Musings & Interests of David Stipes
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  • Qualityville stop motion

    Posted on August 8th, 2009 dstipes No comments

    In keeping with the last posting, this is also from a stop motion commercial. It was for a Qualityville Products TV spot created at Cascade Pictures in about 1970.

    Cascade Pictures was a major provider of visual effects, stop motion and cartoon animation for commercials for (I believe) the late 1950s through the mid 1970s. 


    I was fortunate enough to work there and get a terrific real world visual effects education.

  • Ogg and the Pink Baby Dinosaur

    Posted on July 12th, 2009 dstipes No comments


    This is a frame from the first commercial I was paid to work on; my first professional job in 1969 at Cascade Pictures. This is from a Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies cereal commercial featuring a caveman named Ogg. (His wife was “Kell” … for Kell-Oggs.)  These characters were used until about 1975.  (see link below)

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  • “The Magic Treasure”

    Posted on July 3rd, 2009 dstipes No comments

    “The Magic Treasure” is one of those obscure little films that few have heard about and even less has seen. It was conceived in about 1969-70 by David Allen as a stop motion production of “The Selfish Giant” by Oscar Wilde. Through 1970 and 1971 dialog was recorded, sets and puppets were constructed and production began shooting in October, 1971. Part way through production a cartoon version of “the Selfish Giant” was released.


    David Allen with puppets of the Giant and the villagers.

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  • TNG “Conspiracy” bugs (revised)

    Posted on May 25th, 2009 Managed WordPress Migration User No 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 bug was reportedly designed by Andy Probert. (1)  The property master, Alan Sims, had  commissioned Makeup & Effects Laboratories (2) to create the parasite.  They had done a fine sculpting job but I realized we would have to re-build it for the stop motion animation.

    The original 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 subcontracted Starlight Effects to re-sculpt the creature, give it longer legs, and define 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.

    Photo by Roger Sides

    We scheduled the animation time then were told by Dan Curry that the date we were to animate was the actual date they needed the work finished. We scrambled to get the animation set up. Dan had provided frames of the woman opening her mouth to 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 hard 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. Pinning the feet of the model prevented it 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 primary host, Lt. Commander Remick. Stephen faced his own challenges as the creature was difficult to attach and animate effectively on the cloth of the pants.

    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 March 1, 2024

    Credits: Frame blow-ups are from a video by Greg Stone.

    (1)   Rick Sternbach, Facebook post 2/28/2024,

    (2)  Douglas Newton, Facebook post 2/28/2024,

  • It began with Kong

    Posted on April 1st, 2009 dstipes No 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.)  


    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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