Musings & Interests of David Stipes
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  • Restoring Terry’s figure with Vis Efx

    Posted on September 12th, 2009 dstipes 20 comments

    Terry Farrell’s contract was up on DS-9 and she was leaving the show. The story going around was that she did not wish to leave but the producers would not grant her contract requests. As the visual effects supervisor, I was on the DS-9 set to oversee the effects needed for her last scenes on the series. Terry was not very happy and was giving tearful goodbye hugs to her production crewmates.

    I have seen actors who were really obnoxious and uncooperative when they didn’t get what they wanted so I was watching Terry with interest as the day unfolded. For every shot when called, she dried her tears, went on set, became her character, Dax, and delivered the best performances she could. She did not give an attitude, whine or make excuses. She did her job.

    To give Terry an exit from the series, the DS-9 writers had bad boy Gul Dukat kill Jadzia Dax in the episode called ‘Tears of the Prophets’. Dukat, possessed by the Pah-wraiths, uses an energy force to lift Dax off the ground then kill her.

    tearsofthephrophets_595

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  • Will the new cost us the old?

    Posted on May 14th, 2009 dstipes 36 comments
    Copyright 2009 Paramount CBS Studios Inc.

    Copyright 2009 Paramount CBS Studios Inc.

    Star Trek has had a special place in my heart over the years. It was often the most intelligent science fiction show on television at a time when Batman and Lost in Space were considered high quality entertainment.

    While I was appalled at the “Spock’s Brain” episode, I nevertheless tried to get onto the show during its last season. I still remember my 1968 interview with Edward Milkis, the associate producer on the third season of the show.  I was very young and “green” but Mr. Milkis was patient and gave me some encouragement and sent me on my way. 

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  • How to use a Perspective Cube

    Posted on April 14th, 2009 dstipes 7 comments

    New visual effects students often have difficulty with the concept and application of the “perspective cube.”  A perspective cube is a well constructed box with accurate parallel edges and right angles.  Usually it is white with black lines along the edges. Typical construction materials would be white foam core and one inch black paper tape along the edges. 

    The cube size is somewhat to taste and per your transportation restrictions but it should not be too small. Most appear to be 12″ x 12″ x 12″   or 18″ x 18″ x 18″.   I suggest using whole inch measurements and make all side equal as that facilitates quicker set up and ease of reproduction in a Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) environment if needed. 

    picture1The perspective cube can be used for multiple reasons. Today we will use the perspective cube to find a horizon line that can’t be seen.  

    Suppose you are on location where mountains or vegetation blocks your view of a horizon line and you have no other man-made structures to run perspective lines from to find a vanishing point and horizon line. 

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  • The next best thing to knowing something ….

    Posted on April 4th, 2009 dstipes 5 comments

    At times students contact me about how to do certain effects or procedures in After Effects. Since I can’t always be available, I wanted to remind you that:

    * You have an interactive “Help” menu at the top of your After Effects tool bar or you can hit “F1” 

    * Within the Help Menu, there is an “effects reference” help section that will cover most, if not all, the effects menu.

    cmg4* Also check the wonderful text book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects by Trish and Chris Meyer. 

    * It is a valuable reference and belongs in every animator’s, editor’s and VFX artist’s library.

    * Look up the topic in the back, in the index, and it will take you to the pages that cover the subject of interest.

    * You can also Google topics like “puppet tool in After Effects”  or “How to use the puppet tool in After Effects”

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  • It began with Kong

    Posted on April 1st, 2009 dstipes 9 comments

    King Kong and Son of Kong were the first stop motion visual effects films I was aware of. I was about 8 or 9 yrs old at the time. I have a strong recollection of watching them on our treasured black and white television.

    With Son of Kong, I was especially captivated by the images of Skull Island sinking and Carl Denham and others scrambling to the top of the rocks with “Kiko”, the young albino son of Kong.  I was moved as Kiko saved the life of Carl Denham at the end. (Yep, Kiko was actually his name per RKO documents of the time.)  

    sonofkong21

    Fascinated, I knew something special had unreeled before my eyes but I did not know how it was accomplished.  I went and asked my mother how King Kong and Son of Kong were done. She told me they were trained monkeys. Even at my young age, I had seen a number of trained monkeys at zoos and on TV and none of them looked or moved like Kong.  I did not know what Kong was but I knew my mother was wrong; Kong was not a trained monkey!

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