Arne Hain animates for STAR WARS

How FMX brought Arne Hain to work on Star Wars

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From Animationsinstitut to FMX, from there to the studio of stop motion legend Phil Tippett and on to—we can hardly believe it ourselves when we read this—STAR WARS. That's the short version of what actually happened to our Animation student Arne Hain. The longer version is even more exciting. Enjoy Arne's personal experience report!

Stop Motion: A Very Special Magic

I am 26 years old and have been studying Animation at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg since 2015. I have been a film enthusiast since my early childhood and started making my own films at the age of eight. That's the way it is with most people I know in the industry.

 

I have a particularly great passion for the technique of stop motion animation. Here, figures are handmade, moved frame by frame and photographed. It's an old technique that has largely been replaced by computer animation. What connects me to the technique is not only my affinity for building things with my hands, but also the belief that it conveys a very special magic to the viewer. The human eye always sees the difference between an object that really exists and a computer generated object. It feels real because it is real.

 

My eight-year-old self wouldn't have believed me if I told him that one day, I animate a scene for a part of STAR WARS

Arne Hain, student Animationsinstitut

 

STAR WARS and JURASSIC PARK: The Work of Stop Motion Veteran Phil Tippett

These days, stop motion is rarely seen, and it's even rarer to make a major motion picture that uses the stop motion technique. Before computers were invented, many of the effects in major Hollywood films had been done with stop motion. Pioneers of that time were Willis O'Brien, later Ray Harryhausen and inspired by him Phil Tippett.

 

Phil did the animations for STAR WARS in the 70s, later founded his own studio and contributed to the shift from stop motion to computer animation. He was also responsible for the animations in ROBOCOP, JURASSIC PARK and STARSHIP TROOPERS, winning two Oscars for his work. However, the shift to computer animation changed his life a lot. Today, Tippett Studios still exists, but its employees make their living doing computer animation for major film productions and theme park entertainment.

 

Arne Hain Interviews Phil Tippett at FMX

From FMX Directly to Tippett Studios and Phil Tippett's Guest House

Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg organizes a major conference, FMX, every year. Here, speakers from all over the world come and present their work. As students, we have the opportunity to guide these speakers and thus, get to know them better. When I heard that Phil Tippett would be a guest, I couldn't believe it. Three weeks in advance, I went to the study coordination and signed up to be Phil Tippett's guide.

Once we met, Phil and I got along great. We had a beer or two and he was very relieved that I didn't just want to talk about VFX and STAR WARS. When I expressed interest in his project MAD GOD, he invited me to join him in the USA for six weeks. Again, I couldn't believe it. I packed my things and flew to Berkeley, California.

 

For my time there, I even stayed with Phil and his wife in their guest room and had the chance to get to know them very well. Phil's partner Jules co-founded Tippett Studios with him and ran it until recently. Working on the project was great. It was like shooting my own films, only on a large scale with heaps of equipment and space. The six weeks flew by and when I was back in Germany, Phil called me. He offered to organize a visa for me and hire me for eight months at Tippett Studios. Of course, I said yes.

MAD GOD: Working on a Project 30 Years in the Making

In spring, I moved back in with Phil and Jules and every day Phil and I would drive to the studio together to finish MAD GOD. It's important to note that Phil worked on MAD GOD for over 30 years. Because there was no constant funding, it wasn't always easy. Phil is an incredibly focused and impressive person. Every day, except Sunday, he goes to the studio, partakes in meetings and then starts tinkering and crafting. However, he doesn’t consider himself to be above any task. I couldn't have had a better teacher than Phil and after a short period of settling in, he just let me craft and everyone went about their tasks.

 

I took Tippett Studios firmly into my heart during my time there. I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of experienced and lovely people. Among them were Jim Aupperle, who has worked on films like GHOSTBUSTERS and NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Webster Colcord, Chuck Duke and Tom Gibbons, who are incredibly great stop motion animators and taught me a lot, Chris Morley, who played a big role on MAD DOG as cinematographer, and Ken Rogersson, who was the editor on the project.

 

In the meantime, MAD GOD has been completed, screened successfully at festivals worldwide, and will be available for streaming in June 2022.

 

Chuck Duke, Tom Gibbons and Arne Hain

 

And then came STAR WARS

Then, just before MAD DOG was finished, news broke that the studio would once again be taking over the Dejarik chessboard for the new STAR WARS film THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. It's a scene that appears in the first STAR WARS movie, stop motion animated by Phil Tippett. With the most recent films, such a scene has always been incorporated—again, with the stop motion technique. I was in the right place at the right time and Phil gave me the chance to help animate the scene this time. So, together with Chuck Duke and Tom Gibbons, I animated the Dejarik chessboard for STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.

 

I still can't believe it, but one day, I can tell my grandchildren that I animated for STAR WARS.

 

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