James Cl yne

ImagineFX - - Industrial Light & Magic - James Clyne was a free­lance pro­duc­tion de­signer and con­cept artist in LA for 16 years, be­fore be­com­ing su­per­vis­ing art di­rec­tor at ILM. www.jamesclyne.com

The su­per­vis­ing art di­rec­tor talks The Force Awak­ens

You be­gan work­ing on The Force Awak­ens in pre­pro­duc­tion. What work did you do?

JJ Abrams wanted to do as much prac­ti­cally as pos­si­ble. But dig­i­tal is very im­por­tant. It’s the glue that keeps it all to­gether. I work in 2D and in 3D. In 3D I’m able to give an ob­ject to a dig­i­tal ef­fects house – that is us, ILM – and to a prac­ti­cal house. For ex­am­ple, there’s a con­sole in The Force Awak­ens that looks like an out­door bar­be­cue – Han Solo has to punch a num­ber on it. I built that in 2D and 3D. The 3D out­door bar­be­cue ob­ject went to the art depart­ment and it was built as a phys­i­cal ob­ject. Us­ing 3D al­lows us to have more in­flu­ence. We can hand it over and see it through.

What else did you de­sign for The Force Awak­ens?

I worked on the First Or­der – the Star De­stroyer, Starkiller Base, the troop trans­port. From the macro Starkiller Base, to what does a switch and but­ton look like on a con­sole. Star Wars al­ways re­lates back to World War II or Viet­nam. So I made a PT boat and put space­ship parts on it. That went to ILM to start build­ing as a 3D dig­i­tal as­set, and to the art depart­ment in Lon­don who built a full-size model of half the ship. Hav­ing the abil­ity to de­velop that idea in 3D made the process much eas­ier. But the idea, the spark, came from an old idea, from the 1940s.

What tools do you use?

Photoshop, Modo, Poser and some­times SketchUp.

What was it like swap­ping 16 years of free­lance for a staff job at ILM?

We’re all vagabonds and a lot of us like it that way. So to work for a cor­po­ra­tion was a lit­tle scary at first. But it’s won­der­ful. The cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tive process hasn’t changed a bit. And San Fran­cisco. The Pre­sidio. The kids love it. My wife loves it. I’m happy up here.

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