Over the past 47 years, countless moviegoers have encountered the work of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), even though they may not have realized it at the time. That’s because the ILM team works behind the scenes, creating innovative and believable visual effects that help viewers suspend their disbelief for a few hours while watching movies like jurassic park (1993), Transformers (2007), and the star wars and Pirates of the Caribbean franchisees.
Today, a new six-part documentary titled “Light and Magic” puts the company’s story in the spotlight. The series, which will launch on the Disney+ streaming platform on July 27, explores the history and impact of ILM, which director and producer George Lucas founded in 1975 while working on star wars.
Released this week, the trailer for the documentary offers a tantalizing look at the origins of ILM, which developed pioneering visual effects techniques and technologies that revolutionized the film industry. As Germain Lussier writes for GizmodoILM “literally changed the world”.
“The visual effects create the magic that makes people want to go to the movies,” Lucas explains in the trailer. “Movies are special effects.”
The company, which is a subsidiary of Lucasfilm, has won numerous awards since its inception, including 3 Emmy Awards, 15 Academy Awards for best visual effects and 33 Academy Awards for science and engineering awards, according to ILM’s website. . Today, it draws on the talents of more than 1,200 employees around the world, including artists, software engineers, art directors, editors, producers, graphic designers and technicians, all of whom collaborate with filmmakers to make their visual dreams a reality.
In its early days, the company mastered traditional visual effects techniques, such as blue-screen photography, matte painting, and building models and miniatures. Then the staff members really started innovating, figuring out how to use computer graphics and digital imagery in feature films, and developing lots of new technologies along the way.
ILM created some of the big screen’s first computer-generated characters, as seen in films like the abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and jurassic park. Within the industry, the company is also well known for its ability to seamlessly combine photorealistic digital images with video footage.
More recently, the company developed a new real-time virtual production platform called StageCraft that allows filmmakers to surround actors with screens that realistically represent any location in the world. This means filmmakers can do their work from a studio, rather than traveling to remote locations to get the right shot, saving time and money.
In total, the ILM team has worked on more than 350 films, including 25 of the top 50 worldwide box office hits, according to the company’s website. The documentary itself also features heavyweights. star wars and IndianaJones writer Lawrence Kasdan directed the series, which includes interviews with Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis and other influential filmmakers
Reflecting on ILM’s trajectory for documentary has been eye-opening even for people who have experienced the journey.
“It was a wild place,” Kasdan said during a star wars event at the end of May, according to the audiovisual clubis Matt Schimkowitz. “At first, nobody knew how it was going to work. It was a lot of improvisation, which led to a lot of communication. People realizing the skills they had could be expanded. For 40 or 50 years, it’s been this kind of environment, where geniuses can be geniuses.