VES Luminary Interviews2021-01-05T11:56:45-08:00

VES Luminary Interviews

Watch and enjoy our insightful Luminaries Video Series, featuring some of the biggest names in visual effects — VFX legends, luminaries and VES award winners from around the globe. Let their VFX stories engage and inspire you to carry forth and create.

Jim Morris, VES

Get ready watch our latest entry in the Luminary Interview Series – an up close and personal interview with Jim Morris, VES, award-winning film and visual effects producer, President of Pixar Animation Studios and VES member 0001!

In this exclusive interview, Morris talks about his early inspiration watching films in the 1960s, like GOLDFINGER, ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS and JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS and making stop motion films in the 9th grade with his 8mm camera. He takes us on his trajectory from film school at Syracuse University to production jobs at NBC and PBS affiliates to his trek cross country to pursue work in San Francisco after watching Francis Ford Coppola’s THE BLACK STALLION – which spanned from commercial production to his big leap to feature film.

Morris talks about his relationships with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and his respect for their smart, economical approach to filmmaking…highlights from his many years as a senior executive at Lucasfilm and the creative problem solving on JURASSIC PARK, DEATH BECOMES HER, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY and FORREST GUMP….and joining the leadership of Pixar – including his magical first day delving into story blueprint for WALL•E and how it heartened back to his childhood memories. And Morris shared his insights about the birth of the Visual Effects Society as its Founding Chair and the origins of creating this community built on shared passion and perspectives.

Jim Morris is President of Pixar Animation Studios, where he oversees all of the company’s productions and operations, and produced Pixar’s WALL•E, which won the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature. Prior to joining Pixar, Morris held a range of key positions for 17 years in various divisions of Lucasfilm Ltd., including President of Lucas Digital Ltd., and managed Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Skywalker Sound and Lucasfilm Animation. With Morris’ oversight, ILM created the groundbreaking and Academy Award®-winning visual effects in JURASSIC PARK, DEATH BECOMES HER, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY and FORREST GUMP. Among his many accolades, Morris is a VES Fellow and recipient of the VES Board of Directors and Founders Awards, and was awarded PGA Producer of the Year, a Golden Globe and VES Award for WALL•E.

Don’t miss these insights from an acclaimed VFX luminary. Get a front row seat and enjoy!

Douglas Trumbull, VES

Get ready to watch our latest entry in the Luminaries Video Series – an up close and personal interview with Academy Award-winning visual effects pioneer and filmmaker Douglas Trumbull, VES.

In this exclusive interview, Trumbull shares highlights from his storied career journey and the passion projects that move him. He was born with “a genetic code that is part creative, part technical, mechanical and inventive” – thanks to his father, a VFX artist on THE WIZARD OF OZ, and his mother, a commercial artist – who helped him carve a path combining his passion for science fiction and faraway planets. Doug tells the story of arriving in Hollywood with a portfolio of spaceships and aliens and landing his first gig at Graphic Films (which made space films for NASA) and attracting the attention of Stanley Kubrick who hired him to work on epic spectacle 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY – at the young age of 23.

Doug talks about his relationship with Kubrick, the technical challenges on 2001 and the techniques they used to create the pioneering special effects on this Cinerama film, photographed in Super Panavision 70. He gives us insights into developing Showscan, the first theater-ready high frame rate presentation system…lessons learned making BRAINSTORM and pushing the risk-averse industry…bringing new worlds to life on CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, BLADE RUNNER and STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE….and Doug’s labor of love, MAGI, his theatrical exhibition system that harkens back to his roots with Kubrick and a hopeful return to making movie-going spectacular.

Doug Trumbull is a VFX legend and pioneer, who has been at the forefront of visual effects for decades. He was responsible for the dazzling special photographic effects of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and was the Visual Effects Supervisor for such classics as CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE and BLADE RUNNER, each of which earned him Academy Award nominations. Among his many accolades, Trumbull is the recipient of the coveted Gordon E. Sawyer Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement, the VES Georges Méliès Award and was one of the inaugural inductees into the VES Hall of Fame.

