Musings & Interests of David Stipes
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  • “V-The Final Battle” mothership

    Posted on June 10th, 2009 dstipes 29 comments

    This is one of my favorite shots of the Mothership from “V-The Final Battle.”  This was a gorgeous model constructed by famed model maker, Greg Jein.  It was about 30 inches across and made of cast resin with neon internal lighting.


    The composite was done “in-the-camera” on the original negative for best quality. The move was programmed with a repeating motion controlled camera rig.  To make this shot work we had to be able to repeat the camera & saucer move over and over to capture the model, lights, matte, earth and stars. Read the rest of this entry »

  • “V-The Final Battle”

    Posted on June 6th, 2009 dstipes 15 comments

    Here are two more shots from “V-The Final Battle.”   The saucer was an approx.  30″ model constructed by Greg Jein. It was composited with the live action using two rear projection images with matte painting blends by David Stipes.


    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Here comes another remake!

    Posted on June 1st, 2009 dstipes 19 comments

    My son, Nathan, sent this to me with the following comment:

    “Not sure how I feel about this yet…”

    Well, here comes another remake!  Before the new “V” gets here I thought I would put up a few pix from the original.


      Read the rest of this entry »

  • Conspiracy bugs (revised)

    Posted on May 25th, 2009 Managed WordPress Migration User 7 comments


    “Conspiracy” was season-1, episode 25, of  Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Enterprise crew must overcome Starfleet Command officers who are infected by an alien parasite. This episode has the dubious honor of having one or more shots censored as “violent images” by the BBC in England.  It is reported that the episode required a warning before airing in Canada.

    The story required that the parasite climb the leg of an officer then later climb out of the mouth of another fallen human host and attempt to escape.

    Animating the parasite bugs for the episode was my first work on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Visual Effects Supervisor, Dan Curry, brought the job to David Stipes Productions, Inc. in April of 1988.

    The property master, Alan Sims, had commissioned another company to create the bug.  They had done a fine sculpting job but I realized we would have to re-build it for the stop motion animation.

    The creature was cast in a dense silicone material and was very stiff. The legs were small nubs that were not long enough to reach the floor to propel the creature along.  We set about re-sculpting the creature and giving it longer legs and defining the body segments a bit more.  A plaster mold was made and fitted with a simple wire armature and the creature was cast in rubber.

    We scheduled the animation time then were told by Dan Curry that the date we were to animate was actually the date they needed the work finished. We scrambled to get the animation set up. Dan had provided frames of the woman opening her mouth so we could line up the parasite’s animation with the actor’s performance. I asked Dan if we could have a bloody slime trail from the woman’s mouth but he didn’t think the producers would like it. I thought it would help sell the horror of the situation but, disappointed, we moved on.

    Dan has also provided a 4ft x 8ft piece of hard Formica flooring to match the set.  It was so big I had to place it on a sheet of Celotex board on my studio concrete floor and animate on my hands and knees.

    The surface was tough so I could not directly pin the model to the floor for the animation process.

    I had to drill through the hard Formica then drive a pin through the parasite’s foot into the Celotex insulation board below. This prevented the feet from sliding around as I animated the body.

    I animated the creature along by twisting the parasite’s body segments in sequence with the legs.

    After a couple of scenes were done, the armature wires broke and the body segment with the last two legs fell off the puppet!  I finished the shot by animating the now two body sections along and making them appear as one creature.

    As I worked, on another stage my assistant, Stephen Lebed, animated the parasite climbing the leg of the main host, Lt. Commander Remick. Stephen faced his own challenges as the creature was difficult to attach and animate effectively on the pants cloth.

    It was a challenge but it was fun and it continues to get comments. This episode is often included on lists of The Next Generation‘s greatest moments.

    Article updated Dec 31, 2018

    Credit: Frame blow-up are from a video by Greg Stone.

  • A new adventure

    Posted on March 29th, 2009 dstipes 4 comments

    Blogging is a new adventure for me. With many urgings by my friends and the universe, I can no longer sit on my tush and talk about writing again. Now I have to produce something on a regular basis. Several categories of articles are drawing my interest. Maybe some of you will respond to them as well … or you may give me some suggestions.

    Some considerations; film and effects history, my experiences with Cascade Pictures and CPC Associates, Universal Hartland and, of course, David Stipes Productions.

    Star Trek stories and behind the scenes on some of my favorite shots will be covered.

    Since I am now more involved in education, I may visit that topic as well.

    I hope former colleagues will contribute their information and recollections to these topics. It would be nice to document our history and techniques before they are lost. Since I have been teaching, I have seen how much information is slipping away. Many of my students rely on their computer as their only tool to solve visual problems.  I want to remind my students of the old tried & true techniques, and maybe keep them alive a while longer.

    So, it seems I have several topics to write about. I hope you will return, read along and add to the commentary and conversation.


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