One of my colleagues who I worked with at ILM posted a link on Facebook, celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Casper" being released in movie theatres. It brings up a very interesting point: how this friendly ghost and Industrial Light and Magic heralded a major shift in Hollywood and movie visual visual effects.
Here's the link: 20 Years Ago Today, Ilm Changed Everything With A Movie You Might Not EXPECT
It's an interesting read and though it get some points right, it misses on some, not because of the writer not doing his research, but he really didn't get to be behind the scene during that year and a half, long ago.
For myself, Casper will always be an important part of my life: it was my first real animation job after graduating from college, it was my first feature film, it signalled a move from Canada to California where I would spend the next six years of my life, working at ILM, getting married, having a child, watching that marriage fall apart.
But it was also about the work. The team that ILM assembled for that project, under the guidance of Steven Spielberg, was unique. HR when out of its way to hire people who didn't have a background in computers or a degree in programming. It took a rag-tag bunch of artists, classically-trained animators, and spent untold amounts of money to set-up dozens of bleeding edge hardware (SGI Indigos with 64MB of online memory and HUGE
256MB hard drives) and software (Softimage3|D @ $30,000 USD per
We took the first three months just LEARNING Softimage. It was an incredible, exciting time. Which then turned into a mind-numbing, soul-breaking year-and-a-half of long days and endless revisions.
And after it was done? There was an unofficial wrap party at the house of the animation supervisor, the amazingly-talented Eric Armstrong, where some genius has taped up a posted listing ALL of the shots in Casper and the rule was: worked on a shot? take a shot!
I worked on 13 shots in Casper. (you can see stills of 12 of the 13 here
I started off with vodka. After the breakfast sequence, I got into the tequila. Oh good lord, I got into the tequila.
To this day, I still can't drink the stuff.
But it was still an amazing time and one thing I remember most above all, is the truly incredible people I had the honour of working with back then on "Casper" and other projects.
So pop in that old VHS tape, sit down with a whole plate of Hostess snacks, and let's get ghosty!