Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

Industrial Light & Magic: Into the Digital Realm is a reference book that chronicles the second decade of the existence of the visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), spanning the years 1986-1995. Productions and their key visual effects sequences, ILM worked upon during that period, including those originating from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek Generations, serve as illustrative backdrops for the texts.


From the book jacket
The meeting of humans and toons in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The supernatural wonders of Ghostbusters II. The unstoppable liquid-metal T-1000 cyborg of Terminator 2. The incredible lifelike digital dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. The alterations of historical footage that allowed Forrest Gump to shake hands with President Kennedy. The eye-popping histrionics of actor Jim Carrey in The Mask. The thunderous African stampede in Jumanji. These breakthrough visual effects have one thing in common: Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).
For more than twenty years. George Lucas and the technical wizards at ILM have literally changed the face of moviemaking with their stunning, often unbelievable, visual effects. Industrial Light & Magic: Into the Digital Realm chronicles ILM's second monumental decade – from 1986 through the midnineties – and includes a special report on the latest groundbreaking visual effects in the 20th Anniversary Special Edition of Star Wars: A New Hope.
During this seminal period, ILM virtually redefined visual effects and blazed a trail into the digital realm. With more than six hundred lavish full-color photographs, this fascinating book takes you behind the camera and into the rarely seen workshops, offering an amazing look at the men and women who create movie magic. We follow the intricate crafts of matte painting, model making, and optical compositing as they are transferred into digitally driven systems, and we track the contributions of model and creature makers, animation specialists and optical technicians, and the unsung stage hands and pyrotechnic experts.
Packed with astounding information about ILM's technical innovations and remarkably clear explanations – including a revealing look at ILM's work with TV commercials and theme park attractions, a comprehensive glossary of essential terms, and detailed screen credits for all the company's film projects – this volume will enchant and enlighten all of us who have ever marveled at what we've seen on the screen and wondered: How did they do that?

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.


  • Foreword by Steven Spielberg
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: The Magic Seal
  • Chapter One: Optical Dogs and Hot Rod Cameras
  • Chapter Two: Art Direction
  • Chapter Three: Models in Action
  • Chapter Four: Return to the Creature Shop
    • Breakthroughs: Theme Park Thrills
  • Chapter Five: Painted Film
  • Chapter Six: Virtual Space Explorations
    • Breakthroughs: Magic Film; Manipulating Movie Images
  • Chapter Seven: Illusions of Reality
  • Chapter Eight:Spells of Enchantment; Fantasy Effects
  • Chapter Nine; Maximum Impact; The Art of Action
    • Breakthroughs: Creatures from the Digital Realm
  • Chapter Ten: Invisible Effects
  • Chapter Eleven: The Coming of Synthetic Actors
  • Chapter Twelve: Mythic Visions
  • Appendix
    • ILM Filmography and Attractions
    • ILM Scientific and Engineering/Technical Achievement Awards
  • Glossary
  • ILM: The Cast; 1986-1996
  • Index

Background information

  • Authors Mark Cotta Vaz (expanding upon a host of articles he had written for the magazine Cinefex) and ILM's senior production staffer Patricia Rose Duignan chose to follow the pattern set by Thomas G. Smith, who authored the previous volume Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Special Effects of 1986, organizing contents around the various techniques involving the creation of visual effects. As the title already suggests, ample emphasis was given to the then new technique of computer generated imagery (CGI), which was making a rapid entry into the motion picture industry at the time and to the role ILM was playing as a pioneering company employing the technique, especially in the groundbreaking movie Jurassic Park (1993). Nevertheless, attention was also given to the traditional techniques of creating visual effects, ILM was still employing during the decade.
  • In presentation too, the format chosen was set by The Art of Special Effects, a high quality bound hardcover coffee-table book, format 30.7×25.7×3.8 cm, in a dust jacket with high resolution full color pictures printed on heavy high gloss paper, making it a true follow-up companion volume to that tome.
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