Phil Tippett’s career as a visual-effects supervisor began when he breathed life into “Star Wars” creations large and small, from AT-AT Walkers to Luke’s tauntaun to the holographic fighting chess pieces.
Involved in both the design and animation of fantastical creations, Tippett lent his unique skill set to Industrial Light & Magic’s animation department for many years before winning an Oscar for “Return of the Jedi” and starting up his own studio in 1984.
When Tippett was hired as Dinosaur Supervisor on “Jurassic Park,” — a position that would catapult him into Internet Meme Fame years later — he was shocked to learn just how far computer-generated images had come in recent years. He was said to have exclaimed “I think I’m extinct,” a line which Spielberg later worked into the film.
Dr. Grant: “I think we’re out of a job.”
Malcolm: “Don’t you mean ‘extinct’?”
However, the special effects in “Jurassic Park” were revolutionary in particular due to the seamless marriage between computer-generated and practical effects provided by Tippett and his team. His understanding of detailed movement and behavior resulted in the hyper-realistic dinosaurs that set the film apart from CGI in other films that can often look overly synthetic and sterile.
Phil Tippett’s perseverance to his craft stands as testament to the fact that artistic skill can adapt and flourish over the years. It doesn’t need Dino-DNA to save it from extinction.
Phil Tippett’s Creations Continue to Inspire
- Which fantastical creations from the “Star Wars” universe inspired you as a child?
- Have you ever wanted to create stop-motion animation?
- Are you Team Practical Effects or Team CGI? Why?