Flip Phillips, Professor of Motion Picture Science
Formerly Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Skidmore College. As of January 2019, Flip is research faculty at the MAGIC Center, a creative media research, teaching, and production center, and is associated with the Imaging Science program at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Professor Phillips’ career trajectory began in the early 1980s in the school of architecture at The Ohio State University, attracted by its cross-disciplinary combination of art, design, engineering, and science. He was introduced to the then-nascent world of computer graphics by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s presentation of a CG fly-through of Chicago Illinois. At the time, OSU was leading the way in computer graphics with notable researchers and artists including Charles Csuri, Chris Yessios, He earned his BFA, studying with Csuri, in 1986.
After his bachelor’s degree, Phillips taught and did research in medical imaging and shape before joining up with the newly constituted Pixar — a spin-off from LucasFilm and another hotbed of interdisciplinary activity. As Pixar became both more successful and more focused on motion picture animation, Phillips returned to Ohio State for a Ph.D. in architecture. A series of coincidences (featuring his Pixar colleagues Alvy Ray Smith and Loren Carpenter and some books by Jan Koenderink and Bela Julesz) happily led to a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology instead. There, he specialized in the perception of three-dimensional shape, inspired by his earlier architectural and computer graphics training.
Phillips is a past editor of the Mathematica Journal, which focuses on computer mathematics across the spectrum of science, art, and social and economic modeling. He has written and edited books, journal articles, and reviews on subjects ranging from vision and its interaction with touch to deception in sports and prestidigitation.
Currently his research centers on the visual and haptic perception of two- and three-dimensional shape and materials, perception of animated motion, and consequences of vision restoration.
He collaborates with research groups at Ohio State, Western Kentucky, RPI, Skidmore, MIT, Harvard, and Gießen. In his spare time he can be found chopping out book reports and paradiddle-diddles on the snare with the Avant Garde Alumni Drumline.