Mon, May 20, 9:04 PM CDT

You Have the Skills. Just Don't be Intimidated.

Apr 08, 2024 at 01:34 am by PJeditor

                                                                                                                                                                                                Courtesy Industrial Light & Magic                          

 What 3D artist hasn’t, at some point, been sitting at their screen creating incredible images from their vivid imagination, and not thought, Wow, I wish I could be doing this at someplace like Industrial Light and Magic! But nobody gets hired there, right?

“Yes, absolutely, we’re hiring at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) as we continue to expand globally,” said Danielle O’Hare, head of Lucasfilm’s Studio Talent Group (STG). “We want people working here who align with our values. And when I think about the qualities we look for in people who want to join us, we really focus on innovation, quality, and strong communication skills ... people who have a combination of curiosity, collaboration and communication, who are creative and aren’t afraid to tackle a really hard problem. We’re thinking about who a great member of the team could be.”

3D artists may pursue open roles – per project or full-time positions – on the careers section of, and also check out roles posted on the Disney career site.

 “I always encourage people to check out both places because you might see something in Disney space that might lead you down an interesting path or to other opportunities that you might not have even been aware of or thinking about,” said O’Hare.

“It really depends on the role,” said O’Hare. “You might be talking to a group of folks that represent different parts, different departments or different aspects of the role that you might be doing. In other roles, like generally for our internship program, the interviews tend to be one-on-one, maybe two-on-one, that kind of thing. There's a lot of variety.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Courtesy Industrial Light & Magic

Recently, ILM has opened two studios, “and we're hiring a ton of people. That might slow down a little bit once our studios are fully up and running,” said O’Hare.

At a minimum, what kind of experience do 3D artists need to have?

“We hire junior level folks, mid-level folks, senior folks,” said O’Hare. “There was sort of an idea that you had to have maybe five years of experience before you could apply to ILM, and that's not the case. We really do hire at every level.”

If you’re a mid- or senior-level 3D artist, a reel highlighting your work is very important, said O’Hare.

“If you're a junior, and maybe haven't even worked in a professional environment before, that's okay as long as you can demonstrate your work,” she said. “You may have a student or personal project … you can put some of that content on your reel so we have a sense of who you are as an artist. I know sometimes people feel intimidated.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Courtesy Industrial Light & Magic

Put your best work first on the reel, emphasized O’Hare.

“Some people save their best for the end, and sometimes people are reviewing so much content and so many reels, they might not even get to the end,” she said. “I understand that can be tricky in visual effects because a lot of people contribute to the shots. We really want to understand your contribution to a particular shot. So having a shot breakdown is super helpful. We also like the reel to have an edit, so it really flows and captures your best work.”

Once hired, ILM has different paths of the onboarding experience -- paid training, including the six- to eight-week Jedi Academy, the umbrella institute for all emerging talent programs.

“Some studios run a slightly longer program,” she pointed out, adding that ILM’s internship program is generally for students affiliated with a university, and hirees participating in the Jedi Academy trainee program typically have one- or two-years’ experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                       Courtesy Industrial Light & Magic 

“Once you finish a program, we determine whether we have a spot for you in our studio,” said O’Hare, who is lovingly referred to by coworkers as the “queen of training.”

“Not everyone gets hired, but those who don’t will have learned amazing skills to apply to other roles at other houses. If you’re hired as a 3D artist, you’ll also go through training because ILM has proprietary tools and processes that you won't know, even if, let's say, you're a great animator, but you've never worked at ILM.

“There are going to be some quirks and unique things about working at ILM that we're going to teach you. The amount of time in a training program depends on who you are, what show you're going on to, and what tools we need to teach you.”

 Concerning experience with software, ILM uses many off-the-shelf tools.

“Maya, Houdini, Nuke, Katana, those are all old tools that are off the shelf now, and they often have student versions of those tools,” said O’Hare. “I’d also say that, obviously, exploring Unity and Unreal, real-time game engines, is huge in our industry. Any experience with these can really be helpful. But I also think just doing your research about ILM is vital. We put so much content on the ILM YouTube channel where you can learn a lot about our processes and the tools we use to create amazing visual effects, as well as behind-the-scenes interviews, and breakdowns to see exactly how a shot was conceived, designed and executed. It definitely gives you a sense of how we get our work done.”

                                                                                                                                                           Courtesy Industrial Light & Magic

ILM’s People Development Team offers courses in leadership development, communication styles, how to have a difficult conversation, and how to give feedback, said O’Hare. “The team focuses on technical and artistic skills. Then we also have a team that focuses on people skills that are required to excel in your job.”

In addition, the company offers artistic training through enrichment classes.

“We offer sculpting, live drawing, photography, cinematography,” explained O’Hare. “We're running an improv class right now and a wildlife drawing class. These cool artistic classes are generally based in the fine arts but have a connection to the work that people are doing in computer graphics. Those classes are open to all employees.”

 Understanding the ILM culture is paramount to a successful job application, said O’Hare.

“Knowledge sharing is so valued here,” she said. “One of the reasons I've stuck around for a long time is that my job is super easy because everybody is so generous with their time and knowledge. There’s a real spirit at ILM of helping your neighbor and the team. If you’re stuck, you can turn around and ask a question and it’s going to be answered. Or you can post a question to an internal chat and you’re going to get some 25 answers. People are incredibly supportive.”

O’Hare’s team manages Confluence, a technical type of Wikipedia where tutorials, notes, videos and learning content are posted.

“People post content for everyone to consume, especially now that we’re global,” she said. “This spirit of knowledge sharing helps us stay connected despite the fact that we might not be necessarily working in the same country as some of our colleagues.”

                                                                                                                                                           Courtesy Industrial Light & Magic

O’Hare pointed out that ILM’s studios in San Francisco, Vancouver, London, Mumbai, and Sydney are all designed to be full pipeline studios.

“We're not outsourcing a particular type of work to any one studio,” she said. “Mumbai is doing full sequences and shots just like Vancouver, Sydney, London, or San Francisco. Oftentimes, we're sharing shots. For logistics reasons, London and Mumbai often team up on shots, and Vancouver and San Francisco do too, because we can pull data back and forth in the same time zone. It's not unusual for that to happen across the studios.”

O’Hare encourages 2D and 3D artists to consider applying with the company.

If nothing else, consider your dreams. Go to, dig deep into the site and see what you find.





To the company, that brought my six year old self Star Wars and opened my imagination to universal dimensions, thanks. Also the link is broken at the end of the article.
The link is fixed..
This is awesome! Thank you Pepper.
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