George Lucas, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and James Cameron are familiar names to even the most casual of sci-fi movie fans. And they should be; collectively, this crew has mounted some of the most iconic movies in the history of the genre. But behind the scenes, there are scores of visual effects artists who play an essential role in creating these worlds set in a galaxy far, far away whose names you likely don't know. Until now.
As the X-Men battle Godzilla for this summer's box office domination, we're paying tribute to The Artists Behind Iconic Sci-Fi Films.
Related: All Time Best Sci-Fi Movies
Seb Caudron for The City of Lost Children
Art Cruickshank for The Black Hole
Joe Letteri for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Jim Rygiel for Godzilla
Year released: 2014
Jim Rygiel has been at the forefront of the digital effects industry for more than 30 years. Nearly 10 years after getting his start at Pacific Electric Pictures, a pioneer of computer animation technology, Rygiel was charged with establishing a computer animation department for Boss Film Studios, where he supervised such films as Starship Troopers, Species, The Last Action Hero, Batman Returns, and Alien3. He has remained one of the industry’s most in-demand visual effects artists. Most recently, he acted as the visual effects supervisor of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla reboot.
Eric Barba for The Fifth Element
Tim Webber for Gravity
Neil Krepela for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Brian Johnson for Aliens
Harrison Ellenshaw for TRON
Phil Tippett for RoboCop
L.B. Abbott for Logan's Run
Albert Whitlock for The Thing
Richard Edlund for The Empire Strikes Back
Year released: 1980
As a key member of George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) team, Richard Edlund’s many contributions to the now-legendary franchise cannot be overlooked—specifically for his visual effects work on the series’ second entry, which earned him his second Oscar just three years after winning his first (for Star Wars, of course). But those films were only the beginning for Edlund. In 1983, he founded Boss Film Studios, a visual effects company which earned an additional 10 Oscar nominations over its 14-year life for projects like 2010, Ghostbusters, Die Hard, and Alien3.