Billy Brooks has worked as a visual effects artist on everything from Men in Black I and II and X2 to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Madagascar 3, but is proudest of his work with one of his childhood “heroes” R2D2 in the Second Series of Star Wars films starting with The Phantom Menace. We met with Billy to talk about his life and work two weeks ago and found him to be a humble, down to earth guy for someone who is, for lack of a better expression, special effects royalty.

“I had R2D2, the real deal, next to my desk for over a month, working with him, creating special effects for Episode I and Episode II. It was a geek dream come true, really” he says. “He was there, next to my desk at ILM, and people would come in every day by my desk and rub his head for luck. Yeah, stupid maybe, but hey, it’s R2D2.” Billy made R2D2 fly and go up the stairs in these films, work he did directly with George Lucas while creating. “I called R2D2’s waddle the ‘Kenny Baker Shuffle’, and when George referred to it this way I was like YES! I’m also proud of the fact that R2D2’s booster rockets are called Brooks Propulsion Units, named after me. Geek fantasy, right?”

Billy purchased an i7Six with 64BG of RAM and the nVidia GTX690 video card from us in September. “It’s smokin” he says. You sometimes know in a 3D environment you just aren’t going to be able to do something you want. Not here – with the i7Six, the cuffs are off.”

Billy’s core programs are Nuke, Lightwave and After Effects, but says Lightwave is his go-to. “I’ve used Lightwave since beta and it’s still my go-to program.” He also enjoys the functionality of both Nuke and After Effects, and we will be posting videos of Billy working with all three programs on his i7Six in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned for more upcoming interviews with special effects artists, DaVinci Colorists and other media professionals, and please let us know if there’s some special aspect of production / post hardware or software you’d like us to feature. We appreciate your feedback!