Thursday
Oct202011

Lunar Industries Mission Badges

When we were getting the costume designs together for Moon, I really wanted Sam to have a Silent Running vibe with his day-to-day outfit and I wanted to keep this going right through the design of the mission patches. Being one of my favourite films, Silent Running was a huge part of the inspiration for Moon and being one of my heroes I wanted to give Doug Trumbull a shout out wherever I could. Besides, you're not a legit spaceman unless what you're doing has got it's own patch. Seeing as it's almost Halloween I thought these designs might make your replica Lunar Industries jumpsuit that little bit better.I get asked about the mission badges quite a lot as we had some spare from the shoot and there was a period where Duncan and myself were giving them away at screenings. It's fun to chuck them into the crowd and see people's faces lighting up when they get one. They're all gone now so if you were lucky enough to catch one keep hold of it - they're special because they're slightly wrong. The colours are actually a bit too dark.There were only ten originals of each design, and of these, one set went on each jumpsuit, Duncan's got one and I've got one myself so somewhere out there there are six full sets of original badges. More have been made since but the colours were slightly wrong on the originals and all the others I've seen don't look the same, I can tell the difference immediately when I see them. basically, if you didn't get given one form either Duncan or myself, then it's probably not a real one.

These sizes are all accurate relative to each other. I won't bore you with details of where they all go on Sam's suit as I'm presuming if you're going to make a jumpsuit, you'll probably enjoy figuring all that stuff out for yourself. All the bootlegs out there are made from re-created artwork so they're not accurate.I should point out that these badges contain NO TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS WHATSOEVER. In the Moon universe, Helium 3 was renamed as a commercial fuel source so it could be copyrighted and Lunar Industries did this by swapping the "U" and "I" around so "Helium" became "Heluim". This way they could claim ownership of the material and control supply. This was a legal "fast-move" they pulled before they commenced their Lunar operations which allowed them to create an instant monopoly and become the largest corporation the world has ever seen, having full control of over 97% of the earth's energy supply. This is why the badge below says "Heluim" and not "Helium".

Regular readers may have detected some bullshit just then. Truth is, I had to get these badges designed and final artwork ready in half an hour whilst stalling the start of a big production meeting becasue I had no time. Like a lot of Moon, I was so overworked that I just had to make them up as I went along. I originally thought it might have been taken care of by the costume department. As the chairs for the meeting were being set up I had a visit from them informing me that they needed to get the artwork off in the email in half an hour otherwise we'd have a bald jumpsuit on day one of filming (nice, tight timings, as ever). This was all news to me and so I had to just jump on it. Everybody was sat in the meeting room ready to start with one empty chair and I'm across the corridor designing badges and sending them off to print the second I was done. So I'm sorry for not proof-reading this but I was rather busy.

There's a couple of other badges that ended up not being seen which are the ones I wore when I was being the rescue team. Eagle eyed Blu-Ray viewers might be able to find them hiding if you look really closely.

The other graphic on Sam's jumpsuit was an A4 iron-on transfer on the back which came from the graphic below. It has round corners and was cropped to the dark edges.

Quick note to the bootleggers -  if you take this artwork and use it to start selling accurate badges to people - fuck you. You're a prick. They're not meant to be for sale. If you do anything with these designs, be sure to tweet round some pics and let me know about them. Happy Halloween you crazy space-kids!

Friday
Sep022011

The trailer you were never meant to see...

I've been digging through my hard drives and came across something that you might like if you're interested in the process we went through getting this film made. It's a trailer that we cut for Moon before we'd finished making it. We ran out of money before we could get into post-production, and so we had to get some interest from investors so we could keep going and get finished. The Cannes film festival proved a great opportunity for this and so we cut a trailer to take over there and generally tried to get things looking as nice as possible in an attempt to give an impression of the film we intended to put out. We got it cut by a company called "Zealot" based in London's Soho, and as we had no VFX shots even started at the time, I took the footage and did what I could over a long weekend to try and give it a bit of scope and feel more like what we intended. Please don't judge me too harshly for the quality of these VFX shots - it was, as happened so often on this production, an emergency situation and it was pretty much just me in my bedroom, staying up all night, getting on with it.

