Vision & Craft: People

Magicians at Work

Alexis Hall | Senior FX Technical Director

How long have you been with ILM and what is your role at the company?

I've been at ILM for over 2 years. I am a Senior FX Technical Director, and have designed fx at ILM on "Warcraft: The Beginning", "Ant-Man" and "Captain America: Civil War".

What do you enjoy most about your job and/or the company?

My Job is really fun, FX is an extremely varied subject and every show/task is different, from creating magic portals leading to Azeroth in Warcraft, to producing infinitely detailed procedural fractal landscapes in the "Microverse" sequence in Ant-Man, each challenge is unique and rewarding. Industrial Light & Magic is an incredibly inspiring company, the caliber of artistic ability and experience is amazing and an incredible resource to drive my own work. It is a privilege to be working along side some of the individuals that are responsible for creating the effects that inspired me to learn to do visual effects in the first place.

What was your role on Captain America: Civil War?

On "Captain America: Civil War" I was an FX Lead. This entailed supervising 9 effects artists to complete over 200 challenging FX shots which included digital water, fire, magic FX, laser blasts, thrusters, rigid body simulations, you name it! A varied and broad scope of FX. In addition, I designed the look for Spider-Man's webs, Hawkeye's trick arrows, and Wanda's jumping FX, as well as liaising with the other departments that we receive information and assets from, as well as those that we ultimately give assets and renders to.

What was the biggest challenge you faced on the show?

Spider-Man's webs were very challenging, creatively and technically. This is the first time we've seen Spider-Man in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film and the direction from the client was to realize a very different look to that we had seen in the recent Spider-Man stand alone films. Our brief was much more inspired by artist Todd McFarlane's style in the Spider-Man comics he had Illustrated, as well as real life reference of very complex spider webs. As a team we were very excited by the challenge, it was a fun conceptual and technical challenge, marrying these beautiful illustrations and real life references together and bringing them to life as working 3D models. Attempting to capture the complexity of McFarlane's style and do these incredible images justice, whilst allowing the webs to move, flex and wrap around real objects, like Cap's Shield for example, in a believable and realistic way.

What keeps you inspired?

The incredibly varied challenges at ILM keep me inspired. As a company, ILM prides itself on taking on unique and interesting projects, selecting work that will push the envelope for ourselves and the Visual Effects industry as a whole. Within this field, FX is a dynamically changing subject, always on the forefront of technology whilst requiring exciting high level creative decision making. It never feels like the same challenge twice though there's definitely room to utilize and expand on the skills you've learned from previous challenges to find your next solution. Secondly, the prestigious history of ILM, the inspiring artwork contained in it's halls and the incredibly high level of talent and support of the excellent artists working here, pushes each us to do our very best.