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Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is an Academy Award-winning motion picture visual effects company that was founded in May 1975 by George Lucas and is owned by Lucasfilm. Lucas created the company when he discovered that the special effects department at 20th Century Fox was shut down after he was given the green light for his production of the movie Star Wars. The studio originated in Van Nuys, California, later moved to San Rafael, and is now based at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio of San Francisco.


Lucas wanted his 1977 film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope to include visual effects that had never been seen on film before. He first approached Douglas Trumbull, famous for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Trumbull declined, but suggested his assistant John Dykstra. Dykstra brought together a small team of college students, artists and engineers who became the Special Visual Effects department on Star Wars. Alongside Dykstra other leading members of the original ILM team were Ken Ralston, Richard Edlund, Joe Johnston, Phil Tippett, Steve Gawley, and Jeff Mann.

When making The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas reformed most of the team into Industrial Light & Magic in Marin County, California. They have since gone on to produce special effects for nearly three hundred films, including the Indiana Jones series, the Harry Potter franchise, the Jurassic Park franchise, the Back to the Future trilogy, many of the Star Trek films, Ghostbusters II, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the entire set of Terminator sequels and the Transformers films.

In addition to their work for George Lucas, ILM also collaborates with Steven Spielberg on nearly every film that he directs, and for many that he produces as well. Dennis Muren has acted as Visual Effects Supervisor on many of these films.

Additionally, the company has created less noticeable effects - such as widening streets, digitally adding more extras to a shot, and inserting the film's actors into famous photos - in movies such as Schindler's List, Forrest Gump, Snow Falling on Cedars, Magnolia, and several Woody Allen films.

ILM established their use of computer-generated imagery when they hired Edwin Catmull from NYIT in 1979. John Lasseter worked for ILM in the early 1980s as a computer animator. The computer graphics division, now known as Pixar, was eventually sold to Steve Jobs, and went on to create the first CG animated feature with Toy Story.

ILM, rather than hide behind barbed wire and high fences, operated from an inconspicuous property in San Rafael, California until 2006. The company hid in plain sight and was known to locals as Kerner Optical. In 2006, when Lucas decided to move locations and focus on digital effects, a management-led team bought the five physical and practical effects divisions of Industrial Light and Magic. The new company, home to the George Lucas Theater, is called KernerFX and continues to provide physical effects for major motion pictures, often working with Industrial Light & Magic.

Template:As of, ILM has received 16 Best Visual Effects Oscars and 23 additional nominations. It has also received 20 Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in recognition of the critical role the company's advances in technology have played in the filmmaking process.


  • 1975: Resurrected the use of VistaVision; first use of a motion control camera (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope)
  • 1982: First completely computer-generated sequence (the "Genesis sequence" in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
  • 1985: First completely computer-generated character, the "stained glass man" in Young Sherlock Holmes
  • 1988: First morphing sequence, in Willow
  • 1989: First computer-generated 3-D character, the pseudopod in The Abyss
  • 1991: First partially computer-generated main character, the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • 1992: First time the texture of human skin was computer generated, in Death Becomes Her
  • 1993: First time digital technology used to create a complete and detailed living creature, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, which earned ILM its thirteenth Oscar
  • 1995: The first fully synthetic speaking computer-generated character, with a distinct personality and emotion, to take a leading role in Casper
  • 1995: First computer-generated photo-realistic hair and fur (used for the digital lion and monkeys) in Jumanji
  • 1995: First to put visual effects for live-action sequence into a 2D cartoon in Balto
  • 1996: First completely computer-generated main character, Draco in Dragonheart

ILM Selected filmography[]

Year Notable films
1977 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
1980 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Dragonslayer (first non-Lucasfilm production)


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
The Dark Crystal


Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Twice Upon a Time


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
The NeverEnding Story
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (TV)


Starman (also co-produced the film)
The Goonies
Back to the Future
Amazing Stories (TV) (1985-87)
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (TV)
Young Sherlock Holmes
Out of Africa
Enemy Mine


The Money Pit
Howard the Duck
Captain EO (Disney theme park film)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
The Golden Child (also co-produced the film)


Harry and the Hendersons
Star Tours (Disney theme park film)
Spaceballs (creature effect only)
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Encounter at Farpoint (Two-hour pilot, stock footage used throughout series) (TV)
Empire of the Sun
*batteries not included
The Witches of Eastwick


Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Cocoon: The Return
Tucker: The Man and His Dream
The Last Temptation of Christ
The Accidental Tourist
Caddyshack II


