Thesis: Viewing List


Now that I’ve settled on a project about the cinematography of giant dinosaurs, I decided to ask a few faculty members for film recommendations. Here’s what I got In Response:

From Nick Juschyschyn: 

  • The latest Godzilla
  • Desolation of Smaug
  • Pacific Rim
  • Peter Jackson’s King Kong
  • Starship Troopers
  • Honorable Mention: Cloverfield

From John Berton:

  • Jurassic Park is certainly one of the best references in this regard. The sequels also but I know on the first one this was a really difficult problem and the onus was on the VFX team to make it work when no-one was sure that it would. In later films the pressure was off and I think they were not as precise in their solutions.
  • Animated films will also be of some use, although they need to be viewed in the abstract. Gertie the Dinosaur by Windsor McCay is The Classic. Lots of tricks of scale there.Fantasia has a great dinosaur sequence also. [Added by Val: The Land Before Time 1, directed by Steven Spielberg]
  • Other great live action or stop-mo dinosaurs are in The Lost World, King Kong (1933 and 2005), Valley of the Gwangi, I also recommend Walking with Dinosaurs  and Dinotopia.  There’s good stuff and bad stuff, but the contrast is what you are looking for. What makes the good shots work and the bad shots fail?
  • Other scale-oriented monsters that are well done are in Them!, Jason and the Argonauts, 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Clash of the Titans (1981 and 2010), Godzilla (all, even and maybe especially, the new one), Ghostbusters, Lord of the Rings/The Hobbitt (trolls and ents and stone giants), John Carter, Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Comprehensive List:
  • There’s lots of references out there. Watch as many as you can, bot the good and bad so that you know the difference. Also look at the real world of elephants, giraffes, shipping container cranes, monster trucks and construction equipment. Mobile launch pad assemblies, To that end, you might take a look at Koyanisqaatsi. 

I’ll be picking five of these and writing annotations this quarter, specifically focusing on cinematography that I want to use as reference for my animatic. Whenever possible I’d like to focus on the representation of sauropods, since their odd proportions will probably require very specific camera angles to capture the action. Because of this, I think I’ll be starting with Jurassic Park and The Land Before Time. This will also give me the opportunity to highlight the problems with their sauropod anatomy and posture (of which there are a-plenty) so I can avoid them in my own project.