Under the Radar

Creating 'Battleship' Effects at ILM

Battleship is out this week on Blu-ray and DVD and we were invited to visit the special effects wizards at Industrial Light & Magic to talk about the cutting-edge technology they used to create some of the most realistic water effects and those awesome shredders that the aliens launch at us Earthlings in the battle sequences.

We were surprised how much we liked the movie when it opened it theaters last spring and, along with The Dark Knight Rises, it's turned out to be one of the summer's two big winners when it comes to SFX-heavy action.

Lucasfilm's ILM studios are now located at the Presidio of San Francisco, which was decommissioned as a military installation in 1994 and turned into a mixed public and commercial use facility shortly after. ILM renovated the old Army post and moved there in 2005.

The Yoda fountain by the front door is just the first reminder of the dozens of  important and breakthrough movies that feature the work of ILM artists and engineers: Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, Iron Man, Minority Report, The Green Mile,  E.T., the Harry Potter movies, Titanic, Saving Private Ryan and all the Star Wars movies are just a small sample of the studio's projects.

We got a preview of the documentaries included in the Blu-ray special features and sat down with some of the people who worked on Battleship for some exclusive Miltary.com interviews where they describe just how you go about getting a job working for George Lucas, what it was like working so closely with the US Navy and just how advanced the technology has to be for them to create the images you see on the screen.


Glen McIntosh, ILM Animation Supervisor & Willi Geiger, ILM CG Supervisor


Grady Cofer  and Pablo Helman, ILM VFX Supervisors

King Kong & his creator, SFX pioneer Willis Harold O'Brien, have a statue in the ILM lobby.

Everyone at ILM emphasized the diverse experiences that led them to a job in special effects and it definitely seemed like talent, a passion for the work and strong networking skills are the key to breaking in to their end of the business.

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