Stu­dio pro­file

As ILM’s art team goes global, their artists talk to Bar­bara Robert­son about Star Wars and more...

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Contents -

As ILM’s art depart­ment goes global, its artists talk about work­ing on Star Wars and other ma­jor projects.

With only a lit­tle fan­fare, but with great pride, the award-win­ning vis­ual ef­fects stu­dio In­dus­trial Light & Magic has ex­panded its San Fran­cisco art depart­ment into a global team. The newly en­larged depart­ment now boasts 35 artists work­ing in ILM’s San Fran­cisco, Sin­ga­pore, Van­cou­ver and Lon­don stu­dios – and both Van­cou­ver and Lon­don have open­ings.

Twenty-six of the 35 artists sketch, model and paint at ILM San Fran­cisco, while two stretch their skills in each of the Van­cou­ver and Sin­ga­pore stu­dios, and five now work in ILM’s new Lon­don stu­dio. “We were for­tu­nate to have Kevin Jenk­ins and his crew de­cide to join us in Lon­don,” says ILM cre­ative di­rec­tor David Nak­abayashi. “Kevin’s back­ground and in­dus­try con­nec­tions im­me­di­ately strength­ened our po­si­tion over there.”

Forty years ago the art depart­ment’s role was to sup­port ILM’s vis­ual ef­fects work on Star Wars. So, too, to­day, with artists help­ing cre­ate the $2 bil­lion box-of­fice hit Star Wars: The Force Awak­ens. In 2015 they also con­trib­uted to two more block­busters, Juras­sic World and Avengers: Age of Ul­tron.

“We used to draw with pen­cils and mark­ers, mess around with mod­els and build minia­ture ver­sions of prin­ci­pal de­signs,” says David, who re­cently cel­e­brated his 20th year at ILM. “Ge­orge [Lu­cas] al­ways kept an art depart­ment near him to cre­ate the de­signs. In fact, a lot of the ideas in those early Star Wars came from ILM, not pro­duc­tion de­sign. That’s why ILM’s art depart­ment be­came so im­por­tant to films af­ter Star Wars. Di­rec­tors came to ILM to help them visualise the movies.”

To­day’s global art depart­ment has con­tin­ued that tra­di­tion and pushed it

Chris­tian Alz­mann’s de­sign of ‘rolling’ ro­bot BB-8 for The Force Awak­ens. Ralph McQuar­rie orig­i­nally en­vi­sioned R2-D2 to be a rolling ro­bot.

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