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JoBlo Visits ILM!

12.05.2007

After a great morning hanging out at Pixar and interviewing a few key players (read all about it HERE), I was headed back over the Bay Bridge to Industrial Light & Magic Studios to talk about Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, in the famed Presidio district of San Francisco. The facilities at ILM were in stark contrast to Pixar. Where Pixar had a huge, wide open atrium, ILM had a more traditional, "office" type of facility. Either way, I'd kill for a job at either joint. The Letterman Digital Arts Center, where ILM is housed, covers 850,000 square feet over 23 acres. A Yoda fountain greets everyone as they make their way into the famed visual effects house, with the foyer showcasing life size models of Boba Fett and Darth Vader.

After a brief interaction with our tour guide, we were first led to a theatre where Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll conducted a presentation on the various developmental stages of The Maelstrom, the epic battle between The Black Pearl and Flying Dutchman ships. It's always amazing to see and hear how much time is spent with visual effects and how many digital resources are involved with rendering even a minute of film. This presentation went on for about ten minutes and included a gag reel which featured pirates spontaneously breaking out in dance and a pirate fight on a beach that is interrupted by a giant Krispy Kreme doughnut rolling by and killing everyone. Insert ironical fat, diabetic joke here.

Once the presentation was over, our guide took us on a tour through the halls of ILM, which are covered with original film posters from old Italian movies to recent stuff like the Pirates series. All of the posters, we were told, come from George Lucas' personal collection and I had to resist temptation to snag an Italian For a Few Dollars More poster. Another cool thing was all of the models they use for the effects. You had Slimer from the Ghostbusters, dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, T2, The Rocketeer and of course a bunch of Star Wars shite. One of the coolest stories was how a fan made a full scale model of Jar Jar Binks frozen in carbonite, ala Han Solo. The fan brought it to a convention and showed Lucas and offered it to him as a gift. Lucas, who was enthralled by the man's enthusiasm and craftmanship, felt that since the man went through all that trouble, he had to accept it. The man then drove from the east cost to west to personally deliver the statue to the ILM studio.

After our tour, we got ready for interviews. We were to interview Sequence Supervisor Joakim Arnesson and Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll. An interesting note about John Knoll is that he along with his brother Tom created Photoshop, so I asked him his thoughts on that. I also had to pester him into giving us some details on the new Indiana Jones flick, which he was more than happy to deflect (as he should've). Enjoy the interviews and thanks to Disney again for the invite and tour.


Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll


Sequence Supervisor Joakim Arnesson

Source: JoBlo.com

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