Interview with Beth Sasseen

by TheFan

With the help of ILM, I recently had the honor of speaking with Beth Sasseen, Recruiting Supervisor for the ILM Computer Graphics Department. I took questions from you, the ILM fans out there, passed them along to her.


CG Recruiting Supervisor Beth Sasseen

As webmaster for ilmfan.com, I get a lot of mail. And in those email's, I get a lot of questions. And a lot of the time the main question is "How can I work for ILM? I'm willing to prostitute myself, work for free...anything". Well, I cannot help you get a job at ILM. But, as it turns out, I can help get your job related questions answered by ILM. So with the help of ILM, I recently had the honor of speaking with Beth Sasseen, Recruiting Supervisor for the ILM Computer Graphics Department. I took questions from you, the ILM fans out there, passed them along to her. Below is the transcript of the complete interview. Enjoy, and feel free to give your feedback at the end of the interview.

theFan: Thanks for helping with this Q/A Session. Please give a brief introduction to yourself.

Beth Sasseen: Beth Sasseen, CG Recruiting Supervisor. My background is in live-action production in Los Angeles before moving back to Northern California to be closer to my family. I've worked at ILM for three years.

theFan: Please give an introduction to ILM.

Beth: ILM was founded by George Lucas in 1975 to create the special effects for Star Wars. Since then ILM has been involved in the creation of special effects for hundreds of feature films as well as commercials. The work done at ILM has garnered 14 Academy Awards, 12 Technical Achievement Awards, as well as numerous commercial awards.

theFan: Where are the located?

Beth: Marin County, just north of San Francisco.

theFan: Is that the only ILM Studio location?

Beth: Yes.

theFan: Number of employees?

Beth: Over 1000.

theFan: I'll ask questions myself, and also be feeding you an eclectic list of other questions from other ILM fans and ilmfan.com visitors. First, since we were just introducing ILM, I had a question. I was reading an article recently, I believe it was an interview with Scott Ross (ex-ILM'er), now CEO at Digital Domain. He suggested that Digital Domain was very "artistic feeling", that an artist would feel very at home there. I've had the fortune of touring Pixar and had the same feeling there. They have this incredible space, where all of the animators work. It just looks like a really fun place to work. Anyway, Ross continues to say that ILM has a "professional" feeling, and is much more straight laced. I took it as kind of a slam at ILM, but my question is; How would you describe the atmosphere at ILM?

Beth: I would describe it to be more "campus-like." At any given time, we may have 10 feature films, and an equivalent number of commercials in production. It's much like a film studio with many projects being simultaneously being shot, and in various stages of productions. We have many well-established departments all working together to complete projects on time. Just to name a FEW, we have a very art department that comes up with innovative conceptual art and storyboards to lay the foundation of the work we do; a model shop that can create just about any miniature or maquette needed, a stage and camera engineering department that knows intricate details about visual effects photography - be it for background plates or elements; and a very smoothly running editorial and scanning department that tracks and digitizes specific shots to be delivered to the CG artists. From that point, the cg and digital matte artists do their magic. It's through the team effort of departments such as these that enable us to make the best visual effects. Each production works as a closely knit team together for weeks or over a year to complete their projects. With a wide variety of projects under one roof, computer graphic artists are able to work on projects that most suit their creative and artistic interests.