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Inventing Universes
With a significantly larger budget to work with—and a huge canvas in which to free the imaginations of all involved—Twohy began to put together a dream team of conceptual designers such as Matt Codd, Daren Dochterman, James Oxford and Brian Murray to begin sketching the world of The Chronicles of Riddick. Soon thereafter, Twohy secured the considerable talents of production designer Holger Gross, whose previous foray into the world of motion picture science fiction was Roland Emmerich's well-regarded Stargate. Gross, supervising art director Kevin Ishioka and their huge team had one mandate from Twohy: "If we've seen it before, throw it away.”

The artists focused their efforts on defining three key looks for the film: the environments of the Necromongers, which primarily included their command mothership, the Basilica, and the worlds vanquished by their campaign; the planet Crematoria—hellish in its temperature extremes of 700° by day and -300° at night—and its subterranean prison, the Slam; and Planet Helion, home to an advanced, halcyon society that prospers by capturing, storing, trading and distributing light to far-flung worlds. Gross was determined to create physical elements for the film that were not specifically wedded to the future, but could also invoke the past.

Awash in warm tones, the cities of Helion vary in their architectural style to reflect the planet's multicultural face, and mix historical and modern elements to allude to the planet's immigrant quality and progressive outlook. The inhabitants of Helion vary in their looks and garments, but all within a palette of earthy spice colors accented with turquoises and azure blues. And, as a reflection of Helion's main export and the wealth it brings, makeup artist Victoria Down "warmed everyone up, gave them a glow. These are peaceful, happy, wealthy people.”

If Helion is heaven, then the Slam is pure hell. As this is a for-profit prison, situated beneath the surface of an inhospitable planet and run by mobsters, the design team quickly realized that the key to creating the Slam lay in recognizing the prison not as a building imposed upon the landscape, but as a natural space that had been modified—as cheaply as possible—for use as a prison. The result is a 200 foot lava tube crudely partitioned into cells, here and there destroyed by continuous volcanic activity, filled with exposed wiring and massive air vents, covered with a film of volcanic dust and clearly lacking creature comforts, including adequate plumbing.

In stark contrast both to the cheerful world of Helion and the primitiveness of the Slam, the Necromongers are the epitome of evil sophistication…and also the toughest challenge for Holger Gross and his conceptual artists. Deciding upon a look for the Necros—that integrated elements of their military prowess, ideology and lifestyle into a scheme that was visually exciting without succumbing to stereotypes—was not an easy task. After much brainstorming amongst the group, Gross found his answer in the early Baroque architecture of 17th century Central Europe.

Huge, detailed, elegant yet heavy, punctuated with dark metal finishes, Gross calls the Necro world "twisted Baroque, if you will…a cross between fascism and theocracy, very religious and aesthetic in terms of architectural detail, yet at the same time cold and evil, but very powerful. Finally, we developed a style we called ‘Necro- Baroque.'”

Based on elliptic shapes, the adaptation of the Baroque style employed by Gross also created the illusion of constant movement. Everything is curved and non-directional, so that buildings appear to alter as the camera moves. This, of course, created serious construction challenges. "It would not be easy to build,” admits Gross. "There would be many struggles finding the shape, especially for technical pieces like the spacecraft and

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