Only the Brave tells the real-life story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite group of firefighters from Arizona that distinguished themselves under the leadership of a grizzled veteran named Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin). ILM was responsible for the hyper-realistic wildfire sequences. ILM’s Vancouver studio took the lead on the project which was shot and finished in HDR 4K.
The team never wanted the fire to take the spotlight – this is a very real story of some incredibly heroic individuals and we wanted to honor their legacy – the best effects are always those in service of the story. To that end the approach was always to capture as much in-camera as possible to do safely. While there was an immense amount of fantastic fire created by the special effects team, visual effects played a key role in bringing that fire even closer to the actors and magnifying its scope and scale for the sequences where the fire was so intense and moving at such a high rate of speed that the director, Joseph Kosinski, leaned into the work of the visual effects team. We wanted audiences to feel the fire even though they were experiencing the story from the safety of a movie theater.