Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) is an Academy Award-winning motion picture visual effects company that was founded in May 1975 by George Lucas and is owned by Lucasfilm. Lucas created the company when he discovered that the special effects department at 20th Century Fox was shut down after he was given the green light for his production of the movie Star Wars. The studio originated in Van Nuys, California, later moved to San Rafael, and is now based at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio of San Francisco.
Lucas wanted his 1977 film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope to include visual effects that had never been seen on film before. He first approached Douglas Trumbull, famous for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Trumbull declined, but suggested his assistant John Dykstra. Dykstra brought together a small team of college students, artists and engineers who became the Special Visual Effects department on Star Wars. Alongside Dykstra other leading members of the original ILM team were Ken Ralston, Richard Edlund, Joe Johnston, Phil Tippett, Steve Gawley, and Jeff Mann.
When making The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas reformed most of the team into Industrial Light & Magic in Marin County, California. They have since gone on to produce special effects for nearly three hundred films, including the entire Star Wars saga, The Abyss, the Indiana Jones series, the Harry Potter franchise, the Jurassic Park franchise, the Back to the Future trilogy, many of the Star Trek films, Ghostbusters II, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the entire set of Terminator sequels, the Transformers films, the Men in Black series, and also provided work for Avatar, alongside Weta Digital.
In addition to their work for George Lucas, ILM also collaborates with Steven Spielberg on nearly every film that he directs, and for many that he produces as well. Dennis Muren has acted as Visual Effects Supervisor on many of these films.
Additionally, the company has created less noticeable effects - such as widening streets, digitally adding more extras to a shot, and inserting the film's actors into famous photos - in movies such as Schindler's List, Forrest Gump, Snow Falling on Cedars, Magnolia, and several Woody Allen films.
ILM established their use of computer-generated imagery when they hired Edwin Catmull from NYIT in 1979. John Lasseter worked for ILM in the early 1980s as a computer animator. The computer graphics division, now known as Pixar, was eventually sold to Steve Jobs, and went on to create the first CG animated feature with Toy Story.
ILM, rather than hide behind barbed wire and high fences, operated from an inconspicuous property in San Rafael, California until 2006. The company hid in plain sight and was known to locals as The Kerner Company. In 2006, when Lucas decided to move locations and focus on digital effects, a management-led team bought the five physical and practical effects divisions of Industrial Light and Magic. The new company, home to the George Lucas Theater, retained the "Kerner" name and continues to provide physical effects for major motion pictures, often working with Industrial Light & Magic.
As of 2009, ILM has received 15 Best Visual Effects Oscars and 23 additional nominations. It has also received 23 Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in recognition of the critical role the company's advances in technology have played in the filmmaking process.
ILM is also the largest visual effects vendor in Hollywood with regards to worksforce, with more than 500 artists. It also has the largest renderfarm currently available with more than 5000 nodes. ILM revolutionised the motion capture business when they invented IMoCap (Image Based Motion Capture Technology), which is the most advanced technique of motion capture currently available.
- 1975: Resurrected the use of VistaVision; first use of a motion control camera (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope)
- 1982: First completely computer-generated sequence (the "Genesis sequence" in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
- 1985: First completely computer-generated character, the "stained glass man" in Young Sherlock Holmes
- 1988: First morphing sequence, in Willow
- 1989: First computer-generated 3-D character, the pseudopod in The Abyss
- 1991: First partially computer-generated main character, the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- 1992: First time the texture of human skin was computer generated, in Death Becomes Her
- 1993: First time digital technology used to create a complete and detailed living creature, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, which earned ILM its thirteenth Oscar
- 1995: The first fully synthetic speaking computer-generated character, with a distinct personality and emotion, to take a leading role in Casper
- 1995: First computer-generated photo-realistic hair and fur (used for the digital lion and monkeys) in Jumanji
- 1995: First movie to put visual effects for live-action sequence into a 2D cartoon in Balto
- 1996: First completely computer-generated main character, Draco in Dragonheart
- 1999: First computer generated character to have a full human anatomy (done by being built from the inside out), Imhotep in The Mummy
- 2006: First completely computer-generated main character motioncaptured from live action plates without using a studio cocoon environment. [Used IMoCap on Davy Jones in Dead Man's Chest. Received Academy Award for it.]
- 2011: First animated feature in Rango.
