Master of Creatures


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❝ It’s the middle of a Saturday afternoon, and the 63-year-old Tippett is doing what he typically does on Saturday afternoons: working on his animated film Mad God in his Berkeley studio, using the venerable stop-motion animation technique popularized by Gumby and the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer holiday special.

Two members of Tippett’s crew are arranging scores of characters on the miniature set as he fine-tunes the lighting. The naked, faceless puppets are about 5 inches tall, and each has screws in its heels allowing it to be anchored in place. Their elongated humanoid bodies are coarse, lumpy, and brown. There’s no getting around it — they look like they’ve been molded out of excrement. They’re supposed to look that way. Tippett calls them “Shit Men.”

Phil Tippett does what he does best – on his own time, nowadays. He still makes a living showing producers of films using computer-generated-images, CGI, for their special effects – how to do it. How to make them lifelike. Even if they are scripted as something that doesn’t exist in our reality. The article is the story of his growth, leadership, and carrying on with stop-motion animation. You’ve all seen his work. Here’s his story.

3 thoughts on “Master of Creatures

  1. nicknielsensc says:

    My first exposure to stop-motion was one of Ray Harryhausen’s epics. It woke me to the idea that there was more to animation than Warner Brothers & Disney. I miss the stop-motion effects and was glad to see Tim Burton revive the art.

    I still prefer traditional and stop-motion animation to today’s CGI. Maybe I’ll grow up one of these days.

  2. p/s says:

    “Go motion is a variation of stop motion animation which incorporates motion blur into each frame involving motion. It was co-developed by Industrial Light & Magic and Phil Tippett. Stop motion animation can create a disorienting, and distinctive staccato effect, because the animated object is perfectly sharp in every frame, since each frame of the animation was actually shot when the object was perfectly still. Real moving objects in similar scenes of the same movie will have motion blur, because they moved while the shutter of the camera was open.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_motion
    See also https://www.stopmotionworks.com/mischtml/gomotion.htm

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