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Rango Wrangled For NAB

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NAB will present a session on Rango (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures).
Trailblazing animation director Hal Hickel and visual effects supervisor John Knoll, both with Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and production designer Crash McCreery will take audiences on a wild ride through the new frontier of animation and visual effects at the 2011 NAB Show in a session titled “Rango: The Next Step in CG Animation.”

Rango centers on a pet chameleon who finds himself appointed sheriff when he stumbles to the Wild West town of Dirt. The panel will showcase how the ILM crew brought the surreal southwestern setting and richly detailed characters to life by applying live-action techniques to the dialogue recording, lighting, costuming and animation pipeline.

Variety’s associate editor of features, David Cohen, will moderate the discussion, which will be held in the Content Theater, April 12 at 11:30 a.m.

After spending nearly four decades creating visual effects, George Lucas‘ Industrial Light & Magic made its animated feature debut with Rango earlier this month. Critics quickly dubbed the CGI artwork as “extraordinary” and “groundbreaking” due to the dense and textured photographic look, which brought to life McCreery’s designs of animal-like townsmen and desert settings. The movie was directed by Gore Verbinski and featured Johnny Depp as the voice of Rango.

Hickel joined ILM in 1996 as an animator for The Lost World: Jurassic Park and was promoted to lead animator for Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. In 2000, Hickel moved up to animation supervisor and joined multi-Academy Award winning visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren on Steven Spielberg‘s A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Hickel has since supervised the animation work on Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, Lawrence Kasdan‘s Dreamcatcher and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. In 2007, his work on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was recognized with both an Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Effects and the BAFTA for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.

John Knoll joined ILM as a technical assistant in 1986, and worked on projects such as Captain EO and The Abyss before he was promoted to visual effects supervisor and helmed the visual effects on more than 20 feature films and commercials, including all three Star Wars prequels and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Knoll’s resume also includes Mission to Mars, Deep Blue Sea, Star Trek: First Contact and Mission: Impossible, among others. He received both a BAFTA and an Academy Award for his work in the 2006 feature film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. John, along with his brother Thomas, also wrote Photoshop, the revolutionary and ubiquitous photo editing software. Recently, Knoll was the ILM visual effects supervisor on James Cameron‘s science fiction epic Avatar and Rango, ILMs first animated feature.

Crash McCreery has been involved with the creation of such iconic characters as the dinosaurs in all three Jurassic Park films, Edward Scissorhands, and Davy Jones and his crew from the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. He continued to work with Pirates director Verbinski on Rango as art director, where he defined the look of over 80 characters, more than 30 sets and even voiced one of the characters for the feature.

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