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View Full Version : VARIETY: ILM Dumps physical FX production unit


RobertoOrtiz
06-14-2006, 02:10 PM
Quote:
"It's the end of an era in special effects.


Seeking to shed the last vestiges of its origins as a models-and-miniatures special effects house, Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic is in talks to sell its physical production unit.

Purchaser is Mark Anderson, a model maker who has worked at ILM for more than 15 years.

Unit will be remonikered Kerner Optical, for its location in ILM's former digs on Kerner Avenue in San Rafael, Calif., and will focus on all physical production, including models, miniatures and stage work.

Once spun off, Kerner Optical will aim to pick up the slack by seeking work that ILM would not get. Kerner will become a preferred subcontractor for ILM. ILM's physical production unit never made the move to Lucasfilm's new HQHQ (http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=slanguage_result&slang=HQ&page=Slanguage&display=HQ) at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco's Presidio."



http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117945240?categoryid=13&cs=1 (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117945240?categoryid=13&cs=1)

-R

sstreaker
06-14-2006, 03:17 PM
It's a sign of the times, I suppose. But it's not like the model-makers are getting the axe, they're just getting ready to do their own thing. Which just may be a good move in the long run. Best wishes to all that are involved.

mike33
06-14-2006, 04:29 PM
I went to three of the Boston Science Museum lectures on Special FX this past winter during their Star Wars exhibit. The last lecture had a couple ILM model builders giving the lecture.

During the Q and A session they asked how many people still wanted to see physical effects in films vs straight digital effects. 90 plus percent raised their hands for continued physical effects in film. (I estimate a crowd of over a hundred people.) Anthony Daniels was an excellent host.

Despite the advances in digital work, I still prefer the magic and illusions miniatures bring to a film.

By the way, the Star Wars Exhibit is travelling across the country. It's well worth seeing.
http://www.mos.org/doc/1869 and http://www.cosi.org/starwars/ (I didn't see a lecture series at COSI)

Cheers,

Mike


Reference:

The Changes in Visual F/X
given on April 7, 2006 (Friday)
Skyline Room

From low-tech analog methods to high-tech computerized effects, how have visual effects changed over the past 30 years, and why does an expert choose one technique over another?

Featuring:John Goodson, Chief Modelmaker/Viewpaint Artist, and Kim Smith, Digital Artist from Industrial Light & Magic and In conversation with Anthony Daniels, the actor who portrayed C-3PO

malducin
06-14-2006, 04:56 PM
But it's not like the model-makers are getting the axe, they're just getting ready to do their own thing. Which just may be a good move in the long run.

Exactly. They're being spun off just like Pixar was back in 1986. So hopefully this will allow them to get even more projects but still have a close relationship with ILM (maybe as a preferred customer/subcontractor). Still a bit sad though.

DAZKevin
06-14-2006, 05:00 PM
I hope this turns out positive for all involved... I think one of the weaknesses with the most recent SW movies, and the strengths of the LotR movies, was that effects look best when the eye can't adjust to one "trick." If you only use digital effects, the eye will adjust and they won't look as real. If you mix it up, the eye never fully gets "used to" one style...

SpankTheMonk
06-14-2006, 05:00 PM
That is truly sad....reorganization often lets loose parts of the company that are and can be considered the heart, and I really think it is sad for George to sell....Hopefully Weta will never go that way....

I don't know....I think this might be another turning point....similar to what happened before Jurrasic Park was released and marked the end of stop motion in main stream movies and shows....

3DDave
06-14-2006, 05:13 PM
I think it just means that ILM is not planning on any large scale use of practical models and effects in major productions like the Star Wars movies. I would bet that even Weta scaled way back on their practical shop after Lord of the Rings.

Artbot
06-14-2006, 05:39 PM
I sincerely hope this works out for those guys. My early, practical modeling days working occasionally in their shop were some of the best and most exciting times of my career. Everyone was so amazingly talented and kind, plus I got to see an awful lot of cool projects (Like John Goodson's amazing working models he made for new SW ships way before the first prequel came out).

As someone said, a combination of miniatures, mattes, and digital models seems to be a winning combo, as there are certain kinds of modeling that's still best done practically. Hopefully this will free them to work with more fx shops than they might have been able to as part of ILM.

Bonedaddy
06-14-2006, 06:00 PM
Bit sad, but I wish the best for them.

Gentle Fury
06-14-2006, 06:06 PM
seems like a mistake to me, as real as CG is getting it will never look as real as reality. Just like Disney dropping their traditional animation dept thinking the key to success is CG.....truth is its creativity that is the key to success......its always the artists, not the tools

charleyc
06-14-2006, 06:27 PM
The only thing this means is that ILM is choosing to be a digital only provider. I don't see how this can in any way be used to indicate what method of effects a director might choose to pursue for their film. The example of LoTR to SW was purely a directorial decision. ILM is a supplemental facility to the film making process, same as this new practical effects facility will be. I am sure ILM has more than enough digital work to keep things going strong for them and there would be no need to sell off this group (as opposed to just letting them go) if there didn't seem to be enough work out there to keep them going. I wish the best for the practical guys.


...just my opinion anyway.

pearson
06-14-2006, 06:30 PM
Well, if the article is correct, there is work out there for physical fx, but ILM didn't want to fight for that kind of work. So this split will let the division focus on getting the work that they want to do.

I certainly hope that physical fx don't ever go away completely; there is something about them that I really like.

Artbot
06-14-2006, 07:03 PM
I think in recent years there has been a healthy return to using more practical models. A highly skilled modeller, like any of these KO guys, can usually build a better looking & more detailed model faster than the digital team can, so it's more of a cost issue than a directorial issue. A director may say he likes practical models more, but it usually comes down to speed, cost and what the studio will approve.

