Behind The Scenes

What are Spinosaurs Made of? An awesome look at the making of a 12-ton, thousand-horsepower dinosaur.

Exclusive behind-the-scenes footage building Jurassic Park III's Spinosaur from The Stan Winston Studio - Behind the Scenes Documentary.

Jun 22, 2013


Among the new dinosaurs created for JURASSIC PARK III was the massive Spinosaur, which was sculpted by key artist Joey Orosco in one-sixteenth-scale, from sketches by SWS concept designer Mark "Crash" McCreery.  Real-life scientific discovery informed the movie’s fictional world. “Scientists had found a Spinosaur skull just as Jurassic Park III was going into preproduction,” said Orosco, “and that’s why the filmmakers had wanted a Spinosaur in the movie.


Artists Joey Orosco, John Rosengrant, Trevor Hensley, Rob Ramsdell and Paul Mejias produced an eight-foot-long, one-fifth-scale Spinosaur maquette.  Full-scale computer-milled foam pieces, created from a cyberscan of the maquette, formed the basis for the full- size animatronic.

Pictured above: Steven Speilberg and Stan Winston review the design concepts for the Sinosaur, for JURASSIC PARK 3. Also present are Stan's trusted designers -- Joey Orosco and Mark 'Crash' McCreery. 

Pictured above: Joey Orosco completes the paintjob for the 5th-scale maquette for the Spinosaur, JURASSIC PARK 3. 


“We had achieved quite a lot on those earlier films,” 25-year SWS supervisor & co-founder of Legacy Effects, John Rosengrant said, “so there was a lot to live up to. We wanted to make the animatronics faster and better. At the same time, we wanted to come up with new designs and pump some energy into the old ones.”

By the time it was completed, the studio’s full-size Spinosaur measured nearly forty-five feet long and weighed 25,000 pounds. Revisiting an approach that had worked well with the T-Rex rigs for The Lost World, the crew built the Spinosaur from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail, from the ‘knees’ up, and mounted it to a motorized cart that ran on tracks.

Pictured above: Trevor Hensley, Andy Schoneberg, Rob Ramsdell, Joey Orosco and Paul Mejias work on the sculpt for the MASSIVE DINO.

Pictured above: The HEAD, milled in foam, is close to being molded.


The Spinosaur was not only the biggest and heaviest animatronic ever built by the studio, it was the fastest, featuring state- of-the-art, ‘hot-rod’ hydraulics — designed by Tim Nordella and Lloyd Ball — controlled by an eighteen-inch-tall telemetry device. “The Spino had to be faster, splashier and better than the T-Rex,” stated Nordella. “The producers wanted something that was going to actually kill the T-Rex, in fact; so it had to be a more formidable character than the T-Rex was.” Whereas the T-Rex had boasted 200 horsepower, 1000 horsepower drove the Spinosaur. Its solid-state construction also made it far sturdier than the T-Rex, which had been quite delicate, despite its appearance. The Spinosaur, in contrast, could take a beating.

Pictured above: The animatronic understructure of the Spino used brand new technology, mixed with the very best of what worked in THE LOST WORLD.


In one of the last scenes to be shot for JURASSIC PARK III — though not its last scene in the film — the Spinosaur does battle with a T-Rex. The crew took one of the T-Rexes from The Lost World out of storage and refurbished it for the fight scene, which was as violent on stage as it appeared in the film. “That was a true fight,” Ramsdell said. “They were just going to scrap the dinosaurs after the show anyway, so they had us really ram those two robots together to get as much great footage as we could. We had two puppeteering teams with their little telemetry devices, swinging them around; meanwhile, these huge robots were slamming into each other across the way. Everybody on our crew was a little bit on edge about it, because we’d put a lot of time and work into these things. But the producers and studio execs were having a great time watching this, rooting for either the T-Rex or the Spinosaur to win. We ended up knocking the head off of the T-Rex — so I guess the Spinosaur won!”

Pictured above: The Spino looms HUGE over the set with the T-Rex watching warily on.

-Jody Duncan


Video on Spinosaur Build from Stan Winston Studio - Behind the Scenes Documentary Vol. I.  To puchase the complete documentary on DVD, or for more information click HERE.