STACK's Ultimate Monster Guide

Monster Makers

of design that went beyond the regular stuff. I don’t think I’m following his steps but for me it’s important that at the base of everything is the design. The quality of rendering is obviously extremely important, but a cool

properly. And at the end of the day, how do you shoot it? Most people that do creature stuff have to also consider, how do you film it to make it look convincing?

How did you end up in the FX business? PATRICKTATOPOULOS: I was in Greece playing on a beach somewhere and I saw this American magazine called Cinefex and I thought, these people are making creatures and stuff... I

Some of the best monsters aren’t CGI creations – look at The Thing , The Howling , Aliens ... I agree with you, but you know the hardest thing to do is to convince the director to spend

design will remain a cool design, you know what I’m saying? I was influenced by Frank Frazetta, the painter. I was influenced by people like that just because of the aesthetic and proportion of the characters, the dynamic of the characters. And I’m very much into classic painting – Bosch, Brueghel – and comic books.

have to go to America and do that. In a nutshell that’s how it started; funny but true. How has the CGI revolution impacted on the old-school creature creators? Has it taken much work away? It did. It still does. It’s very interesting to notice that in this large industry of creatures and people, it’s basically streamlined

What do you consider

the people doing this because it’s been harder and harder to work. That said though, looking at New Zealand and Lord of the Rings , they see the huge aspect of makeup and miniatures and things. CGI is there for places where mechanical creatures will not go – obviously a gigantic elephant creature running through the desert. CGI is there for big running action. When you’re extremely close to a creature, it’s very hard to sell something CG. In the Underworld films, for example, sometimes you have a suit, sometimes a CG creature. Maybe you always have a bit of both on the creature to make the thing a bit more interesting. It feels to me like this is the future; it’s definitely an appropriate combination of both mediums.

a day shooting one ugly monster coming out of the closet when he could do it in ten minutes or have it taken care of with CGI at the end. It’s not exactly cheaper but I think it makes the life of the director sometimes simpler. It depends with which director you work. I worked with Stephen Sommers on Van Helsing , and Stephen just doesn’t want to be bothered by creature FX on set. He did do a couple of things that were practical, but most of his approach was CGI. He’s a great guy and an extremely hard worker but he doesn’t believe in suits, when some other director might say there’s nothing as good as a real suit on set, shot

Your work has a very distinctive look.Who would you say has influenced you the most in terms of design? It’s funny you mentioned The Howling because when I was in Greece looking at Cinefex magazine, I was a huge fan of amazing and I’ll tell you why. People like Rick Baker and Stan Winston are certainly the more well known makeup and creature effects people in town, but what Rob adds is a creative science to creatures that’s way out there. On The Thing, there was a sense Rob Bottin who did that creature. That wolf was

your favourite creation? My favourite creature to date is still the Pitch Black creature.

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