Industrial Light & Magic: Creating The Impossible Video

Jay Cochran - November 09, 2010

Since its founding 35 years ago, Industrial Light & Magic has been the movie industry’s undisputed leader in groundbreaking visual effects, thrilling audiences and making hits into blockbusters. On Friday, November 12 at 9:00 p.m. (et/pt), Encore presents an original documentary celebrating that legacy. “Industrial Light & Magic: Creating the Impossible” is directed by Academy Award and Emmy nominated director Leslie Iwerks and is narrated by Tom Cruise. The special airs again on Saturday, November 13 (12 noon and 10:00 p.m.), and on Sunday, November 14 (8:00 p.m. and 10:50 p.m.) Sunday also includes five ILM-effects films starting at 2:00 p.m. with Jumanji, followed by Hook, Jurassic Park III, Twister and Starship Troopers.

While working on a piece for Clone Wars, Encore brass saw a trade reel about ILM and saw the potential for an exciting and informative documentary. The documentary is narrated by Tom Cruise. Several stars offer their praise of the magic produced by the belnd of art and technology that IL creates, from ET to Iron Man 2.

ILM was formed in 1975 to realize the complex special effects required to make Star Wars. George Lucas's goal with Star Wars was to create an action moive with the effect. Short cuts and panning shots, that mandated innovation. Not only did Lucas writer and direct Star Wars, but he also built a special effects company to handle the unprecedented screen magic. 350 effects shots were in the original Star Wars. Optical photography allowed a hundred different pieces of film to be combined to make one shot.

The documentary features several of the orginal creators offering their insights behind the creation of ILM and the techniques they pioneered. The success of Star Wars allowed Lucas to build ILM into an industrial power house where all major Hollywood productions needing cutting edge, quality effects would come. ILM became the first independent effcts house. ILM stayed on the cutting edge using the Lucas Films Computer Graphics Division to lead the way with advancements in CGI. The first forey with the new technology made with a computer was the Genisis Device presentation in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. The stained glass knigt in the Young Sherlock Holmes featured the first CGI character. The first computerized morphing shot was in Willow.

Pixar eventually broke off from ILM to focus on computer generated animated features. The short CGI element in the Abyss led to the more complex T-1000 of Terminator 2. Their next project, Jurassic Park, saw the company make an astronomical leap to create life-like dinosaurs. With the advent of CGI, gone were the onerous days of stop motion, New projects required new innovations. Twister lead ILM to create more photorealistic digitilazed water and dust, organic materials that hadn't been full realized before.

As with the current live action Star Wars series that has been tabled for the indefinite future, Lucas had to wait to do the three Star Wars prequels until the effects technology caught up with his plans for the movies. In order to achieve the complexity of some of the scenes, ILM had to double its computer power. Lucas as both owner and client was able to push ILM to create his vision. In the first Transformers, the robot transformations included about 10,000 moving parts. ILM has worked on over 300 movies and won 15 Oscars.


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