Don’t miss these insights from an acclaimed VFX luminary.  Get a front row seat and enjoy!

Joyce Cox, VES

Get ready to watch our latest entry in the Luminaries Video Series – an up close and personal interview with Visual Effects Producer Joyce Cox, VES.

In this exclusive interview, Cox shares highlights from her career trajectory, from her start in commercial production representing artists… to her big break working on TITANIC… to overseeing visual effects production for feature films including HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, THE DARK KNIGHT, AVATAR and Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK. Cox talks about her background in finance and lessons learned from her mom that influenced her approach to budgeting for VFX films… the evolving role of VFX Producer, which she describes as being “a wire walker between creative goals and financial restrictions”…and how to remain fearless in the face of challenges.

Cox tells tales from her journey in VFX working with directors at the top of their game, including recreating the streets of Chicago for Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT…going with the flow of spontaneous filmmaker Baz Luhrman on THE GREAT GATSBY…her role in getting AVATAR to the finish line for James Cameron…and the pleasure of working with humorous helmers Jon Favreau and Barry Sonnenfeld.    She also reveals the power of mentorship and her advice to future generations of artists and filmmakers, heralding VFX as the ideal portal into the industry, because of its high touch with every department – and her hope for more students to embrace this dynamic field.

In recognition of her outstanding reputation in the industry, sustained contributions to visual effects and service to the VES worldwide community, Cox was named a VES Fellow by the Board of Directors and bestowed with the post-nominal letters “VES.”  She is the recipient of VES Awards for her work on AVATAR and THE JUNGLE BOOK.  In addition, she taught Producing VFX at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and worked with UST Global Media Services to create Curó, a web-based app that targets visual effects budgeting from script to screen.

Don’t miss these insights from an acclaimed VFX luminary.  Get a front row seat and enjoy!

Lynda Ellenshaw Thompson, VES

Get ready to watch our latest entry in the Luminaries Video Series – an up close and personal interview with Visual Effects Producer Lynda Ellenshaw Thompson, VES.

In this exclusive interview, Thompson reveals her origin story as a third generation artist in the film business, and the family affair in visual effects and matte painting shared with her celebrated grandfather Walter Percy Day, father Peter Ellenshaw and brother Harrison Ellenshaw, VES. She tells tales from her 35-year journey in VFX, from her first job on TRON and challenges in the pre-digital age…to creating the planet Jupiter for 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT and achieving Warren Beatty’s vision for DICK TRACY… to shooting predators and prey to bring Noah’s Ark to life in EVAN ALMIGHTY…and her take on creative problem-solving!

Thompson shares her approach to relationship-building with studios and filmmakers…her perspective as a production executive at Disney overseeing an ambitious slate of films…why she changed her name…the value of a common enemy on set …and the importance of women supporting women in this dynamic field.

In recognition of her outstanding reputation in the industry, sustained contributions to visual effects and service to the VES worldwide community, Thompson was named a VES Fellow by the Board of Directors and bestowed with the post-nominal letters “VES.”  Her filmography also includes GHOSTBUSTERS, DAVE, SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE, SCARY MOVIE 2 and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN.

Don’t miss these insights from an acclaimed VFX luminary.  Get a front row seat and enjoy!

Rob Legato, ASC

An up close and personal interview with Rob Legato, ASC, renowned visual effects supervisor and cinematographer.

In this exclusive conversation, Legato shares his early fascination with moviemaking, wide-eyed watching PINOCCHIO as a child and his epiphany upon watching THE GODFATHER as a teenager, which propelled his path forward. Legato shares the happenstance “in the air” that helped him land his first job, his trajectory from STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION to his entrée to feature film on INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (a small film that became big thanks to Tom Cruise), breaking new ground using motion capture to recreate humans on TITANIC, his work on big pictures and rich creative relationships with James Cameron, Martin Scorsese and Jon Favreau. Legato shares his love of the art of cinema and how the camera moves and his advice for the next generation of filmmakers…and more!