The 'burbs
Field of Dreams
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Ghostbusters II
The Abyss
Body Wars (Disney theme park film)
Back to the Future Part II


Joe Versus the Volcano
Total Recall
Die Hard 2
The Godfather: Part III
Back to the Future Part III


Flight of the Intruder
The Doors
Hudson Hawk
Michael & Mickey (Disney theme park film)
The Rocketeer
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country


The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (TV) (1992-93)
Death Becomes Her
Memoirs of an Invisible Man
The Public Eye


Last Action Hero
Rising Sun
The Meteor Man
Manhattan Murder Mystery
The Nutcracker
Jurassic Park
The Fugitve
Fire in the Sky
Schindler's List


The Hudsucker Proxy
Baby's Day Out
In the Mouth of Madness
Star Trek: The Next Generation - All Good Things... (final episode) (TV)
The Flintstones
Forrest Gump
The Mask
Radioland Murders
Star Trek Generations


Village of the Damned
The Indian in the Cupboard
The American President
Balto (visual effects for live-action sequences)
The Dig (Videogame)


Mission: Impossible
The Trigger Effect
Special Effects: Anything Can Happen
The Trigger Effect
101 Dalmatians
Mars Attacks!
Star Trek: First Contact


The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Men in Black
Starship Troopers
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Deconstructing Harry
Speed 2: Cruise Control


Deep Rising
Mercury Rising
Snake Eyes
Reach the Rock
Meet Joe Black
Jack Frost
Mighty Joe Young
The Last Days
Deep Impact
Saving Private Ryan
Small Soldiers


October Sky
Wild Wild West
The Haunting
Deep Blue Sea
Sweet and Lowdown
Bringing Out the Dead
Snow Falling on Cedars
Sleepy Hollow
The Mummy
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Galaxy Quest
The Green Mile


Mission to Mars
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle
Pay It Forward
Work in Progress
The Perfect Storm
Space Cowboys


The Pledge
Planet of the Apes
The Majestic
The Mummy Returns
Artificial Intelligence: A.I.
Jurassic Park III
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Pearl Harbor


Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (Video game)
Punch-Drunk Love
The Bourne Identity
K-19: The Widowmaker
Balto II: Wolf Quest
Gangs of New York
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Minority Report
Men in Black II
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Time Machine


Tears of the Sun
The Hunted
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Peter Pan
Stuck on You
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines


Along Came Polly
Van Helsing
The Chronicles of Riddick
The Bourne Supremacy
The Village
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow
Balto III: Wings of Change
If You Can Dream (Disney Princess music video)


Are We There Yet?
Son of the Mask
The Pacifier
The Amityville Horror
xXx: State of the Union
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D
Herbie Fully Loaded
The Colbert Report
Code Breakers
Cheaper by the Dozen 2
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
War of the Worlds
Chicken Little
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe


Eight Below
Mission: Impossible III
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Lady in the Water
The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Evan Almighty
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Rush Hour 3
The Manhattan Project
There Will Be Blood
Lions for Lambs
National Treasure: Book of Secrets


The Spiderwick Chronicles
Iron Man
Speed Racer
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
WALL-E (visual effects for live-action sequences)
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Video game)
The Happening
The Love Guru
Miracle at St. Anna
The Tale Of Despereaux


Confessions of a Shopaholic
Star Trek
Terminator Salvation
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


Iron Man 2
The Last Airbender

Upcoming projects:

  • Star Wars live-action TV series (TV) (2010/2011)
  • Endhiran (2010) (Indian film)
  • Transformers 3 (2011)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010/2011)
  • Interstellar (2011)
  • Rango (2011)
  • Jurassic Park IV (2012/2013)
  • The Event (2012)
  • The Avengers (2012)


Template:Trivia It was in the late 1980s when Adobe Photoshop made its first appearance on the world stage. It was used at the Industrial Light & Magic studios as an image-processing program. Photoshop was created by ILM Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll and his brother Thomas as a summer project. It was used on The Abyss. The Knoll brothers sold the program to Adobe shortly before the movie's release.

Adam Savage, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci of Mythbusters fame have all worked at Industrial Light & Magic.

Industrial Light & Magic is also famous for their commercial work. Their clients include Energizer Holdings, Nike, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Budwiser and other companies.

Actor Masi Oka worked on several major productions of ILM as an animator, including Revenge of the Sith before joining the cast of the NBC show Heroes as Hiro Nakamura. Oka still works at ILM.