Phil Tippett's Tauntaun Initial Stop-Mo Notes


New Member
Hey everyone, way back I bought Phil Tippett's notes from his process of stop motion animating the Tauntaun at a Propstore auction. I know it's not necessarily a prop, nor is it about building a prop, but considering the notes he takes and the excess of knowledge that goes into animating the famous Tauntaun running across the snowscape of Hoth I figured it was worth sharing anyways. All in all there are about 21 pages. I don't have a ton of time right now, so I'll just post the first 5 pages and see if people are interested enough for me to post the rest of them. Some interesting highlights is his focus on creature weight in the animation, the Ray Harryhausen roll, a deliberate choice to not follow a horse stride as a model, tail curve shape, and more.

Note 1
Note 2
Note 3
Note 4
Note 5


Sr Member
Thank you so much for sharing! Really interesting the level of detail in creating the movements-(also a great deal of focus on the hind end apparently.)


New Member
What does the term "fare/faring" mean?
I have some experience in stop-motion animation (although not in the English speaking world, I'm afraid), and I've never heard the term "fare".
However, the small markings that can be seen immediately after are a giveaway: they are a very common visual representation of an animation chart.

I think he's talking about the timing of what in other contexts (motiongraphics or even 3D animation) is called easy-in or easy-out, sometimes also known as "cushioning". The idea is to replicate the natural feel of any object in real life, where every movement, however fast, needs some amount of build-up before it reaches full speed.

He's deciding the number of frames he'll use to start a movement, then maintain it, finally finish it. Hence "fare in"/"faring larger"/"closing down fast"

Here's how the great Richard Williams explains the history of how the animation charts developed over time:


  • Richard Williams - The Animator's Survival Kit.jpg
    Richard Williams - The Animator's Survival Kit.jpg
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New Member
Oh! I got carried away and forgot to say the most important thing:

Please, please, PLEASE! Keep those notes coming!!!

Thank you so much for sharing this incredible bit of cinema history!


New Member
Here's note pages #6-10, hard to figure out the exact order of these. They're very loosely numbered in a way, or not numbered at all. If someone can figure out the order, that would make it easier to sequence here.

Note 6
Note 7
Note 8
Note 9
Note 10
Note 11
Note 12
Note 13
Note 14
Note 15
YES!!! This is awesome!

I've just thrown a quick glance over them, but I don't think they are ment to be in any particular order.
In my view, the numbers refer to the specific takes that are analyzed in detail.
They did do a number of test takes before they attempted the animation of the hero one.
These notes show the progressive aproximation and refinement of the final animation.

Like I said: pure cinema history.

If only the notes for the AT-AT combat sequence would show up, too!


Sr Member
James Joyce eat yer heart out!

Wow! Now *THESE* are true "historical documents"!

No mention of "Texas Ranger," though I see "Walker" comments. Hmmm



Master Member
While these notes are precious to have, I'm sure Phil's explanation of some of his comments would shed light on the whole process;)

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