Tippett Studio VFX – on your phone?

They’re already one of the go-to VFX houses for creature features, but soon you may be seeing much more of Tippett Studio’s work on a much smaller screen. That’s because the company is the first asset provider for Efexio – an iPad and iPhone app that lets you create visual effects with you own videos and photos.

Watch a trailer for Efexio made by Tippett Studio using effects from the App.

fxguide profiled Efexio firstly back in July 2012 in our story about Pixelux’s DMM finite element analysis developments. Why there? Well, Pixelux helped make the Efexio app, enabled a couple of DMM functions to effects in there and created the store back-end, a place where CG artists will soon be able to sell their VFX shots.

But for now, the Efexio app is featuring a collection of creatures by Tippett Studio, ranging from dinosaurs, dragons, aliens, spaceships, zombies, robots and ghosts – with sound effects – all created by the legendary studio started by Phil Tippett.

This effect created in Efexio.
This effect created in Efexio.

“We’re making creatures with performances,” Tippett Studio’s head of creative marketing Corey Rosen told fxguide. “It can be cute stuff that your 4 year old would play with, to zombies and dragons and dinosaurs that teenagers might integrate to make their own genre movies.”

And that’s the intent of Efexio – the makers hope that users will go and shoot a bunch of scenes and then add CG effects to those scenes and later cut them together in a program such as iMovie. A Tippett Studio YouTube page and Instagram page have been set up so that you can share your movies and see what others are doing with the app.

– This Efexio TVC is debuting with Pacific Rim in theaters.

How does Efexio work?

Efexio the app is free (currently on iPad and iPhone, but apps for MacOS and Windows are in the works). A couple of effects in the app are also free and can be used immediately. Shots from the ‘Tippett Creature Shop’ are generally US$1.99 for a standard version and $10.49 for Pro incarnations up to 1080p.

To enable Efexio to ultimately render animated characters in realtime on an iPhone and iPad, Pixelux developed a system that enables compression of the CG models at every point. “We’re actually streaming the movements of all these points in a format that is both frameless – so we can run the thing at any speed – there’s no frame rate,” says Pixelux COO Vik Sohal. “We have to load the meshes and everything and all the textures, but the actual animation is streamed.”

Tippett Studio visual effects supervisor Eric Leven provides an exclusive tutorial on Efexio.

Efexio lets users play with certain elements of the final look – such as light direction, shadows, blur as well as the orientation and size of the effects (say a dinosaur). You can trim existing video and the effect animation to suit. The app also performs a camera matchmove at render-time. “That’s always tricky,” notes Sohal. “We track features of the scene and then construct a representation of that and then we match the movement of the effect. It works quite well and we have things we’re going to keep doing to improve it.”

Efexio into the future

An Efexio alien and UFO.
An Efexio alien and UFO.

While no one is suggesting the current crop of animated effects in Efexio would rival anything on the scale of say, Pacific Rim, the idea of course is to put the tools in the hands of everyday users. Sohal says that over the coming months he hopes to add more DMM-like effects in the app such as controllable destruction and simulation tools.

One can see an application in previs, perhaps, and Efexio of course also represents a way for VFX artists to share their work and share their revenue. Find out more at Efexio’s site.

7 thoughts on “Tippett Studio VFX – on your phone?”

  1. I wonder if “Tipped studios ” purchased this technology from the guys of Pixelux’s ? Do you have details about that ? As far I know Pixelux has created this technology.

    The Pixelux’s guys have sold the DMM finite element to different vendors . I was a bit curious about the strategy on business for this product.


  2. Hi Jose – as we noted in the article, Pixelux is behind the tech of Efexio. They’re also looking to add more DMM-like fx in the store over the coming months.

    Tippett Studio is the first ‘artist’ contributor to effects in the Efexio store. Other CG artists will soon be able to sell their wares inside Efexio, according to the company.


      1. Action Movie does not do anything in 3D. It is a pure composited effect app only. There are certainly some synergies where Action Movie 2D shots could be used with Efexio, but in general they are totally different applications.

  3. It’s important to pay attention to the disrupters of any market, but I personally feel that the commoditization of the visual effects industry is the last thing we need for 99 cents in the app store.

    1. I’m not sure why you think that, but I would be interested in hearing your point of view. VFX work is currently a for-hire situation with artists not making any more money if a project is massively successful. The commoditization of VFX is exactly what is needed to allow them to benefit from their talents by selling their work directly to the public (which actually wants to add CGI to their videos and photos).

      High-end work will continue and movies will still need customized, state-of-the-art VFX. I think having a tool like Efexio could also be useful there in rapidly building previs directly on-set.


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