Oscar-winning vfx veteran John Knoll has been promoted to Chief Creative Officer at Industrial Light & Magic. Knoll, who joined ILM In 1986, has been a vfx supervisor for the house since 1991. He will serve alongside ILM president, Lynwen Brennan.
“In John I see a keen eye and an incredible mind for creative problem solving and that’s what visual effects are all about,” said Lucasfilm President, Kathleen Kennedy. “Lynwen continues to successfully navigate the business through these challenging times and I’m confident that with her business acumen and John’s experience and passion for combining creative art with technology, the company will continue to perform at the highest levels.”
“I am thrilled that Lynwen asked me to take on this new role,” explained Knoll, “I am fortunate to work at a company as stable as ILM where we can focus our energy on the creative and continue to be able to bring together the right mix of talent and technology to keep ILM on the cutting edge.”
Well known for co-creating Photoshop with his brother Thomas, Knoll has been a driving force of innovation at ILM for years. In 1996 Knoll founded the Rebel (Mac) Unit at ILM; a creative incubator for fine artists and software developers to define working methodologies and advance the state of the art. This lead to the development of a variety of breakthrough techniques including some of the earliest examples of digital compositing for The Abyss, a tool to recreate optical lens flares in the digital realm first used on Hook and a host of advanced digital camera projection techniques used on such films as Mission: Impossible, Star Trek: First Contact and Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace.
Knoll was also a key contributor to the development of ILM’s cutting-edge on set performance capture technology, Imocap, which saw its first use on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and has been used on 12 films. In 2012 Knoll was elected to the Academy’s Board of Governors representing the visual effects branch and is a four-time Academy Award nominee. In 2007 he won both the Oscar and the BAFTA for Best Visual Effects for his work on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
In an interview with Variety, Knoll said…
“Folks tend to get very busy on their own shows,” said Knoll, “and don’t have time to periodically share with everybody else what they’re working on. ‘Have you thought about that?’ We have this wealth of talent that if we’re smart we leverage on all projects. We have well-established supervisors here that certainly don’t need me to interfere with their projects. Michael Bay comes because he wants to work with Scott Farrar. J.J. (Abrams) comes to ILM because he has a great relationship with Roger Guyett. These things are already working and I don’t need to interfere. (My role) is just to help from a facilities standpoint to make sure they get the resources they need, and to troubleshoot problems.”
Knoll is currently wrapping up work as vfx supervisor on Guillermo del Toro’s science fiction epic, Pacific Rim, which opens on July 12.