ILM’s creative director on what he looks for in an artist
Why do you think an art department is a necessary part of the visual effects team?
Because of the artistic eye and sensibility. You sit in dailies and hear a lot of back and forth about making a shot better. It’s good to have an aesthetic voice within the group, people who bring strong emotion to the shots, who think the way a painter thinks about colour and light.
In what way do artists in ILM’s global art department support the visual effects supervisors in the post-production of films?
They initially do reference and then as shots move through, they continue to look for reference for things that might come up. They might paint over a frame that isn’t working, give ideas for lighting, colour, how water moves. They can help make things look real. Artists can create the emotion and texture of a painter, and bring that into shot work. You’d perhaps be surprised by how much concept art looks photoreal. Sometimes simple models created in concept art make it into final shots.
When you are hiring concept artists and designers, what is it you are looking for?
I look for their spark. Of course their skills, their craftsmanship, too. But, I need to know they can produce an image out of nothing that has emotion and personality. They can be young, but if there is a subtlety in their work, personality in a character, scale and feeling in a landscape, those people will interest us. And, we want artists who are fixed on what we do here: we create characters and worlds for films.