John Knoll


[ 00:00:20 ] Well it’s part of a culture. The company is always to look at is there a better way of doing something.

[ 00:00:28 ] Can we can we try something different that that improves this or makes the workflow better for people. So we don’t shy away from challenges to our projects that are the most fun and to being the most rewarding are the ones that at the beginning you look at and you’re not entirely sure how you’re going to do it. That’s where the real excitement is. It’s probably it’s working with a client that’s kind of understanding what their comfort level is with trying something new and different that what level of innovation is required on a show is not just completely story dependent. As I say some of my favorite projects are the ones where you read through the script and you aren’t entirely sure how something’s going to be done and the innovation that comes out of trying to meet that challenge is some of the most rewarding things that we do and where some of the best innovations come from. Now there’s certainly a class of innovation that comes from deliberate planning where where we have worked on a particular bit of tech on one show and we see application on another so we’re going to keep working on that to try and improve things.

[ 00:01:46 ] But one of the more exciting bits of tech are the ones that are completely unplanned that are just purely in response to a line that we read in the script. There’s a lot of information information sharing that happens at the company in particular. We do a thing called C.G. weeklies where after a show is wrapped.

[ 00:02:13 ] The interesting and unique aspects of that show from a technique or technological standpoint are presented to the whole company. So it’s a chance for you to see what they did on Warcraft who didn’t work on Warcraft or what’s happened on this show. So yeah we do try and spread all that info so everybody is aware of what tech’s been developed and it’s important because you can often get siloed on a show where you’re working very hard on a show and there’s some really amazing thing happening over on the other side of the company but I’m just working on this. So we try and fix that by this periodic information sharing but part of the culture of the company is is one of very open information sharing and helping people out with things. So it does happen naturally because it’s a culture that we’ve fostered there since the beginning.

[ 00:03:12 ] How does a variety of factors.

[ 00:03:21 ] You know we you to choose from what’s being made. Right. So we have to look and see what projects are on the horizon and start talking to the filmmakers about those there to some extent. You know because of the size of the company we have to keep booking a certain amount of work to stay the company that we are. So we’re looking for things that number one we’re looking to work with best filmmakers. We’re looking for projects that can create striking and memorable imagery and then the last one is we also have to feed the machine. So it’s trying to satisfy all those requirements you know get enough work to keep the people busy to drive enough revenue that supports the R&D staff that we are we have. So it’s trying to balance all those factors as well.

[ 00:04:13 ] So I don’t think that there’s anything that we do that doesn’t have some kind of merit to it artistically but you have to find the right balance of of this is this one that will keep a lot of people employed and this is one that’s there may not be a lot of profit in this one but it’s really good for us creatively.

[ 00:04:46 ] For subs I did I was a model maker so I built those miniatures and did that for probably five five years or so before I was gradually making a transition into camera work and I got hired at Island as my control camera assistant.

[ 00:05:12 ] You know I feel very privileged to have been invited into what’s sort of become a second family for me now that George Lucas is back in the late 70s sort of single handedly created this wonderful filmmaking community in Northern California and I was privileged that I get invited to to join that family and they’re just really wonderful people.

[ 00:05:40 ] I loved the atmosphere there. And as soon as I started the company I felt like I found my people. This is this is fantastic.

[ 00:05:50 ] And it’s not hard to stay at a company where you feel like you really belong and you really like all the people that you work with.

[ 00:06:00 ] So it’s what Time flies.

[ 00:06:10 ] Well I came up I came up through the ranks.

[ 00:06:12 ] I was a technical assistant first then a camera assistant and then a camera operator and that I was working computer graphics there’s a kind of technical director. And then as sociate visual effects supervisor and then finally the visual effects supervisor and you know the island is a meritocracy what happens is as people that I perform well on the projects that impress the folks that they’re working for you get more responsibility on upcoming projects. You know the trajectory that you take through the company is really related on the the talent and how well you execute and work with other people.

[ 00:07:07 ] I did camera work for a good long time and I’ve enjoyed that quite a lot. I know I am amateur photographer so I still. Do work with cameras.

[ 00:07:27 ] Something I’m very excited about is some of the technological advances of a lot of the filmmaking tools that we’re working on. We we’ve had a high dynamic range pipeline in Ireland for some time now we always can work on this broader dynamic range even if the exhibition is less than something that’s been happening recently is high dynamic range exhibition theatrical exhibition and home video exhibition and I’m very excited about that. I love it. I think it’s it’s very visually pleasing. So we sort of talking about high dynamic range relation to Roeg one from the very beginning. We did have a theatrical high dynamic range released this still aren’t a lot of theaters that exhibited. But as we were in the final weeks of the show I made a pitch for I want to try and make a hot anemic range home video release of this the best version of that that we can make it. So I did get an opportunity to have a small crew to recomposed some shots and fix some things. As you’re looking at shots on a broader dynamic range canvas you inevitably want to make some changes to rebalance this versus that. And I’m super pleased with how that turned out. The home video color timing hypotonia hypoallergenic range hopefully a color timing I think is a spectacularly good looking version of the movie in fact it might be the best looking version of the movie.

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Backstage Conversation Season: 2017