The Edge: The Force is with Phil Tippett

May 13, 2014 4 min read

Phil Tippett hardly needs any introduction. He 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. And there are only two days left to donate to his new film on Kickstarter, so don't wait, go make Mad God happen!

Phil Tippett - Tippett_Cinefex10

Novedge: If you were not an amazing VFX artist, what other profession would you have pursued?

Phil Tippett: Paleontology or being a cook. Although there's too much science in the first and I've no idea about being a cook…looks like hard work.

Novedge: What is your typical day like?

Phil Tippett: Takes me forever to wake up so things begin to come into focus around 10:30. I check in with whatever team of the show I'm on and guide them. In production we'll meet up for dailies. then if anyone needs my eye I'll touch base. I stay in close contact with Tippett Studio's CEO, Jules Roman, to see which way the wind is blowing, what shows are out there,coordinating, taking care of business. Then I'll got to our stage and try to keep things creeping along on MadGod. Things are different when I'm on location. I'm out over the next few months on Jurassic World. That's on set work keeping an eye on things. Sometime coming up with ideas or adjusting previously plans intentions with the reality of the locations – to make sure the shots and scenes are doable in post production. 

Phil Tippett - Tippett_MADGOD3

Novedge: How do you collaborate with directors during the creative process?

Phil Tippett: Every director has a different creative MO. I need to get to know the vibe and what it is they expect from me. I like to think I can make them feel that someone is watching their backs with the stuff I do as much of the time it is unfamiliar to them. 

Novedge: What is a recent project that you worked on? 

Phil Tippett: The last commitment for me was the Twilight series. The last thing was Breaking Dawn. We had one of the most fun teams I've ever worked with. When you are out in sub arctic conditions it's kind of like going to a war where nobody gets killed and the bonding is very much family like. Bill Condon directed and he's a lovely man. That show was typical for me and one of the reasons I like this job. I get to be involved very early on in pre-pre production to help shape the show in collusion with every department. In Pre Prod I generally work with the director & DP and sometimes the writers. We work out everything we can because there is never enough time – the weather can kill you if you're not on a stage. 

I am present on set every day for every shot having been involved in the location scouts and /or the Production Designers vision to insure we walk away from the set with what we need.

Then The show is cut and we get our scenes at Tippett Studio and begin the Post production process – the VFX – at that point most o my work is done. I make sure everyone knows what to do and I have a very good and experienced team that I have worked with for years – we can read each others minds.

Novedge: What software do you use? 

Phil Tippett: I actually don't work much with that sort of thing. After Jurassic I kinda got kicked upstairs and now I'm more supervisory. For MadGod we use Dragonframe and Twixter, and Nuke sometimes to do little things in the shot. I dislike computers. 

Novedge: What innovations do you find most exciting in the field of visual effects? 

Phil Tippett: Computer power – cheap /speed.

The best is photogrametry &3D printing… that'll pull the crap put of the computer and send it into the maker world where it has begun to have gotten lost. 

Phil Tippett - Tippett_32PhilTauntaun

Novedge: What has been most important in developing and growing a successful career in VFX?

Phil Tippett: Be good at what it is that you know what it is you want to do. The game has changed greatly from when I entered. There was little competition the jobs came easily Not so – no mo….

Novedge: What is the best advice you have ever received? 

Phil Tippett: KNOW when you're fucked……THEN… what you've got left is hope & luck… & not necessarily in that order.

To see more of Phil's work, check out Tippett Studio's website and YouTube Channel. Or connect with @PhilTippett on Twitter. And don't forget to donate to his Kickstarter campaign to make Mad God. 

And for more interviews, announcements and software tips,  subscribe to the Novedge Blog.


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