fxpodcast #331: The state of High End Character Animation

Academy Award-nominated Rob Coleman has recently rejoined Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) as a key creative for Feature Animation at ILM’s Sydney studio.

This episode is part of our continuing ‘conversations’ fxpodcasts, where we chat about the various techniques and approaches that are shaping our craft. In this episode, we focus on high-end character animation. Rob Coleman is perfectly placed, as one of the most respected animation directors working today, to discuss the finer points of character animation today.

In 2019, ILM opened its newest studio in Sydney. The Australian studio offers a complete slate of visual effects services and now feature animation. It works in conjunction with the company’s other studios in San Francisco, Singapore, London, and Vancouver. Rob has only just joined the Sydney team, as you will hear in this episode, but he has a rich and wonderful history of animating some of ILM’s most iconic characters.

Behind the scenes of Star Wars Episode 2 in 2002
Men In Black

Coleman is joining at a crucial moment of innovation at ILM, overseen by Janet Lewin, who now helms ILM as both Senior Vice President and General Manager, alongside Rob Bredow, ILM’s Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer. “Rob Coleman has a long history at Industrial Light & Magic, having worked alongside George Lucas on the prequel trilogy, and Dave Filoni on The Clone Wars,” said Bredow. “With a 35-year tenure in the industry, he is a terrific mentor and powerhouse animation supervisor, with endless enthusiasm for the craft. In his new role, he will continue to deliver the unparalleled creativity that has continued to define him as a leader. Rob’s many years of creative supervision in animation make him the ideal fit for our upcoming projects, rejoining us at the perfect time as we work on multiple animated features in addition to a large number of visual effects shows. I’m so happy Rob is back – he typifies the best of what we do here at ILM.”


Coleman has had a long and celebrated history at ILM as an Animation Supervisor before focusing on work within Lucasfilm Animation. He was twice nominated for the Academy Award for his work on Attack of the Clones and The Phantom Menace and received two BAFTA Awards for his work on Men In Black and The Phantom Menace. Prior to this, Coleman worked as an Animator on projects such as The Mask, The Indian in the Cupboard, and Dragonheart to name a few. He moved to Lucasfilm Animation in 2005 providing development leadership on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Most recently, he worked as an Animation Director at Dr. D. Studios on Happy Feet Two, and as Head of Animation at Animal Logic, supporting The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Batman Movie, and Peter Rabbit.

Draco in Dragonheart

“I could not be more excited or humbled to be back at ILM,” said Coleman. “In my time in animation, I’ve been lucky enough to work on some truly industry-defining films, but the pipeline of projects that ILM has ahead of it is exhilarating, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Yoda in Episode 2

ILM also announcing the return of Randal Shore, who will be rejoining the company’s Vancouver studio as an Executive Producer in Feature Animation. Recently, Shore was Head of Production for Tangent Animation where he oversaw the upcoming Maya and the Three for Netflix.

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