The Deacon

Deacon puppet
a) Originally known as the Ultramorph, this final incarnation of the Prometheus mutations was always intended to be a missing link of sorts between this film and the films of the Alien series. Effectively the unholy offspring of all the infected victims who came before it. Ridley Scott dubbed this creature the Deacon, based on the pointed shape of its head, similar to a Bishop's hat.

b) This thing would represent the beginning of Giger's alien, although it did not directly resemble the creature. They went through a long design process with Ridley, who was really wanted something as good as Giger's design, and they were trying to see what they could come up with.

c) Ivan Manzella has been established as one of the key sculptors along with Julian Murray. Together they created the deacon sculpture over a weekend late in the production schedule and they went to a fill-sized sculpt. Ridley came in several times to give them feedback and direction, and they ended up with a creature about the size of a six-year old child

d) Scanlan's team built two versions of the deacon, a soft puppet that fit inside an embryonic sac, and an articulated  rod puppet, both produced in silicone. Supervising mold modeler Daniel Meaker compressed the soft puppet into a three-foot-diameter latex bal­loon, and then added a mixture of metallic and organic based pigments and silicone birth matter. The balloon fit inside a hollow animatronic dummy of the dead Engi­neer, which Vanessa Bastyan and Catherine Fleming fabricated with an articulated ribcage and internal organs. Puppeteers operated the Engineer dummy from beneath the set, causing the body to convulse and emit the newborn.


e) The Deacon's pointed head burst through the ribcage and split it open. Then with an enormous heave, it rolls out onto the floor like a calf being born. They they brought in the rod puppet,  which had a lot of visible controls, but Ridley loved it. He ignored the technicalities and just went with it.

f) Richard Stammers staged clean plates of the deacon camera setups, but the birth played mainly as a practical effect with digital enhancement. The first shot after the birth is practical,  but with digital rod removal. With the puppert serving as blocking for performance, they matched the CO animation to the puppet. Weta replicated the deacon and augmented tendons in the creature's neck, which tense as the creature stands on fragile legs and then emits a roar, revealing a telltale second inner jaw based on the long protrusible jaw of the deep sea Goblin Shark, the Deacon's secondary jaw ends the film with the nightmarish hint of possible horrors to come.

g)  Ridley actually wanted the secondary mouth animation to reference the action of a goblin shark, which can dislocate it’s jaw and launch it forward to catch its prey. They needed to redesign the whole mouth and lower jaw to give the structure to build in the mechanics of this action. For this they went back to reference Giger’s original work and added in his details, which their sculpting team led by Florian Fernandez designed.

h) The deacon’s skin is slightly pearlescent. They wrote a custom shader for the way the pearlescense reacts with the light. There is also a layer of blood, mucus and liquid all over the skin, which gave them a layered shading model to get the complexity of the material qualities of the skin. The lighting was a continuation of the strobing lighting and was carefully matched to the clean plates by leads Florian Schroeder and Adam King

The Deacon maquette

i) In a version of the script by Jon Spaihts, Alien: Engineers, as the Ultamorph, after Shaw and she impales impales an Alien creature's skull with a diamond bladed saw and kills it.  This creature would be renamed in the scripts as the Deacon and quite possibly would be said to be a creature filling out a different role from that of the earlier intended Ultramorph. It is said in the picture gallery in the Prometheus Blu-Ray set that the Deacon creature was originally intended to have more screen time, pursuing Shaw and David to the second Juggernaut ship, narrowly missing them as they leave the planet at least not showing how easy it was to kill.