As this was done so early on, there are quite a few differences in here than ended up in the final film. You can see there's a greenish grade to the whole thing that I was never really keen on which we cooled off for the final grade on the released feature. We had a hard time with this as we used quite a lot of cheap fluorescent lights on the film and they were at different colour temperatures in different parts of the set and at different times of the day. When saw the first runs of footage in the cut, the colour temperatures of the lights were jumping around from green, to pinkish, yellow, blues; there were little shifts in hue all over the place. You may also notice the crappy looking "Big Boards". These were place-holders and were essentially light-boxes with graphic acetate strips that were replaced later with CG overlays I put together to bring them to life. They were originally supposed to be real displays but the quote for the build came in at £36,000. Goodbye Big Boards!

We used some of Clint Mansell's other music as a place-holder as we were wanting to get him in to do the score and fortunately everything went according to plan. Just shows how perfect he was for the job that his other score's fit right over Moon. Having said that, this piece of music as about as perfect film trailer music as you could ever hope to find. As long as the film's not "Wet Christmas".

I think one of my favourite things about this is that Duncan is the voice of Gerty. The weird thing is that his voice is also in the "real" trailer put out by Sony. There's a shot where Sam is driving the rover away from the base and we hear an automated woman's voice informing him that he's leaving the Sarang base perimiter. This is actually Duncan's voice too - pitch-shifted to make him sound like a woman. You have a woman's voice my lord! If that makes no sense to you watch this. If it does make sense to you watch this anyway - you'll like it.

It's quite nice to watch this trailer retrospectively as it's got much more in it than we would really have wanted to give away in a theatrical release. When Sony were cuting the actual trailer, we were gutted when it had two-Sam clone shots in there as we felt the jig was up and nobody would get into the story. Fortunately, we were so under the radar I don't think anybody even saw the trailer so it didn't sem to matter in the end. I never saw one "in the wild", if you did I'd be interested to see what you thought of it having seen the trailer in a theatre and then watched the film afterwards. Did it spoil it for you?

Just for comparisons, here's the official trailer that Sony put out. Pip pip.

Sunday
Aug212011

Get In The Car

I thought I'd show you something on a bit of a different tack today, so here's my favourite photograph that was taken during the making of Moon. It was shot by Mr. Phellim O'Neill, who also did our behind the scenes EPK for the DVD and press packs that went out when the film was released. Phellim is a very strong and handsome man and can lift very heavy objects right up over his head. You might have read his words of wisdom in the Guardian too. This is the pair of us on the Moon miniature shoot set which looks a bit weird in this context. I love this photo, it always makes me laugh. Look at our thinking faces. 

Anyhow, concept album covers aside, the picture below is the one I actually wanted to show you that Phellim took during the rover-cab green-screen shoot between the end of the Sarang shoot and the start of the miniature shoot. Actually, thinking about it, as this photo was taken, armoured folk-lift trucks were violently smashing the Sarang set to pieces. I wish I'd got some film of that as it was a very wrong-feeling thing to watch. Anyhow, check out the photographic skills of Mr O'Neill going on here capturing a moment during a setup with a sneaky camera-phone pic defying the almost blanket on-set photography ban.

As you can see, the photograph is of myself, Duncan and Sam (wearing his space-baby-bonnet), and was taken towards the end of principal photography. We have the rover-cab set off the gimbal and mounted in the post-crash orientation so it's up and slanted at an angle. The rover set had a bolt-on rear wall, which we attached when we were filming so the set was completely enclosed but every now and again we had to cut a hole in it to point a camera through. In this picture we're blocking out a shot and I'm talking Sam through the escape procedures for the vehicles' occupants. I just like this photo because it shows the three of us in the middle of a pow-wow taking care of business and as we had a photography ban on-set during the whole production there aren't that many pics like this. This is a very honest picture of us actually making the film and I like the way you can see both parts of the set, the nicely dressed interior part but also the rubbish wooden supports round the back. The whole film is painted wood with plastic glued onto it but when you watch the film as an audience member you're not supposed to realize it. This is my job, to put something in front of you and try and make you believe it is something else. Gerty is not a plastic box with me lying on the ground wiggling it left and right. It is a robot and it loves you. But it might kill you.

