Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Meet Kevin Clark, Master Not of the Force, but of Data

Last week you may remember I paid a visit to San Francisco, primarily to check in on Hewlett-Packard and its new CEO, and also to visit with

I had one other destination, and it got part of me excited like an eight-year old going to a toy store. It was the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio of San Francisco, home of Industrial Light & Magic. This is the part of the George Lucas entertainment juggernaut that makes all the cool things that happen on movie screens look devastatingly real. The geek part of my heart swelled with anticipation. This is, after all, one of the places that the Star Wars Universe calls home. Its visual trappings, like the Darth Vader mannequin pictured, are everywhere. As I approached, I resisted the urge to bow before the Yoda statue outside the entrance, but I did take a picture.

Naturally I was there to talk tech. And with a little help from the Force (actually it was ILM’s kind publicist) I caught up with Kevin Clark, Lucasfilm’s director of information technology, who like anyone else with that job title is constantly grappling with the basic questions of how to get the most productivity out of the machines under his command. One recurring problem: making changes to the live production environment, something he compares to rebuilding a race car while’s its on the track. But then most companies aren’t in the business of rendering the visual effects that will make or break the films coming out for the summer blockbuster season like “Transformers 3” or “Pirates of the Caribbean 4.” Clark and I met just outside the ILM data center. Tomorrow, I’ll take you on a video tour inside.