Alien Covenant - The Hall of Heads

leading from
Alien: Covenant

Hall of heads (This photo is a merger together from snapshots from the film on Photoshop)
a.i) Entering the Hall of heads
David the android’s exploration and study of the Engineer homeworld would take him to the planet’s central plaza and a feature in the Engineer race's architecture known as the Hall of Heads – a reliquary of knowledge for the technologically advanced species.

a.ii) A monumental section of the temple
A monumental section of the temple where the walls are lined with sculptures of giant heads, taller than people and even as big as cars.

a.iii) Giant head connections
This appeared to bring a connect with the pyramid building from Prometheus where the giant head was to be discovered in the ampule room, but this chamber would be a much more earthy room.

a.iv) Intricate designs on the floor
Intricate designs on the floor and the nearby altars suggested some kind of rituals that were held in the place

a.v)  Cubby holes filled with scrolls
Along the walls at the base of every head are cubby holes filled with scrolls, documents for learning that someone with nefarious intentions could make full use of...

Artwork by Ev Shipard. source, Hall of heads (source: https://twitter.com/
and https://www.artstation.com/artwork/


Artwork by Ev Shipard. source https://www.artstation.com/artwork/


b) Creating the giant heads

b.i) Reference library material
The elder Engineers from the initial sacrificial engineer scene cut from Prometheus was part of the reference library, but the movie's art department tried to create an original look and feel for this culture that was tied with what had been seen in the earlier film.

Ridley presented photos of elder indigenous people from all over the world and aspects of these were sculpted into all the 7 heads.
 
b.ii) Ev gets to work
Ev Shipard was impressed by the photos and so he got to work,
It started life as ZBrush sculpts, clay maquettes and later milled foam sections from the digital file. 

b.iii) The final set
These were reproduced in detail for the epic heads we see on the set. 

But only a few of the heads would actually be there on the set, while others would be added in post-production with the plan to extend them vertically by a further 20ft.

Each one is individual, however with the final lighting and framing that is a little hard to register.


Artwork by Ev Shipard. source https://www.artstation.com/artwork/



Artwork by Ev Shipard. source https://www.artstation.com/artwork/



c) Mysteries of the seven heads 

c.i) Ridley's point of view
Ridley could share that the faces might be of the civilisations's version of apostles or wise men, a superior people.

c.ii) Chris Seager's point of view
Meanwhile, production designer Chris Seagers revealed that the heads were meant to give a sense of history and gravity to the sacred place.

He was asking if there was a hierarchy. He wondered if this was a place where the Engineers stored their information as if it were a library.

c.iii) As EV Shipard recalls

Ev Shipard had more to say as he witnessed how in the art department they built a bit of a hypothetical back story here with the heads being effigies of the elders of the society- this place was a meeting room where decisions were made.
 
Initially there were specific seats, a fire pit in the middle and of course the large table which was a variation of the table in David’s Lab.

He thought about how 7 heads ought to have something to do with the number 7 as a prime number and perhaps that meant they used a base 7 system.

In a way it was was as if a kind of history and culture was sketched out to give it all a foundation.
Ev presumed that the idea was that many early Earth cultures tied into this

In the Art department, it was a fun melting pot of "Ancient Aliens" ramblings and conspiracy theories, to much of their entertainment, and they could sit around hypothesising about the Engineers and the Earth, seeding life etc.

He wasn't sure how serious they were considering this though, but he guess that with this project, it came with the territory. 

