Visual Effects Master Rob Legato Designs Oscar-winning Effects with Adobe Creative Cloud

by Michelle Gallina

posted on 07-11-2017

Titanic. Hugo. The Jungle Book. What do these visually stunning movies have in common? They each won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects with visual effects supervisor Rob Legato at the helm. Legato got his start in television, winning two Emmys for the Star Trek franchise, but he left his successful television career to join Digital Domain, a visual effects company founded by James Cameron, Stan Winston, and Scott Ross. The rest, as they say, is history.


In the years since, Legato has applied his legendary talents to films from Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Michael Bay, and Robert Zemeckis. He has taken viewers to magical lands in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, to the past in The Aviator, to the moon in Apollo 13, and to space far beyond in Avatar.

As a visual effects supervisor, Legato’s job is to bring ideas and feelings to life on screen. Working with creative tools in Adobe Creative Cloud, Legato turns imagination into reality.

“I find that working through the visuals yourself contributes to the creative process,” says Legato. “You discover the pitfalls and opportunities when you’re the one pushing the buttons. If someone says a shot can’t be done, I don’t have to take their word for it. I can show them how I did it, and we can work from there.”


The ability to take this hands-on approach is one of the most invaluable benefits of Adobe Creative Cloud for Legato. There’s no need to spend time and money working with a CG artist to create previews. Legato can hop on to Premiere Pro CC or After Effects CC and play around with camera lenses, angles, and lighting. He can figure out the mechanics of a shot, quickly edit a scene, sketch out ideas on how to frame a moment, and then wrap everything into a polished package to present to directors and visual effects teams.

“Having something visual makes communication much easier for artists,” says Legato. “It can be tough trying to put an esoteric idea into words, and people may interpret things completely differently. With Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC, I can quickly translate ideas into something real that proves they will work.”

The Jungle Book

These visualizations inspired the virtual camera system used on The Aviator, which was later used on the blockbuster Avatar and translated into The Jungle Book. Adobe creative tools aren’t simply for pre-production either. Legato used After Effects CC to deliver hundreds of comps on Shutter Island efficiently.

Shutter Island

“Adobe Creative Cloud is the digital Swiss army knife of the creative world because it has a tool for everything you might need,” says Legato. “You can’t do a movie without Adobe Photoshop; it’s impossible. But then you also have Premiere Pro to edit a movie, Cinema 4D integration in After Effects, and audio tools that you can mix in 5.1 or 7.1. Adobe Creative Cloud is a complete package.”

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Topics: Video & Audio

Products: After Effects, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Creative Cloud