One of the foremost practitioners of the art of motion picture special effects, Academy Award-winner, Phil Tippett achieved new heights with his work as “Dinosaur Supervisor” on Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking JURASSIC PARK. Long recognized for his extraordinary design and execution of some of the most memorable creatures in film history, Tippett collaborated on JURASSIC PARK for two years; primarily responsible for two of the film’s more noteworthy creations — the awe-inspiring Tyrannosaurus Rex and the terrifying Velociraptors — Tippett’s work on this film caps nearly two decades of outstanding accomplishments in special visual effects. It also represents the culmination of his lifelong fascination with dinosaurs and paleontology.First inspired by such legendary fantasies as KING KONG and such Ray Harryhausen spectacles as THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, Tippett determined at an early age to follow in Harryhausen’s footsteps. A self taught filmmaker by the age of 13, he became a professional animator of television commercials by the time he was 17. Setting aside his career to attend the University of California at Irvine, Tippett became acquainted with a group of nascent visual effects artists such as Jon Berg and Dennis Muren (who most recently collaborated with Tippett on JURASSIC PARK). It was Muren, in fact, who recommended Tippett to the production team on George Lucas’ STAR WARS, the 1978 film that arguably launched a whole new generation of state-of-the-art, effects- oriented movies.
Having animated the miniature chess match and created miscellaneous space denizens for STAR WARS, Tippett next worked on its sequel, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, employing his skills in stop-motion animation to create the sinister, dinosaur like machines knows as “Imperial Walkers” and the hybrid animals know as “Tauntauns.” By 1983, Tippett was head of the Lucasfilm “creature shop,” designing, developing and constructing a wide variety of aliens for RETURN OF THE JEDI, including the monstrous “Jabba the Hut.” For his work on this final chapter of the STAR WARS trilogy, Tippett was awarded the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, having been nominated the previous year for his creation of “Vermathrax Perjorative,” the mythological winged serpent in the highly acclaimed medieval adventure DRAGONSLAYER.
In 1984, Tippett originated his own project, an experimental short film entitled “Prehistoric Beast.” Shot entirely in his garage, the 10-minute action drama creates life in the late Cretaceous Epoch, some 65 – 70 million years ago. Nearly two years in the making, “Prehistoric Beast,” is entirely populated by prehistoric creatures and represented Tippett’s first foray into the realm of cinematic dinosaurs.
After opening Tippett Studio in Berkeley, California, which employs as many as 75 artists and technicians, Tippett further developed his stop-motion animation techniques with the CBS documentary “Dinosaur!” (1985), which won him an Emmy for Special Effects. He won another Emmy in 1984 for his work on “Ewoks: The Battle for Endor,” a project that reunited him with Lucasfilm and also worked on its successful sequel, “Ewoks: Caravan of Courage,” which was made the following year. Other Lucasfilm projects to which he contributed include HOWARD THE DUCK (1986) and WILLOW (1988), which earned him his third Academy Award nomination.
Tippett Studio worked on animated sequences for GOLDEN CHILD (1987) and GHOSTBUSTERS II (1989). A key contributor to the effects in Paul Verhoeven’s futuristic drama ROBOCOP (1987). Tippett also supervised the special effects on its two sequels ROBOCOP 2 (1990) and for ROBOCOP 3 (1991). In (1992-93), Tippett developed and created a character, “The Garthok,” for the comedy CONEHEADS. The studio also worked developing the main character and creating CG animatics for several key sequences on the Universal picture, DRAGONHEART.
Currently Tippett Studio is collaborating on a Martha Coolidge picture entitled THREE WISHES. The studio is involved in special effects sequences of digitally generated fireworks and creature character development working in both stop-motion and computer animation. In 1995-96 a future project to be embarked upon reunites Tippett with Paul Verhoeven on a to be announced project.
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