In California Sunday Magazine, Chris Baker wrote a wonderful profile of Phil Tippett, an old-school monster master who continues to explore how to create fantastical, weird, wonderful alternate worlds for film.
The story catches up with Tippet as he works 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."
Phil Tippett is one of the most esteemed visual-effects gurus in the American film industry. His namesake company, Tippett Studio, employs around 100 artists and technicians who use cutting-edge computer-generated animation (C.G.) to create the werewolves in the Twilight films, the amphibious demons in Hellboy, and the giant bugs in Starship Troopers. Tippett's studio can earn millions or even tens of millions of dollars from a single film project. When we met, he was about to fly to Hawaii to the set of the $150 million-plus film Jurassic World to make sure that the live-action footage is shot so it will best accommodate the later addition of digital dinosaurs.
But for Mad God, Tippett relies on a small group of volunteers willing to sacrifice their Saturdays in exchange for a sense of artistic accomplishment and a free lunch. Tippett has run Kickstarter campaigns to cover the cost of supplies and meals. "The first one brought in more than we asked for and allowed us to be a little more ambitious," he says, gesturing at his miniature set. "Initially, there weren't going to be as many Shit Men in this scene."