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Creator / Industrial Light & Magic

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Bright in every sense of the word.

In 1975, George Lucas was working on pre-production for his next major project, Star Wars. His vision was ambitious, and he wanted top-notch visual effects for it. Shopping around at miscellaneous special-effects houses, Lucas found that no one could offer him the dedication he wanted and a vision to match his own. So he started his own special-effects studio with some of his old college buddies.

Thus was born the company known as Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).

With Star Wars, they changed the way special effects were approached. One of their biggest innovations was using computer-programmed cameras that would move around the models and then mimic the same movements whilst in another environment. This would give them space battles that were fast and with effects that made you feel as if you were there. Early on the unions tried to get on the inside of the company and get others employed there, but when the crew demonstrated their home-made computer-controlled camera it became clear no one else in the business knew how to do what they were doing.

Ever since, the studio has been on the cutting edge of special effects for movies, television shows and commercials. The odds are if you see a movie with intensive, elaborate and impressive special effects, ILM was involved with it. They've also helped push the bleeding edge of computer graphics, particularly the use of extensive Chroma Key; 90% of the "sets" in the Star Wars prequels were CGI, and you'd never know it. Pixar itself began as a department of ILM.

As of October 2012, they're under the management of Disney after its acquisition of Lucasfilm. Since then, they've been involved in more Disney-related movie productions than before, most of them for Marvel and Star Wars titles.

As of 2016, ILM has received 16 Best Visual Effects Oscars and 40 additional nominations. Do not confuse with OLM Incorporated. See also Apogee Productions, Boss Film Studios, Matte World Digital, The Orphanage and Tippett Studio, offshoots of ILM.

The company has their own YouTube channel. Their website can be found here.

Notable Works:

    Animated Film 

    Live-Action Film 

    Other Noteworthy Projects 

They were also responsible for several noteworthy commercials for Coke, Burger King and Nike among others (including the Japanese Pepsiman commercials), the 1990's General Cinema "Candy Band" and policy trailers (before the company went bust and was acquired by AMC)note  and through Word of God, provided the visuals to DreamWorks SKG's Vanity Plate.

Tropes associated with ILM:

  • All-CGI Cartoon: Rango. They also helped out on Wall E, The Tale of Despereaux, Chicken Little and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.note 
  • Berserk Button: The 8-foot model of the Enterprise as constructed for the first Star Trek film and modified for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan for Ken Ralston, as its size and technical issues caused no end of grief to him or the rest of the crew. To quote him regarding the model during an interview for The Search for Spock about wanting to destroy it:
    "I was tempted though-tempted many times to take a mallet to it."
  • Cel Shading: The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle uses this for the title characters.
  • He Also Did: A lot of notable examples are from here, including:
    • John Knoll co-created the editing software Photoshop with his brother and made some CG ships for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (See main page).
    • Actor Masi Oka worked on several films, like The Perfect Storm and the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy as a programmer and animator.
    • David Fincher worked at the company for a few films as a camera operator before becoming a director.
    • Art Vitello, director for shows like Tiny Toon Adventures, The Tick and Adventures of the Gummi Bears worked as an animator on Poltergeist.
    • Ken Ralston would go on to Sony Pictures Imageworks as a VFX supervisor.
    • Junior MythBusters Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci, as well as Adam Savage, all worked there at different points in time.
    • A group of ILM model makers appeared (and won) on an episode of Junkyard Mega-Wars.
    • Scott Ross, a former head of the company; was a co-founder of Digital Domain.
    • Joe Johnston, director of The Rocketeer and Captain America: The First Avenger worked as an effects artist for Howard The Duck, Raiders of the lost Ark and the original Star Wars films.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • Several of the films they worked on, including much of their Disney work, Harry Potter, E.T., Are We There Yet? and The Flinstones are bent more towards being family-friendly compared to most of the other titles they've done effects for, even with any serious moments they may have.
    • They worked on the 2022 Apple TV+ preschool series Lovely Little Farm, where they created life-sized puppets/animatronics of Pickle Pony and Al Alpaca and the CGI for several other characters.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Plenty, including the Iron Man films, The Flintstones, The Last Airbender, Battleship, Jurassic Park, Congo, The Transformers films, Casper, Howard The Duck, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Master and Commander and 101 Dalmatians.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The Death Star trench in A New Hope was constructed from battleship models. In The Empire Strikes Back, you can catch a glimpse of a Potato and a shoe during the asteroid field sequence and the TIE Bombers wings were taken from model kits of Darth Vader's TIE.
  • The Pete Best: Averted with John Dykstra, who was part of the original crew but was fired for working on Battlestar Galactica (1978), and eventually went on to become a visual effects master in his own right.
  • Production Posse: Have been favorites of Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis and Michael Bay. In terms of studios, Universal and Paramount have built extensive relationships with themnote .
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The original crew, who managed to create an environment so chaotic and unproductive, preferring to screw around with forklifts and prank film executives, that the effects only took off after George Lucas returned from England and worked closely with them.
  • Referenced by...: In the game Night Shift, you play as a factory worker cranking out toys based on Star Wars and other Lucasfilm properties for "Industrial Might and Logic". The logo for said IML company is a parody of Industrial Light and Magic's old logo, with the worker replacing the magician.
  • Serial Escalation: The Transformers movies seem to be outdoing one another in terms of complex characters - Ironhide in the first one, Devastator in RoTF and Driller in DoTM.