Celebrating 35 Years of ILM Magic
Meanwhile, Muren only began to realize the significance of ILM's achievements when the company was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Bush a few years back. "It was pretty weird seeing [the documentary] from my point of view because every day is just a day of work," he suggests. "And it almost takes an outsider to see it and put it together. It's a lot of people doing some really amazing things with a deadline. I think that's one of the real reasons it's different from other industries. Whatever we want to try and innovate, if it doesn't get done in time, that's the end of it and it's over. It's not like a research lab. I think that has inspired people to work harder and smarter and constrain themselves within the confines of money and time but to actually accomplish something at the end of it.
"Being outside of LA has also helped because we're like this separator from the industry in some ways and people aren't hunting around for other jobs or giving secrets somewhere else. We're much more focused on two things: our job and our families. And the job perpetuates itself working with the same people year after year and the same toolset, modifying it. There's not a lot of relearning: everything is built off what we've done before. That's what I like about it.
And what does Muren envision as the next breakthroughs? "I see incremental things that are happening and helping, getting closer to digital people and I am personally a fan of 3-D stereo, although I don't think Hollywood is really doing a good job with it at the moment. I hope it survives long enough to make really immersive movies. It has a much better opportunity of connecting the movie experience to the audience more than it does right now. And I'm also for the high frame rate. I'm knocked out about it. I have a Sony LCD at home and love the higher frame rate. In looking at a Blu-ray of something like Gone with the Wind, it's like being on the set and I like that."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.