In 2019, my aggregate experience of photo editing, post-production team management, and creative direction led to an Art Director position in the famed Industrial Light & Magic Art Department (LucasFilm). I led a small team of digital artists in the Image Unit, recreating the CG and other FX on the unit photography from Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian, as well as archival Star Wars Saga unit photography. We also prepared hi-res poses of spaceships, planets, creatures and light sabers. Our handiwork can be seen in magazines, fan book compilations, toy and cereal boxes, billboards and bus stops.
My second day on the job I was tasked with taking out the set pieces and adding light sabers to this Vanity Fair photo spread by Annie Liebowitz, who was invited down to the set.
Then this came along. Who wouldn't want to pretty-up an Adam Driver image? I consulted about the image look and painted the helmet cracks back in.
I helped the Disney-EW team lift this unit photo from its original unit photo into magazine cover glory.
Nothing more nerve-wracking than recreating the look of LucasFilm's Dave Filoni's most prized creation, Ahsoka, in hi-res. So you finesse the saber-look and skin color and cross your fingers. Dave approved.
You have to be flexible. The Empire Magazine team came to us for help, and we obliged them with these images for the collector's issue covers for the (then) upcoming Episode 9 movie event.
Just a taste of what we do.
We had the honor of replacing the the old visual effects on the unit stills from episodes 1, 4, 5, and 6. It was mind blowing and humbling to be able to update these images for the Star Wars archive. We worked with the legendary John Knoll to fine tune our new look.
You learn a lot about making a saber in this job. It's complicated. Also, star fields (outside the emperor's window) are a particular thing. Actually, everything is particular when ILM is involved.
Mandalorian, Season 1: Thing is, you have to figure out how to make the effects in Photoshop. CG applications are too low resolution for print, which is why Image Unit exists. And CG artists by-and-large don't know Photoshop. Who knew?
Star Wars - Rise of Skywalker -- Two things: it's hard to make a muzzle blast from scratch. Also, it's cool to know that J.J. Abrams approved your image.
This ensemble wide shot never happened in the movie. But it feels like it did. So you get a few raw images from a set photographer and then you get a movie clip to match it to. That's it. This shot involved four unit photos and a lot of huddling with the CG Supe.
CG Special Poses
Just a note: the Image Unit did not create these images, but we decide the camera angle, add the engine glows and shadows, sculpt the lighting and pop the color. We make them good for public consumption. But it's fun as heck to be a part of it.