The leading developer of professional 3D modeling, painting, animation and rendering solutions, MAXON, was the “go-to” for acclaimed digital artist, Steven Messing when creating out-of-this-world designs for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Messing’s numerous feature film credits include Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Transformers: Dark of the Moon as well as the upcoming film like Life of Pi, Star Trek and Pirates of the Caribbean 5.
Just a quick recap: Prometheus, directed by Alien and Blade Runner director, Ridley Scott, tells the story of a team of explorers who journey through the universe on the spaceship “Prometheus” to investigate alien life forms. When the team becomes stranded in an alien world, they struggle to survive, fighting a battle to save their own lives, and the future of the human race.
Messing served as Visual Effects Art Director under Prometheus Production Designer Arthur Max. He utilized the 3D animation software’s speed and agility to produce several physical set builds as well as CG environments, creatures and spaceship designs that contributed to the mythological visual tone of the sci-fi film. He also worked through post-production creating matte shots and additional designs under VFX Supervisor, Richard Stammers and VFX Producer, Allen Maris.
Messing had the task of designing and redefining complex set pieces from Ridley Scott’s first Alien film to bring a contemporary visual quality that would appeal to this generation’s moviegoers.
“Ridley was very proud of the original Engineer’s spaceship (known as the Juggernaut) but he felt it looked primitive by today’s standards,” said Messing. “He wanted to convey a more believable level of scale and detail. He also asked us to give the Pilot’s Chamber set a facelift, and create additional set pieces to support specific story points in the script.”
Messing spent weeks refining CG models that relied on the UV texture displacement maps and MoGraph module in CINEMA 4D to create the new Pilot’s Chamber set. This included creating scale models of the center dais, desk console, sleeping pods and chamber walls.
“We sorted through a ton of Academy archival reference to make the chair as accurate as possible,” explained Messing. “The original draftings had been lost and it was truly a labor of love to recreate this whole set. Using CINEMA 4D remains a top choice software that afforded us a highly flexible solution for experimenting with design elements such as intricate, surface detail textures and patterns that could be presented to Ridley Scott for approval.”
CINEMA 4D was also utilized in the opening shot of Prometheus that gives the audience a glimpse of what appears to be primordial Earth being revealed from shadow. “The planet layers were a combination of clouds, oceans, and continental land masses that all cast shadows as the sun rises, revealing the planet,” explains Messing.
Steven Messing is currently providing VFX art direction on Gangster Squad and Oz: the Great and Powerful.
“Art direction defines the look and feel of a film production, so we could not be more pleased that our 3D software played such a meaningful role in Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated Prometheus.” says Paul Babb, MAXON US president/CEO.
Images and Content Courtesy of MAXON US
Link to Steven Messing site - http://www.matteshot.com/
Links to CG images created by Steven Messing, Visual Effects Art Director, on feature film Prometheus:
http://www.maxon3D.com/prometheus/p3.jpg (Concept for the “Head Room Chamber,” modeled in CINEMA 4D and painted over in Photoshop)
http://www.maxon3D.com/prometheus/p46.jpg (Juggernaut rising concept - modeled in CINEMA 4D and painted over in Photoshop)
http://www.maxon3D.com/prometheus/p53.jpg (Orthographic top view of Juggernaut final design with very detailed displaced geometry that was provided to MPC for the final CG build)
http://www.maxon3D.com/prometheus/p57.jpg (Final CG model of Pilot Chamber dais, pods, desk console and Chair)
http://www.maxon3D.com/prometheus/p71.jpg (Concept of the compound mound that the crew encounters upon landing on the planet)
http://www.maxon3D.com/prometheus/p87.jpg (Opening shot of primordial earth as revealed from its shadow, modeled, textured and rendered in CINEMA 4D)
http://www.maxon3D.com/prometheus/p90.jpg (Concept of the Alien birth that used CINEMA 4D for lighting, rendering and texturing)
http://www.maxon3D.com/prometheus/p969.jpg (Concept of the Pilot Chamber)