[Universal Pictures]

To help Luc Besson visualize how Lucy colonizes her brain after a bizarre drug overdose, we had to think differently. This wasn’t a typical visual effects film; it was much more abstract so we took a design-centric approach.

We contributed a variety of sequences to the film including the airplane lavatory, time travel sequence, big bang sequence and prehistoric human sequence.

Director: Luc Besson
ILM Visual Effects Supervisor: Richard Bluff
ILM Animation Supervisor: Jakub Pistecky
ILM Visual Effects Producer: Ryan Wiederkehr
ILM Studios: San Francisco

Case Study


Release Date: July 25, 2014

The biggest challenge on Lucy was the incredible range of work we had over a relatively small number of shots, 220 to be exact. A fully CG prehistoric human, cells dividing, the creation of the earth, time-lapse shots of New York City over hundreds of years, inside the body shots, animal eyes, black tendrils, abstract big bang imagery, and that’s not all of it. One artist described it like working on 10-15 completely different TV commercials all at the same time. In most typical productions you solve your design issues in the first third of production, the second third is mastering the process and starting to run shots and last third is pure shot production. On this show our design process was continuous. We were constantly building custom workflows as the designs evolved making it a rewarding aspect of the show.

Luc Besson was a dream director to collaborate with. The visual effects team explored ideas together and every artist working on the show had the chance to design and experiment to achieve the desired effect. Luc came to ILM to engage with the artists and wanted our input and ideas. It was a wonderful opportunity for ILM and it made working on the film very special. He brought his ideas and communicated his desire for us to continue to push the look of the effects in the same direction or use it as a jumping off point and develop something completely different.