*Robocop, TED, Starship Troopers, Star Wars, Twilight Saga Wolfpack, Dragonslayer, Jurassic Park. *


Comments: 201 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

fa5345 karma

How does it feel to have spawned a popular, humorous meme?


gregtallica17 karma

Yes, hi Phil, big fan here... Do you still hold yourself responsible for the deaths of all those people?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup72 karma


LaAnimator43 karma

What, in your opinion, is broken in the current VFX workflow? What things would you like to most see change?

Endless revisions?

Disconnect between Director and artists/VFX facility?

Bidding process?


PhilTippett_Dino_Sup190 karma

In the olden days, producers knew what visual effects were. Now they’ve gotten into this methodology where they’ll hire a middleman – a visual effects supervisor, and this person works for the producing studio. They’re middle managers. And when you go into a review with one of them, there’s this weird sort of competition that happens. It’s a game called ‘Find What’s Wrong With This Shot’. And there’s always going to be something wrong, because everything’s subjective. And you can micromanage it down to a pixel, and that happens all the time. We’re doing it digitally, so there’s no pressure to save on film costs or whatever, so it’s not unusual to go through 500 revisions of the same shot, moving pixels around and scrutinizing this or that. That’s not how you manage artists. You encourage artists, and then you’ll get – you know – art. If your idea of managing artists is just pointing out what’s wrong and making them fix it over and over again, you end up with artists who just stand around asking “OK lady, where do you want this sofa? You want it over there? No? Fine. You want it over there? I don’t give a fuck. I’ll put it wherever you want it.” It’s creative mismanagement, it’s part of the whole corporate modality. The fish stinks from the head on down. Back on Star Wars, Robocop, we never thought about what was wrong with a shot. We just thought about how to make it better.

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup20 karma


maximyzer13 karma

How do you feel about the robocop remake ?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup61 karma

Ughhhh .....

WallOfPuppies9 karma

You are an inspiration to so many animators/filmmakers/VFX artists, etc (myself included), so I was wondering who inspires you? Have there been any films recently that have surprised you, or re-energized you to continue doing what you love?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup30 karma

Gravity and Life of Pi

ds4457 karma

Huge Jurassic Park fan here, Phil, I remember watching the making of probably hundreds of times as a kid; you were one of my idols when I was eight years old :)

Looking back now, do you feel that the advances we've made in technology over the last twenty years were as big as you'd have expected back then, or is there a sense that you thought at the time we'd be much further along the way in many regards than we actually are now?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup12 karma

Unfortunately, in many ways, the current technologies have forced us to devolve. I feel like in my career there was this convergence of talent, of skill and vision and technology and experience that led up to Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers, and then there was a precipitous falloff. All the visual-effects heavy movies now look like the same giant cauldron of oatmeal, mixed together & ladled out. It’s corporatized; it’s homogenized & franchised for the masses.

LaAnimator7 karma

What is your outlook on the future of the VFX industry considering all the turmoil going on currently?

Do you see subsidies going away any time soon?

Do you support the idea of Countervailing Duties (CVD's) as a way for US artists to help stem the flow of work out of LA?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup16 karma

California is a mess. We're doomed unless Sacramento can level the playing field and keep the historical braintrust that created this industry intact.

ow1n6 karma

No question, I just wanted to say that you were the guy whose job I wanted to have when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, as heard in a sixth-grade oral report.

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup15 karma

No you didn't.

Ron_Cole5 karma

Did the success of the Mad God Kickstarter campaign surprise you? (it didn't surprise me... I know how much your fans love you because I'm one of them :)

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup10 karma

Yes, it totally surprised me & I'm looking forward to FUTURE SUCCESS!!!

totes-muh-gotes5 karma

Hi Phil! Of the creatures you have worked on, who would win in a fight to the death?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup23 karma

THE IMPERIAL SNOW WALKERS ... nah. THE DRAGON FROM DRAGONSLAYER ..... nah .... ED209 .... eh .... RANCOR PIT MONSTER ..... nah .... hell. I dunno. Whadda u think?

