There's no need for sets or costumes at Industrial Light & Magic — when filming a movie at the renowned visual effects studio, the camera can instantly turn Mark Ruffalo into the Hulk and a blue curtain into New York City. "Instead of your actor, you actually see Iron Man," Jeff White, a visual effects supervisor for ILM, told Grantland. One setup at the studio uses 40 cameras to track an actor's motion. Combined with a blue screen, a camera operator can look into a "virtual camera" — a small shoulder mounted rig with a large LCD display — that augments the mostly barren set with a virtual world.
For directors working on heavily digital films, the technology can be a godsend — they can work similar to how they would on a traditional set. "Our goal here is always to create as much of the real production process as possible," White said.
White's work on The Avengers was nominated for Best Visual Effects at this year's Oscars, but the tools that he's using have come a long way. Grantland has put together a short documentary series on the history of ILM and what it has evolved into today. The Verge's own Bryan Bishop visited ILM last year to discuss how the company makes its stunning visual effects. These videos make it clear how ILM has enabled filmmakers over the years, and they underscore the importance of visual effects work — a field that has gone monetarily under appreciated in Hollywood. The studio that actually won this year's award for Best Visual Effects filed for bankruptcy early last month.