Let’s explore the motion blur in Jurassic Park! The groundbreaking film Jurassic Park, directed by Steven Spielberg in 1993, revolutionized the world of visual effects.

The transition from Phil Tippett’s stop-motion puppets to fully computer-generated (CG) creatures by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) marked a significant milestone in the history of digital visual effects.

While the shift to CG dinosaurs is well-known, the initial tests conducted by ILM to incorporate motion blur into Tippett’s stop-motion animation have not been thoroughly explored.

This article delves into the importance of motion blur, the techniques employed by ILM, and their subsequent move towards a fully digital approach. Read on to learn more!

The Significance of Motion Blur

The Significance of Motion Blur
The Significance of Motion Blur

In order to achieve a realistic portrayal of running and leaping dinosaurs, it was crucial to capture the natural motion blur that would be present if these creatures were filmed in real life. Motion blur adds a sense of realism by simulating the blur observed when fast-moving objects are captured on film.

While Tippett and ILM had previously pioneered the go-motion technique, which introduced motion blur through motion-control movers between frames, it was an expensive and time-consuming process that still had limitations.

To enhance the fluidity of motion in the stop-motion dinosaurs, ILM conducted motion blur tests for Jurassic Park.

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Motion Blur in Jurassic Park 

Motion Blur in Jurassic Park 
Motion Blur in Jurassic Park

ILM explored many techniques to add motion blur to the stop-motion animation of Tippett’s team. One of these methods involved leveraging an existing tool at the studio called MORF.

Developed by software engineer Doug Smythe, MORF had previously been used in films like Willow to facilitate smooth morphing between images. The team believed that MORF could assist in interpolating frames for the stop-motion animation.

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The MORF Approach

For the MORF approach, the process involved taking film scans of the stop-motion animation, devoid of motion blur, and inputting them into the MORF tool.

As explained by Brian Knep, a software engineer who joined ILM in 1992, the team would have two consecutive frames and utilize MORF to morph from one frame to the other.

This was done by gradually overlaying the frames, creating a collection of in-between frames that introduced fake motion blur. The process entailed manipulating the images to achieve a more blurry and noisy appearance, emulating the effect of motion blur.

The MORF Approach
The MORF Approach

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Workflow and Challenges

In this early proof-of-concept stage, the MORF tool allowed artists to draw outlines around the subjects in each frame. By moving and adjusting these outlines, the team could observe the transition between frames and enable the motion blur effect.

While the MORF approach showed some success, challenges arose when parts of the dinosaurs or other objects intersected. Generating missing information or utilizing techniques like in-painting or 3D reconstruction to address these issues was not possible at the time.

Workflow and Challenges
Workflow and Challenges

Labor-Intensive Proces

One notable drawback of the MORF approach was its labor-intensive nature. For instance, when animating a walking velociraptor, artists had to outline the dinosaur in every frame and establish correspondences between the various elements.

This meticulous process required constant adjustments and was time-consuming.

Results and Further Direction 

Results and Further Direction 
Results and Further Direction

Knep acknowledges that the success of the MORF approach and its potential inclusion in the film remains unclear to him, as he was not involved in the final decision-making process.

However, he recalls that another artist took the shot he worked on and created a scene that was presented during dailies. This indicates that the MORF technique reached a level of success and was considered a viable option.

Nevertheless, the subsequent direction taken by ILM was a complete shift toward fully digital 3D creations, such as the CG T-rex and gallimimus tests.

The Dawn of a New Era

The Dawn of a New Era
The Dawn of a New Era

The introduction of fully digital computer graphics marked a significant turning point in visual effects, exemplified by the groundbreaking work on Jurassic Park. The CG tests produced by ILM’s computer graphics department showcased the immense potential of this new technology.

Knep recalls being amazed by the wireframe representations, although his background in software engineering limited his understanding of their true significance. The advent of CG in Jurassic Park signaled a profound change in the industry’s approach to visual effects.


Did Jurassic Park use motion capture?

No. The dinosaurs in the film were primarily animated using traditional keyframe animation techniques and a combination of practical effects, such as animatronics, to bring them to life.

Why does Jurassic Park CGI look better?

It was one of the first films to extensively use computer-generated imagery (CGI) for creating realistic creatures, and the artists and technicians at ILM pushed the boundaries of technology and visual effects to achieve a high level of detail and integration with live-action footage.

How did they animate Jurassic Park?

The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were animated using a combination of techniques. The animators studied the movements of real animals and used traditional keyframe animation to create the motions and behaviors of the dinosaurs. They also incorporated reference footage of animatronic dinosaurs to ensure consistency in the performances.

What software did Jurassic Park use?

Jurassic Park utilized a variety of software tools for its visual effects. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) developed their proprietary software, including their animation system called “DIPS” (Digital Input Processing System), which was used for animating the dinosaurs. Other software used included Softimage for modeling and rendering and Autodesk’s Wavefront for some specific tasks.

How many VFX shots are in Jurassic World?

It is estimated that the film contains over 2,000 visual effects shots. The extensive use of visual effects was necessary to bring the dinosaurs and the immersive world of Jurassic Park to life, blending seamlessly with the live-action footage.


The story behind the evolution of motion blur in Jurassic Park‘s visual effects sheds light on the relentless pursuit of realism by the filmmakers and the groundbreaking work undertaken by ILM.

While the MORF technique showcased promising results, it was ultimately surpassed by the advent of fully digital CG creations.

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