Frajer5 karma

How can I become a dinosaur supervisor?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup15 karma

Get a whip.

shehryar465 karma

What is the right amount of CGI in an action movie?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup10 karma

under 200 shots

dinotrucker5 karma

I played with Efexio - it's a fun tool - do you have a vision for where the app is heading?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup10 karma

My take on Efexio is to eventually build a universe not unlike the Marx playsets from the 50's and the 60's. When I was a kid growing up, these playsets were my pre-visualization kits. I could create all sorts of imaginative scenarios. If one Christmas you got a dinosaur playset, and another Christmas you got a Civil War playset, and another Christmas you got a WWII playset, what happened was every year you would lose at least half of your playset, forcing you to combine all of the above worlds into a single Magnum Opus ... this is how I hope Efexio will catch on.

stamik7775 karma

given the use of cgi in most movies today can you think of any cases where stop-motion animation looks better/ looks more realistic? in other words is there anything stop motion can do that cgi can't?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup13 karma

For me, it's a personal and subjective issue. Most contemporary studios and filmmakers insist on doing everything in CGI. That's just the way people have been brought up to think. The potential definitely exists for incorporating older techniques. In most cases, I find digital vfx have a tendency to look like a 3-dimensional cartoon, as the result of the inherent process. Digital work is intended to look photographically representational, but it can rarely achieve that objective. When you photograph a real object, that's exactly what you're doing, and as a consequence, IT'S WHAT YOU GET.

thewaybaseballgo5 karma

Were you able to take home any props from Jurassic Park? If so, can you post a picture or two of their awesomeness?

Ewmm5 karma

Thank you for this AMA!
Who you keep the contact with from the original staff of Star Wars and Jurassic Park, and which is your favorite movie?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup6 karma

I'm in touch with Dennis Muren, Jon Berg, Lorne Peterson, Steve Gollie from time to time - just ran into editor Dwayne Dunham, who I hadn't seen for 30 years. That was fun.

BananApocalypse5 karma

How was working on Star Wars? What exactly did you do?

And did you ever really think it would be as big a success as it was?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup17 karma

Working on Star Wars was great. Lucas was a great director. he understood that audiences want to be amazed. Good directors bring that into the creative process. It’s so simple, but it’s rare and at some level it’s a trust issue that comes with believing in the people you’ve hired to do their job. If you can just embrace the childlike ability to want to be amazed, to pick a crew of people you believe in and give them guidelines and then be excited about seeing where they go with it, you end up saying, “That’s really, really fucking cool. I never in a million years would’ve thought to do it like that.” It’s the opposite of working from intention. It’s a creative process instead of a color-by-number. When old jaded guys like me talk about the good old days of filmmaking, that’s what we mean. It doesn’t often happen like that anymore.

Ron_Cole4 karma

Before the demise of realistic stop motion special effects, were there any films that you were planning on doing utilizing using those techniques that were never realized due to the coming of CGI? (other than Jurassic Park I mean)

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup18 karma

Yes. Producer Jon Davison and director Paul Verhoeven and writer Waylon Green and I developed a dinosaur movie for Disney that was going to be all done in stop-motion in the early 90's. It was going to be essentially a silent movie, with a symphonic score and sound effects. There was to be no cute or talking dinosaurs! It was going to be a realistic drama. Disney did not agree with our approach, so we abandoned the project with Disney and they took the skeleton of what we had developed and made their own movie DINOSAUR! By that time, the technology had developed far enough so that the feature was all done digitally.

Ron_Cole4 karma

Given the wild success of the Mad God Kickstarter campaign, can we possibly expect to see more independently produced "Phil Tippet Productions" films? Please? :)

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup15 karma

MAD GOD won't die until I do.

jurassiraptor4 karma

Favorite dinosaur to supervise? Which dinosaur was the most trouble on the set?

Thanks for all the cool stuff you do.

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup11 karma

They're like my children - I love them all.

NotTheAvatar4 karma

Can you bring stop motion back to the movie industry?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup9 karma


KyleJRM4 karma

Was it amateur hour Phil?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup15 karma


artsyfartsy-fosho3 karma

Hey Phil!

