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

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. Special effects artist Michael Trcic works on a T. rex Download Full Image

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.

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

communications specialist, Department of English


Sun Devil Family Association keeps out-of-state parents in the loop

August 23, 2013

Although Beth and Scott Keeve are from Illinois, their daughter E.B. had no interest in attending a college in the Midwest. As a water polo player, she was tired of playing at indoor pools. She was searching for sunshine and discovered the water polo team at Arizona State University.

Since the Keeves live far away, Beth was thrilled to experience parent outreach when she attended her daughter’s student-athlete orientation. She approached the Sun Devil Family Association table and immediately became a member. Download Full Image

“When a child is enrolled in the school, the parents are too. They want to know all the things that school provides,” says Beth. “My son is at a school in the Midwest, which is very focused on student academics, but there is not much outreach to the parents. What’s different with ASU is the incredible outreach, whether it is communications, events or helpful staff.”

Beth’s daughter quickly became an essential part of the water polo team her redshirt freshman year, after breaking the ASU single-season record for saves. Beth soon took on the job of making the water polo team more family-oriented. She says that after home games parents often host meals where everyone can hang out with their student-athlete. She has volunteered to coordinate these meals next year.

“Parents really realize how important their presence is in their student-athlete’s life,” says Beth. “I want to be the communicator to the parents of the team. Parents will have me to contact, so if they make a trip to see their child play they won’t feel awkward about not knowing anyone. We will include them in the group.”

She also hosted the Sun Devil Family Association Nationwide Sun Devil Coffee Days in Illinois and Arizona, with groups consisting of five to 15 attendees. Beth emphasized the importance for out-of-state parents to stay connected and informed. The association's coffee days achieve that exact purpose, serving as a way to connect parents in the Midwest.

“I love that every time I call ASU, 99 percent of the time I talk to a person on the first call. It’s nice not talking to one machine after another,” says Beth. “Also, if they don’t have the answer to your question, they take the time to find it. It’s so nice to have that kind of responsiveness when you are far away.”