Creating Aliens & Dinosaurs - The Animator Behind 'Star Wars' & 'Jurassic Park' On His Creative Process!

By Nita Deshmukh. Posted on December 24, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens recently had it's international release and  Star Wars mania has gripped everyone. For those of us who are yet to watch the film, the anticipation is even higher. On the eve of it's release, we take a look at the people managing the behind the scenes for this iconic franchise and who have strived to make it the visual spectacle it is. VFX supervisor and producer Phil Tippett, has been an instrumental part of the franchise since the first Star Wars film.

Phil Tippett’s career in visual effects has spanned more than 30 years and includes two Academy Awards; six nominations, one BAFTA award and two Emmy Awards. He is also the founder of the Tippett Studio. His talent in stop motion, modeling and ability to use the combination of old and new techniques has made him one of the few artists who knows how to use the best of both the worlds.

In a video titled, My Life In Monsters by the YouTube channel VICE, Phil Tippett talks about his early days, the process behind character creations, the emotional turmoil he experienced during Hollywood's transition into digital revolution, his stop-motion skills and about his ambitious project Mad God!

It is mesmerizing to see Phil recount his childhood memories. At the age of seven, Phil was greatly inspired by Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion classic, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. And as he says “It was the first big leap” that set him on the path of monsters and dinosaurs however, with no particular intention. With his growing interest in this atypical world, his parents contemplated seeking a psychologist.

A huge turning point came in 1975 when George Lucas hired Phil to create a stop motion miniature chess scene for Star Wars: A New Hope. Phil also had a hand in many other aspects of the Star Wars films, including modelling and casting alien heads and limbs for the busy Cantina scene in the first film. Since then Phil went on to create many more marvels and won several recognition for his outstanding work.

tippett                                       Phil working on Star Wars: A New Hope

Phil tells us how Steven Spielberg, learning of his expertise in dinosaur movement and behavior, selected him to supervise the dinosaur animation for Jurassic Park. When Phil learned of the choice to go with the computer generated dinosaurs, instead of stop motion, his initial reaction was, “I think I'm extinct!" However on Spielberg persistence he continued to work and it was this project that was responsible for Tippett Studio's transition from stop-motion to computer generated animation and for which Phil was awarded his second Oscar. “It was a treacherous time for me as technology was changing very fast. For some time I thought everything that I knew had no value anymore. However I realized all I had to do was to rearrange my skills and upgrade a few things. Whatever that you know always has some value”.

Phil’s story is that of perseverance and valor coupled with creativeness and endowment. As he strongly believes passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. It means to suffer and that’s where the creative comes from!

Watch the video and get inspired to create the marvelous animation  you always wanted to.


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