I’ve lost count of the number of ex-ILMers that have started their own shop. But the number is now +1.

(vfxworld.com) Whiskytree Inc., a new boutique started by a group of former ILM digital artists, has launched in San Rafael, California, under the leadership of ceo/creative director Jonathan Harb. The award-winning digital matte artist and vfx supervisor founded the boutique to provide concept art, character design, production design, digital environment creation, matte painting and visual effects consultation services for work in the film, games, television, animation and emerging media industries.

“Whiskytree came about as a meeting of like minds,” Harb explained. “We’re a group of artists that have broad artistic and professional experience, and have worked together for years. We can provide top quality work with efficiency in both cost and technique, with the kind of flexibility that can’t be found at larger studios. We have the ability to create concept art or work for final shots, and everything in between.”

Harb, originally trained in industrial design, has more than 10 years of experience with Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Lucasfilm. While there, he supervised the digital matte department, conceived of and spear headed the establishment of the Digital Artist Group at the newly formed Singapore studio, and was a concept artist and visual effects supervisor. His credits include all three STAR WARS prequels, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3, both MEN IN BLACK films, A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, THE PERFECT STORM and SLEEPY HOLLOW.

He has also contributed to dozens of commercials. Harb won the first two best matte painting awards from the Visual Effects Society (VES) for his work on STAR WARS: EPISODE II — ATTACK OF THE CLONES and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL. He also earned a nomination for his work on STAR WARS: EPISODE III–REVENGE OF THE SITH.

Joining Whiskytree are five artists with a rich variety of experience in the world of art, photography, graphic design, games and the visual effects and animation industries: Susumu Yukuhiro, Joe Ceballos, Joshua Ong, Mieke Hutchins and Giles Hancock. “We’ve worked along side each other for years, and function extremely well as a team,” added Harb of his colleagues.

Yukuhiro began his career as a brush-boy for traditional matte artists, and has since transitioned into an award-winning digital artist and supervisor.
Prior to joining Whiskytree, he was the supervisor of the ILM Digital Matte department, and is a two-time VES Award winner for his work on the first two installments of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.

In addition to his digital skills, Ceballos is a traditionally trained fine artist whose film credits include TRANSFORMERS, HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3.

Ong, who was the lead film artist in the Singapore Digital Artist Group, worked on TRANSFORMERS and JARHEAD, won the VES Award for best models and miniatures for his work on WAR OF THE WORLDS and was nominated for his matte painting work on HULK.

Hancock, an award-winning commercial photographer, with credits including HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX and REVENGE OF THE SITH, is a two-time nominee for a VES Award for his environments on PETER PAN and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3.

“As a group, we have great depth in creating realistic, feature-film quality digital environments and matte paintings,” concluded Harb. “We also have strong art department roots, and I think we’ll surprise many clients with the pre-production services we will provide.”

For more information, visit: www.whiskytree.com.

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