The story of how Photoshop’s creator became a Star Wars pilot

Star Wars and the Photoshop Creator

There are many curious stories around practically any audiovisual production. So much so that we could make a fairly complete list with all of them, although it is also true that many are not disclosed and remain as small anecdotes of the team that worked on it.

This time the story transcends a little more because it is related to one of the great movie sagas, Star Wars. Well, because of that and because one of the creators of Adobe Photoshop is also through. So let’s put ourselves in context beforehand so we can tell you this curious story properly.

We start with Thomas and John Knoll, both brothers were the Adobe Photoshop creators. It all started with Thomas creating Display, a program for the Macintosh Plus that displayed grayscale images and turned into an image retouching program. That would be known as Photoshop and would be released on February 19, 1990. Since then it has not stopped growing and gaining popularity. Moreover, it could be said that it is the standard, the default tool in any creative environment (from photography studios to design, architecture, video game developers, etc.)

Well, John Knoll, who was the one who thought they should improve Display to turn it into an image editor had started working at Industrial Light & Magic years ago. Yes, George Lucas’s company in charge of much of the special effects of many, many movies today. There he worked as a VFX specialist.

Among all the tapes that Knoll worked and worked on, of course, there were those of Star Wars and more exactly, the 1997 Star Wars Special Edition. many of the visual effects were renewed which were made at the time by hand, using models and other practical effects. Now they would be replaced by CGI effects (computer generated graphics).

Among these CGI elements that were carried out were the X-Wing, Y-Wing and TIE fighters. These now had to be cared for more by having more detail. Which meant putting even a pilot on each ship. And of course, that meant they needed faces for each one. So John Knoll thought it might be more efficient to use his own as a base and then modify it.

The only pilot of all Star Wars Special Edition fighters

Adding a pilot for each of the ships in Star Wars Special Edition was not a quick job to say, even less if you had to scan the faces of different people. Therefore, John Knoll thought that it would be much more interesting and efficient to scan his own and add it with different modifications.

Using a Cyberware digitizer, he managed to create a multitude of different images that he then used in each of the ships. So it can be said that the only star wars fighter pilot was always the same: one of the creators of Adobe Photoshop.

Curious, right? However, the work of John Knoll has gone much further and his work within ILM grew until he became one of the top managers of the VFX department and a person who participated in many films such as the recent Rogue One among many others. .

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