Do you have any great ideas how to get vfx jobs back up in the bay area?

Sincerely, A semi-employed vfx artist/long-time ilm fanboy

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup3 karma

I wish I did ....

Idiot_Circus_Boy3 karma

Hello, Mr. Tippett! I don't really have much of a question but I just wanted to thank you for being an inspiration... Also, one time I was totally driving by the studio and you were outside and I yelled, "Hi Phil!" and you waved back. Huh huh, that was cool.

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup4 karma


Business-Socks3 karma

Great puppeteers always have a soul in mind for their characters, Ms. Piggy is a truck driver in drag, Elmo is childhood exhuberance. When you and Craig Hayes animated ED-209, if asked to pass control to someone new what soul or emotion would you tell them to aim for?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup5 karma

A cross between a mill and a lathe ...

filkinsteez3 karma

What advice would you give to a recent college grad who wants to get into the VFX/animation industry but doesn't have the strongest reel? Would trying to enter the field as a PA, then working my way up from there be a realistic strategy?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup14 karma

Wouldn't recommend it ... competition is intense. Skill sets need to be at the highest caliber for motion picture production. That relies on talent and skill. Talent comes easy. Skill does not. One can have talent but no skill, and one can have skill but no talent. What you need is both, and that's a long and rocky road.

Serena_R3 karma

Are there any more personal projects that you have in the works, or is Mad God the only Kick Starter Project that you plan to release? Did you find the Mad God project rewarding?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup5 karma

I plan on continuing producing chapters for MAD GOD into the unforeseeable future. The Kickstarter crowdsourcing campaign was very significant in allowing me to make MAD GOD. As a result of MAD GOD being an independent project that's somewhat off-the-beaten-path, the ability to raise money previously was practically nil. Kickstarter allowed MAD GOD to happen. There will be more Kickstarter activity for future chapters of MAD GOD.

donarumo3 karma

How do you feel about the evil baby in Twilight? Did you have a say on its design?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup8 karma

no comment

mistasam3 karma

With how the industry's going now, what are your thoughts on the future of Tippett Studios? Do you think the vfx work will pick back up, or will you guys focus more on Mad God and Efexio content?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup5 karma

It's a warzone out there, but we're survivors!

edwuuurd3 karma


PhilTippett_Dino_Sup4 karma

Don't do it, or be prepared to eat a ton of shit. But good luck!

Ron_Cole3 karma

I was thrilled to learn that you did so much of the stop motion animation on Mad God personally. Has that whetted your appetite to do more stop motion?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup2 karma

... yeah!

uncletravellingmatt2 karma

Hey Phil -

I'm a huge fan of your work.

How is your company, Tippett Studio, dealing with the impact of subsidies (foreign governments giving the major film studios kickbacks or tax breaks if they do VFX work in other countries instead of making movies in the USA) on the VFX industry in California?

We've seen the article "Tippett Studio Chief on Layoffs: ‘Why the Hell Doesn’t California Do Something?’", but lacking matching subsidies in California, what's your next step?

Other than Starship Troopers II, any other plans to be involved in developing your own intellectual property instead of doing work for hire? Do you still love the Ringworld books?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup3 karma

Fuckin'ABubba - life sucks in California !!! Intellectual property? Stay tuned for MAD GOD II, coming soon ... Ringwold is dead for me, but life goes on ...

quantumcat422 karma

All else being equal, what's your favorite type of stopmo puppet to work with? Foam cast, silicone, build-up, etc?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup2 karma

All of the above.

Ron_Cole2 karma

There are a few independent films which have chosen to return to realistic stop motion animation special effects (aka Dynamation®) especially now that the digital tools give us the ability to perfect the animation, simplified compositing and provided an easier option for adding motion blurs. Is this an art you would like to see brought back to films and if so, would you ever entertain being involved in such a production again? Please? :)

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup10 karma

I'm already doing that! www.madgodmovie.com. Been working on this project for quite some time. The first chapter is due out by the end of the year and it's primarily executed with miniatures and stop-motion.

