Visual Effects Supervisors Craig Hammack and Eddie Pasqurello led ILM’s visual effects team on the creation of the seamless visual effects work on Rawson Marshall Thurber’s, thriller Skyscraper. ILM contributed the film’s primary environment, the skyscraper itself known as ‘The Pearl’, massive fire and explosions, as well as a host of invisible effects work. The main goal of the visual effects effort was to create the sense of scale, the terrifying feeling of vertigo, and overwhelming sense of danger to the film’s climactic scenes.
ILM split the body of work between its San Francisco and Vancouver studios. The building was our biggest undertaking. The title of the film says it all. The entire story takes place in and around this CG structure so we knew it would need to be well-thought out and executed. Luckily, production designer Jim Bissell and his team also recognized the challenge and gave us a tremendous head start. We received initial artwork and a blocking art model from them. Then our modeling team launched into a build that would continue to evolve over the course of the entire show. Since the Pearl was a massive structure which would have specific sections that need to hold up to extreme detail, we often split it into subsections which could easily be loaded or unloaded dynamically for the combination of detailed close-up work and wide establishing shots.
Outside of the creation of the Pearl which was 1Km tall and had roughly 220 floors, the most challenging work we contributed was the fire and destruction of the building itself. Our artists and engineers had to create large source fires, smouldering surface smoke, embers, ash, paper debris, and large scale debris… all affected by wind and inserted into a burnt-out husk of a building with broken windows, fully furnished interior rooms with collapsing structural pieces, and floor-to-floor collisions as structure gave way.