Alumni Ryan Chong and Hyun Jun Song (both BFA 2013 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) were recently chosen for an apprenticeship with Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), George Lucas‘s legendary special effects company. When asked how they took the news, both Chong and Song admitted to SVA Close Up that they felt a mixture of excitement and fright.
“I mean, it’s ILM!” Chong explained. “Who wouldn’t be nervous?”
ILM was founded with the initial intent of creating difficult special effects for Star Wars. Since then—from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to Jurassic Park to Avatar—ILM has left an indelible mark on the filmmaking world.
Chong and Song’s apprenticeship is in the department at ILM that focuses on creating environments, or settings, for scenes in feature films, and so far the duo has engaged in a number of exercises designed to test and expand their skills. They have worked as a team to construct a short chase scene between two iconic spacecrafts from the Star Wars series—the Millennium Falcon, popularly associated with Hans Solo, and a TIE Interceptor, a Galactic Empire spaceship. They have also created a city environment for the aforementioned action sequence and later worked individually creating effects for a shot from Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Beyond work experience, the duo has also made important contacts and has had the opportunity to learn from influential mentors. “We’ve had lectures from people that have been in the industry since before CG was widely used,” Chong explains. “Some of them include people like John Knoll, who was one of the original creators of Adobe Photoshop, and John Goodson, who used to be in the model making department at ILM and has created iconic pop culture models in countless films.”
In the future, Chong hopes to work on Star Wars: Episode VII or the next Star Trek movie while Song dreams of working on a Pirates of the Caribbean or Transformers film. Drawing on the experience as a whole so far, Song says, “Few things are more exhilarating than learning something new and achieving something that seemed initially impossible to complete.”
Images from top down: Photo of Ryan Chong, photo of Hyun Jon Song, and concept art created by Hyun Jon Song.