When I was working out the designs I put all sorts of little details into them and so I tended to spend a lot of time explaining things to people pertaining to how all this imaginary stuff actually worked. Escaping from the Rover would be a bit tricky as a rollover would have blocked the hatch leaving the occupant with no way out. I put this into the design to try and add a little bit to the sense of opression and danger of Sam driving around on the lunar surface, as I didn't want it to be too comfortable. As soon as that rover started rolling, Sam would have been freaking out, as he'd know how bad things might be about to get. Current lunar exploration plans have the astronauts driving around in a pressurised cab in shirtsleeves and this just didn't suit where we were coming from with Moon.

Despite looking like an upended graden shed filled with techno-junk, the rover set was actually the most dangerous set we filmed in. The surfaces were covered in fine grey dust, which made them incredibly slippery. There wasn't much solid to grab hold of either and a fall against a wall would likely send you right through it. Plus, there was quite a lot of knobbly stuff to bang your head on. Quite dangerous pretending to drive a car on the moon. Especially when you're wearing a pretend space suit that kills your hearing, balance, peripheral vision and any tactile senses from your hands and feet. And you can't bend your ankles. Hard work being a space-man.

The rover-cab interior was a particularly interesting set if you're an aviation buff. We had a few parts in there from junked vintage RAF aricraft. The dual joystick-type controls in the centre of the console underneath the monitor were bomb aiming equipment form an old Royal Navy Vampire, there was a panel from the original Trident (Nuclear Missile) launch unit, and the big round unit on the roof smack in the middle is a gyroscope from an RAF Vulcan Bomber. I've always loved these beautiful aircraft and one day I hope to be able to travel to work in one.


Sunday
Aug212011

Designing Sarang: Robotic Space-House Of The Future

One of the most satisfying bits of work I did on Moon was designing the set. I had free reign to come up with a moon base concept that we were actually going to build in it's entirety, so it was an exciting prospect. Duncan and I had been chatting general moon base stuff whilst getting the script together so by the time I started the actual design process I'd already pretty much got it in my head. So I went straight to 3D and started boshing it out. The only thing Duncan really wanted was a main corridor that was kind of shaped like a key so I took this and incorporated a split-level roof. I knew I wanted to have the facility white and lit primarily with bounced light rather than direct light sources. The image below is the first render I did of the Sarang set.

I usually start a design with a key shape or detail and as I had the bulkhead pressure-seals in mind for the entire base it felt like a good place to start. I was lighting the CG set with real-world equivalent lights right from the beginning in an attempt to get a clear idea of what we might eventually end up with in the studio.

I then worked a bit of detail into the walls to try and make it look a bit more industrial. I put the padded units on to soften things up and give it a slightly "furnished" hint, so it suggested a degree of comfort and of being somewhat of a living space. The lights in this render were becoming a bit pinky so I dialed them down a bit to see what it looked like.

Bingo! This was the first render I did where I was sure the design was going to actually work. You can see the light-source in this image which is suggestive of a skylight. The intention is for a large, diffuse light to bounce down into the set and give everything a soft light with no harsh shadows, It's quite a gentle light. As the light in the base was designed to bounce, this was one of the main reasons I wanted the bulkheads in there. My thoughts were that we could light each bay individually with it's own "skylight", and the bulkheads would act as baffles for the light. This way we could pretty much contain the light to a single bay and step the next bay into darkness.

I put some more detail into the background and duplicated the entire bay with the skylight and got the image above. You can see how the lights are alternately on and off in the different bays down the length of the corridor. I thought this would be a nice visual device to use when we were filming as we could make the set look quite dramatic and also make it seem bigger. I really wanted the corridor to feel like a large space. Also, by moving the camera in and out of darkness we could really establish a mood. We could have Sam walking into darkness and becoming silhouetted or do things like having Gerty emerging from the shadows at any point. Can't hurt having these sort of framing options when you're shooting.

This is what the view looks like with the camera in a dark bay. You can already get a sense of mood, even at this early design stage. I think we could have taken this further in the film but as time was so short I was trying not to bother the DoP too much by constantly asking him to turn this or that light off or on.

I always intended the set to be lit with indirect light that was bouncing around off the surfaces. As the set was to be enclosed it was important for all the light sources to be designed in there rather than the normal style of filmmaking where every setup has re-positioned lights being moved around off-camera. This also gave us the bonus feature of being able to move onto other setups really quickly as way less kit needed to be moved.

