Our Story

Lucasfilm is among the world’s leading entertainment service companies, a pioneer in visual effects and sound across multiple mediums, and is home to the legendary Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.

Founded by visionary filmmaker George Lucas in 1971, Lucasfilm established itself as a “rebel base” of sorts in San Francisco’s Bay Area, a place the filmmaker chose to “shake up the status quo…of how movies were made and what they were about.” It was a defiant departure from the Hollywood mainstream and a more conducive atmosphere to cultivate his independent spirit of filmmaking.

With money earned from his third motion picture, 1977’s blockbuster Star Wars, Lucas was able to construct Skywalker Ranch in San Francisco’s North Bay in the early ‘80s, a place where filmmakers could work together sharing ideas and experience.

Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you imagine it.

George Lucas

Basing his Skywalker Sound facility at the Ranch, Lucas moved Industrial Light & Magic, his special effects company based in Los Angeles, to nearby San Rafael, allowing him to keep his production facilities and special effects house in close proximity to each other.

In 2005, Lucas brought Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic together at the Letterman Digital Arts Center at the Presidio in San Francisco. Six years later in 2012, he handed the company reigns over to renowned producer Kathleen Kennedy, who has since opened up an exciting new era for Lucasfilm by returning it to its production studio roots.

When Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney that same year, Kennedy worked to enhance the company’s collaborative spirit, building a creative community of writers, directors, artists and filmmakers. Lucasfilm draws on the vast pool of skilled, world-class talent found in San Francisco and around the world, allowing it to create the top-notch entertainment experiences it has come to be known for.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF LUCASFILM INNOVATIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS

1975
• ILM develops the Dykstraflex motion control camera system to create the groundbreaking special effects seen in Star Wars: A New Hope
1979
• The Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Division is established at ILM
1981
• The Computer Graphics Division begins development of the Pixar Image Computer, the EditDroid and the SoundDroid
• ILM develops the Go-Motion animation process
1982
• ILM creates the “Genesis effect” – ILM’s first completely computer-generated sequence in a feature film for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
• The Games division is established; Lucasfilm is the first film company to develop and publish interactive entertainment
1983
• The THX Theater Alignment Program (TAP) and the THX Sound System for theaters are launched
1984
The Adventures of Andre and Wally B, created on the Pixar Image Computer, premieres at SIGGRAPH
•The Games division releases its first two games: “Ballblazer” and “Rescue on Fractalus,” both for the Atari system
1985
• ILM creates the first fully computer-generated character with the “stained glass knight” in Young Sherlock Holmes
1986
• Lucasfilm establishes a partnership with National Geographic and Apple Computer to develop a CD-ROM education and entertainment system for the home
1987
• Lucasfilm enters a joint venture with The Walt Disney Company and creates the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland
• The Learning division is established to design multimedia educational products
1988
• ILM creates the first morphing sequence in Willow
1990
• SoundDroid debuts at the Audio Engineering Society convention
• The first THX home audio system is unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show
1991
• Skywalker Sound introduces the first use of T-1 tie-lines for real-time digital audio transmission to distant locations
1993
• ILM develops digital technology to create photo-real animated characters that match live-action for Jurassic Park
1994
• ILM creates the first photo-real 3-D cartoon character utilizing computer animation for The Mask
1995
• ILM wins a Technical Achievement Academy Award for the creation of the ILM Digital Film Compositing System
1996
• ILM receives a Technical Achievement Award for the CG system to create and control hair and fur
• ILM creates digital tornadoes using particle systems animation software for Twister
• ILM creates a fully virtual set for Mission: Impossible
1998
• ILM receives a Technical Achievement Award for the development of the Caricature Animation System
1999
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is the first major live-action film to be projected digitally. The movie goes on to receive three Oscar nominations
2000
• Skywalker Sound, with THX and Dolby, develops Dolby Digital Surround EX
2001
• ILM creates the first real-time interactive on-set visualization process
2002
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is the first major motion picture to be shot completely on digital
• ILM develops the first full 3-D motion tracking system
2003
• ILM wins a Technical Achievement Academy Award for the development of practical methods for rendering skin and other translucent materials using subsurface scattering techniques
2004
• ILM creates the first computer-generated, human character to be seen in extreme close-up with Sunny, the digital baby in Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events
2005
• ILM is awarded the prestigious National Medal of Technology by the 43rd President of the United States, becoming the first entertainment company to receive such an award
2006
• ILM develops iMocap, a revolutionary image-based motion capture system for the production of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
2007
• ILM deploys “Fez”, a revolutionary new facial animation system that replaces the company’s “Caricature” software
2008
• ILM’s “Fracture” software system is used for the Temple Heart and end sequence on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
2009
• ILM develops “Virtual Pyro” for Star Trek, which allows for photorealistic fire and explosions to be generated in a fully directable manner
2010
• ILM receives its 21st, 22nd and 23rd Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards from the Academy for the development of Ambient Occlusion, a rendering technique which has become a standard tool for computer graphics lighting
2011
• ILM receives its twenty-fourth Scientific and Technical Achievement Award for the development of the ObaQ render queue management system
2012
• ILM debuts the new patented suit design of Imocap 2.0, first used for The Hulk in Marvel’s The Avengers
2013
• ILM receives its twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth Scientific and Technical Achievement Award for the development of Zeno and ILM Plume
2014
• ILM develops and deploys MUSE, a state of the art high-resolution facial performance capture system. The first use of the system was on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
• ILM receives its 27th, 28th and 29th Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards from the Academy for the development and creation of the artist-driven interface of the ILM Shape Sculpting System, the development of the ILM PhysBAM Destruction System, and the design and engineering of the ILM Geometry Tracker
2015
• Working with Lucasfilm’s Advanced Development Group, ILM completes the first real-time feature film renders for shots containing the reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO
• The company also advances the state-of-the-art facial performance capture techniques to create the orc characters in Warcraft and the recreation of Grand Moff Tarkin for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
2016
• ILM advances Haircraft, a new CG hair creation and simulation system originally developed for Warcraft. The system is pushed to the max on Kong: Skull Island in the creation of the film’s titular character, Kong
2017
• ILM continues to advance skin shader technology in its development work for photorealistic digital character of Supreme Leader Snoke for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
• ILM Advances visual production techniques with the creation of the CG characters and locations of the OASIS for Ready Player One. The imagery represents 90-minutes of the film
2018
• ILM receives its 31st Scientific and Technical Achievement Award for the architecture and engineering of the Blockparty procedural rigging system