Inside the Magic Factory – The Untold Story of ILM

The amazing technological journey of Industrial Light and Magic was recently laid out by a very informative Wired article entitled: The Untold Story of ILM, A Titan the Forever Changed Film.

The article tells some of the great behind the scenes stories of how ILM went from models to some of the most realistic CGI ever created. Below is their history in photos. You can read the entire article here.

Darth Vader’s helmet from Star Wars: Episode IV
Darth Vader’s helmet from Star Wars: Episode IV
Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Dragonslayer (1981)
Dragonslayer (1981)

Muren: We had a miniature dragon Phil Tippett had made, and we programmed it at slow speed instead of having an animator moving one frame at a time. We got a Technical Achievement Award for that. We called it “go motion.” A lot of people still think it’s the best dragon that’s been done.

A model of the Death Star II from the production of Return of the Jedi (1983)
A model of the Death Star II from the production of Return of the Jedi (1983)
Prototype anamatronic head/performance helmet for Slimer from Ghostbusters II
Prototype anamatronic head/performance helmet for Slimer from Ghostbusters II
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)

Spielberg: The fluidity of the running cycles was such that there was no comparison—even with go-motion. I just said, “Well, stop-motion as a process is extinct.”

Casper (1995)
Casper (1995)

Aaron McBride (art director): I didn’t think much of Casper at the time, but it had the first digital star character of a feature-length film.

Pearl Harbor (2001)
Pearl Harbor (2001)

Spielberg: I always thought that if ILM had run the space agency we’d have colonized Mars by now.

ILM Mars Lander

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