Sunday, July 26, 2009

Production Art for Star Wars Episode2

Most of my work on Star Wars Episode 2 was focused on designing the enormous city called Coruscant during the first 6 minutes of the film.

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Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. Copyright ©2002 Lucasfilm Ltd, a Twentieth Century Fox Release. All Rights Reserved.

Production Art for Poseidon

Poseidon was one of my last big film projects in visual effects at ILM. I detailed out the low resolution model that we received from Wolfgang Peterson's art department, before giving it to ILM modelers. As well, I produced a series of photoshop concepts to help guide the look and feel of the big impact scene, when the rogue wave side swipes the cruise ship. I was never very happy with the final CG shots as it lacked the drama that I think these concepts evoked. I did have a good time working on the project though. Kim Liberi is a very technical visual effects supervisor who was also responsible for the Matrix movies at ESC. I enjoyed learning what i can from him on the right way to do things BEFORE consciously ignoring much of it and "eyeing it" just to piss Kim off;)





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2 Illustrations

I drew these with the intention that i'd make a series of vinyl toys out of these characters. They were intended to be cute cyber/anime versions of biblical saints. "Pain" is my favorite.


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circa 2004
This peice was part of a proposal to a production company to leverage some of their creatures into a "Walking with Dinosaurs" type CG documentary. It got some interest all the way up the ranks but unfortunately was deemed too similar to another project already in development with an outside partner.
At the time I really wanted David Attenburough to do the narration.
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Concept Paintings from Ang Lee's "the Hulk"

circa 2002
I was extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Ang Lee on his movie "The Hulk" while at Industrial Light & Magic. His ambitions for the project was slightly different than what the audience expected in a summer superhero movie to say the least. No matter what people's opinions were, I had a chance to work closely with someone who i consider to be a master of the form. He never repeated himself from film to film and yet you knew that it was an Ang Lee film by the depth of emotion in every scene. Often times, what was spoken was only slightly more important tha n what was NOT spoken - this i think is the true hallmark of a great director.
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The Hulk. COPYRIGHT © Copyright 2003 Universal Studios All Rights Reserved

Another final shot from Tekkonkincreet CG pilot

circa 1999
The opening shot to the pilot. keyframed on one's by Morimoto Koji - seemed to be wrong at the time but the motion does have a weird kind of frantic energy to it. The background was inspired by ChungKing Mansion in Hong Kong, one of the locations in which we took extensive photos.
I was quite happy with the overall vibe, the contrasts between urban decay and a surreal innocence as examplified by the inflateable Fugu fish in the background.

Early sketches from Spielberg/Kubrick A.I. film

circa 2001
Some very early sketches of Rouge City and post-global warming new york. The large anthropomorphic buildings of Rouge City came from exploratory sketches that Kubrick had done with a UK comic artist. I refined and tried to give these large forms some sense of scale. This was one of my 1st big projects at ILM. I ended up designing much of Rouge City as well as creating some CG animated previz for some of the shots. It was also the project where i first pioneered the use of real time previzualization by hacking the UNREAL game engine. I convinced Denis Muren to let me try it because it was the best way to allow Spielberg to get a feel for the virtual environment even before we committed to alot of expensive build. I ended up creating a simplified but fully textured Rouge City in UNREAL with a realtime previz mod coded by another ILM colleague Peter Ward. We shipped the whole thing to Spielberg on a disc. Talking to the EPIC/UNREAL folks much later we think this was one of the 1st examples of MACHINIMA but instead of making movies inside a game engines, it was using a game engine to previsualize a big budget film.



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A.I. Artificial Intelligence. COPYRIGHT ©2001 WARNER BROS. AND DREAMWORKS, LLC. All rights reserved.
circa 1999
Here's a shot from the Tekkon CG pilot. It shows the 2 brothers "Shiro" and "Kuro" (Black & White in english) leaping down from a large tower and onto a light house in the middle of the city. It was animated and rendered as a single shot in Softimage/Mental Ray. Character animation was by Leslie Fulton, while camera and background modeling and texturing was mine.

Another Tekkon production drawing

circa 1998
This is one of my favorite production drawings. It summarizes many dimensions of the creative objective for a 3D environment in a very concise way: 1)along the top and bottom are a series of reference photos that we shot on our trip to taiwan and hong kong, linked back to various props as guide for the texture artists 2) In the middle is my pencil detail layout design for what the city will look like throughout this "roof chase" sequence. 3) and just below my pencil layout is a series of storyboards with timing from Morimoto. This image was put onto a web page with hyperlinks back to the hires source photos and other imagery. In a single drawing i was able to clearly convey pacing, geometric detail as well as textural inspiration to the artists working with me.

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Final stills from Tekkonkincreet CG pilot

circa 1998
Here are some of the final stills from the pilot. As production designer/CG sup i was responsible for building the city in 3D. The "stylized" look of the city had nothing to do with shaders and more to do with textures. I was looking at paintings by people like DeChirico and loved the way they used multiple layers of oil paints to create this textured look. I ended up coming up with a very simple series of steps to replicate that "depth".
Our texture painter Aki had a collection of mid-century japanese ads and we tweaked and incoporated a lot of that into the backdrop as well.

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Some early preproduction sketches from TekkonKincreet

circa 1998
In many ways Tekkon was and still is one of the most creatively satisfying projects i've worked on. My good friend Michael Arias is one of those rare individuals who are equal parts left and right brained, and has the tenacity to not give up no matter the odds. He went on to complete the film eventually and is recognized as the first and only american to direct a japanese anime film.
When i did these sketches way back in the summer of 1998, it was after an inspiring reference trip to taiwan and hong kong, which provided the inspiration for Takaramachi at the time. (the fictional urban setting for Tekkon)
With the images of urban decay still fresh in our minds - images that were both beautiful and ugly at the same time - I made these concept sketches.
I had explained the designs to our director at the time Morimoto Koji in this way: "Imagine Disney World went out of business and an entire city full of asian squatters moved in and made it their home."
He laughed and we made the pilot.

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