Three decades on, George Lucas' ILM continues to conquer new frontiers. By Paula Parisi
ILM at 30
Three decades on, George Lucas' ILM continues to conquer new frontiers.
An ILM effects timeline
Dialogue: George Lucas
The movie business is changing, but not fast enough for ILM's founding filmmaker.
James Cameron on George Lucas' digital influence
Skywalker Sound explodes the notion of film audio. Lava spews, steel girders sheer, and a world runs red with the intensity of two impassioned warriors engaged in a balletic battle on a planet far away. The climactic lightsaber clash between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi that caps Fox's "Star Wars -- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" is less than a minute in duration -- 1,185 frames of film, to be exact -- but getting the 26-shot sequence onscreen took 910 artists a total of 70,441 man-hours.
Asked to elaborate on the difficulties of that scene, the film's writer-director, George Lucas, shrugs in his characteristic understated style and says, "The thing is, every scene was like that." In all, 2,151 scenes "like that" for the film were possible only through the efforts of Industrial Light + Magic, the effects firm Lucas founded 30 years ago to create a visual vocabulary for 1977's original "Star Wars."
The company, comprised then of about a dozen artists assembled in a warehouse in Van Nuys, Calif., was the first to use computers in the creation of special effects. That move marked a flash point for the movie industry, which had not seen much change in cinema magic since the 1930s. Ultimately, it triggered a revolution that has made it possible for filmmakers to achieve their wildest visions onscreen.
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