FredrickF2 karma

Hi Phil! Your work has been incredibly inspiring and the work you did on Robocop and Robocop 2 is the reason I have a career in Animation today. I can even pin point the exact shot you animated that made me say, "That's what I want to do!"

I've always wanted to try Stop Motion so my question to you is, Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for a Feature Film 3D Animator wanting to learn stop motion at home? I'm dying to recreate some scenes with ED-209 some time in the future :)

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup2 karma

Well it's a helluva lotta work ... & they require years of creative investment. You just gotta stick with it. Make mistakes. Because that's what you learn from.

leonidas_III2 karma

Hey Phil, Huge fan of your work. thanks for giving us great movies and memories!

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup3 karma

awww ....

sonlesmont2 karma

I'm a character animator training to work in the animation industry. While I want to gear my reel towards Pixar and Dreamworks, could I also send it to VFX studios? Or does VFX animation require a different skillset?

Thank you.

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup12 karma

Yes it does. The Pixar model is an entire artificial and imaginative world with its own exclusive reality. In VFX application, the work is reliant on matching look and performance with a photographic background. The pre-planning involved is totally different from an animated feature, as coordinating with the various departments is very intense. The photographic background plates must be carefully designed and shot on location so that the actors and other FX coordination are convincingly performing to invisible objects that are later put in. By virtue of the fact that nearly everything is shot on earth, with earth-specific gravity, everything has to match into that world. In terms of performance, mass and weight ... the photographic background plate must inform you what the characters specifically need to do. In a fully animated feature, this is not the case.

Omegamorph2 karma

Hi Phil,

Thanks for this AMA!! I'm an enormous enthusiast of your special effects work. It has inspired and thrilled me countless times. ED-209 for one, is an absolutely fantastic character. I have some questions:

  1. What influences went into the 'Dark Overlord' design from 'Howard the Duck'? How complex was the Go-Motion process, given the number of limbs and appendages?

  2. How much input did you have on the final ED-209 design? Can you tell me about your experience in animating this robot?

  3. Out of all films you have worked on, What was the most challenging SFX scene to film for you?

  4. What do you think remain as your best FX shots?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup3 karma

1) I imagined the design of something I never wanted to see in my toilet bowl. 2) ED-209 was designed by Craig Hayes. Figuring out how to make it walk took awhile to figure out. 3) The big battle scenes in Starship Troopers 4) TBD

lukejn32 karma

Hey Phill, what advice can you give to a student who want's to make a stop motion (creatures, of course :D ) short film with almost no budget?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup5 karma

Don't think too big. Make it short. And then seriously reflect on whether or not you'd want to do it again.

Carnzoid2 karma

I actually have no questions because at the moment I'm too excited to think of good ones! I just wanted to say that you're a big source of inspiration for me. When I was young I used to watch a lot of Star Wars, Robocop and Jurassic Park. I think I rewinded and watched the battle of Hoth hundreds of times!

Because of you I got addicted to stop-motion, and now years later I graduated from animation school. I sunk thousands of hours into creation stop-motion animations alone in my dark studio. And you are to blame!


PhilTippett_Dino_Sup3 karma

I apologize ...

StephenMcTowelie12 karma

Do you have a favorite Stop-Motion Animation that you like to watch every now and then?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup11 karma

YES. All the work of Willis O'Brien, Ray Harryhausen, Starevich, Svankmajer, Quay Brothers, Karel Zeman.

DoomRulz1 karma

Any chance you'll ever make a feature length Prehistoric Beast? It would be so awesome to see the original film plus the extra scenes filmed for Dinosaur! come together in a coherent package :)

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup1 karma

A package will be coming ... a feature is highly unlikely.

admartinez1 karma

What's been your most rewarding experience associated with Mad God so far?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup1 karma

The crew.

somekidsuncle1 karma

Hey Mr.Tippett, I went to school in Emeryville at Expression College back in the early 2000's. One of my roommates was interning at your place. I've always loved your work, you were one of the reasons I attempted to go into that field. Thank you for all you've done, it will always be dear to me.