The ladder to the Monitor Room was originally supposed to be more of "an event" in the base design but as we ran out of money it ended up being a metal ladder painted orange with tennis racket grips wound round it. I remember when these grips were being applied; the art department was getting pretty down about how tight our resources were. It didn't help that I'd stolen their vacuum cleaner and plaited it orange for the Gerty hair-cutting scene. Everything was getting grabbed and pulled to pieces or being used to dress the set. You can see how with the ladder, I originally went for something much more substantial as I wanted there to be a bit of a climb that was very brightly lit. I liked the idea of this ladder sat in the darkness with a bright light beaming down and framing it in a kind of spotlight.

The nice thing about the design language of the corridor bulkheads are that they translate nicely into tasty-looking pressure doors that are clearly Science Fiction. I love the look of these sorts of things in Sci-Fi. This is the view of the rec room whilst it was just a white space. The main corridor was designed first, then the airlock, infirmary, sleeping quarters and finally the rec room. In the render above it's just a placeholder white box to give the impression of an illuminated space.

I did briefly play with the idea of having the monitor tower illuminated all in red light, kind of like the emergency lights in Aliens. It totally broke the clean design I had going on and so I abandoned it immediately. Goodbye shitty red light! I hate you!

Here we see some 3DSMax bipeds standing in for our hero for scale. We could tell from this image that the space was going to be quite large and nice to film in. This was good as we needed to get a Motion Control robot and associated track and support kit in there for some of the scenes.

Originally I had the return vehicle as a series of silos in the floor that Gerty would use the big arm to load the canisters into. As the rail gun was underneath the base this made sense but when the script developed and Sam needed to get into the return vehicle this complicated things massively. So we changed it to more of a lift that he could load up his kit and lie down in. In the film we see Sam lift two modules out of the lift mechanism to make room for himself. These units each held two HE3 canisters and weighed an absolute ton. They were solid wood and barely liftable and everybody hated moving them around.

I always liked the look of the two big doors open next to each other. We got a couple of shots into the film with this framing and I always liked the way it ended up looking. Sci-Fi-doorey = good.

I originally had this design on the back wall of the infirmary. A big cross. Because he is in hospital. What a cock. I get annoyed at myself when I do something that's very literal. I don't know why I didn't just make the whole base design look like a giant space-helmet. I surpassed myself with this next image.

Ooh, look, it's all bathed in green light now because green is the colour of operating theatres and also tends to be associated with wellness. It's also a massive pharmacy sign. What the hell was I thinking? Goodbye Forever!

Originally the greenhouse area where Sam grows his plants was going to be a disused airlock. I designed this into the base but we needed more room to film it and so we opened it out into a vague grey area walled with bread crates spray painted with some stickers on and lights behind them. That's movie magic!

This is the initial design of the airlock and pretty much stayed as it is shown here. The placeholder space suits hanging up were me testing out what bright orange suits would do to the ambient light in the set as I wasn't sure how much it would bounce. Nothing to worry about. I still wonder if we should have gone with the orange suits.

I tried the same thing with the HE3 canisters. This is a reworked version of the cargo-loading machine and is closer to how it ended up in the film. 


Most of the base design changed very little from my original designs as I just sort of blurted it all out straight into 3D. In the images above we see the corridor to the "return vehicle" (clone-burning-box). This part of the set always used to annoy me as the sloped floor was made of wood and it used to flex and creak a bit as you walked up it. I tried to get it stabilized but as it would have meant ripping quite a bit of the set apart to get under it we just had to leave it. Always annoyed the shit out of me though. If you look at the graphic on the floor right in front of the door on the set as it appears in the film, you'll see a grey shape which kind of looks like the Millennium Falcon. I painted this on there as a shout out to Ralph McQuarrie, one of the greatest Science Fiction artists that have ever lived. Ralph Rocks.

This is the view approaching the infirmary with the "night-time" lighting scheme on. We had two lighting configuration on-set, "Day" and "Night". I'm not sure how clear this comes across in the film but I think touches like these really help establish a mood behind everything else and are worth putting in. I'm not quite sure how the sense of geography came across in the film, or if the layout of the base is particularly clear in the final edit. The diagram below is an outline of the base hi-lighting the Gerty rail apparatus. As you can see, there are areas of the station that he actually has no access to. We never see him in Sam’s' bedroom even though one of his jobs is to clean-up after the "removal" of an expired clone. Exactly how he achieves this is simply a space-mystery and definitely not because we forgot or overlooked anything.

