Survivors must fight for their lives when the luxury ocean liner Poseidon capsizes after being swamped by a rogue wave.

Size Matters. Director Wolfgang Petersen wanted to film a 200-foot wave capsizing a 1,200-foot cruise ship and aimed to build the shot in a way that had never been done before: he wanted a dynamic destructive wave hitting the boat from many angles. The boat’s size meant that the ILM crew couldn’t use a miniature boat and real water; they had to create the shot digitally.

Agreeing to do two mind-blowing sequences for this film took a lot of confidence, but ILM delivered those shots and more. In the opening sequence, the camera follows an actor running around the deck of the Poseidon for three minutes in bold, broad daylight. Remarkably, the ship is completely computer generated even in close-ups.

Later in the film, ILM tosses the ship inside a massive digital wave thanks to new multi-processor fluid simulation technology developed by ILM’s R & D department (which worked with Stanford University). As the ship shatters inside the giant wave, it interacts with the roiling water, a feat never before accomplished on such a massive scale. In the end, Petersen got the shot he wanted.

Wolfgang Petersen
ILM Visual Effects Supervisor
Kim Libreri
ILM Visual Effects Art Director
Wilson Tang
ILM Visual Effects Producer
Jeff Olson