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Creator of 'Jurassic Park' T. rex to discuss craft at ASU event

Special effects artist Michael Trcic works on a T. rex
August 23, 2013

Special effects artist Michael Trcic probably has bad dreams. After all, it was in his imagination that one of cinema's scariest monsters first came to life.

Trcic, a two-time Academy Award winner and key special effects artist for the 1993 Steven Spielberg film “Jurassic Park,” will discuss the process of creating the T. rex – from concept to life-sized, working model – at 6:15 p.m., Sept. 10, at the Marston Exploration Theater, in ISTB4 on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. The event is sponsored by ASU’s Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture and Center for Science and the Imagination.

Trcic already had what could be considered a “royal pedigree” in filmmaking when he conceived of his paleo-monster for director Steven Spielberg. He had previously worked side-by-side with horror and sci-fi masters George Romero, Sam Raimi and James Cameron on their respective films: “Dawn of the Dead,” “Evil Dead 2” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

The blockbuster “Jurassic Park” was box office magic when it was released 20 years ago. Still one of the highest grossing films of all time, it won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. It was re-released in 3-D earlier this year and leaves a mark on filmmaking history like a dinosaur-sized footprint in sand.

“’Jurassic Park’ played a pivotal role in the transition from traditional special effects to the current era of computer-generated visual effects that now dominate Hollywood blockbusters,” said Peter Lehman, professor of English and director of the ASU Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture. “[It] still resonates strongly with young students. I show the movie in my large Introduction to Film class and nearly every student has already seen it every year, although now many were not even born when it was originally released.”

"When it comes to science in the movies, few films have such a visceral hold on the public imagination as ‘Jurassic Park,’" said Ed Finn, director of ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination and an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English. "As we enter the dawn of the 'de-extinction' era, making these genetic technologies a reality, it's important to take a close look at how we imagine ourselves as creators of new life."

Today, Trcic quietly works from his home in Sedona, Ariz. A paleo-artist who also produces western sculpture, Trcic has been commissioned to recreate dinosaurs by the Discovery Channel, IMAX, The University of Chicago, The National Geographic Society and Disney. Closer to home, his life-sized bronze dinosaur sculpture (Dilophosaurus, from Arizona’s early Jurassic), welcomes visitors to the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa.

For more information about the event, please contact Cat Hartmann, 480-727-9866 or

The Department of English and the Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture are academic or research units in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.