Thursday, November 13, 2014


The US movie effects company ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) is coming up to its 40th birthday, due in May 2015. Formed in May 1975 by George Lucas, ILM has made groundbreaking special effects (SFX) for many big-name movies, including the scenes from Star Trek: Heart of Darkness seen in the video above.

However, the most influential of ILM's movie's has to remain the original Star Wars trilogy, starting with 1977’s Episode IV: A New Hope.

The biggest difference between then and now is that in those early days, moviemakers made physical models for almost all SFX scenes - computer generated imagery (CGI) was in its infancy, and the amazing movie trickery today's audiences regard as normal lay decades in the future.

Even so, Star Wars broke new ground in adventure science-fiction, for the spacecraft attack sequences looked absolutely convincing, and ILM created leading-edge technology to make them so. For example, to film the attack on the Death Star, cameras flew along a big model of the trench section, and miniature explosions blazed away along its length.

It was amazing stuff that manages to look good even today. And unlike sci-fi series such as Thunderbirds on TV, there were no strings to ruin the suspension of belief you need in a movie theatre.

The Star Trek video above reveals fascinating details of ILM at work. But the Star Wars franchise is still rolling, and ace director JJ Abrams is in charge of the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, due for release in December, 2015.

Meantime, there plenty of models to keep sci-fi fans occupied.

Click here to visit Star Trek model kits