ILM Dazzles at the VES 2001 Festival

by malducin

The recently concluded VES 2001 Festival of Visual Effects concluded this past Sunday, June 24, 2001. Again this year several ILM projects were showcased and several other current and former ILM guys were on hand presenting their magic. The two main ILM projects that were presented was the work on The Mummy Returns and Pearl Harbor, both big events at the festival. But probably nothing was more impressive than the Star Wars (original) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind reunion, a virtual who's who of FX pioneers.

The festival consisted of 10 presentations, 3 on Friday June 22, 4 on Saturday June 23 and 3 on Sunday June 24. This year there were no almost-midnight screening of movies as opposed to the previous two years. Of the 10 presentations 2 were of current ILM projects (The Mummy Returns and Pearl Harbor), one special about Star Wars/CE3K, one from ex-ILMer and animation guru Phil Tippett on Evolution, and a presentation on Models and Miniatures, where one of the panelists was ILM's own Lorne Peterson, one of the heads of the ILM model shop.

Before going into details I have to mention that before each show there were several short animations done by the folks at Foundation Imaging with a lizard like alien character named Bob that spoofed trying to get cast in all the presentations. It was hilarious, a top notch job for them. Mike Seymour and Cottage, from Australia did the sponsors animations.

Also very important, so mark your calendars and maps down. Next year, the VES festival will be held in San Rafael, California, of course home of ILM. Tom Atkin, head of VES, mentioned that it was expensive to fly all of the ILM people down to LA so next year will be right next to them. And besides that also seems to imply that VES 2002 will be full of Episode 2 talks, like the first one in 1999 which had 4 Episode 1 talks, one for each unit supervisor (Muren, Knoll, Squires and Coleman). Mr. Atkin thanked ILM profusely at the last talk because they have always said yes to present there work and have been very supportive of VES, considering that ILM also incurs many expenses, both in time and money, to give presentations like the ones at the festival.

Other presentations were about Shrek, Enemy at the Gates, FX for the web, FX in commercials and the FX for all the Star Trek TV series. Overall all the presentations were great. The work on Shrek was amazing and you can find a great write-up on VFXPro. They only touched one some key aspects of the movie, like character design and rigging, trees and environments, fluid simulations and fire. Enemy at the Gates had presenters from both Das Werk and Double Negative, and I must say I was impressed and stunned at all the work and little details that were accomplished. FX for the web was more interesting than I expected and even had one of the guys that did the fan film Duality present, Dave Macomber. FX for commercials concentrated on the work done by Digital Domain, and showcased some very good spots, including some I have never seen but were great. One of the biggest panels all around was the Star Trek presentation which also had an all star cast, from original producer Bob Justman and designer Matt Jeffries, to current Trek TV FX guys like Ron Moore, Michael Westmore, and Dan Curry, and past FX people like Rob Legato (now at DD supervising Harry Potter work) and Eric Nash (also from DD supervising The Time Machine). The evening was hosted by none other than Michael Dorn aka Mr. Worf. This presentation received a standing ovation at the end.

You can view the pages of the program of the ILM related projects on the following links (they are a bit big so I didn't inline them but they might also disappear one day, but not anytime soon) and after that my report on the presentations:

Star Wars/CE3K 1
Star Wars/CE3K 2
Star Wars/CE3K 3
Star Wars/CE3K 4
Star Wars/CE3K 5
The Mummy Returns 1
The Mummy Returns 2
Models and Miniatures 1
Models and Miniatures 2
Evolution 1
Evolution 2
Pearl Harbor 1
Pearl Harbor 2

Check in the following days for my coverage of some of the VES 2001 events.

[This message has been edited by malducin (edited 06-26-2001).]