Multimedia riding in on ‘Jurassic’ dinos’ tails

With “Jurassic Park’s” digital dinosaurs chasing away rivals at the box office, Hollywood is again focusing on the power of technology.

At a panel held at Digital World, a weeklong conference on multimedia at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, producers and directors embraced computers with open arms. But, they cautioned, nothing is moreimportant than the story itself.

“I’m fascinated by the number of new tools available to directors,” said John Badham, fresh from helming “Point of No Return.””It’s very exciting, but you always have to ask, ‘What is the story?’ ”

Gail Anne Hurd, producer of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” agreed. The concern , she said, is that studios become seduced by the ancillary markets presented by interactive CD-ROM games.

A number of current and upcoming features are finding their way to computer and videogames.

Indeed, “Jurassic” may cause a stampede of big-budget effects-laden pictures made with an eye to the $ 7 billion videogame market.

“Anytime you have a successful film,” said Badham, “people try and imitate it but don’t grasp what the attraction was.”

Even more fantastic effects will be possible simply because computers are dropping in prices, while their power increases. Director James Cameron said “T2 ” could not have been made as he’d envisioned it without recent breakthroughs in computer-generated special effects.

“We’re experiencing a revolution,” said Cameron. “We’ll be able to do anything we conceive of.”

But for technology to gain a better foothold in the production process, said the participants, studio executives must be better educated about the tools. They should hold on to their seats for what’s coming.

Michael Backes, who worked as a computer artist on “Jurassic,” said the next phase will be digital sets, where entire environments are created in software.

Directors can also take advantage of interactive storytelling.

Since many scripts involve elaborate back stories, there may be enough material to create several versions of the same movie from different points of view.