The long arm of technology is narrowing the distance between special effects wizards Industrial Light & Magic and Hollywood.
For the past month, ILM, which is based in the Northern California town of San Rafael, has been shipping visual effects for Universal’s dinosaur-laden “Jurassic Park” via satellite to director Steven Spielberg in Poland for approval.
Spielberg is outside Krakow working on his next U feature, “Schindler’s List.”
Using software created by ILM, a unit of Lucas Digital Services, Spielberg can have almost as much contact with the computer artists as if he were in the same room.
A video signal is sent over high-speed phone lines, then satellited to Spielberg’s office overseas. On a computer monitor, he can see the footage of computer-animated dinosaurs composited with the actors.
In a window at the bottom of the screen, ILM senior visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren and Amblin producer Kathleen Kennedy can talk to Spielberg, and simultaneously see the changes he’s marking on the screen.
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“I can go back and forth on a video machine and he can see if the motions and look are right,” said Muren. “The fact that he’s in Poland makes no difference to him.”
According to ILM, the same service with its proprietary tricks was installed linking the visual effects company to Spielberg’s Burbank production company, Amblin Entertainment, eight months ago.
In a test using a fiber optic line called advanced broadband video service from Pacific Bell, ILM has been sending dailies to Spielberg via a phone call. Amblin will extend the line to the Universal Studios lot, and then to the SkyWalker South facility in West L.A.