Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

[Walt Disney Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films]

Jack Sparrow and Barbossa embark on a quest to find the elusive fountain of youth, only to discover that Blackbeard and his daughter are after it too.

Director: Rob Marshall
ILM Visual Effects Supervisor: Ben Snow
ILM Animation Supervisor: Tim Harrington
ILM Visual Effects Art Director: John Bell
ILM Visual Effects Producer: Susan Greenshow
ILM Studios: San Francisco

Case Study

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Release Date: May 20, 2011

For the first time in a Pirates film, On Stranger Tides, called for mermaids. In an effort be different from past mermaid films we studied a variety of marine mammals and fish for the motion of the mermaids. The production also had synchronized swimmers and professional athletes that were filmed on set to help guide the animation. In the end, the mermaids had a scaly body with a membrane of sheer, almost jelly-fish like tendrils.

One of the challenges of designing a look for the mermaids was that the supernatural creatures in the previous films were, by design, monster-like and frightening. The mermaids were creatures that needed to be beautiful, seductive sirens. In creating the mermaids, they were originally far more extreme and almost unrecognizable as human, but director Rob Marshall decided to go with a more human look and ILM made the adjustment.