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup1 karma

awww ...

andytdesigns1 karma

One more question, what can we all do to help support for a VFX union? I've been a motion graphics artist several years but never had a union opportunity or health care. The whole starving artist label is only cute in college, but does become less cute getting older now, wish artists were more valued and supported, it can be disheartening

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup1 karma

Annoy Sacramento. Encourage others to annoy Sacramento.

VampireLincoln1 karma

How have modern computer-driven visual effects techniques changed the way you incorporate stop motion into a film? Do you see the industry returning to at least partially using practical effects with CGI to augment?

Your work is awesome! :)

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup7 karma

There seems to be a movement out there in the zeitgeist where audiences have reached their saturation level with many over-stuffed movies that rely on digital effects. And there is interest out there in bringing back a more practical onset approach.

johnmitchellworld1 karma

1.) Do you think the day will come when pretty much every cgi film from Jurassic Park to now will look dated the way 80's synthesizer sound sounds dated? Can you speculate on what you imagine the difference might be between a blockbuster in 2050 verses Jackson's King Kong and how PJ's King Kong might look like synthesized Van Halen by comparison to that amazing 2050 blockbuster?

2.) Do you think it's possible that a King Kong 33' caliber physical effects movie that really surprises us will ever happen again?

3.) Were there any physical effect innovations that you were working on pre-Jurassic Park that you haven't had the opportunity to use? And do you still spend time thinking about or visualizing and testing innovative development of pre-Jurassic Park physical effects like your brilliant go-motion idea?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup2 karma

1) Yes. Almost all of them. 2) Highly unlikely. 3)We were pretty much using the same approaches that were invented in the 20’s - it was just that the studios had forgotten about how to do it. They’d all disbanded their visual effects departments. Then slowly, over the years as the studios went from being owned by filmmakers like Jack Warner and Mayer and became more corporatized, studios forgot how to make movies. There was a changeover on the business side, and history forgot. Then Lucas and Spielberg came along and said hey, there was something about these old movies that was really successful. Something we can bring back and put a new coat of paint on.

quantumcat421 karma

How do you see the VFX industry changing in the coming years?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup4 karma

I dunno exactly, but I think audiences are reaching their saturation point. I've said this before, but VFX is starting to feel like symphony was at the turn of the century. It all starts to sound them same. After that there's noplace to go but LONGER and LOUDER ...

sunnydazes1 karma

What was the hardest part about your work on Jurassic Park? Which in my opinion is still one of the great special effects movies of all time.

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup5 karma

The learning curve, coming up to speed with digital as opposed to photographic effects and models, was a vertical climb for me.

sunnydazes1 karma

I can't imagine the scale you had to work with was any walk in the park (pun intended) What's been the hardest/most excruciating thing so far you've had to create?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup3 karma

Most excruciating? Hah! For every show, you just have to re-invent and find something in the material that you can make personal and understand.

vividos1 karma

Are there any other films you've worked on in which the CGI has aged very well besides Jurassic Park?

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. The animatronics are blended with the CGI, which makes it really convincing. You can't even really tell when the switches happen.

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup7 karma

Starship Troopers.

Gravy-Leg__1 karma

What was your inspiration to get into this field?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup9 karma

I was a stupid kid that liked crappy monster movies. The work of Willis o'Brien and Ray Harryhausen were my inspirations.

jurassiraptor1 karma

Jurassic Park did a phenomenal job of blending digital effects with more traditional visual effects, and 20 years later the visual are still convincing. More recent movies have ditched the blending of styles in favor of pure CGI, with mixed results.

Is there still a place for traditional methods in the modern and future digital age of filmmaking? How is a balance struck between the old & new styles?

PhilTippett_Dino_Sup8 karma

Much of the decision-making in current theatrical spectacle films is the result of simplifying and using a digital option, exclusively, for budgetary purposes. Of course, there's great opportunity to bring back the blend of practical and digital VFX, working together. However, much of the current thinking simply accepts the exclusive use of digital. There are a number of filmmakers out there that certainly prefer the historical overlap between the two processes that yield a more visceral look or feeling. But this takes a solid grounding in previous cinematic organization. The planning required to coordinate the overlap between practical & digital VFX is nearly a lost art.