Wednesday, May 21, 2008

And on that subject... The Stark Jet

This came at the last minute during production. The company had shot the tarmac scenes with Rhodie & Tony using a rented 737 Business Jet (the interior was a set.) Jon thought it wasn't sexy enough and had me rework the plane in a way that ILM could digitally replace everything from the wings back. The result is a Stark Industries modified Boeing. Full performance specs have not been disclosed, but you can bet Tony'll be sitting in the hotel bar a full hour before anyone else gets there.

This is just a digital paint-over of a location photo from the shoot. Production Designer Michael Riva kept me honest on proportions, and it turned out much better for it. This and a really crude set of elevations are all ILM went by to create the rather convincing plane shots in the movie.

Flying in Style...

This is a commission I did for a magazine called Private Air, distributed to private jet owners. Kind of a lifestyle magazine for the conspicuously wealthy. Anyway, they have a monthly feature where they ask architect, designers & artists of note to come up with their vision of the private jet of the future. Mine is not so far off thanks to Burt Rutan and other pioneers of private space travel. This is designed for sub-orbital intercontinental jaunts at hypersonic speeds, thanks to the exotic scram-jet derived engines. The scene shows it landing using its vectored-thrust STOL capabilities at a private strip somewhere near Aspen. Or is it Chamonix? Could be anywhere.

You can find the article in the current issue, or online HERE.

Tony Stark's Bedroom

Here's the site of one of the more memorable action scenes in the movie :) Wish we'd gotten to see more of this room in the final cut, but time was running long and there was all that superhero business to attend to, you know how it is...

The attempt here was to create a 'stark' designer environment, something that reflected a complete absence of personal touch. Anything that reflected Tony's personality would be in his basement garage/workshop.

This design also went through a lot of set-dressing variations, but once again came out much like the rendering. I was pretty thrilled with the bed & wall unit design (which separates the room from the bathroom which was designed but ultimately cut from the script.) They even managed to match the really bold woodgrain with a printed veneer. The ceiling was another experiment that turned out well. Matty Libatique gave this idea of light cans suspended over a stretched fabric ceiling the thumbs-up, and Production Designer Michael Riva managed to make it work. I just liked the idea of diffused pools of light when the lights were on, and a completely unbroken ceiling when they were off.

I wish I could take credit for the graphics projected on the window in the movie, but that idea was added in post. Brilliant!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stark House Interior

These have already been posted on for a few days, but it's been so busy I haven't had time to get them up here yet.

So these are a few views of the living room interior. As with the exterior it owes a stylistic debt to John Lautner's famous Malibu homes. We went through a lot of variations of set dressing, the floor was originally cut stone, the area within the cylindrical glass waterfall/ spiral staircase was originally an arboretum, and there were creeping vines on the balconies (which you can still see in the east view.) The staircase started out as glass, supported by cast aluminum cantelever arms of graded heights fanning out from the glass, but structurally it wasn't feasable, so cast concrete steps similar to another Lautner house's were substituted. It actually makes the center a little cleaner.

Essentially the interior is structurally unchanged from the original sketch though, and came out remarkably well in the final film. All told I'm very pleased with the results, as you can see in a frame from the trailer.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tony Stark's house design...

Here are some of the original sketches for Tony Stark's house. Production Designer Michael Riva mandated a Malibu cliffside home in the vein of John Lautner's really organic cast concrete & glass homes. The first designs were for set extensions of existing homes, but nothing we scouted looked like a billionaire's home. A few multi-millionaires homes but...

So I came up with this design and perched it in the most decadent location I could think of, right on top of Point Dume, a California State Park. Who else but a billionaire could get those building permits?

The garage under the cantilevered livingroom I really liked, looking out over the ocean between the buttresses. Since that's where Tony really lives, it should still have a nice view. The actual garage set is three times the size of the livingroom and would never fit in that space below, but thanks to the magic of movie geography, it's never apparent.

Master set designer Kevin Cross took these along with some loose elevations and built a beautiful model in Maya which the VFX companies used for reference. While the interiors were fully realized sets on stage, only the exterior of the living room balcony was practical, the rest of the exterior of the house is a CG model composited into plates of Point Dume.

I'll put up some of the interior designs next.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Ironman guts...

Some details of the leg and torso mechanicals...

This represents the final leg design. The original concept for the "suit-up" involved an expanding "sarcophagus" that would open up into a kid of mechanical wardrobe or steamer trunk. Tony would grab onto something like pull-up bars and lower himself into these expanded legs first, and they would seal over him. The scene was cut before shooting began, but thankfully reintroduced in post production, in the more dynamic fashion featured in the film. I'll post design sketches and storyboards from that sequence later...

The torso section would have been lowered over Stark's head, expanded like a watchband so that he could slide it on like a pull-over. The idea was to give the impression of micro-mechanical musculature, a low-profile layer of pistons and levers that acted like abs & serratus muscles with a thin shell of armor over top. The chest piece would clam-shell over as it does in the final scene. We ended up splitting this piece into front and back sections bolted together at the sides, which made for some cool detail shots. The folks at ILM really expanded on the details I'd suggested, referencing a lot of cool robotic and mechanical components for the suit-up. I can't believe what an amazing job they did.

Ironman Suit Design Images

Here are a few of the final design renderings for the Mk 3 suit.

The above is a nearly final iteration of the front 3/4 of the suit. The lower boots changed, as well as the upper chest & trapezius muscle area along with some cutline details, but that's essentially what we went with.

The back went through multiple proposals from both Adi and I. This was the final after some hip/butt area modifications mandated for flexibility by Stan Winston's team. I may post the rejected designs at a later date...

The final helmet design, streamlined by suggestions from Adi. The final helmet was sculpted by Miles Teves, who added the more direct cheekbone cutline as seen on the final suit. Miles's awesome sculpt was scanned and mirrored at Stan Winston studios, but his surfaces remain essentially intact in the final casting.

Ironman opens!!!

Yes, it's finally here! And it does truly rock. Ironman opens wide today, and I'm hoping everyone goes to see it, since it represents about a year and a half of my life.

I collaborated on the design of the Mk 3 suit with comic art genius Adi Granov, as well as designing Tony Stark's house, the Stark Jet & designing, storyboarding and directing the previs for the "suit-up" sequence. My own site is due for an overhaul (and it's really hard to update, thanks to my lame website programmer... uh, me,) so I'm going to start posting some design sketches up here on the old blog. Look out for them! Sadly there's no "Art of Ironman" book announced (sigh.) I guess they were hedging their bets in case the movie flopped.

Which I can tell you after seeing it, it most decidedly WILL NOT. You're all in for a treat.

CTV (a canadian television network) just posted an interview with me about my role in the design of the Ironman Mk3 suit. You can check it out here.