The saddest moment in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was also one of the most beautiful

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The sight of a brachiosaurus being enveloped in an ash cloud after the volcanic eruption of Isla Nublar – as several characters and other dinosaurs leave the island by boat – was a powerful moment in J.A. Bayona’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. vfxblog asked ILM animation supervisor Jance Rubinchik about the approach to that touching scene, which turned out to be a direct reference back to the original Jurassic Park.

Jance Rubinchik: Wherever we could pay any sort of homage to Jurassic Park, we did. It was always fun when we got the opportunity to. In that shot, you see brachi labouring down the pier towards the end as the ash cloud is racing towards her. She rears up and her head comes up just as the smoke is enveloping her. We lose her and we see her shadow through the smoke.

We basically lifted that moment from the original Jurassic Park where the first dinosaur we see is the brachiosaur riding up on her back two legs and plucking the leaves from the tops of the branches. That’s the first time that as an audience we get to see a dinosaur. So I thought it was great that the last time we see a dinosaur on Isla Nublar is taking it full circle back to brachi and we see her doing a very similar action – coming up back on those back hind legs.

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Original plate.
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Final shot.

When we had originally animated it, we were blocking it in and we had those ash clouds more behind the brachi. You’ve got that full moment of her coming up onto two legs and then the ash cloud sort of moved past her. So you kind of got that moment a lot more. J.A. wanted to be less obvious, he wanted more of that moment of the shadow projected through the smoke. So the effects guys just kept adding more smoke and more smoke and more smoke, until it got fairly covered up in the end.

Which was – it’s always a little disappointing on the animators side, when you do all this work and then it’s a little bit lost or obscure. But in the end, it’s all about what makes the story work and what has the most visual impact. I think J.A. was absolutely right in that call. It just really tugs at the heartstrings even more so.

Stay tuned to vfxblog.com for more Fallen Kingdom articles during #jurassicweek Mark II.

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