Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hot Wheels the Movie

Yeah, I know how it sounds... Indeed there is a new movie genre out there, and it's the two-hour toy commercial. And with Transformers 2 & GI-Joe coming soon, don't expect it to die a quick death. I sure hope not, it's job security for people like me. Bring it on!

This one was fun though, basically a retelling of the Wizard of Oz, but with an orange plastic road rather than a yellow brick one. No flying monkeys, but hot-pantsed Snap-On Tools calendar girls instead. This is another one that didn't make it out of development (like much of what I work on.) The greenlight review happened the weekend that Stealth opened, so I don't think there's much doubt why Sony gave it the axe.

Anyway, much fun to be had with McG and his crew. He has a well-earned reputation as the industry's biggest cheerleader. Everything is positive with him, even the stuff he doesn't like is Awesome! Makes for a good time. I'm rooting for Terminator Salvation. After We are Marshall, I think he's redeemed himself from Charlies Angels 2. Maybe.

So here's the ultimate road movie...

I really loved this idea, the Snake Pit, our villain's lair. Looks like a strip mine as you approach, but as you get closer you realize that it's a junkyard hundreds of feet deep with nothing but the most desireable classic, exotic custom and rare cars. Look for some surprises among the Snake's "collection."

I did promise you calendar girls, didn't I?

The Emerald, er, Motor City, the end of the Orange Plastic Road. Some earlier versions of this by James Clyne and Mark Goerner were really cool, featuring transforming, automotive-formed architecture, but McG wanted a more grounded, 20th century americana take on the world, just as if someone went crazy with cloverleaf offramps.

One of my favorite shots, a bonding moment between son and dad. I think this image really captures what McG was trying to make out of this movie. Could have been fun.

More later, with storyboards...

Superman "Flyby"

Here's a random image from the ill-fated Brett Ratner-directed, JJ Abrams-written version of Superman. I was on the show for about 4 months, of which I think about 3 months was without a director. I overlapped BR for about two weeks before he left, and I think about 2 weeks before I left to get married McG took over the show. This is about as un-dynamic a composition as you can come up with, but Production Designer Owen Patterson wanted a straight one-point perspective view of Superman facing off against the Rouser (a Japa... er, Kryptonian Battle Pod, don't ask) so you could compare scale. I had fun designing the Rouser, though.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More John Carter

Here are a few more images from John Carter of Mars.

These are a couple of designs for the "enemy" city of Zodanga. It's supposed to be a very militarized industrial city. My thought for the design was that they would have built within a pair of overlapping meteor craters. Barsoom (Mars) in the stories is metal-poor, so my hypothesis was that the main source of mined metals would be nickel-iron meteors. Zodanga then is built within a deep mine at the center of the craters, while the debris walls would form an effective natural battlement.

This first shot features John's escape from Zodanga riding a stolen Zodangan flyer (beautifully designed by Ryan Church.)

John, Deja and company escape from the Warhoons on their Thoats, with Woola guarding the flank.

The ruined city of Thark. I loved the idea of erosion happening from below, rather than above, and I played with it throughout the various cities. Buildings would be glassy fused sand, so the thought of a kind of coastal erosion look from the eventual decay of the bonding agent and the constant sandstorms seemed natural. I also love the gravity-defying quality, since Mars' low gravity is such a major plot point in the story.

The City of Helium. I wanted a much softer look for this city, and more modern. To keep a consistent look though, I thought that it would be cool to have the Barsoomian architects adopt the look of erosion from their ancient cities as a deliberate design statement. I thought it could be like the way we artificially age materials, or grow ivy on walls, something that lends an artificial air of authenticity to relatively new architecture.

I also played with the idea of flared bases that were then undercut to emphasise the gravity-defying quality of Barsoomian architecture.

Jon Favreau also wanted to hint at an allusion to the Twin Towers in the twin towers of Helium, so topped them off with a bit of the WTC fluting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Alright, so you don't have to wait too long.

Process, process, process. I figured I'd show you some raw, uncensored thumbnails, right from the scanner. This is where most of these images originate, with a 4" x 2" prisma pencil on vellum sketch (or two, or three.) Some go somewhere, some don't. It's all about the composition and the idea at this stage. Sometimes I'll even scan them in and paint over top, just to get a head start.

Stunningly Long Absence!!

Sorry to have been away so long from posting, I've been bogged down in work. I just finished a stint of 12 hour days (plus 2 hours of commuting) in the costume department for TR2N. I am now happily ensconced once again in the Art Department (shorter hours, 5 minutes from home... Ahhh...) so hopefully I'll have a chance to post more frequently again!

So here are a couple of things to whet your appetite... A pair of key frames from an early pass by Jon Favreau at bringing John Carter of Mars to the screen.

The first is a shot of John discovering the incubator (read the books if you don't know what that is.) I conceived of it as being a pit covered with Thoat skins covered in sand. This would have blown off, revealing the incubator to John. The skins were to quickly give him something to cover himself with since there was no way we were going to get away with him running around naked all movie like in the books.

The second is just a beauty shot of the Martian landscape with John and his best buddy on Thoatback. I liked the idea of there being a lot of obsidian-like fused-glass formations, which leads to their architecture, which I had envisioned as being sculpted like a sand-castle and then "fused" into glass with some kind of heat projector (8th ray? 7th?)

Anyway, more to come when I can get a moment to crop them to web size.