ILM, Digital Domain ride out the storm

Companies create water effects for 'Pirates'

When it came time to create the water effects for “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” both Industrial Light & Magic and Digital Domain generated inhouse fluid simulations to be sure there was no digital body of water too narrow to keep helmer Gore Verbinski from the look he wanted.

Now ILM’s water system and Digital Domain’s FSIM fluid simulation pipeline are being considered for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards.

“We used these tools to work with the waterfall sequence,” says Digital Domain’s Nafees Bin Zafar, technical developer on “Pirates.” “One of the challenges there is that sailboats don’t go upstream against a massive waterfall, so we used the simulations to make the water behave realistically in a totally unrealistic environment.”

ILM used its advances to tackle the final big effects sequence near the end of the film.

“In working with the maelstrom funnel, we were able to apply a level of sophistication to the physics, control of the water and scale of what we were doing,” says Steve Sullivan, director of research and development at ILM. “This represents the ability of the director to have art-directed water.”

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