CHRISTOPHER SWIFT - LEAVING LAS VEGAS
by David Sanger
CLICK on the video above to watch the FULL INTERVIEW.
Watch Christopher's SWSCA lesson: HYBRID CHARACTER DESIGN - PRACTICAL TO DIGITAL
Today's monster maker interview features Christopher Swift, an effects artist and creature designer who started out wanting to direct and made his own effects out of necessity, but found that his skills at effects and creature creation took him further than his early efforts at directing ever could, from his childhood in Las Vegas, Nevada, to working on the sets of some of the biggest effects films of all time from TERMINATOR 2 to JURASSIC PARK and beyond.
Pictured Above: A young Christopher Swift making an impression on T2: JUDGEMENT DAY.
A SELF-TAUGHT ARTIST
Special effects character creator, makeup effects artist, character designer & monster maker, Christopher Swift, was born in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A self-taught artist, Christopher chose to pursue a career as a special effects creature creator after creating the special makeup effects for his own short films.
Pictured Above: Christopher Swift at work with Amy Whetsel on JURASSIC PARK at Stan Winston Studio.
THE MAN THAT EVERYONE WANTED TO WORK FOR
Christopher began working for Stan Winston at legendary character creation workshop Stan Winston Studio on TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY where he became a Key Artist and character designer for many years, all the way through Stan’s passing and the establishment of Legacy Effects by Stan's core team, where Christopher works to this day. As Christopher puts it, "Everybody who worked in this industry, no matter at what point, has heard of Stan Winston. He was just…one of the big players. And everybody wanted to work for him, everyone wanted to be a part of it. So I was real honored that I was accepted into the shop and then later into the family.”
Pictured above: Chris is especially proud of his contribution to the Dire Horse in AVATAR.
INTERESTS AND INSPIRATIONS
Explaining his interest in effects, Christopher says, "I have always had a facination with the weird and twisted side of things, I find most things more interesting than shocking."
In a moving story included in this interview, Christopher relates a story about Stan Winston explaining what motivated HIM, in short, being able to witness the artistry of the many talented individuals whose work he could support. And the same goes for Christopher, "I get more inspired by the artists I work around every single day. They hold the greatest inspiration for me.”
From the animatronic raptors of JURASSIC PARK to the practical IRON MAN suit, Christopher Swift has contributed his character creation artistry to the execution and design of some of the most iconic characters and fantasy creatures of the past quarter century.
Pictured above: One of the fun ones: Christopher attends to this handsome Thermian with Shane Mahan onset of GALAXY QUEST.
PRACTICAL VS. DIGITAL
Though Christopher came up in the industry working with practical effects, he has seen the ways advances in digital technology can push and enhance effects beyond what was possible with only practical techniques, though he still feels that the best work comes from a hybrid blend of techniques. He notes that, “Actually, digital has its problems and its limitations as well. The artistry has not changed, whether it’s digital or whether it’s practical. I see how far digital can be taken and there are just no limitations to it, to be honest, but I personally have a romance to putting my hands on the clay.”
Pictured above: Christopher Swift's lesson for the Stan Winston School shows how to start a design with a physical sculpture and finish it digitally using photoshop.
by David Sanger
For the EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW simply click the player at the top of the page.
For more about Christopher Swift:
ARTIST PAGE: CLICK HERE
Learn "Hybrid Character Design" utilizing Sculpture, Photography and Photoshop from Christopher's lesson:
LESSON PAGE: CLICK HERE