Legato’s innovative visual effects work has garnered him three Academy Awards, two Emmys, two BAFTAs and five VES Awards. Legato has most recently been in the spotlight for his groundbreaking work on Disney’s THE LION KING and THE JUNGLE BOOK, and his storied filmography includes serving as visual effects supervisor and often 2nd unit director and/or director of photography for acclaimed films including AVATAR, TITANIC, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONETHE AVIATORTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET, and HUGO. He is also credited with conceiving and creating the virtual cinematography pipeline used by James Cameron on AVATAR.

Jonathan Erland, VES

An up close and personal interview with Jonathan Erland, VES, VFX artist, technologist and pioneer.

In this exclusive conversation, Erland shares his origin story, from his days as an actor and student filmmaker, to his work as a game-changing visual effects master, to his mission to create a VFX branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He shares tales from the journey, from creating puppet theater for the New York World’s Fair to doing “industrial strength model making” on STAR WARS to achieving director Clint Eastwood’s vision of a shiny black Russian mig jet fighter in FIREFOX…and all of the creative problem-solving that entailed!

Erland is a founder of the Visual Effects Society, the recipient of the inaugural VES Founders Award and Lifetime Membership honors, and was among the first to receive the VES Fellows distinction. As Chairman of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Visual Effects Award Steering Committee, he was instrumental in establishing Visual Effects as a Branch of the Academy. He served 11 years on the Academy’s Board of Governors and 25 years on the Executive Committee of the Visual Effects Branch and the Scientific and Engineering Awards Committee. Erland also received the Academy’s Scientific and Engineering Award and the Gordon E. Sawyer Award in recognition of his career of technological contributions that have brought credit to the industry.

Roger Corman

Roger Corman is one of the most prolific producers and directors in the history of cinematic entertainment. His creative work and output of drive-in classics has earned him monikers including “The Pope of Pop Culture” and “The King of the B Movies.” In a storied career spanning more than six decades, Corman has produced upwards of 350 feature films, including SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRESWAMP WOMAN, CAGED HEAT, FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND, cult classics DEATH RACE 2000, THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, THE HOUSE OF USHER and THE WILD ANGELS.

In this intimate interview, Corman shares standouts from his prolific filmography, including the happy accident that birthed THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, the influence of STAR WARS in creating his sound stage The Lumber Yard, giving rise to the ‘biker movie’ cycle and psychedelic film wave of the 1960s and why DEATH RACE 2000remains one of his favorite films. We get a look inside the “school of Corman” and personal tales of filmmakers and actors who got their start with Corman, including protégés Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Nicholson and James Cameron. And we get Corman’s insights on everything from his savvy for the business of filmmaking, his career trajectory and view on today’s evolving technology and innovation.

Harrison Ellenshaw, VES

Harrison Ellenshaw, VES was an original member of the VES Board of Directors, and is a VES Fellow and the recipient of the VES Founders Award. His credits as a matte artist and a visual effects supervisor include work on THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, STAR WARS, BIG WEDNESDAY, THE BLACK HOLE, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, TRON, DICK TRACYand DAVE. Harrison headed up several different independent visual effects companies, including Triple DDD, which created 3D effects for the Disney theme park film CAPTAIN EO, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by George Lucas and also managed Disney’s independent effects facility Buena Vista Visual Effects, which created VFX for over 35 films. Harrison is a recipient of the Art Directors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award and an Academy Award nomination for THE BLACK HOLE.

John Dykstra

Get a front row seat with acclaimed visual effects pioneer John Dykstra, ASC, Academy Award winner for STAR WARS and SPIDER-MAN 2, and recipient of the VES Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ask a Luminary

Gather round the VFX Luminaries Virtual Roundtable, where we ask top VFX professionals to share perspective on industry trends and hot topics. In this featured video, a variety of luminaries provide their advice to aspiring VFX artists and the next generation of practitioners.