‘Avengers’ tech hero

ILM's Garcia lends expertise to Marvel tentpole

Among the more startling effects in “Marvel’s The Avengers” are the Helicarrier, the combination airship and aircraft carrier that serves as the HQ of Nick Fury’s Shield.

Both were realized with the help of one of Industrial Light & Magic’s Rene Garcia, who specializes in making f/x of hard surfaces look real.

ILM visual effects supervisor Jeff White calls Garcia the go-to guy for huge, complex models. “He’s amazingly fast at building highly complicated scenes, but detailed in his work.”

Garcia says that on such a big set like the Helicarrier, it’s difficult to convey scale. “If we just put in similar sized details, it would look like a toy,” he says. The solution: Include details both large and small, such as ladders, cables and light fixtures, which establish the proportion to the human figure. “Adding real-life objects definitely helps the sense of realism that we want to convey,” he says.

A native of the Philippines who moved to Virginia at age 11, Garcia grew up fascinated with anime robots, but never imagined himself working in animation or visual effects. After art school in Washington, D.C., he applied to Magnet Interactive Studios, aiming for a job in graphic design. “I showed my sketches, which were more like 3D drawings of robots and spaceships and cars,” he says.

Magnet hired him and assigned him to learn CG animation for a new department. Later, when the company opened a small vfx operation in Los Angeles, he was part of the team that set it up.

After breaking into movies on “Volcano,” he worked on vfx for the “Matrix” movies, the “Transformers” pics and the reboot of “Star Trek.” As to the secret of his success in that initial interview with Magnet? “I was in the right place at the right time,” he laughs.

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