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Phil Tippett shooting with Dragon!

Visual effects icon and stop motion visionary Phil Tippet recently received the Goerges Melies Award for pioneering contributions to the art and science of visual effects. He is also celebrating the 25th year of Tippet Studios. Phil’s studio is responsible for creature effects on projects as varied as Starship Troopers to the recent Twilight series.

Phil may point to seeing Ray Harryhausen’s “The 7th Voyage” as a critical point of inspiration in his youth, but please allow me to share a critical point of inspiration for my generation. It was 1980, and in a darkened theater, out of an icy fog, through video binoculars of some sort, images of something huge, walking silhouettes of metal monsters making their way across the tundra struck fear, excitement and pure movie magic in an unsuspecting audience. The Imperial Walkers scene from The Empire Strikes Back is still one of the most impressive uses of stop motion in a live action context.

Soon after Empire, Phil won an Academy Award for his innovative mix of computer controlled armatures with straight ahead stop motion on the movie “Dragonslayer”. The process was called “Go-Motion”. Go-Motion added motion blur to the stop motion process.

Phil’s animation spoke to me and many others my age. The subsequent “Making of” docs showing the stop motion process inspired me to build a miniature landscape in my bedroom through the lens of an 8mm film camera.

I’ve gone the long way around to announce that Phil has recently started shooting a special stop motion project at his studio using Dragon Stop Motion. It’s hard to explain how excited we are here at Dragon.

We recently visited Tippett Studios, met Phil and his crew and were lucky enough to see the rushes of his project. Here is what Phil had to say about using Dragon Stop Motion:

Phil Tippett –

“I had been working on a stop motion project in the early 1990’s and shelved it when the computer revolution hit with a vengeance. Discouraged and overwhelmed by the computer graphic cool-aid that just about everyone had to drink, I shelved the project until some of my crew saw me archiving the ancient stuff for the project I call MadGod.  Their excitement for the material—that they thought was some lost ancient eastern european thing—rejuvenated my interest in the material. I resurrected my crumbling puppets and—now with all the new digital cameras and DRAGON I have been able to resume shooting.

“DRAGON’s breadth and depth as a shooting package is really remarkable and is a tool that has allowed me to resurface doing the the kind of hands on work that got me into this fine mess to begin with.


(No, Thank you Phil, from all of your fans)

-Jamie Caliri

  • http://wobblytripod.blogspot.com/ Ron Cole

    I’m blown away in so many ways right now – Phil Tippet, returning to stop motion is a dream come true. Mr.Tippet’s stop motion work inspired the start of my career in stop motion with his work on The Empire Strikes Back and Dragon Slayer.

    To read that he has decided to return to the world of puppets in front of the camera is something I never dreamed I would live to see. The sun came out for me when I read this, I haven’t been this filled with anticipation in many years. WOW!

  • http://www.vortex42.co.uk Paul McConnochie

    Good show, Phil! MadGod looks like an incredible project, and I’m sure you won’t regret working with DRAGON. Welcome back to stop-motion! Alongside Ray Harryhausen your work is what inspired me into the film-making world.

    …and congratulations to the guys at Dragon, for bagging a living-legend as a User.

  • Mike Johnson

    Maybe Tippet was waiting for a decent stop-motion software to use before returning to the stop-motion world. No surprise that one of the finest stop-motion animators would pair up with the best stop-motion software. Dennis Muren once said, “The best artists reach for the best tools.” Saw some of the MAD GOD footage and it blew me away.

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