For Civil War ILM’s visual effects team supervised by Russell Earl, and animation supervisor Steve Rawlins, were charged with creating a massive action set piece, known as the Splash Panel in graphic novel parlance, that would sit right in the middle of the film. The sequence runs approximately 20-minutes as the two sides face off in Germany and required the construction of an entire CG airport environment based on scans of the Leipzig Airport, and digital versions of many of the characters including Black Panther, Spider-Man, War Machine, Falcon, Iron Man, Captain America, Vision, Ant-Man, Giant-Man, and others.

During production plates containing the actors were filmed on relatively small sections of concrete both at Pinewood Studios and at Germany’s Leipzig/Halle Airport which our teams extracted them from and composited them into our CG airport environment. The digital build was extremely highly detailed and rendered with full global illumination to directly match the practical lighting found in the plates. Characters would seamlessly transition from real to digital back to real numerous times throughout the sequence as stunts, superhero moves, weapons, and superpowers were incorporated into the battle. Mapping all of the damage was also a challenge on a sequence of this scale. Every dent, scratch, explosion and ding leaves a mark (or worse) and those all need to be there throughout to maintain continuity.

In total, ILM produced around 625 shots for the battle. Besides the Airport Battle, ILM was responsible for creating a submersible prison known as The Raft, which appeared surrounded by a digital ocean. The work earned ILM an Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Character Animation in a Live Action Production and an HPA Award nomination for Outstanding Visual Effects.

Anthony Russo
ILM Visual Effects Supervisor
Joe Russo
ILM Animation Supervisor
Russell Earl
ILM Visual Effects Executive Producer
Steve Rawlins
Jeanie King