Hal Hickel — ILM

#197: November 05, 2018
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Recorded at THU, this week’s podcast guest is ILM Animation Director Hal Hickel. Inspired by Star Wars and Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion work on King Kong, Hal became an animator on hugely successful California Raisins advertisements of the 1980s. Despite initial reservations, Hal switched clay for computers on Pixar’s breakthrough CG movie Toy Story, then moved to ILM for the Star Wars prequels, A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Rango.

Thanks to his wealth of experience in character animation, Hal has become an expert on digital humans. He goes into detail on how ILM created a CG Grand Moff Tarkin for Rogue One and explains why, in this case, there were no ethical issues with digitally recreating the late Peter Cushing. He also talks about the tiny tweaks his team made to make the character look as real as possible and the dangers of getting stuck in the swamp of opinions at the bottom of the uncanny valley.

This podcast serves as a concise guide to how digital characters have evolved — and where they’re headed next.

Links:

Hal Hickel's THU profile > 

Hal Hickel's IMDB >

About the author

Christopher Nichols

Chris is a CG industry veteran and Director of Chaos Group Labs. He can also be heard regularly as the host of the CG Garage podcast which attracts 20,000 weekly listeners. With a background in both VFX and Design, Chris has worked for Gensler, Digital Domain, Imageworks and Method Studios. His credits include Maleficent, Oblivion and Tron: Legacy.