Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mad Animation God Phil Tippett

Phil Tippett is a legend in the animation and special effects industry for his pioneering efforts related first to stop motion, later go-motion, and now mostly CG-effects.

Probably most famous for his work on The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Phil has forged quite a career with effects in films -- from Dragonslayer to Robocop to Willow. That all changed with Jurassic Park, however, when his initial stop motion tests were met with praise, but the new computer animation tests Steven Spielberg had seen convinced him and Phil to turn to computer generated effects for good. Tippett's team, however, still had a big hand in the film. Check out the pre-visualization for a raptor sequence in the film:

Another, from the infamous T-Rex encounter:

Phil has been posting these and other stop motion gems on his YouTube account recently. Its no wonder, then, that he's been making the rounds on the blogosphere for his renewed interest in starting up some stop motion projects again -- namely, his aborted 90s stop motion feature "MadGod" which he plans to turn into a short.

It looks like stunning, certainly, and I hope the story matches the visual splendor shown in the recently released trailer:

There's been talk that one of the reasons he's reentering the stop motion arena, other than the fact he loves it, is that now more than ever its easier to get it done. Phil got out of the stop motion game before digital frame grabbers became the norm. Now that everything is done on digital cameras with computers to aid in feedback, he can theoretically cut down on a lot of the guesswork and production time involved. Phil chose Dragon Stop Motion to work with. Its made by stop motion animators, for stop motion animators -- and besides my hands and the camera, its maybe the most important tool I use on a regular basis. The glue gun comes in a close fourth.

Phil on Dragon:

"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."

I personally can't hope enough for the success for his new short. Maybe it'll lead to more in the future from Tippett and Co.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Animated Interviews

Animating any type of real or found audio is tough. You don't want to mimic the actions described in the audio too much, but you still want to be entertaining and lively. Creature Comforts seems to do a decent job of translating the audio to absurd animals and locations, but now its a steadfast formula. The recent StoryCorps videos animated by the Rauch Brothers succeed greatly, I think, even with somewhat limited animation:

The Icing on the Cake from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

Its important to note that they're really dramas, being depicted in cartoony form -- and they still come across not as maudlin, but sincere and moving. Perhaps the cartoon form distances us enough from the emotion that if it were live action it might come across as manipulative. Would Up work as a live-action feature?:

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

Bill Wray, creator of Hellboy Jr. and artist, worked on the beautiful backgrounds for both shorts. his paintings are beautiful:

One of his backgrounds for Samurai Jack: