VFX Artifacts: The Dinosaur Input Device

A chat with Craig Hayes about the stop-motion armature input device made during ‘Jurassic Park’.

Well, befores & afters has launched another VFX podcast! This new show is called VFX Artifacts, and it’s going to look at some key objects, tools, pieces of software and other items from VFX history. We’re starting with the Digital Input Device (also called the Dinosaur Input Device) made during the making of Jurassic Park.

VFX aficionados will be well-aware that that film ushered in an era of photoreal computer animation thanks to the efforts of ILM. However, it was Tippett Studio that had originally been involved in realizing the dinosaurs as stop-motion creations. To help bridge the gap, a motion capture input device armature–the DID–was devised and developed thanks to a collaboration between Tippett Studio, ILM and Pixar. Indeed, the DID would be awarded a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy (presented to Craig Hayes, Brian Knep, Rick Sayre and Tom Williams).

One of the DIDs on display at Tippett Studio. Video from an
Adam Savage’s Tested tour of Tippett Studio.

Here, I talk to Craig Hayes, then a VFX supervisor at Tippett Studio, about the creation of the DID. Importantly, this interview was done as part of my oral history of the DID published a few years ago. It’s in this oral history that you can hear from many of the contributors to the DID and animators who used it, plus see some exclusive imagery relating to the Sci-Tech Award-winning device.

One other place I’d recommend you also check out is the Academy Museum’s page about the DID, which has some new high resolution photographs from one of the devices made.

Meanwhile, I thought the chat with Craig was a great way to kick off VFX Artifacts. You can hear the podcast at Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or embedded in the player below. Thanks for listening!

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