Filming in The Hall of Heads (Source: L'Ecran Fantastique)
  1. First, we saw a miniature scale model of that temple, the scorched corpses strewn across the stairs and walkways that lead inside outside of the Engineers temple. Shortly after, we paid a visit to a particularly stunning set called “The Hall of Heads,” a monumental section of the temple where the walls are lined with sculptures of giant, you guessed it, heads. And I do mean giant. The heads were easily taller than anyone standing in the room, each one a distinctly carved face glowering into the center of the sacred room. It’s evocative of the pyramids we saw on LV-223 in Prometheus but different, more weathered and less industrial. Where the pyramids were angular and slick, the Hall of heads is a rounded, earthy room. Scott told us the faces might be those of apostles, wise men — a superior people, while production designer Chris Seagers revealed that the heads were meant to give a sense of history and gravity to the sacred place… a place where the Engineers stored their information. (http://collider.com/alien-covenant-engineers-prometheus-connection/)
  2. We’d momentarily caught Scott by a stroke of luck as he prepared to shoot a scene inside a cavernous ceremonial hall, framed by enormous concrete heads of ancient gods, their aquiline features evocative of Prometheus’ Engineers. ‘The Hall of Heads’ was an interesting spot to chat to Scott, as it was a very Prometheus-like set - with all the enormity and gravitas that evokes in your imagination - within a very Alien-like movie. (http://uk.ign.com/articles/2017/03/01/4-things-you-need-to-know-about-alien-covenant)
  3. We meet Scott on the set of Covenant at Fox Studios in Sydney, Australia, on day 60 of principal photography. Fifteen days remain as the filmmaker and his team begin preparing one of the sound stages on which the Covenant crew will face their destiny—the “Hall of Heads.” Though he’s surrounded by crew members awaiting his every word and decision, Scott takes a moment to chat with us about his thoughts on the universe Alien established, and that Covenant will revisit. (http://nerdist.com/alien-covenant-set-visit-ridley-scott-prometheus/)
  4. That would be the “hall of heads,” a giant room where the walls are (you guessed it) covered with stone heads the size of automobiles. The heads are humanoid, almost surely created by the Engineers. They stare down at us. Sort of. Only a portion of these heads are actually here in person. The rest will be finished in post-production.Still, it’s an impressive set and the detail is astonishing. It’s not clear what went on in this temple, but the intricate designs on the floor and the nearby altars suggest some kind of rituals were held in this space. Again: we don’t belong here.
    As for the identity of the heads, Ridley Scott plays coy when asked: “If you ask me, they were a people who were superior. These were probably the ten apostles, the wise men.(http://www.slashfilm.com/alien-covenant-sets-costumes-concept-art/2/)
  5.  Across the stage, construction resumes on a 'Hall of Heads', Engineer faces looming like Easter Island statues, with steps leading into nothing between them. "I don't know if you call the Engineers a race, but they're a civilisation, " says production designer Chris Seagers. "We discover the wheel and fire. The Engineers discovered a method of travel, something magnetic.  This Hall of Heads thing, was there a hierarchy? How did they store the information? Was this a library? There's a whole other movie there." (Empire June 2017)
  6. David’s exploration and study of the Engineer homeworld takes him to the planet’s central plaza and the Hall of Heads – a refectory of knowledge for the technologically advanced species. Back on set, TF is taken on a tour of the hall, which has been built to scale on a cavernous soundstage in Fox Australia’s backlot. Instead of one monolithic head, as in Prometheus’ black goo room, the Hall of Heads contains seven enormous, half-built faces, arranged neatly in a line, with the plan to extend them vertically by a further 20ft in post production. Along the walls at the base of every head are cubby holes filled with scrolls, documents for learning that someone with nefarious intentions could make full use of...(Total Film, July 2017) 
  7. Ev Shipard: I spent the most time working on the Hall of Heads which included digitally painted art, sculpted clay maquettes, digitally sculpted pieces to mill for the set and worked with story points and dressing throughout it.  (https://muthur9000.tumblr.com/post/172430133840/my-next-instalment-of-the-creatives-series)
  8. Clara Fei-Fei: For the hall of heads did you use the elder Engineers from the initial Sacrificial Engineer scene cut from Prometheus as a reference?
    Ev Shipard: They were part of the reference library but more specifically we tried to create an original look and feel for this culture that tied back to what we had seen in the previous film. Ridley had these great photos of elder indigenous people from all over the world and aspects of these were sculpted into all the 7 heads. The heads started life as ZBrush sculpts, clay maquettes and later milled foam sections from the digital file. These were reproduced in detail for the epic heads we see on the set. Each one is individual, however with the final lighting and framing that is a little hard to register. We built a bit of a hypothetical back story here with the heads being effigies of the elders of the society- this place was a meeting room where decisions were made. Initially there were specific seats, a fire pit in the middle and of course the large table which was a variation of the table in David’s Lab. 7 heads with 7 a prime number and perhaps they used a base 7 system- so a kind of history and culture was sketched out to give it all a foundation. I guess with many early Earth cultures tied into this we can hypothesise about the Engineers and our planet, seeding life etc- I’m making presumptions here as Ridley and Chris didn’t specifically explain this. The concept art room was a fun melting pot of ancient alien ramblings and conspiracy theories, to much of the Art Department’s entertainment. I’m not sure how serious we were considering this though, with this project I guess it comes with the territory.  (https://muthur9000.tumblr.com/post/172430133840/my-next-instalment-of-the-creatives-series)
     

Filming in The Hall of Heads (source Alien Vault by Ian Nathan, 2019 edition)

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