Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is the visual effects company set up by George Lucas in 1975, when he began producing the first Star Wars movie.
Since receiving the best picture Oscar in 1978 for its revolutionary work on A New Hope, ILM has been at the forefront of the special effects industry, leading pioneer innovation in computer graphics and CGI technology for the last 4 decades. Originally based in San Francisco (obvs), ILM now has a London studio based in Soho. Apply?
ILM is the aesthetic brains behind some of the greatest film franchises ever, including Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, Pirates of the Caribbean the Marvel Universe stuff, Avatar, Men in Black, etc. You get the idea.
Of course, the guys at ILM have also done extensive work on the latest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. Here are a few of the truly stunning concept art works they produced ahead of the film.
The Niima Outpost from Jakku, where scavengers like Rey traded leftover ship wreckage. This of course made it into the final film cut. So well drawn it looks like an actual photo.
Millennium Falcon crash-landed on Star Killer base.
Great shot of a collapse imperial walker on Jakku. Or a very spacious flat, as Rey would describe it.
For me, BB-8 is one of the great successes of the film. A very cute, likable droid and worthy successor of R2-D2. This sketch is pretty much how he/she/it ended up looking in the movie.
The military parade on StarKiller base, as shown in the film. Perhaps the most blatant example of Nazi-inspired iconography in the entire saga so far. Of course, the original evil Empire from Episodes IV-VI drew massively on the Third Reich for inspiration, both artistically and ideologically.
Kylo Ren gets off his personal ship, as shown in the film’s opening scene. Nice entrance.
Concept art of how Tie fighters could have landed. This was never followed through, as we see in the film that they land with their wings fully straightened.
The First Order fleet.
The two drawings above appear in the film’s fighting scenes, and began as concept art. They are among my favourite shots.
A macabre family reunion. Loved the light work on this scene/sketch.
Early design of Rey’s home planet, which later became the desert land of Jakku. The crashed star destroyer and imperial remains are still in the background, but this planet seems less inhabited and sterile than Jakku. That the presence of iconic imagery from the old trilogy like the destroyer remain consistent is interesting. Clearly a production choice to ensure a natural continuity from Return of the Jedi.
Another planet idea which never materialised Here we can see Rey walk down with what looks like either Han Solo or the original white-Finn dude, with BB-8 trailing behind. I guess it is either the alternative Jakku world as showcased in the previous shot, or perhaps Maz Kanata’s planet of Takodana. Anyway, nice drawing.
The now iconic crossguard light saber. The blades are noticeably very smooth and steady on the original design. This contrasts with the rough and imperfect blades we see in the film, which make for a better metaphor of Ren’s unpolished character.
This looks like the white-Finn guy, although based on the narrative it could’ve also been either Po Dameron (before Oscar Isaac was cast) or even Rey. It seems obvious the runaway storm trooper character was supposed to overlook a torture scene at some point in the plot. May this have been the original point at which he turned his back on the First Order?
Early ideas for the Kylo Ren helmet. Evidently too similar to the Darth Vader design.
All images showcased are the property of ILM. I’m just a fan! For more Star Wars imagery, visit the official site.