Visual effects artists and companies do not get celebrated nearly as much as they should. Which is why it’s amazing that so many people know and love Industrial Light & Magic. And with good reason. Founded in 1975 to bring Star Wars‘ visuals to the next level, Industrial Light & Magic revolutionized cinematic special effects. And it continues to revolutionize them today. In the present, Industrial Light & Magic gives life not only to Star Wars but to everything from Marvel to How I Met Your Father. The company has a hand in countless beloved properties. It is this legacy that Robert Blalack, founding member of Industrial Light & Magic, leaves behind.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Robert Blalack passed at the age of 73. He sadly died of cancer. And though his loss feels like a very sad one, his career and life are something to celebrate. Blalack, of course, won a shared Oscar for his groundbreaking work on Star Wars. In addition, he shared an Emmy for his contribution to The Day After. This ABC telefilm released in 1983. The film portrayed “a nuclear war between the US and Soviet Union that drew 100 million viewers and was the highest-rated TV movie in history at the time.” In addition, Blalack worked on films such as Altered States, Wolfen, Airplane!, and RoboCop.
“All of us changed the direction of filmmaking,” Robert Blalack said during a reunion with his fellow Star Wars ILM veterans. “Because of you, visions that were once completely impossible are now within reach. And you know it wasn’t always like that… We discovered that building ILM from scratch during production was like jumping out of a plane and stitching up the parachute during free fall.”
We have to agree. Robert Blalack and his peers altered our ideas of the possible. Together they brought to life wondrous visions. And they inspired filmmakers for generations. We have come so far in our visual effects abilities. A reality that Blalack contributed to greatly. We pause now to remember Robert Blalack. But we know we will remember many times in the future as we turn on our screens.