Journey To ILM

My first memory of Star Wars was going with my Dad to see the original during it’s initial release. Just me, my Dad and a movie he had heard would be pretty good. Little did the both of us know how good it would be.

It seems like it was just yesterday that I saw Darth Vader for the first time as he entered the Tantive IV and his ominous breathing filled the movie theater. As a 5 year old, his presence was overwhelming and a tad on the scary side.

Flash forward many, many, many years later and Star Wars has become a huge part of my life. From seeing the films more times than I can count, to plunking down gobs of cash for collectibles, to the subtle and not so subtle inferences I make to Star Wars in my teaching sessions. Let’s not forget about the vanity license plate that took 40 minutes to nail down with a helpful AAA customer service person – 4VRJEDI.

To say that I was dying to go to Lucasfilm & ILM was an understatement. Not just because of all of the Star Wars work they did and continue to do, but all the incredible effects they’ve done on movies that shaped my childhood and continue to entertain me to this day. They’re the ones who broke the ground on special effects and made it possible for worlds to be created that may have never been created with traditional models. For me, these talented people are like what Babe Ruth is to baseball fans, or Magic Johnson is to basketball fans.

I had hoped one day I would run into someone who actually could get me in, or would know someone that could and in turn help fulfill a childhood dream of mine. Earlier this year after a presentation to a group of agents & brokers, that’s exactly what happened.

Now the day has come, and I am going to journey to the city by the bay. I’ll finally get to see the incredible facility that is Lucasfilm and ILM.

I’ll be traveling lightly, taking only my iPhone and the following

My iPad, Canon PowerShot SD790, Verizon MiFi card and an iPad camera connection kit.

Of course I’m taking along their appropriate charging devices as well, but my backpack will still be pretty light. The lightest I’ve traveled in some time.

You may ask, Chris why are you taking a Verizon MiFi card? You have the iPad 3G.
Simple, the MiFi is cheaper and allows me to use it with all my tech gear. I got the 3G as a back-up in case I can’t get a MiFi signal, or if the MiFi runs out of power and I can’t charge it.

Hopefully all of gear will allow me to journal this entire trip, let you get a taste for what it’s like for a geek’s dream to get fulfilled, and find out how the iPad performs on the go.

So all that being said…

Chewie, fire up the power converters, it’s light-speed to the Presidio!


The Passing Of A Legend – Stan Winston

On Sunday, June 15th 2008 Hollywood and the world at large lost a legend.


Academy Award winning visual effects artist and master Stan Winston passed away after a seven-year battle with myeloma.

Many are not familiar with who Stan Winston is, but everyone in this world has at some time seen his work.

Stan was responsible for bringing the intimidating robots from the “Terminator” movies to life.


Stan created the fearsome Predator who stalked Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger in the jungle.

Stan gave us a reason to scream in space with the sinister Aliens who did battle with Sigourney Weaver.

Stan introduced us to the unique person that was Edward Scissorhands.

Perhaps the most well known was the life he breathed into creatures of “Jurassic Park” making every little boy”s fantasy come true. Living dinosaurs.

I was fortunate to be able to meet Stan Winston a couple of times.

The first was at a press junket for ?Jurassic Park 3?. After a brief tour of one of the jungle sets we were taken back to a non-descript office where we got to sit and ask Stan questions. He came into and lit up the room. His personality just spilled over and made a potentially boring roundtable interview fun and interesting. After our little roundtable he took us to the Universal Studios 747 stage where two of his biggest creations were hanging out.

We walked into the 747 stage and he first revealed his latest creation – the Spinosaur. Right across from the Spinosaur was the legendary T-Rex.

Stan was a like a proud papa the whole time, you could tell he was proud of his work and the work of his team. He truly loved what he was doing and considered himself very lucky.

The second time I met him was after a screening of “Jurassic Park” at Arclight Cinemas. The same cheerful attitude and appreciation for his fans, the whole time. I was even lucky enough to get him to sign my “Jurassic Park”, “Lost World”, “Jurassic Park 3” and “Terminator 2” DVD covers. A few months later James Cameron signed my “Terminator 2” cover and when he noticed Stan’s signature said “I share great company on this”.

Stan Winston was an incredible man who brought the imaginations of many filmmakers and moviegoers to life. The world will never be the same without him.