Deluxe’s Iloura do explosive work on Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon. 

Disaster film Deepwater Horizon, from Summit Entertainment and Participant Media, has been in cinemas for four weeks. Aussie visual effects and animation company Iloura, part of the Deluxe group, is behind many of the action sequences in the film, having been brought on to add realism with digital mud, fire and smoke.

Approximately 125 Iloura artists, from across both Sydney and Melbourne studios, worked on the film.

The Iloura team was led by VFX supervisor Jason Billington, who collaborated closely with lead vendor Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and VFX supervisor Craig Hammack.

Iloura’s most significant contribution to Deepwater Horizon was creating the massive engine explosion that ignites the rig fire. When workers hit a methane pocket while drilling for oil, the gas travels up the pipes and fills the engine room, seeping into the engine, which ultimately explodes.

To achieve dramatic impact, Iloura designed and created a full CG engine interior. Artists digitally built then animated the engine, as well as a CG version of the engine room that is engulfed by fire. They also added CG flames, embers, mud, explosions and fireballs to various plates, blending shots containing practical and digital elements.

Billington said creating realistic CG that matches in-camera mud was a challenge.

“We had to be able to make adjustments as shots evolved, and realistically create other environmental effects. The sheer volume of work kept us on our toes, but we’re well equipped to handle any challenge,” said Billington.

“ILM was an excellent partner, happy to share reference footage and assets that we successfully integrated with our pipeline, and the final result speaks to our successful working relationship.”

Beyond the challenges of matching CG and in-camera elements, Iloura completed a significant volume of shots requiring atmospheric effects. To efficiently manage and execute these shots, lloura built a new fire ember pipeline for faster iteration.

Additional Iloura work includes the generator room ceiling collapse, CG set extensions and CG ocean enhancements.

Iloura also made significant pipeline adjustments to integrate ILM’s data-heavy oil rig asset, resulting in final renders and composites that blended seamlessly with shots by ILM.

The film was colored by Stefan Sonnenfeld at Deluxe’s Company 3.