Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

[Walt Disney Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films]

2008 Academy Award® Nomination for Best Achievement in Visual Effects

2008 BAFTA Award Nomination for Best Visual Effects

Director: Gore Verbinski
ILM Visual Effects Supervisor: John Knoll, Roger Guyett
ILM Animation Supervisor: Hal Hickel
ILM Visual Effects Art Director: Aaron McBride
ILM Visual Effects Producer: Jill Brooks
ILM Studios: San Francisco

Case Study

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Release Date: May 25, 2007

Captain Barbossa, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann must sail off the edge of the map, navigate treachery and betrayal, and make their final alliances for one last decisive battle.

For Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End John Knoll worked with fluid-dynamics engineer Frank Losasso Petterson and CG supervisor Joakim Arnesson to develop and epic storm called “the maelstrom”. The film called for a fully CG crew to go swirling into the storm while fighting human counterparts.

To quickly show director Gore Verbinski designs and simulations for the new CG characters and the storm itself, modelers and artists devised lightning-fast methods for building 3D prototypes. After all that, Gore hated the original simulations because they were too small, so ILM had to go back to the drawing board. To finally create the monstrous maelstrom, ILM's crew spun out new state-of-the art water simulation technology. The fast-moving whirlpool swallowed up 103 terabytes of data on ILM's file servers, enough to hold five Libraries of Congress.

Shots inside the maelstrom took 100,000 processing hours per night to produce, a testimony to the beefy digital backbone and resilient data management in ILM's new state of the art facility.