Jan 25, 2007

Visual effects masters put the magic in ILM

SAN FRANCISCO–With its two visual effects Oscar nominations Tuesday, Industrial Light & Magic appears poised to win its first Academy Awards in the category it pioneered 13 years ago.

Source: CNET
Written by Daniel Terdiman

And for the two ILM animation specialists nominated for their work on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, the nods look likely to reward animation work that their peers are applauding as ground-breaking.

In particular, the kudos for visual effects supervisor John Knoll (co-author of Photoshop with brother Thomas Knoll) and animation supervisor Hal Hickel are mostly coming as a result of the work they did animating the Davy Jones character. In fact, the character was entirely computer-animated, a feat that has some in the industry standing back in awe.


“Davy Jones was 100 percent CGI,” said Aaron Muszalski, a former ILM animator who now teaches at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. “True, the animations were derived, at least in part, from the tracked data of the actor’s performance, but the resulting imagery was totally synthetic. It’s simply amazing, really. John Knoll (and Hickel) really deserve this Oscar.”


At ILM on Wednesday, Knoll, Hickel and others gave CNET an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the company’s motion-capture facilities and data center. They also discussed the making of Dead Man’s Chest; the forthcoming third installment in the franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End; and future technologies the company is creating.

One major component of the work on Dead Man’s Chest that earned Knoll and Hickel their Oscar nomination was ILM’s motion capture technology.

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