Industrial Light & Magic
|Industry||Visual effects, computer-generated imagery|
|Headquarters||Letterman Digital Arts Center,
Presidio of San Francisco, California, United States
|Key people||Lynwen Brennan
(Chief Creative Officer)
(The Walt Disney Company)
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is an American Academy Award-winning motion picture visual effects company that was founded in May 1975 by George Lucas. It is a division of the film production company, Lucasfilm, which Lucas founded, and was created when Lucas began production of the film Star Wars. ILM originated in Van Nuys, California, then later moved to San Rafael in 1978, and since 2005 it has been based at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio of San Francisco. Lynwen Brennan, who joined the company in 1999, currently serves as ILM's President and General Manager. In 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired ILM as part of its purchase of Lucasfilm.
Lucas wanted his 1977 film Star Wars to include visual effects that had never been seen on film before. After discovering that the in-house effects department at 20th Century Fox was no longer operational, Lucas approached Douglas Trumbull, famous for the effects on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Trumbull declined as he was already committed to working on Steven Spielberg's film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but suggested his assistant John Dykstra to Lucas. Dykstra brought together a small team of college students, artists and engineers, and set them up in a warehouse in Van Nuys, California. Lucas named the group Industrial Light and Magic, who became the Special Visual Effects department on Star Wars. Alongside Dykstra, other leading members of the original ILM team were Ken Ralston, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, Joe Johnston, Phil Tippett, Steve Gawley, Lorne Peterson and Paul Huston.
In late 1978, when in pre-production for The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas reformed most of the team into Industrial Light & Magic in Marin County, California. From here on, the company expanded and has since gone on to produce special effects for nearly three hundred films, including the entire Star Wars saga, the Indiana Jones series, the Harry Potter series, the Jurassic Park series, the Back to the Future trilogy, many of the Star Trek films, Ghostbusters II, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the Terminator sequels, the Transformers films, the Men in Black series, Wild Wild West, most of the Mission: Impossible films, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, *batteries not included, The Abyss, Flubber, and also provided work for Avatar, alongside Weta Digital.
In addition to their work for George Lucas, ILM also collaborates with Steven Spielberg on most films that he directs, and for many that he produces as well. Dennis Muren has acted as Visual Effects Supervisor on many of these films.
Apart from flashy special effects, the company also works on more subtle effects - such as widening streets, digitally adding more extras to a shot, and inserting the film's actors into preexisting footage - in films including Schindler's List, Forrest Gump, Snow Falling on Cedars, Magnolia, and several Woody Allen films.
ILM began creating computer-generated imagery when they hired Edwin Catmull from NYIT in 1979. John Lasseter worked on computer animation as part of ILM's contribution to Young Sherlock Holmes. The Graphics Group was later sold to Steve Jobs, named Pixar and created the first CG animated feature, Toy Story.
ILM operated from an inconspicuous property in San Rafael, California until 2005. The company was known to locals as The Kerner Company. In 2005, when Lucas decided to move locations to The Presidio of San Francisco and focus on digital effects, a management-led team bought the five physical and practical effects divisions and formed a new company that included the George Lucas Theater, retained the "Kerner" name as Kerner Technologies, Inc. and provided physical effects for major motion pictures, often working with ILM, until its Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2011.
In 2005, ILM extended its operations to Lucasfilm Singapore, which also includes the Singapore arm of Lucasfilm Animation. In 2011, it was announced the company was considering a project-based facility in Vancouver.
In 2006, ILM invented IMoCap (Image Based Motion Capture Technology).
As of 2009[update], ILM has received 15 Best Visual Effects Oscars and 23 additional nominations. It has also received 24 Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In 2012, Disney bought ILM's parent company, Lucasfilm, and acquired ILM in the process. Disney stated that it had no immediate plans to change ILM's operations, but began to lay off employees by April of the next year.
ILM is currently the largest visual effects vendor in the motion picture industry, with regards to workforce, with more than 500 artists. It has one of the largest renderfarms currently available with more than 7500 nodes. Following the restructuring of LucasArts in April 2013, ILM was left overstaffed and the faculty was reduced to serve only ILM's visual effects department.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2012)|
- 1975: Resurrected the use of VistaVision; first use of a motion control camera (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope)
- 1982: First completely computer-generated sequence (the "Genesis sequence" in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
- 1985: First completely computer-generated character, the "stained glass man" in Young Sherlock Holmes
- 1988: First morphing sequence, in Willow
- 1988: Integrating 2D animated characters with live-action footage in Who Framed Roger Rabbit
- 1989: First computer-generated 3-D character, the pseudopod in The Abyss
- 1991: First partially computer-generated main character, the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- 1992: First time the texture of human skin was computer generated, in Death Becomes Her
- 1993: First time digital technology used to create a complete and detailed living creature, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, which earned ILM its thirteenth Oscar
- 1995: First fully synthetic speaking computer-generated character, with a distinct personality and emotion, to take a leading role in Casper
- 1995: First computer-generated photo-realistic hair and fur (used for the digital lion and monkeys) in Jumanji
- 1996: First completely computer-generated main character, Draco in Dragonheart
- 1999: First computer generated character to have a full human anatomy, Imhotep in The Mummy
- 2000: Creates OpenEXR imaging format.
- 2006: Develops iMocap system, which uses computer vision techniques to track live-action performers on set. Used in the creation of Davy Jones and ship's crew in the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
- 2011: First animated feature produced by ILM, Rango
|Year||Name of film|
|Year||Name of film|
Notable employees and clients
Photoshop was first used at the Industrial Light & Magic studios as an image-processing program. Photoshop was created by ILM Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll and his brother Thomas as a summer project. It was used on The Abyss. The Knoll brothers sold the program to Adobe shortly before the film's release.
Film director Joe Johnston was a Visual effects artist and an Art Director.
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- "Disney to Shut LucasArts Videogame Unit". The Wall Street Journal. 2013-04-03. Retrieved 2013-04-18.
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- Failes, Ian (February 21). "Lumen-escent: the VFX of I Am Number Four". fxguide.com. Creating killer machines – the Pikens. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Behind the Magic: The Visual Effects of "Star Trek Into Darkness"". youtube.com. ILMVisualFX. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
- "Behind The Magic - Invisible Effects of "The Lone Ranger"". youtube.com. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
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- Failes, Ian. "Elysium: a practical, miniature and digital fx odyssey". fxguide.com. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
- Failes, Ian. "Case Studies In Invisible Effects". fxguide.com. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Failes, Ian. "Character Ark: the visual effects of Noah". fxguide. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- Failes, Ian. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier – reaching new heights". fxguide.com. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- Failes, Ian. "Age of Extinction: ILM turns up its Transformers toolset". fxguide.com. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "the vfx show #187: Lucy". fxguide.com. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Makuch, Eddie (November 9, 2013). "Star Wars effects studio working on Warcraft film, an Orcs vs. Humans origin story". Gamespot. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
- Gaudiosi, John (25 October 2006). "Masi Oka: Coder, Actor, Hero". Wired.
- "Industrial Light & Magic: History". StarWars.com. LucasFilm. July 15, 1999. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
- Official ILM website (with detailed information in PDF format)
- Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) at the Internet Movie Database
- Alternative credits list from the Unofficial ILM site
- Small entry at Lucasfilm's site