« New Moon Biggest Premiere in Hollywood History? | Main | Shamless New Moon Plug »

November 19, 2009

Meet the Creator of Taylor Lautner’s Hirsute Alter Ego

Animation pioneer Phil Tippett knows a thing or two about creating movie monsters. His Berkeley, Calif.-based company, Tippett Studio, has conjured up creatures that run the gamut from the destruction-bent monsters in “Cloverfield” to the gluttonous rat Templeton in “Charlotte’s Web.” So when “New Moon” visual effects supervisor Susan MacLeod needed an fx house to step in and create the hulking werewolves in “New Moon,” the second installment of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” saga, which opens in theaters tomorrow, she knew whom to turn to.

Marching orders for Tippett’s crew consisted of creating wolves that looked realistic — well, as realistic as horse-sized timberwolves can be — but also stayed true to Meyer’s book, with each wolf’s distinguishing characteristics intact. (Alpha male Sam is the largest and has black fur, while others sport different colored coats.) “We approach all of these characters from cradle to grave,” said Tippett, who said his team researched wolves’ physicality before starting, with some animators crawling around with the fanged beasts at an animal preserve.

The company is responsible for making suggestions during the storyboarding process, being on set to monitor production and making sure everything’s shot properly — and then overseeing post-production, to make sure the color is being corrected. Given the frenzy surrounding the “Twilight” franchise, has Tippett heard from any extreme fans, either to praise to lash out?

“To be honest, the fans haven’t been on my radar,” he said. “We went directly from shooting “New Moon” to [third installment] ‘Eclipse.’ The studio is making these thing so fast, with such a quick turnaround.” In fact, Tippett said “New Moon” is the first film he’s ever worked on that was done start to finish in one year. “When we were halfway through the visual effects on “New Moon,” we started pre-production on “Eclipse.” Our heads are still spinning.”

And speaking of “Eclipse,” does new director David Slade differ in his approach to wolves than “New Moon” director Chris Weitz?

“Having a new director makes a huge difference,” said Tippett. “Chris was a more classically-oriented flimmaker. David comes from rock videos, so his temperament is more visceral and fast-paced.”



Posted by dschnee at November 19, 2009 12:18 PM