Even though this was just a quick screen-grab of the 3D layout of the set, I ended up re-purposing it and using it as a lightbox graphic above the main terminal as the "Fire Control" graphic.

The animation below is a CG fly-through I did to give more of a sense of space and to show how everything is connected together (sorry about the file-size). These renders went down really well at meetings and the whole CG design sequence turned out to be incredibly useful as the construction department could take the 3D models and immediately start working with them. Also, when we came to pre-light the set we had of a blueprint for light placements and a decent idea of what it was supposed to look like as reference.

Here's a few images of the final CG base model from my folio. It was a weird thing designing this base and then having the thing built for real as walking around it was like being inside my own head, it was a real "Being John Malkovitch" experience for me. The design process took around a week when all said and done, with most of the work being done up front and then a few tweaks and "finishing off" being completed a couple of weeks later over a day or two. It was really nice getting to spend a few weeks in Sarang whilst we were filming and strange how I wasn't upset at all when I saw the set being smashed to pieces at the end of the shoot. I'm not sure exactly what this says about me or how knackered I was at the time but at the end of all the violent destruction it made a hell of a big bonfire. 

Sunday
Aug212011

Get your Logo on

One of the most important pieces of graphic design work I had to do on Moon was the Lunar industries logo. As the film was designed to be remiscent of vintage period 70s and 80s Sci-Fi films, we had to have an evil corporation at the heart of our story. It was really fun making up an evil corporation for Moon, this subject area is something that Duncan and I have been dabbling with for a few years now and it was great to bring one of them to life and realize it on-screen. Evil corporations are great screen baddies.

I didn't have much time to get the graphics work done and so, as usual, the design for the logo was done very quickly. I spent about a morning working it up and went through some pretty bad designs really quickly, left it for a couple of days whilst I had other things to do that superseded it in priority at the time, then came back to it and finished it off in an hour and a half one evening after a pre-production meeting. When you're working like this, sometimes you just have to sit down and start moving your hand around making shapes and trying out fonts as there's no time to sit on a roof in a hammock watching the sun go down waiting for inspiration to strike. Consequently these original Lunar Industries logos are pretty bad but again, in the spirit of honesty and to show you what we really did behind the scenes here are a few of my initial rapid attempts at trying to get a handle on the Corporate Graphics.

Originally I was thinking I might go for something that looked kind of like an aerospace company so I was looking at working some flashes and little arrows and things into the design.

Then I was having a look at making things look a bit techy by drawing white lines through and breaking the fonts up to make things look "fast". I also worked in a round logo at the left, which is a circle within a circle. This is intended to be a graphic representation of the moon with the earth behind it to symbolize the companies' lunar mining effort. I imagine the first company to get up there and set up an operation like we see in Moon would be pretty keen to brag about it. Apart from the production line cloning and murdering. I'm sure Wikileaks would get hold of it sooner or later.

At this point it looked to me like there was a bit too much going on in the design. With the "fast" arrows, white streaks and the earth/moon logos all in there it was saying a bit too much so I thought I'd simplify it and try out a new font whilst I was at it. When you're trying to hone in on something it's usually better to change one thing at a time otherwise you can quite easily spin off into the weeds. I did that here and this one's pretty awful. Thing is, it was still valuable in the design process because it made me change the font again.

And that's where Green Mountain/Microstyle came in. I love this font. We'd used it a couple of times before and I thought I'd give it a go and we both liked the look of it. I was also trying to separate the lettering from the background with a box out here. This one doesn't work too well but it got me thinking along those lines of using negative space for the lettering, which I ended up coming back to later.

Next I tried this, which is just awful. I wanted something to frame the writing and thought I'd go for something that looked a bit "imperial" (which this doesn't really anyway). This was actually a worthwhile design to try as it scared me a bit. I thought this would look pretty cool in my head and as you can see it doesn't. This happens from time to time and I find it genuinely scary. This is always good motivator as it's guaranteed to make you review your previous versions and hone in on something you are confident you can get to work. Being scared is good for your focus, as long as you can hold your nerve. As an artist, the fear comes from doing a rubbish piece of artwork and essentially failing.

