May 18, 2017

Watch: How the 'Mad God' Behind 'Star Wars' Creates Stop-Motion Masterpieces

Phil Tippett Stop Motion Mad God No Film School
Oscar-winning stop-motion genius Phil Tippett has been making an experimental film frame by painstaking frame—for 30 years.

In an era where some filmmakers regard shooting on film as hopelessly slow, Phil Tippett continues to work frame-by-frame on his masterpiece, Mad God. Tippet attributes his love affair with stop motion animation to a formative incident when he was just five years old: "I saw King Kong on television. As a stupid kid, I was just enthralled by Hollywood monsters, and that was really the thing that kind of kindled my appetite."

Over the past several decades, he's worn many hats during his work on such major films and franchises as Star Wars, Robocop, Starship Troopers and Jurassic Park. But it's Mad God, the experimental passion project that he's been making "for the past thirty years" that's the focus of this illuminating video from Great Big Story.

For almost the entirety of movie history, stop-motion was largely what people were referring to when they talked about movie special effects. Pioneers like Ray Harryhausen paved the way for Tippett, who got his start with George Lucas' company ILM in 1975, creating a sequence on the first Star Wars (he won an Academy Award for his work on Return of the Jedi.) Over the years, as technology changed, Tippett changed, too, but his background actually helped him when CGI was introduced, since he understood a great deal about creating lifelike movement in imaginary characters. 

The experimental Mad God, a mix of live-action and stop-motion, had its genesis in 1990, though the first part wasn't completed until 2013 (!), due mainly to budgetary restrictions. Now the second part is out, too, and both are for sale on Tippett 's website, while future installments are in the works.

"There's nothing stopping me from continuing doing it. You know, forever." 

According to Tippett, "...things keep getting deeper and darker and odder. There are imaginary cities that are built out of iron ingots...There's this huge dystopic, post-industrial nightmare city. And it just goes on and on and on, practically anything that I can think of." Tippett says that people often ask him, '"Isn't what you do tedious?" But, as far as Mad God is concerned, "There's nothing stopping me from continuing doing it. You know, forever."       

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Wow this true VFX Master is still going on for his passion project :)

May 19, 2017 at 10:25AM

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Weiqing William T
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