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Lucasfilm to sell Physical Effects Unit

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Another sad day for film history, but let's hope the new custodians have their heads in the right place!

Lucasfilm to sell Physical Effects unit

With the model spacecrafts, miniature sets and hand-painted mattes seen throughout the original Star Wars trilogy replaced by computer-generated imagery for the new films, it was just a matter of time before Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) did away with its practical unit all together. Daily Variety today reports that the company is in talks to sell off its physical effects operation, which was left behind when Lucasfilm moved to its new headquarters at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco's Presidio.

The division of ILM that deals with models, miniatures and stage work has received a bid by veteran ILM model maker Mark Anderson, who will reportedly rename it Kerner Optical, a reference to ILM's original headquarters on Kerner Avenue in San Rafael, Calif. The studio would then become a preferred subcontractor for ILM, creating practical elements to augment ILM’s strictly digital pipeline.

The sale, which is expected to close within 60 days, will end an important part of ILM’s legacy as a groundbreaking visual effects studio. In the mid ’70s, the company devised a motion-control camera system that allowed miniature models to be composited with background footage for Star Wars, resulting in the spectacular space dogfights that changed the face of the science-fiction film and earned the company multiple Oscars for visual effects.

Once regarded as the top VFX studio in the world, ILM has been overshadowed in recent years by Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-based Weta, whose combination of digital effects and model work has garnered Academy Awards for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong.
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Thats terrible. Why would they end there model sutff. I mean these used models in the PT also. I jsut don't get it
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I am so sick of George lucas's obsession with CGI. He could care less if he makes a good movie as long as he has 2,000+ CGI effects shots. Now with his modeling unit probably leaving all his and ILM's future ingagments will look like lifeless cartoons.


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Do you think Lucas ever regrets selling off Pixar?
There were some model sets and minatures used in all the prequels. But that would have required someone actually doing research before writing this article.
originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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Actually it makes me just wonder how much money ILM and LFL has *lost* because of the other effects houses (ie WETA) that still CARE about doing things the best way possible even if it means building a model, full-size prop or CGI. I see fewer and fewer big films come out that are ILM showpieces. I'm not saying they don't have money and aren't working but they certainly aren't the be-all-end-all of effects these days.
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Very sad. I'm a traditionally trained animator, and I've already seen my industry crumble at the feet of CGI.

War does not make one great.

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For me, ILM ceased to exist once they went digital. The practical effects that they pulled off made ILM the effects giant that it became. ILM today is kind of like the prequels, really...nowhere near what the original movies and original ILMers were.
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It's just like Disney closing down its traditional animation department. We're all being assimilated by computers.

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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Exactly! Disney is no longer Disney. They just jumped on the CGI bandwagon, which I'm sure will die soon. It's a fun gimmick, but most people grew up on traditional animation. The only people who have grown up on CGI are people born from the year 2000 and on. THet worst thing about CGI films is that most of them have horrible stories and voice acting. Because its CGI and is more complicated than 2-d drawing, they focus more on the Animation than on the story, and its killing modern animation. I can honestly say I've only enjoyed one animated film this year, and it was Cars. Pixar always gets it right, especially with John Lasseter at the helm. (Although Incredibles was horrible.) Pixar films seem to fit with CGI. They have strong stories accompnoied by strong CGI, and it fits. I don't bother to see CGI films anymore. I wish Disney would just try to re-capture the magic they once had, the magic that died back in the mid-ninties....
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Originally posted by: Gaffer Tape
It's just like Disney closing down its traditional animation department. We're all being assimilated by computers.


Ironicly, Disney's traditional animation department may return due of the success of a CGI animation studio.

Better explain for those confused! Lasseter is now the head of Disney's animation department due to his success with Pixar, and it is Lasseter who really wants the traditional animation department resurrected.

http://www.kineticpast.com/starwars/thecheatlaserdisc.gif
Ooh, a laserdisc. The Cheat's playin' something on a laserdisc.
Everything is better on a laserdisc. Whatever happened to the laserdisc? Laserdisc!

