In 1975, George Lucas started a special effects company called Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) to help bring the Star Wars saga to life. Today, ILM is the special effects powerhouse to go to if you're making a movie and want a completely convincing digital world. In the latest "Behind the Magic" video from ILM, visual effects supervisor Jeff White explains how the company recreated a digital New York City using 250,000 still images, green screens and sound stages in New Mexico and Cleveland:
"Although roughly a third of "The Avengers" is set in New York City precious little was actually filmed there. ILM crew members photographed 7-miles of city streets from a variety of heights and at different times of day totaling 250,000 images. The crew then digitally recreated roughly 20 square blocks of mid-town Manhattan using a variety of techniques. Live action shoots were held primarily on sound stages in New Mexico and in the streets of Cleveland."
Aside from the obvious cost savings, White also says there's a ton of restrictions for shooting in New York City, including getting permission for road closures and finding places where pyrotechnics can be set off. Helicopters also can't get within 500 feet of any building, which would have made the epic battle on 42nd Street impossible.
What's most impressive is how no detail was spared; ILM went the extra mile and even modeled offices inside of the buildings to make its digital New York City that much more convincing to moviegoers. Watch the video below to see how it all came together.