Profile of an old-school monster master: Phil Tippett, dinosaur supervisor for Jurassic World



Shooting with the intent of later applying FX is so damn hard. I just take the ‘easy’ way out.
Shoot it, do some FX tests. Reshoot. Apply FX. Reshoot. Apply corrections.

I got to visit Tippett’s studio a couple of years ago (though I didn’t meet the man himself) and saw a breakdown of how they put the CGI werewolves in the Twilight movies. Apparently the hardest part was to get the camera operator to remember that you need to frame the shot to make room for the giant monster who will take up the right half of the screen, ya dummy!

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Isn’t that the monster Clay Davis was always talking about on “The Wire?”


As far back as their appearance in the trailers, I remember thinking to myself: “Well they look uncannily out of place for being so good”. Or something.

Oh god, framing stuff that isn’t there.

  • Hire a guy
  • Give him a stick
  • Pin a picture of the to-be-cgi’d thing on the end
  • ???
  • Profit

My new personal bug bear is trying to simulate reverse dolly shots ala star wars without the use of a dolly. I should probably look up the technique properly but I’m having so much fun learning from my mistakes. :rage:

This Phil Tippett?


I think that’s a common way for FX studios to do it, but for those particular shots they decided to have whatever teen heartthrob was playing the werewolf just put on a white unitard and stand where the giant CGI wolf was supposed to be. I think the reasoning was that it would be easier for the human actress to feel emotionally connected to the scene. Unfortunately it also probably made it harder for the camera guy to get a sense of scale than if they’d just left nothing there at all.

[EDIT: just found an example.]

As far as I’m concerned the gold standard for that sort of thing is still Who Framed Roger Rabbit. For every shot involving human/toon interaction, they first filmed the entire scene using full-scale rubber dummies standing in for all the cartoon characters. This gave the actors, directors, animators and camera operators a solid reference for framing, camera movements, scale, eye contact, etc. before shooting the scene again with the rubber props removed.


That is particularly awesome and something I’m going to look up right now. ta

yup, hehe


I got to see an early screening of Mad God (not fully finished) at a showing at CU Boulder a few years ago. It was pretty striking and amazing in many different aspects. The Intro to Film class that was there for extra credit didn’t quite know what to think. It made for a pretty interesting q&a.

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You had ONE job, Phil! ONE!

Story of my life right there.


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