[Universal Pictures]

Director: Sam Mendes
ILM Visual Effects Supervisor: Pablo Helman
ILM Visual Effects Producer: Jeanie King
ILM Visual Effects Art Director: Christian Alzmann
ILM Studios: San Francisco

Case Study


Release Date: November 4, 2005

Based on former Marine Anthony Swofford's best-selling 2003 book about his pre-Desert Storm experiences in Saudi Arabia and about his experiences fighting in Kuwait.

The challenge for this film was to create hellish scenes of soldiers moving among burning oil wells in Kuwait. To master these shots, the crew at ILM started with film of actors playing soldiers in a desert environemtn shot with a handheld camera.

They layered in burning oil wells and the horrendous oily black smoke among the soldiers and added refelctions of the fiery environment on the soldiers goggles to complete the illusion.

In addition to fueling shots of burning oil wells, ILM artists turned landscapes filmed in Mexico into other Kuwaiti battelfields complete with digital tanks and helicopters. It was a stunning example of invisible effects used to create shotes that were otherwise impossible.