Stop Motion Animator and Vissual Effects Artist | USA
Phil Tippett is the founder and namesake of Tippett Studio. His varied career in visual effects has spanned more than 30 years and includes two Academy Awards, six nominations, one BAFTA award and four nominations, two Emmys, and the prestigious Winsor McCay and Georges Méliès awards.
Early in his career, Phil established connections with artists such as Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury, and Forrest Ackerman. With their encouragement and mentorship, Phil continued to pursue his passion for stop-motion animation.
In 1975, George Lucas enlisted Phil along with Jon Berg to create a stop motion miniature chess scene for Star Wars: A New Hope. Pleased with the work, Lucas extended Phil’s involvement in the Star Wars series, a collaboration resulting in many of the most iconic and beloved scenes in the original franchise. By 1978 Phil was leading the animation team at Industrial Light and Magic as they tackled projects such as the alien hybrid Tauntauns and sinister Imperial Walkers for The Empire Strikes Back.
As head of the ILM creature shop, Phil began work on Return of the Jedi in 1983, designing classic characters such as Jabba The Hut, the Rancor Pit Monster, and a more nimble bipedal version of the Imperial Snow Walker. Return of The Jedi won its team the 1984 Oscar award for Best Visual Effects.
In 1984, Phil left ILM to found Tippett Studio, wich went on to create top-notch stop motion animations for various television and film projects including Dinosaur!, Willow, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and the Robocop films.
In 1991, Steven Spielberg turned to Phil’s expertise in dinosaur movement and behavior in order to supervise dinosaur animation for Jurassic Park. When Industrial Light and Magic brought computer generated animation to the table, stop-motion suddenly took a backseat to this startling new technology. This incredible collaboration with ILM marked the advent of Tippett Studio’s transition from stop-motion to computer-generated animation. For his part in creating and animating the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, Phil was awarded his second Oscar.
In 1995, Paul Verhoeven came to Tippett Studio with a tall order: create the swarms of deadly extra-terrestrial arachnids for sci-fi extravaganza Starship Troopers. Leading a team of 150 computer artists and technicians, earned Phil a sixth Academy Award nomination in 1997.
Currently, Phil’s ambitions have returned to his origins in stop motion, as he celebrates completion on the first chapter of his independent stop-motion short MAD GOD. Originally conceived in the 1970s, a wildly successful KickStarter campaign in 2012 provided funding to resurrect the project. Under Phil’s direction, a crew of more than 60 volunteer artists has joined the MAD GOD team to realize Phil’s surreal and beautiful homage to the craft of stop-motion animation.
Phil Tippett’s roots in stop motion, modeling and practical effects and his ability to use this foundation in conjunction with developing technologies has made him one of a handful of artists whose careers have spanned the transition of visual effects from largely practical to digital. Phil’s achievements in the world of visual effects stand testament to a lifetime of talent, focus, dedication to the culture and craft of cinema.