Interview with John Knoll – Need Your Help!

Hi Folks – Next week, I’ll be flying out to  San Francisco to interview John Knoll, for Red Giant TV. Unless you’ve been living in a cave free of VFX news, you know that John Knoll was ILM’s Visual Effects Supervisor for Avatar, Star Wars,  and many other films. He is one of Hollywood’s most in-demand collaborators for VFX, having won many awards (including an Oscar) for his contributions to some of the biggest films of all time.

We’ll be talking about his film work, co-creating Photoshop with his brother Thomas, and the evolution and use of his popular software, Knoll Light Factory,  in motion graphics and films like Avatar, Transformers,  J. J. Abram’s Star Trek, and many others.

I’m incredibly excited. I’ve worked with and met a lot of cool people, but this is a whole other thing. His influence on what we do is so profound, I just hope I don’t forget my own name** when I sit down with him, let alone remember to ask him some worthwhile questions about his work. So I need your help…

If there’s anything you ever wanted to ask this visual effects master, post it here, and I may just ask it for you.

No promises – but make it good, and I’ll do my best.

** That may or may not have happened to me when I worked with Director Frank Oz (a.k.a. Yoda). I can neither confirm nor deny.

27 thoughts on “Interview with John Knoll – Need Your Help!”

  1. Hey Aharon!
    Please ask which software they used in this movie
    which 3d software and which compositing software and why?

    Why he created this plugin basically for After Effects other than any other compositor?

  2. Do certain directors push him to such extremes that his work is far beyond anything he’d be capable of himself?

  3. How will tools used for stereoscopic film making process change in the near future? What advice would he have for vfx people that have never worked on stereo shoots to avoid common pitfalls or extra work?
    Look forward to the interview, Thank you.

  4. As these project are so big, and so many people work on them, ask him what exactly he does, what did he do on avatar? A day in the life of knoll basically?

    Thanks Aharon!

  5. How has the economy affected ILM and Lucasfilm?
    Is After Effects still used on features at ILM?
    (I remember Todd Vaziri using it in Van Helsing)

  6. I’ve seen images John has done about the Apollo missions to the moon. I’ve also heard he is rather upset at people who continue to deny we ever landed on the moon. My question is this: Each mission left man made objects on the moon, can’t people just see the debris left there, with a decent telescope? I’ve never heard anyone take this line of reasoning, when dealing with this conspiracy theory. What are your thoughts?

  7. 1) At what point in the design, development, or distribution processes of either program did you become aware of the massive influence Photoshop or Light Factory would have on the graphics and vfx industries?

    2) Simply how did you get into VFX work and get hired on at ILM?

  8. With all the inexpensive high-end desktop tools available to everyone, what does he think will be their impact on both the VFX industry and also the nature of story-telling?

    Will the emotional aspects of a story continue to be downplayed in favor of VFX, or will there be a backlash against CGI?

  9. Is Electric Image still one of his secret weapons?

    What would he still like to accomplish before retiring?

  10. Hi Aharon

    I was wondering if you could ask John this question for me

    What advice can you give someone who wants to brake into the VFX industry straight from university and how would they go about it?

    Cheers man 🙂 i look forward to the interview 🙂

  11. What programs does ilm use in most of the Vfx shots. And also if they use after effects in there workflow.

  12. I’d like to know if he still uses Photoshop, and in what capacity, and if so, what stands out after all this time of it’s existence to be the most useful update, as well as what stands out to be it’s most hindering flaw.

  13. I’d like to know if he is still involved with Development at Adobe and Photoshop.

    I would also like to know what his opinions are about why Adobe doesn’t have a 3D program. Being one of the largest software companies in the Visual Effects industry it seems odd that they haven’t bought or created a industry standard 3D Platform to compete with 3D Studio Max, Maya, Lightwave, Cinema 4D, …

  14. lucky number 20th comment?

    Ask him the history of his career, if he set goals, the challenges, and how it changed from what he originally thought it would be. Also, his first job that felt like an industry job where he was heading in the direction he wanted to go.

    I think we all find a little hope in the stories of those we admire.
    (and tell him my schedule is open to be an assistant)

  15. I would be interested to hear his personal opinions about science and where he imagines the world heading in that regard. Is he familiar with Peak Oil and resource depletion? Is he a science fiction enthusiast or is it just happenstance that his talents lend themselves to that genere? On a lighter note – what music was he listening to back in the mid seventies?

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