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Originally posted by: Gaffer Tape
It's just like Disney closing down its traditional animation department. We're all being assimilated by computers.


I know. I grew up on disney animation like Donald Duck, Dark Wing Duck, and all the old cartoons. I have wonderful memories of that stuff. then Disney channel premired an all CGI Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald, basically the whole gang show. I was like WTF this is not cool. They looked like lifeless plastic. It pissed me off. But I hope that the animation studio does make a return. Although Cars was great I want the animation back.
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Originally posted by: Darth_Evil
I wish Disney would just try to re-capture the magic they once had, the magic that died back in the mid-ninties....


Goddamn those were a good time to be a kid. Aladdin, The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Pocahontas, Mulan, Tarzan, Hercules. All mainly traditional animation and all incredibly good movies to a kid that grew up when they were coming out. Nothing these days seems to give off that sort of "magic" anymore. Even adults from the time (my parents, relatives, art teachers) think the same thing. Everyone loved the Disney of the 90's.

Hey look, a bear!

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Originally posted by: greencapt
Actually it makes me just wonder how much money ILM and LFL has *lost* because of the other effects houses (ie WETA) that still CARE about doing things the best way possible even if it means building a model, full-size prop or CGI. I see fewer and fewer big films come out that are ILM showpieces. I'm not saying they don't have money and aren't working but they certainly aren't the be-all-end-all of effects these days.


Exactly! When was the last time a movie was marketed because of ILM doing the SFX work? I remember in the eighties, that was a big selling point for a movie to have ILM doing the special effects.

Lucas doesn't seem to realize that ILM lost his Magic! Everybody can do CGI, all you need is hire talented people, and buy some PC workstations, and a room full of computers to compute the images (the render farm). The traditional effects work needed more expertise and very specialized hardware. ILM dug up old VistaVision cameras to shot the effects, they hand-built optical printers, and they invented computerized motion control. They were so far ahead of everyone else back in the eighties...

Han: Hey Lando! You kept your promise, right? Not a scratch?
Lando: Well, what’s left of her isn’t scratched. All the scratched parts got knocked off along the way.
Han (exasperated): Knocked off?!

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This seems really illogical from a business point of view.

Models are used now more than ever.

There are more models used in a single prequels film than in all three original movies combined. Literally hundreds, some of them spanning many, many yards, such as the massive Geonosis arena model.

So, this still all is fine, ILM will just be outsourcing all model work to the new company--but if you can do it in-house, then why not?? Wouldn't this be easier, faster and much, much cheaper? I really don't get this.
Perhaps now that the prequels are finished they are finding that most films don't have any, or have very little, model work? This is the only conclusion i can draw, which is actually quite true, but still. Dumb IMO.

The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!

"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."

--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010

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"but they certainly aren't the be-all-end-all of effects these days."

Isn't *that* the truth!

"I'm a traditionally trained animator, and I've already seen my industry crumble at the feet of CGI."

Which is a shame, because films like Nightmare before Christman are fantastic. James and the Giant Peach wasn't CGI, was it? (I've never watched the entire thing! )

"It's just like Disney closing down its traditional animation department."

When did this happen?

"Better explain for those confused! Lasseter is now the head of Disney's animation department due to his success with Pixar, and it is Lasseter who really wants the traditional animation department resurrected."

Thank God Pixar is there! I refuse to buy any cheap Disney sequel except for Toy Story 2.

"ILM dug up old VistaVision cameras to shot the effects, they hand-built optical printers, and they invented computerized motion control. They were so far ahead of everyone else back in the eighties..."

I recall a snippet in the book that came with the Def. Col. LDs where they talked about a specialized camera with very small gearing (I forget what it was used for, but it was very important.) Anyways, even back then, you couldn't find these cameras anymore, and it was used for many years before someone forgot to oil the gears and they ate themselves. *THIS* is what ILM was all about. Now that's gone as well.
MeBeJedi: Sadly, I believe the prequels are beyond repair.
JediRandy: They're certainly beyond any repair you're capable of making.


