Evening of Film and Conversation, Including the Sci-Fi Classic “Starship Troopers”

Hollywood special-effects legend Phil Tippett joins artist Lucy Raven 
Raven celebrates the release of her new book on 3D cinema

Troy, NY — On Thursday, July 20, at 7PM, Hollywood special-effects legend Phil Tippett (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, RoboCop) will join artist Lucy Raven at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for an evening of conversation and film screenings, including the sci-fi classic Starship Troopers, for which Tippett designed the early digital monster effects. Before the event, at 6PM, Raven will celebrate the release of her new EMPAC-produced book, Low Relief, charting the strange history of 3D cinema and her experiments with the form.

The founder of Tippett Studios, Phil Tippett has worked over 30 years on visual effects for the film industry. In 1996, he accompanied director Paul Verhoeven to the Badlands of Wyoming to scout locations for the film Starship Troopers, which imagines warfare in the 23rd century between planet-colonizing humans and alien bugs called Arachnids. Under a staircase in his Berkley studio, Tippett recently rediscovered 12 hours of VHS tapes documenting the visualization strategy he undertook in transforming the barren landscape into a battlefield covered in digital monsters.

At EMPAC, Tippett and Raven will screen excerpts of this footage, discuss the process of creating early digital film effects, and preview their collaborative project Coming Attraction. Raven approaches the project following several years of research into 3D filmmaking, charting the process from ancient bas-relief sculpture through early 20th-century animation to the contemporary 3D film mega-industry, which churns out blockbusters through an exhaustive, international chain of labor. The new book, Low Relief, documents Raven’s work translating this research into original artworks, such as Tales of Love and Fear, produced and premiered at EMPAC in 2015. Before the screening with Tippett, we’ll celebrate the book’s release on the EMPAC Mezzanine.

The evening will culminate with a screening of Starship Troopers, starring Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, and Neil Patrick Harris, who play young soldiers trying to earn their citizenship through futuristic military service.

The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is where the arts, sciences, and technology interact with and influence each other by using the same facilities and technologies, and by breathing the same air. EMPAC hosts artists and researchers to produce and present new work in a building designed with sophisticated architectural and technical infrastructure. Four exceptional venues and studios enable audiences, artists, and researchers to inquire, experiment, develop, and experience the ever-changing relationship between ourselves, technology, and the worlds we create around us. EMPAC is an icon of the New Polytechnic, a new paradigm for cross-disciplinary research and learning at Rensselaer, the nation’s oldest technological research university.

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