Visual Development

ILM’s legendary Visual Development teams render early ideas into production-ready concepts. Known for our iconic design and creative problem-solving prowess, our artists are brought on board projects before and during the greenlight process to aid in bringing filmmaker’s concepts to life in concept art, character design, rapid prototyping, motion graphics, virtual art department (VAD), virtual scouting, virtual story reel, pre-flight and a host of other techniques.

ILM’s art directors and concept artists can also serve as an extension of production and post-design teams.  Our expert Virtual Art Department (VAD) can collaborate in real-time for worldbuilding, on-set visualization, creative development, film/episodic series lighting design, location-based entertainment, and immersive storytelling.

Art Department

For nearly 5 decades the award-winning artists of ILM's global Art Department have helped filmmakers design, storyboard, and realize their film, television, and multimedia projects. Whether we are illustrating key emotional beats to get a project greenlit, dreaming up awe-inspiring environments to transport audiences, or developing never before seen creatures and characters, our artists bring your vision to life.

Virtual Art Department

Our full-service Virtual Art Department (VAD) is staffed with ILM’s legendary artists who work hand in hand with filmmakers and their virtual production teams to design the environments and sets for the show. While predominantly used for StageCraft work, the ILM VAD can also be a great asset to any production that wants experienced visual-effects trained artists to help design elements of their production in a facile and inexpensive medium.

ILM VAD artists work in Unreal Engine to help design and assess what will be practical and what will be digital on set. They capture physical sets and locations, virtually scout computer-generated and digital locations, and develop preliminary environments that the DP can pre-light.

ILM’s VAD collaborates with previs artists as well as the visual effects team, allowing the filmmakers to plan every aspect of the production – down to the smallest detail – so there are no surprises on the day of the shoot. This immersive planning is a great communication and diagnostic tool, but in no way limits the serendipity on set.

After working with the ILM VAD to design environments prior to a shoot, filmmakers have said that they felt that their first day on set felt so familiar, it was, “like they were doing a re-shoot”, despite never having set foot on the physical set before.

"The VAD is equal parts artistry and technology with a solid foundation in filmmaking. Our goal is to help filmmakers achieve their vision without compromise while providing a blueprint for all departments to work from so we’re all moving in lockstep."
Landis Fields
Virtual Production Visualization Supervisor


Preflight is Industrial Light & Magic's specialized visualization department focused on high-quality storytelling using previs, techvis, and postvis. What makes Preflight unique is our bespoke creative approach to the visualization challenge, crewed with experienced storytellers who craft narrative visual experiences that blend seamlessly with our clients' filmmaking style in an achievable and efficient workflow. Our mission is to provide a technically and aesthetically sound roadmap to production and a launch pad into visual effects post-production, resulting in a clear creative directive and fewer iterations in post. 

Virtual Camera

Building on ILM’s pioneering virtual production toolset, filmmakers operate intuitive virtual cameras based on the filmmaking tools they’ve grown accustomed to on set. From operating a handheld camera to manipulating traditional wheels, or moving the camera on a dolly, camera crane, or Steadicam, filmmakers can take advantage of our tools throughout all phases of production.

Virtual Story Reels

Leveraging the above teams, some filmmakers elect to create Virtual Story Reels to allow filmmakers to capture their shots live on a stage anywhere in the world and get them immediately into the edit in a fraction of the time it would take to map scenes out using more traditional methods. Our Virtual Story Reel teams tap into our virtual production tools to allow for fast and accurate on-stage previsualization using motion capture and real-time techniques for the fastest possible feedback.