MeBeJedi: You aren't one of us.
Go-Mer-Tonic: I can't say I find that very disappointing.


JediRandy: I won't suck as much as a fan edit.
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Originally posted by: MeBeJedi


"It's just like Disney closing down its traditional animation department."

When did this happen?


Eisner did this a couple years ago.

Oh, and Incredibles was a GREAT movie!
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Lucas: Now we are selling off the final part of the effects department that deals with models and technology from the OT days.

The O-OT fan: Then the real Mr. Lucas has really died.

Lucas: You don't know the power of CG!!!!!!!!!

The O-OT fan: Yes, but everything looked so realistic in the OT......

Lucas: (Interrupts) Don't say that word anymore, realistic. Everything looks squeaky clean now in the new movies.

The O-OT fan: (Throws down his lightsaber) I am an O-OT fan, not a Greedo shoots first fan, soon no one will like the SE, and this empire you have will be destroyed.

McCallum: So be it, O-OT fan!!!!!!

(Then Gary Kurtz & Irvin Kershner come in and throw McCallum & Lucas down the shaft)

Kurtz: OK, Kersh, get me the original reels of the OT, we have some remastering to do for the new DVD. And all that SE crap, wipe them all out!
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Originally posted by: Gillean
Originally posted by: Gaffer Tape
It's just like Disney closing down its traditional animation department. We're all being assimilated by computers.


Ironicly, Disney's traditional animation department may return due of the success of a CGI animation studio.

Better explain for those confused! Lasseter is now the head of Disney's animation department due to his success with Pixar, and it is Lasseter who really wants the traditional animation department resurrected.
Cool! Maybe I can get a job.

War does not make one great.

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Originally posted by: Darth_Evil
Exactly! Disney is no longer Disney. They just jumped on the CGI bandwagon, which I'm sure will die soon. It's a fun gimmick, but most people grew up on traditional animation. The only people who have grown up on CGI are people born from the year 2000 and on. THet worst thing about CGI films is that most of them have horrible stories and voice acting. Because its CGI and is more complicated than 2-d drawing, they focus more on the Animation than on the story, and its killing modern animation. I can honestly say I've only enjoyed one animated film this year, and it was Cars. Pixar always gets it right, especially with John Lasseter at the helm. (Although Incredibles was horrible.) Pixar films seem to fit with CGI. They have strong stories accompnoied by strong CGI, and it fits. I don't bother to see CGI films anymore. I wish Disney would just try to re-capture the magic they once had, the magic that died back in the mid-ninties....


I agree that Cars was awesome! But you thought The Incredibles sucked?! That's my favorite Pixar movie ever! Not saying your opinion is not valid, but I'd love to hear exactly why.

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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I think the worst Pixar movie is Monsters Inc, followed by a bugs life. Both of those (but especially Monsters Inc) were rather unimaginative and predictable. Finding Nemo and of course Toy Story are excellent. The Incredibles was very good. I am yet to see cars (I spend half my life waiting for my blody wife to actually do sometjing I ask. Maybe I'll just go see it by myself).

War does not make one great.

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If you go see it, definitely stay through the credits. Some of my favorite gags come from the end. And it also pays an awesome homage to John Ratzenberger.

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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Remember what I said about Disney sequels?

"Meanwhile, Buena Vista has set Disney's direct-to-dvd Brother Bear 2 for release on 8/29"


Sigh....
MeBeJedi: Sadly, I believe the prequels are beyond repair.
JediRandy: They're certainly beyond any repair you're capable of making.


MeBeJedi: You aren't one of us.
Go-Mer-Tonic: I can't say I find that very disappointing.


JediRandy: I won't suck as much as a fan edit.
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I didn't know anybody cared about the first Brother Bear! I mean, wasn't that their final traditionally-animated theatrical presentation?

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.