Digital manipulation and compositing have made practical modeling cost-effective again. I don't think it's so much that studios or directors prefer to use practical models, just that they make better financial sense in certain situations. Plus, there's just something that people (myself included) prefer about a model you can pick up and look at and envision shots with rather than having to wait til someone builds it and lights it and textures it and renders it and then the view isn't quite right and...

SpankTheMonk
06-14-2006, 07:05 PM
Speaking of WETA ...From what I saw on the behind the scene videos of Peter Jackson's production of King Kong he used lots, and lots of practical effects and models as much as possible....

I don't think Weta is going to wind away from that any time soon

Xevious
06-14-2006, 07:26 PM
I dont think model making will go away in feature films.

Papa Lazarou
06-14-2006, 08:12 PM
One thing about traditional effects work is it always makes for more interesting behind the scenes documentaries than straight cg work. The magazine Cinefex was a lot more interesting 10 - 15 years ago, when you had a wider range of effects techniques being used.

I hope this new move helps the miniature department get business that might not have been available otherwise. I imagine this will mean they will be able to have a leaner operation, and cut some costs. There's still a lot of life left in the older techniques.

Terrell
06-15-2006, 01:17 AM
If you mix it up, the eye never fully gets "used to" one style...If you mix it up, the eye never fully gets "used to" one style...

The prequels did mix it up. Each of the prequels used more miniatures and sets than the original trilogy combined. So this notion that everything was CG is silly. It means ILM must have done an incredible job since people can't tell the difference between the miniatures, sets, and CG. If they could, people like you wouldn't keep thinking everything was CG.

beaker
06-15-2006, 06:09 AM
I was about to quote this same post. What terrel said is quite true. Ep3 alone had I believe over 250 miniture sets. The entire lava flow set and sequence at the end of Ep3 was one giant miniture that they shot over many months.

Also check out this book that comes out in November:

Sculpting a Galaxy : Inside the Star Wars Model Shop
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1933784032/sr=8-1/qid=1150350605/ref=sr_1_1/102-7992658-0349726?%5Fencoding=UTF8

DAZKevin
06-15-2006, 02:12 PM
Strange... I stand corrected. Then I guess it was something else that made SW I II III not look as good...



The prequels did mix it up. Each of the prequels used more miniatures and sets than the original trilogy combined. So this notion that everything was CG is silly. It means ILM must have done an incredible job since people can't tell the difference between the miniatures, sets, and CG. If they could, people like you wouldn't keep thinking everything was CG.

charleyc
06-15-2006, 05:01 PM
Strange... I stand corrected. Then I guess it was something else that made SW I II III not look as good...

Yeah, perhaps things like extreme expectations on the part of the movie goers. The fact that no matter how you look at it, the events and environments are known to be fake. The hype (tends to make the critic come out in people). Seeing any one of them in IMAX.

To me the SW films were certainly no worse visually than any other film. If fact I thought the effects were very good for the most part. Many people think LoTR has soo much better effects. I think it is because castles, stone architecture and vast natural expanses are something that we can believe is real even if we know they are not. While flying cars, giant cities and all the other tech of SW is a lot harder to sell. It is like the Hulk. Even the average person claimed that he didn't look real. Well, he had day glow green skin and was 15' tall. We all know that is not real. But technically, the hair and skin details, the muscles and veins and such were all very amazing.

Most of us here are in a unique position relative to the average Joe in that we know how many types of effects are created, thus they don't seem as magical to us when we see them. Also, any film that gets overy hyped tends to let people down. This let down can carry into a heavier criticism of all the aspects of the film.

DAZKevin
06-15-2006, 05:11 PM
I can accept that explaination... althought I think the ships from eps iv-vi look more "real" to me...

But true dealing with CG every day taints my eyes toward them on TV and movies.

kmest
06-16-2006, 11:48 AM
i wish them best...practical models still do amazing things ,,,which i cant say its cg or real..watch the lava duel in EPIII,,most of the environment even lavas are real models......i think that ILM wants to push itself to a new level which they force themself to do cg as beliveable as practicals......


i think the problem in recent CG movies,ST,King kong,even lord is mostly because of the lightings....personaly when i look at some cg shots in older movies like jurassic parks,i think they're more beliveable cause the real ligtings not the flat thing i see in today movies,,take the shot in "return of the king" which Eowyn cross between an alphent foots with horse,compare it with the same shot in "THE LOST WORLD",a motorsycle rider cross beneath a dinosar...the 1997 movie looks much better mostly because of the lightings....i dont know why lightings and shadows are too much flat in new movies???and i could belive the Trex from lost world but not the Trexes from 2005 king kong (which were amazing in animates and textures....)

DAZKevin
06-16-2006, 02:08 PM
I totally agree with the lighting comment. I see it every day. That I think is one of the hardest things for most CG artists--they don't know how to light thier work. A good light set up, can make just about anything look better...

beaker
06-16-2006, 05:21 PM
I totally agree with the lighting comment. I see it every day. That I think is one of the hardest things for most CG artists--they don't know how to light thier work. A good light set up, can make just about anything look better...some of it is that but also many times a lot of it is director. Often times we get notes from the director to brighten something up or make it stick out because they want to see it better even though it looks less real that way.

DAZKevin
06-16-2006, 05:29 PM
So true as well...

Reminds me--My brother is an animator at a start up studio (strictly 2-d). The director they brought in on teh project has only Live action experience... it has been a tad frustrating for him trying to explain that "this or that" don't work the same in animation...
CG would certainly have many similar issues...

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