Industrial Light & Magic Reviews

Updated June 24, 2015
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3.8
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Industrial Light & Magic President and General Manager Lynwen Brennan
Lynwen Brennan
14 Ratings

41 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    Great company to work for

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Industrial Light & Magic full-time

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    The pros of working at ILM are: -exciting projects -beautiful location -good work/life balance -company perks

    Cons

    The cons of working at ILM are: -the "old guard" - someone has to die before you get promoted -the company has been around so long, it's hard to innovate - very clunky business -some managers aren't as interested in career dev for their direct reports


  2. Helpful (2)

    Upward mobility, amazing campus and dream job for any 3D Artist

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Industrial Light & Magic full-time (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Unlike other corporate VFX and animation companies, management seemed to make sure you were happy in your position . As long as you proved yourself and your talent/skill, they reward their employees with better compensation and upward mobility. I've worked at other big name companies that try to keep you at your current job title and are so political that moving upwards is near impossible. My experience at ILM was the opposite.

    Cons

    working in the VFX industry can be stressful with crazy deadlines. There was a feeling of intense competition among the employees and supervisors as well sometimes. This created an environment where you often times felt the pressure to work overtime to compete. Some of the best talent in the industry work here, so very high expectations are placed on the employees. Definitely a feeling of, you were only as good as your last achievement. This can be challenging/rewarding but can also be exhausting and cause physical and mental burnout if you are not careful.


  3. Best CG studio company

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Industrial Light & Magic

    Pros

    This is the place where the most people wanted to work for. Many blockbuster movies were made here. Also Excellent Location.

    Cons

    Not easy to get it, You have to be really really good.


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  5. Helpful (2)

    Amazing artists and engineers, strong company leadership, messy and disorganized technology

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at Industrial Light & Magic full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Unlike many other VFX facilities, ILM makes it clear that they value art and the artists who make it. They value and invest in quality and creativity, where many other facilities are focused only on being cheaper. They have a rich history and keep it alive by retaining more 20-30 year veterans than I've seen anywhere else. They really do have some of the brightest people in the industry and these people are truly inspiring and help make ILM a great place to be. For the most part people seem friendly & accessible.

    Cons

    For anyone new to the company, there can be a deep sense of anxiety and uncertainty from day one. The most troublesome practice here by far is the lack of sick/vacation/holiday pay for production hires, which make up the majority. Meanwhile "STAFF" employees receive all of these things, though they may have an identical job description, and there is no clear path to go from production hire to staff. To "make up for it", there is an 8% addition to your paycheck that gets lumped in with your regular pay. But that doesn't prevent a severe and crippling blow to quality of life, your sense of stability, and the idea of work-life balance. People in this arrangement tend to feel a strong sense of uncertainty and insecurity, and I believe it actually has a noticeable impact on performance as people can not feel invested in a company that does not want to invest in them. The other major con is that while they have some powerful proprietary tools, it's a bit of a mess. All tools are incomplete and artists are forced to bear the brunt of this sloppy technology and pipeline. As a result you end up with literally hundreds of undocumented tools floating around with duplicate functionality and what feels like an entirely new pipeline & toolset for every show. It will take at least 6-12 months for anyone to feel comfortable and efficient using the internal software, but you never have any idea if the company will keep you around that long.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in your employees, invest in your tools. Make employees feel like they have a future. Just a simple thing like sick and vacation days will go a long way towards preventing burn-out, improving work-life balance, and increasing employee commitment, satisfaction and contribution to the company and culture. Also, don't fall for that stupid trend in the industry to abandon internal tools and fall toward off-the-shelf software, support your internal development and make it easy for people to use.


  6. great product, talented people, tough industry

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Industrial Light & Magic full-time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    working on fun feature films, innovating with imagery and delivering some of the industry best quality work is what this place does. satisfying to work as a group of experts figuring it out and ending up with memorable images.

    Cons

    cyclical up/down workload means always chasing consistent revenue, hard to innovate and evolve cost effective tools. culture is a bit too artist centric and business plan short sighted.

    Advice to Management

    place some business-centric expertise into the decision making to counteract the creative driven choices that kill the margins


  7. I have spent my entire career at ILM. I love the company and the people.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at Industrial Light & Magic full-time (More than 10 years)

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    It's a creative company with a very collaborative environment. The people are very down to earth but super smart.

    Cons

    The pay is not great.

    Advice to Management

    Pay better.


  8. Helpful (3)

    Better back then, still a great place

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at Industrial Light & Magic full-time (More than 10 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Wonderful projects, strong VFX and CG Supervisors. Facility is top notch. The people are great - really great.

    Cons

    Benefits for project hires are fair - now that it's Disney (probably true everywhere these days). Pay is good (which is not necessarily saying much, given the industry's rates for artists is now stagnant for over a decade it seems). Very hard to get a long-term gig. Almost all new hires are project-based. These can range from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Long-term life and career planing is very challenging under these circumstances. Not a problem with ILM, but the cost of living is very high (move up north and you have to deal with a 30-50mins commute in the mornings)

    Advice to Management

    Commit to good people longer term. Don't bet on them sticking around and be "on call". Help the artists to build a life and career. In turn we promise to become part of the ILM culture. Project hires are far less open to sharing pros/cons of a project/production/tech issue. You commit to us, we will commit to you.


  9. Helpful (8)

    Failing Upwards: The Story of All of ILM's Management (except for John Knoll)

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Industrial Light & Magic full-time

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Dual monitors, nice views of the bay from the dining commons, proximity to yoda fountain.

    Cons

    Bring a sleeping bag to work and kiss the wife goodbye for 6 months. No one has any idea how to manage projects so that people don't have to work 100 hour weeks. But, that's ok. Those mis-managers will get promoted for working people into the ground, and a new crop of clueless people will be be charged with making sure the contract employees make no contact with the sun for 6 months. Rinse & repeat.

    Advice to Management

    Do everyone a favor and resign. You know you're not qualified.


  10. Helpful (2)

    People and work is great but pay is too low.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Creature Technical Director in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Creature Technical Director in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at Industrial Light & Magic full-time (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Great projects, people are the best and helpful, proprietary software is fantastic.

    Cons

    Projects get pushed and tight resulting in too much overtime. Pay is lower than most companies. Company seems to prefer working model of mostly contract employees. Little training for contractors leaving the burden of question answering to other people.

    Advice to Management

    Better pay all around especially staff employees who are making less than fellow contractors. More training for contractors. The burden of help is too great on other employees.


  11. Helpful (6)

    Among the worst experiences of my life

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Compositor in San Rafael, CA
    Former Employee - Compositor in San Rafael, CA

    I worked at Industrial Light & Magic full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    This job looks good on the resume. It was always cool to tell people that I worked on this or that "blockbuster" movie.

    Cons

    However, it was among the worst experiences of my life. I had a manager who regularly gave me bad direction, and then disclaimed it and threw me under the bus. I had to prepare every day as if I was going to court. I had to prepare for cross-examination (dailies) with details and supporting evidence on why I did everything I did and when I got orders to do so. Unfortunately it was often my word against his. I survived and got a credit on that move. But I left the industry. Now I know lacking integrity isn't just a movie business thing. Choose your manager carefully.

    Advice to Management

    Don't let lose your integrity in the race for results.



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