Wednesday, February 5, 2020

2020 Update! And 25 YEARS @ ILM!!!

Sorry for the looooong absence here. It's been a crazy couple of years but all good :)
Besides finishing up 5 months in London finishing up Ready Player One, I then continued on to a few other projects including Bumblebee. Since then we've moved to Dallas TX, while still working remotely for ILM.
     Speaking of ILM, as of Today I have been with ILM for 25 years!  Yeah.... I've been working at ILM longer than I haven't....

     So in honor of that I'll share some more stories here of my 25 years.
Some of the basics I've already shared here, but I'll start with what I remember about my first day. I started at ILM back in Feb 1995, just over a month after graduating from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with studies in Industrial design and animation, and 2 years at Detroit's Center for Creative Studies where I majored in Transportation Design. I showed up at ILM and nervously knocked on the  heavily tinted business door marked "Kerner Optical". Inside that door was a simple front desk with a stormtrooper art triptych that I believe was done by Ty Ruben Elingson (a member of the ILM Art Department)
        I was met by Jeff Olson, modelshop manager, who ushered me through several hallways lined with posters, past a motion control stage, out into a parking lot and back through another building called 'cookie bay' (it used to house a cookie company at one point) and out again to arrive at "G" building. G building was an L shaped office strip mall type building, one wing was the Model Shop the other wing was the Art Department. I started out in the model shop. I was brought into the building past a messy (and obviously male centric) bathroom into the workshop, which was basically an open more gutted warehouse type section. There were noises of saws, Dremels whirring like a nightmare dental visit sounds, the smell of fresh cut wood, fiberglass resin and wet paint. I was quickly introduced to several model shop members like, John Goodson, Don Bies, Kim Smith, Ira Keeler, Giovani Donanvan and Nelson Hall, Randy Otenberg, Brian Gernand,  Steve Gawley and others. I was told I would be working on a movie called Congo, I would be helping build a miniature jungle set by making foam trees and vines. I sat with Nelson who showed me what we were doing, carving grooves into long foam tubes like pool noodles. Then wrapping the tubes in a latex skin with a tree bark texture on them. Lunch was a quick jaunt over to Picante, an iffy Mexican restaurant behind G building. After a stomach sized gut bomb burrito we walked over to 'C' building where the big miniature set was going to come together. This was ILM's biggest indoor stage space complete with ceiling grid and giant roll-up door. This picture below is a composite of live action FG and our miniature set in the BG.

Another job I did on Congo was make a miniature arm speach band for a miniature Amy the Gorilla with modelshop sculptor Richard Miller. Overall it was a mind blowing experience, little did I know it was the first day in a 25 year + journey that would lead me around the world, meeting legendary artists, directors and actors. With work on nearly all of the biggest VFX films in recent history... all with the same company... Industrial Light + Magic.

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