Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Industrial Light and Magic Works


Planning the Film
One frame of an animatic. An animatic like this one helps the director and the team understand the dynamics and the look of each shot from many different angles.
One frame of an animatic. An animatic like this one helps the director and the team understand the dynamics and the look of each shot from many different angles.
Photo courtesy of ILM

Upon reaching an agreement with Petersen, ILM named a visual effects supervisor, Stefen Fangmeier, to oversee the project. Fangmeier assembled a crew of 120 ILM staffers to develop the 340 visual effects shots needed for "The Perfect Storm." Ninety of the shots in the movie are completely computer-generated (including virtual actors), and another 220 have CG water or other elements. In fact, only two of the stormy ocean shots in the entire film are completely real!

The film is carefully planned out, shot by shot, to match the overall vision that the director has for the film. ILM is involved even at this early stage, preparing a rough 3D animated storyboard known as an animatic. Animatics allow the director to ensure that the planned shot will work, both visually and practically.

Here is a good example of how the animatic can change the development of a shot. Many of the close-up shots of the boats occurred in a mammoth indoor wave pool, about a quarter of an acre (1,000 square meters) in size! Full-size boats would be controlled by giant gimbals in the pool during the shot. The camera needed to move quite a bit to simulate the rolling movement of another ship in order to match up with the virtual camera viewpoint used in the visual effects. The originally planned position of the camera did not work when simulated -- the camera's motion would have taken it through a wall! By tweaking items like this in the storyboarding phase, directors are able to avoid many potential pitfalls that could lengthen the filming process and exceed the projected budget.