j) Deacon Blues
The final Deacon creature for some reason is coloured blue. We might think about the band Deacon Blue with the name inspired by the song title Deacon Blues by Steely Dan, and that song also contained the name Crimson Tide (See: Abstract connections with blue deacon)
  1. Originally known as the Ultramorph, this final incarnation of the PROMETHEUS mutations was always intended to be a missing link of sorts between this film and the other entries in the Alien series. Effectively the unholy offspring of all the infected victims who came before it. Ridley Scott dubbed this creature the Deacon, based on the pointed shape of its head, similar to a Bishop's head-dress. This creature was originally intended to have more screen time, pursuing Shaw and David to the second Juggernaut ship, narrowly missing them as they leave the planet. (Prometheus Blu-Ray gallery notes)
  2. The original Alien's trademark secondary jaw can be found in more undeveloped form with the Deacon. Based on the long protrusible jaw of the deep sea Goblin Shark, the Deacon's secondary jaw ends the film with the nightmarish hint of possible horrors to come. (Prometheus Blu-Ray gallery notes)
  3. Interviewer: What was your approach with the Proto-Alien that emerges from the Engineer?
    Martin Hill: Similar to the baby trilobite, the deacon was a real puppet built for the performance on set, so we started by replicating its build digitally. We quickly discovered that we needed to augment the model considerably for articulation of the muscles and joints to make it feel more like a natural, physical creature. Ridley wanted the secondary mouth animation to reference the action of a goblin shark, which can dislocate it’s jaw and launch it forward to catch its prey. We needed to redesign the whole mouth and lower jaw to give the structure to build in the mechanics of this action. For this we went back to reference Giger’s original work and added in his details, which our sculpting team led by Florian Fernandez designed.
    Interviewer: Can you tell us more about the challenge of its particular skin?
    Martin Hill: The deacon’s skin is slightly pearlescent. We wrote a custom shader for the way the pearlescense reacts with the light. There is also a layer of blood, mucus and liquid all over the skin, which gave us a layered shading model to get the complexity of the material qualities of the skin. The lighting was a continuation of the strobing lighting and was artfully matched to the clean plates by leads Florian Schroeder and Adam King. (http://www.artofvfx.com)
  4. Neither combatant survives. When the battle con­cludes, both lie inert until the Engineer’s body erupts as another lifeform hatches, created from a cocktail of human, Engineer and trilobite DNA. “We called it the ‘deacon’ because the head was shaped somewhat like the hat of a deacon,” said Neal Scanlan. “It represented the beginning of Giger’s alien, although It did not directly resemble that creature. We went through a long design process with Ridley, who was really throwing the Giger card out there, trying to see what we could come up with.” Ivan Manzella and Julian Murray created the deacon sculpture over a weekend late in the production schedule. “We went straight to a full-sized sculpt. Ridley came in several times to give us feedback and direction, and we ended up with a creature about the size of a six-year-old child.” Scanlan’s team built two versions of the deacon, a soft puppet that fit inside an embryonic sac, and an articulated rod puppet, both produced in silicone. Supervising mold modeler Daniel Meaker compressed the soft puppet into a three-foot-diameter latex bal­loon, and then added a mixture of metallic and organic based pigments and silicone birth matter. The balloon fit inside a hollow animatronic dummy of the dead Engi­neer, which Vanessa Bastyan and Catherine Fleming fabricated with an articulated ribcage and internal organs. Puppeteers operated the Engineer dummy from beneath the set, causing the body to convulse and emit the newborn. “The deacon’s pointed head burst through the ribcage and split it open.” related Scanlan. “Then, with an enormous heave, it rolled out onto the floor like a calf being born. We then brought in the rod pup­pet, which had a lot of visible controls, but Ridley loved it. He ignored the technicalities and just went with it.” Stammers staged clean plates of deacon camera setups, but the birth played mainly as a practical effect with digital enhancement. “The first shot after the birth is practical, with rod removal,” noted Richard Stammers. “We then went to full CO; but the puppet served as blocking for performance, and we matched the CO ani­mation to the puppet.” Weta replicated the deacon and augmented tendons in the creature’s neck, which tense as the creature stands on fragile legs and then emits a roar, revealing a telltale second innerjaw. (Cinefex 130)

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