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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 Nuysmarker, Californiamarker, later moved to San Rafaelmarker, and is now based at the Letterman Digital Arts Centermarker in the Presidio of San Franciscomarker.


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 Dennis Muren, 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, Californiamarker. 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, Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, The Entire Terminator Sequels and the Transformers films.

In addition to their work for George Lucas, ILM also frequently collaborates with Steven Spielberg for nearly all films 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 the 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 Kerner and continues to provide physical effects for major motion pictures, often working with Industrial Light & Magic.

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


ILM Selected filmography

Year Notable films
1977 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
1980 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark

Dragonslayer (first non-Lucasfilm production)
1982 Poltergeist

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

The Dark Crystal
1983 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Twice Upon a Time
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

The NeverEnding Story

Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (TV)
1985 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
1986 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)
1987 Harry and the Hendersons

Star Toursmarker (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
1988 Willow

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Cocoon: The Return

Tucker: The Man and His Dream

The Last Temptation of Christ

The Accidental Tourist

Caddyshack II
1989 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

1990 Joe Versus the Volcano


Total Recall

Die Hard 2


The Godfather: Part III

Back to the Future Part III

1991 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

1992 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (TV) (1992-93)

Death Becomes Her

Memoirs of an Invisible Man

The Public Eye
1993 Alive

Last Action Hero

Rising Sun

The Meteor Man

Manhattan Murder Mystery


The Nutcracker

Jurassic Park

The Fugitve

Fire in the Sky

Schindler's List
1994 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
1995 Village of the Damned

The Indian in the Cupboard

The American President

Balto (visual effects for live-action sequences)




The Dig (Videogame)
1996 Mission: Impossible

The Trigger Effect


Special Effects: Anything Can Happen

The Trigger Effect


101 Dalmatians


Mars Attacks!



Star Trek: First Contact
1997 The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Men in Black




Starship Troopers

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil


Deconstructing Harry


Speed 2: Cruise Control
1998 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'
1999 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
2000 Mission to Mars

The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle


Pay It Forward

Work in Progress

The Perfect Storm

Space Cowboys
2001 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
2002 Star Wars: Bounty Hunter

Punch-Drunk Love

The Bourne Identity

K-19: The Widowmaker


Valley Forgemarker

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
2003 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
2004 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
2005 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
2006 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

2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Evan Almighty


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Rush Hour 3

There Will Be Blood

Lions for Lambs

National Treasure: Book of Secrets
2008 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

The Happening

The Love Guru


Miracle at St. Anna


2009 Confessions of a Shopaholic

Star Trek

Terminator Salvation

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


Upcoming projects:

Recent films

ILM worked on three major 2005 releases, George Lucas' Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds and Warner Bros. Pictures' Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Revenge of the Sith features around 2400 CGI shots created in three years (by stark contrast, the groundbreaking blockbuster Jurassic Park has only 52 CGI shots). War of the Worlds was completed on a much faster timetable, with Dennis Muren supervising. ILM was also the effects studio utilized to work on Eragon which was released in December 2006.

Industrial Light & Magic also worked on battle creatures for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; the wave and underwater effects for Poseidon, a remake of The Poseidon Adventure; the majority of (invisible) effects for Mission: Impossible III and Eight Below; and most of the creature effects for Lady in the Water. ILM also created the visual effects and animation in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Transformers and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix among others.

ILM also worked on the "Light My Candle" number in Rent. The crew could be seen in the TV screen so Chris Columbus sent the reel over to ILM and they edited the reflection out.


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, Nikemarker, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Budwiser and other companies.

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