So from there I decided to have another look at the earth/moon graphic, as I liked the simplicity of the circle within a circle. The thing is, it didn't really have much common graphically speaking with the actual copy describing the name of the company. The two things tended to want to seperate from each other on the page. There is no design unity here and this makes it just look wrong.

I then tried another version where we see the Earth with a ring describing the moon rotating around it, which is also a Helium2 (regular Helium) atom. I like trying to work things like this into designs but this just doesn't work as a logo. It's not really got any strength or solidity and it's a bit scrappy and in cohesive.

I then proceeded to try and bring some weight and relevance to the double-circle logo as I felt it was worth pursuing. I do think it looks better darker and it's starting to sit a bit better with the text in this one. Giving priority to the word "Lunar" also felt like a step in the right direction and it was also really useful in getting the text to fit more into a block, as it's a more pleasing and tidy geometric shape. It still left me with the problem of getting a rectangular block and a cirlce to sit nicely together on the page though. I was trying to get back to aerospace/speed again here by putting the ghosted versions of the round graphic in to bring a sense of motion and speed, which didn't really bring anything to the design.

I like logos that also have an abreviated, smaller version and I was keen to have this in the film, as I wanted to brand everything to create a corporate atmosphere. I really needed something pretty non-descript that worked as a little badge that I could put all over the place on clothes, props, walls, video graphics and everything. I had a little look at how the "L" and "i" could fit together and you can almost see my brain working in this "scrapbook" image above.

This is the first graphic I worked up to try out on the walls of the Sarang facility set we were building in Studio K at Shepperton. Incidentally, this is half of the massive studio they built for Lost in Space, which was a single space then but now has been split into two and comprises K and L stages. To give you an idea of how big they each are, we were shooting with the full-size complete Sarang set in K and "The Boat That Rocked" were shooting in L with a full-size mechanical ship mounted on a gimbal. Pretty big spaces. So as the set was being put together by the construction crew I was in there with our sign writer Julian Walker trying out bits and pieces of graphics on the walls whilst they were still painting it. This is the first sign I ever did and it was intended to be on the wall next to the main airlock so you'd see it as you exited the facility.

The writing at the bottom "003 Selene" is the original name of the Moonbase. Duncan had "Selene" in the original script but changed it to "Sarang" just before shooting. This means "Love" in Korean as he was seeing a Korean girl at the time and he was really missing her as we were getting Moon made. I put the "003" in there just as a little indication that there might be many more bases up on the Moon, each unaware of each other, each cut off from the rest of humanity and eagerly beavering away keeping our personal robots and electric hover cars charged up with delicious electricity. They would even be staffed with Sam Bells. I put the two zeros at the start of the number to imply that there might be as many as 999 other bases, each operating within it's own jamming field and each completely unaware of the others' existence. I did this on the clone room drawers too. Sam 7 (the one in the drawer they open) is numbered "0007", suggesting that there might be up to 9,999 clones in that corridor. This also makes him the "James Bond" clone. At one point Duncan and I talked about the possibility of a shot right at the end of the film where they all wake up and are trapped in the corridor. So there are 9,993 Sam Bells' all crowded into the corridor stretching off into the distance going mental. I think this could have been pretty cool. It would have been a hell of a suprise for the "rescue" team when they arrived. They'd have probably just blown out the airlock and de-pressurised the whole base and then got Gerty to clean everything up whilst they had a space-beer.

Next I tried putting in a bit of colour to see what happened. I've always liked the look of grey and white with an orange accent so I tried incorporating a little bit of colour into the design to see what happened. I liked the way it was sitting but it still looked a bit light and floaty. I also tried putting the rounded-off border in as a way to tighten things up and allow the graphic to sit off whatever surface it appeared on and have it's own space.

This next one was a little rough sketch I did to see how it looked going back to using the negative space. I felt I was onto something with the weight and finally decided to seperate paths from the round shapes. From here I went straight to the final design.

And there you have it. The logo abbreviated really nicely to the "Li" with the two orange squares and everything just clicked. Lunar Industries was born. Lets hope Sony gets it together and let us do some merchandise so I can put it on a T-Shirt for you. Hands up who wants one.