Around Tippett

| Category: Reviews | | Comments (0) | Views: 18

I've been working close to two years at Tippett, and many people have asked me what's it like. They have always wondered what a visual effects studio looks like, and how it presents itself! Each studio has its share of quirks and idiosyncrasies, and Tippett is no different.

Tippett Studio is stretched out over a four block radius, with five buildings. We have around 170 employees (my guess-timate). We're located in Berkeley, California, very close to the I-80 freeway. A studio like Pixar which resides less than five minutes away, is contained on one huge gated block with a large entrance sign which says Pixar Animation Studios. Tippett is a little bit more discreet, with just a small plaque containing the words: Tippett Studio: hours 9am - 7pm.

Tippett is much less of a pure animation facility, and does not have the resources that being publicly traded can bring. It makes up for that by creating films that have been inspiration for numerous artists in all fields. Walking around the studio one can see what the past twenty years have been like. Models and posters of previous years of film-making adorn the walls and halls. A life-size creation of ED-209, used in the film Robocop, commands respect as it looms over the stage. Maquettes of characters from The Haunting, Starship Troopers, Robocop, My Favorite Martian, and Jurassic Park dot the landscape. Physical props and animatronics from Robocop and Starship Troopers are displayed proudly in Tippett's lobby. The detail presented in these production items is outstanding. After all, they were used in the original films!

As you walk around the studio, you can see that no matter which field the artists have chosen to pursue, they are a stepping stone away from learning more about the other parts of the craft from nearby artists. TDs, compositors, animators, rotoscopers and matchmovers all share a common space. It makes for a very dynamic and rich environment where artists can further improve their field by learning more about the process of what happens when they're done with their part of the pipeline!

Having a stage where one can see element shoots in progress, seeing how a motion control rig operates, or how a miniature is created from start to finish is a wonderful opportunity. The artists and technicians that have been here for the longest time are well versed in their craft, and have improved with time into other areas of the film-making arena.

From his beginnings as a model and miniature creator, one of our senior artists is now a TD, and still continues to create elaborate and beautiful miniatures for shows that require that specific talent. Another artist started as a machinist creating the intricate parts for the Starship Troopers animatronic bugs' legs, which animators could animate, very similar to the work he had done with Jurassic Park's animatronic inputs for the dinosaurs. And yet another started as a computer interface engineer on Jurassic Park, designing and testing the devices which the animators could use to animate. He has since moved on to supervising some amazing films, from The Haunting to our latest film, Constantine.

Tippett is an amazing facility, comprised of many people that are dedicated to the creation of special and visual effects. I am humbled by the many years of talent which layer this studio.

Leave a comment