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WAR OF THE WORLDS

Creating the Tripods
In addition to allowing the director to completely design his shots before he started shooting. previsualization played a role in the development of every aspect of the alien presence. "We explored through a hunt and peck method what the Tripods should look like, what the aliens should look like, what the world they inhabit should look like,” Spielberg explains. "That was really, really important to explore — not just the way I've been doing it for 30 years — two dimensionally — but three dimensionally and in color.”

Spielberg worked with a group of diverse artists to create every aspect of the aliens, from their Tripods to the environment they create. This group was led by Rick Carter, Dennis Muren, the conceptual design teams of Iceblink's Doug Chiang and ILM's Ryan Church, and Dan Gregoire and his previsualization team. "I had the most amazing group of artists working on the design of the Tripods,” says Spielberg, "all working together in a kind of collaboration, throwing out all these ideas against the wall. We must have had 20 or 30 designs on aliens, from the sublime to the ridiculous. It was a very interesting process, sometimes almost a blending of an element I liked here and an element I liked there.”

Comments Muren, "To begin on the design of the Tripod was exhilarating. You get as many artists as you can to contribute ideas to it. And then you guide it as little and as much as possible. You want it to be free enough so that Steven can see a broad spectrum of things, but you want them to be consistent with what you think the story needs, and what this time in motion picture history needs.”

Muren points out that Spielberg knows exactly what he wants; it's just a question of bringing him the right elements. "You make a collage of different things, and present them all to him,” he says. "He'll pick part of A and part of B and part of C, and you put them together, and it's like, ‘Wow, they look like they were always meant to be together.' It's very easy working with Steven because he's so clear on what he wants. The decision-making process couldn't be better.”

For the Tripods themselves, described vividly in H.G. Wells's book, Spielberg wanted first, as the author had over a century ago, to inspire fear,. "I wanted the Tripods to be really scary because they represent what's driving them,” he says. "I wanted the audience to actually be terrified by what these things looked like from the outside.”

Conceptual designer Doug Chiang found inspiration in the concept of Tripods as the "image of fear.” "Whatever that is to each individual person is always different,” Chiang explains. "In some ways, we tried to create these Tripods as manifestations of what terrifies me or what terrifies Rick (Carter). It may not terrify everybody else, but I think we're trying to capture that essence.”

"I think these Tripods are going to scare people,” Chiang continues, "and not just the shape, but how it's being filmed, how it's being shot — it's what you don't see that is the scariest.”

Once conceived, the Tripods were given life by animation supervisor Randy M. Dutra and his team at ILM. Dutra, who worked with Spielberg on the first two "Jurassic Park” films, sought to create movement that would be believable in our natural world yet alien at the same time. "One of the things that Steven got from the beginning was that it's very important to have connections to things that are organic,” Dutra says. "I have a very healthy respect for nature. And I know that Steven does. When I'm working with the animators, they know that I'm very much into nature, and looking at references, so that even if at the end we departed so far that the origin wasn't recognizable, it would still have that seed of truth, no matter what we gave to it. I think it's those telling little bits of personality or information tha

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