. of San Francisco was used to render the action sequences on the control-room screens, such as the power failure that lets the dinosaurs get past electric restraining fences.

The games

* NINTENDO: Ocean of America Inc. of San Jose is developing "Jurassic Park" video games, due this month for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, in July for the hand-held Game Boy and in August for the 16-bit Super Nintendo system.

* SEGA: Sega of America Inc. in Redwood City, Calif., will offer a "Jurassic Park" game for its Genesis system in August, for its hand-held Game Gear in September and a CD-version for its Sega CD system in October with full-motion video clips.

* 3DO: Matsushita, the Japanese electronics giant that owns Universal Studios, also is backing 3DO Co., a start-up in San Mateo, Calif. When the $700 3DO CD player debuts in October, one of the first games will be a version of "Jurassic Park" developed by 3DO and Universal.

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