Studio Visit: Industrial Light & Magic Animator Hal Hickel

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    Watch the video: How Industrial Light & Magic Creates Its Creatures
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    When a project has a lot of character animation—and that could be dinosaurs, giant robots, Yoda, whatever—there will be an animation supervisor. That’s what I do. Let’s say it’s a dinosaur film. They shoot a bunch of actors pretending to run in terror from a T-rex that’s not there. We get this footage and put the dinosaur in.

    Photograph by Ethan Scott
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    There was an orgy of great films in the ’70s. ... My brother and I watched a ton of this on TV, all the Universal monster films.

    Photograph by Ethan Scott
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    You have to keep after the artists. … Visual effects has always been a narrow-margin business.

    Photograph by Ethan Scott
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    We have an acting room at ILM. We videotape ourselves. Sometimes it’s easier to just act it out.

    Mother Nature is full of weird-looking eyeballs. When we’re designing creatures, the more outlandish and alien they are, the more we need to look to nature to inspire us. We look at all different kinds. You’ve got a big monster with a knife-shaped head? No problem. We have the goblin shark.

    Photograph by Ethan Scott
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    On Pacific Rim, it didn’t make sense to go out and shoot footage of giant, 250-foot-tall robots and monsters. We couldn’t really do that. So basically the big battle scenes are 100 percent computer-generated—the ocean, the characters, the sky, everything.

    Photograph by Ethan Scott