John Knoll

Industrial Light & Magic’s Chief Creative Officer

John Knoll

From aliens that threaten Earth’s very existence to massive human-piloted robots, this panel will discuss the wide-ranging scope of Industrial Light & Magic’s effects work on Guillermo del Toro’s science fiction epic “Pacific Rim. ” The film’s Visual Effects Supervisor, ILM’s John Knoll, will cover creative and technical challenges overcome in the areas of asset development, physical production, animation, digital environments, advanced fluid simulation work and more.


John Knoll joined Industrial Light & Magic as a technical assistant in 1986, and was soon promoted to motion control camera operator for “Captain EO. ” After three years of operating, Knoll was called upon to work on the ground breaking digital effects for “The Abyss. ” Since that time, he has been promoted to Visual Effects Supervisor helming the visual effects on more than twenty feature films and commercials. His film background coupled with an advanced understanding of digital technologies has made Knoll a much sought-after supervisor with three Academy Award nominations for “Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, ” “Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, ” which earned him a BAFTA nomination, and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, ” in which he was also honored with a BAFTA nomination. Knoll’s resume also includes “Mission to Mars, ” “Deep Blue Sea”, “Star Trek: First Contact” and “Mission: Impossible” among others. In 2005, he completed work on the final installment of the Star Wars series: “Episode III Revenge of the Sith. ” In 2006 Knoll completed work on the sequel to the Pirates of the Caribbean films; Dead Man’s Chest for which he received both a BAFTA and an Academy Award®. More recently, Knoll was the Visual Effects Supervisor on Brad Bird’s action-packed thriller, “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. ” Prior to his promotion to Chief Creative Officer in May of 2013 he served as the Visual Effects Supervisor on Guillermo del Toro’s science fiction epic, “Pacific Rim”.

Knoll’s interest in filmmaking began at an early age. Having a keen interest in visual effects, Knoll was mesmerized by the original “Star Wars. ” During a visit to ILM in 1978 he was able to observe first-hand the world of visual effects. Inspired to learn more, Knoll attended the USC School of Cinema and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Production, while freelancing as a modelmaker at a variety of Los Angeles-based production facilities.

During his last year at USC, Knoll took an advanced animation class where he built a motion control system from an Oxberry animation stand, an Apple II computer, a CNC milling machine controller, and a bunch of industrial surplus stepper motors. Impressed by the student film that was generated from this class project, ILM hired Knoll as a technical assistant for motion control photography. Greatly impressed by visits to ILM’s newly founded computer graphics department, Knoll took up computer graphics as a hobby. Teaming up with his brother who was working on his Doctoral Thesis in computer vision at the University of Michigan, the Knoll brothers created Photoshop in 1987.