ILM selected filmography
- 1977: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
- 1980: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
- 1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark Dragonslayer
- 1982: Poltergeist Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial The Dark Crystal
- 1983: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Twice Upon a Time
- 1984: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Star Trek III: The Search for Spock The NeverEnding Story Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (TV)
- 1985: Starman (also co-produced the film) The Goonies Cocoon Back to the Future Explorers
- Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters Ewoks: The Battle for Endor Young Sherlock Holmes Out of Africa Enemy Mine
- 1986: The Money Pit Labyrinth Howard the Duck Captain EO (Disney theme park film) Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home The Golden Child (also co-produced the film)
- 1987: Harry and the Hendersons Star Tours (Disney theme park film) Spaceballs (creature effect only) Innerspace Empire of the Sun *batteries not included The Witches of Eastwick
- 1988: Willow Who Framed Roger Rabbit Cocoon: The Return Tucker: The Man and His Dream
- The Last Temptation of Christ The Accidental Tourist Caddyshack II
- 1989: The 'burbs Field of Dreams Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Ghostbusters II The Abyss
- Body Wars (Disney theme park film) Always Back to the Future Part II Leviathan
- 1990: Joe Versus the Volcano Dreams Total Recall Die Hard 2 Arachnophobia The Godfather: Part III Back to the Future Part III Ghost
- 1991: Flight of the Intruder The Doors Switch Hudson Hawk The Rocketeer Terminator 2: Judgment Day Backdraft Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Hook
- 1992: Death Becomes Her Memoirs of an Invisible Man The Public Eye
- 1993 Alive Last Action Hero Rising Sun The Meteor Man Manhattan Murder Mystery Malice The Nutcracker Jurassic Park The Fugitve Fire in the Sky Schindler's List
- 1994: The Hudsucker Proxy Maverick Wolf Baby's Day Out Disclosure In the Mouth of Madness The Flintstones Forrest Gump The Mask Radioland Murders Star Trek Generations
- 1995 Village of the Damned The Indian in the Cupboard The American President Balto (visual effects for live-action sequences) Congo Casper Jumanji
- 1996 Mission: Impossible The Trigger Effect Eraser The Trigger Effect Sleepers 101 Dalmatians Daylight Mars Attacks! Twister Dragonheart Star Trek: First Contact
- 1997 The Lost World: Jurassic Park Men in Black Contact Amistad Titanic Starship Troopers Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Flubber Deconstructing Harry Spawn Speed 2: Cruise Control
- 1998 Deep Rising Mercury Rising Snake Eyes Celebrity Reach the Rock Meet Joe Black Jack Frost Mighty Joe Young The Last Days Deep Impact Saving Private Ryan Small Soldiers
- 1999: October Sky Wild Wild West The Haunting Deep Blue Sea Sweet and Lowdown Bringing Out the Dead Snow Falling on Cedars Sleepy Hollow Magnolia The Mummy Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Galaxy Quest The Green Mile
- 2000: Mission to Mars The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle Pollock Pay It Forward Work in Progress The Perfect Storm Space Cowboys
- 2001: The Pledge Planet of the Apes Impostor The Majestic The Mummy Returns Artificial Intelligence: A.I. Jurassic Park III Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Pearl Harbor
- 2002 Punch-Drunk Love The Bourne Identity K-19: The Widowmaker Signs Balto II: Wolf Quest Gangs of New York Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones Minority Report Men in Black II Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets The Time Machine
- 2003 Tears of the Sun Dreamcatcher The Hunted The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Timeline Peter Pan Stuck on You Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Hulk Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
- 2004: Along Came Polly Morphine Hidalgo Twisted Van Helsing The Chronicles of Riddick The Bourne Supremacy The Village Eros Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow The Day After Tomorrow Balto III: Wings of Change
- 2005: Are We There Yet? Son of the Mask The Pacifier The Amityville Horror xXx: State of the Union The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D Herbie Fully Loaded Code Breakers Munich Cheaper by the Dozen 2 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith War of the Worlds Jarhead Chicken Little Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Rent The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- 2006: Eight Below Mission: Impossible III Poseidon The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Lady in the Water The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D Eragon
- 2007: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Evan Almighty Transformers Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Rush Hour 3 The Manhattan Project There Will Be Blood Lions for Lambs National Treasure: Book of Secrets
- 2008: The Spiderwick Chronicles Iron Man Speed Racer Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull WALL-E (visual effects for live-action sequences) The Happening The Love Guru Miracle at St. Anna Twilight The Tale Of Despereaux
- 2009: Confessions of a Shopaholic Star Trek Terminator Salvation Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Surrogates Avatar
- 2010: Iron Man 2 The Last Airbender Enthiran
- 2011: Rango Captain America
- 2012: Kipper The Movie 3: Aliens in the Attic (visual effects for live-action backgrounds and animated characters)