Welcome to How’d They Do That? — a bi-monthly column that unpacks moments of movie magic and celebrates the technical wizards who pulled them off. This entry explains how they designed the roar of the T-rex in Jurassic Park.
What are some of the most memorable movie sound effects? The threatening hum of an unsheathed lightsaber? What about the ghostly gurgling in The Grudge? Or the Wilhelm scream?
Well, for my money, there are few examples of sound design as singular, recognizable, and soul-shattering as the T. rex roar in Jurassic Park. Of the film’s three Academy Award wins, two were for sound. Jurassic Park is literally the reason the surround sound Digital Theatre System (DTS) was proliferated in American cinemas. Sound is an enormous part of how Jurassic Park tells its story, how it impresses a sense of awe, danger, and scale.
And in a sea of spectacular sound design, the T. rex roar stands out. It is a rare instance of a sound effect being as iconic as its accompanying visuals. And the film knows it. The introduction of the T. rex (and of its spine-tingling bellow) is one of the most spectacular scenes in the film.