Alien Covenant: The xenomorph
- a stripped-down killing machine

leading from 



a) MPC start on concepts

It was still during the time when Alien Covenant was to be called Paradise. Ridley wanted another Alien beast, the designs started with concepts drawn up with MPC’s art department. 20 or 30 different concepts of the adult xenomorph had been commissioned. 

However  none of the concept artists could come up with something that Ridley could find found suitable.



b) Coming aboard Alien Covenant
 
When Conor came aboard, he was only doing the makeup,  he was told by the studio that everything had been designed and there wasn't going to be any men in suits.

The impression that he got was that someone told the producers that it had been designed just to shut them up, but Conor would come to realise a different situation when he got there.

He managed to bring Colin Shulver as an artists and sculptor once Colin found that he could take his son out of school and over to Australia.


  1. Conor O'Sullivan:When I came onto the film, I was only doing the makeup,I was told by the studio that everything had been designed, and there was never going to be any men in suits.(https://www.inverse.com/article/31921-alien-covenant-interview-conor-o-sullivan-xenomorph-latex-silicon)
  2. Conor O'Sullivan: I presume someone at Fox asked, ‘Is it designed? Have you have a design for the creature?’ Somebody told the producers it was. But, when I got there, that wasn’t the case, and it wasn’t what Ridley wanted.”
    (https://www.inverse.com/article/31921-alien-covenant-interview-conor-o-sullivan-xenomorph-latex-silicon)
Conor O'Sullivan
c) Trying to work out what Ridley wanted

Conor noticed that Neal Scanlan didn't have much luck in this area during the production of Prometheus. 

He found that there was pressure from all the people that were working with his group, they all had their different agendas which made the situation quite stressful. 

When it began to go around the workship, people started to impose their agendas onto it and this resulted in fights. Adam O'Neill even found that his stomach was knotting up
  
Meanwhile Conor and his team which also included Colin Shulver, Bradley Simmons, Dominic Hailstone aset themselves the talk of trying to figure out what Ridley wanted. 

The way it was talked about later, it looked as if Ridley didn't have a clue

They reviewed existing designs and Ridley told them what he liked and did not. It gave them a  general direction in which to go. 

Some of them were rather agitated because they wanted to create an alien with pipes and tubes all over the body but they were returning to Giger's Necronom IV since Ridley kept referencing it and it didn't have so much of the mechanical elements obvious to them. 

Conor's looked at Giger's monster in terms of pipes and wires and with that he felt it was a stylised unworldly unreal thing. What he wanted for the new beast was to have something that had more tubes and organic veins instead, grounding it near enough in what he knew about biological reality .

  1. L'Ecran fantastique: Par quoi avez-vous commencé?
    What did you start with?

    Conor O'Sullivan: Par one sort d'état des lieux de tous les designs qu'il fallait créer au plus vite pour avancer. Il y avait non seulement une nouvel version du Xenomorph, le monstre classique d'Alien, mais aussi du Neomorph qui devait ressembler un peu au Deacon que l'on voit émerger du corpse de l'ingénieur à la fin de Prometheus, sans parle de beaucoup d'autres effets. C'était un énorme travail pour notre équipe, qui représentait un budget de plusieurs millions de dollars. Nous avons donc entamé le travail de design sur les chapeaux de roues, dans une ambiance de panique, car il fallait que ces concepts réussissent à convaincre Ridley, ce qui n'est pas une mince affaire!

    By one sort of state of the place of all the designs that had to be created as quickly as possible to advance. There was not only a new version of Xenomorph, Alien's classic monster, but also of the Neomorph, which looked a bit like the Deacon that emerges from the engineer's corpse at the end of Prometheus, without talking about Many other effects. It was a tremendous amount of work for our team, which was a multi-million dollar budget. So we started the design work on the ground running, because these concepts had to convince Ridley, which is no small matter!
    (L'Ecran fantastique)
  2. Il y avait des vues d'écorchés en cire, des images d'oisseux venant de naître, etc.
    Ridley also selected images of Italian and French anatomical figures made in the 18th century for use in medical education. There were stained wax views, images of newborn birds, and so on.(L'Ecran fantastique) 
  3. Conor O'Sullivan: It became our departments job to design the creatures - supervised by Ridley - as well as to cover any practical model effects that were needed for film. We also provided reference heads of the designs of the creatures, which were filmed in the correct scenes to give the VSFX department useful lighting and texture references of the creature in situ. When I was first employed on the film, about 20 or 30 different concepts of the adult Xenomorph had already been commissioned but Ridley did not appear to be happy with any of them. However there was one particular  piece of  Giger artwork that he kept referring to  as well as an anatomical waxwork from the Italian medical museum in Florence. 
  4. The Giger piece was the famous Necronom IV and the waxwork was a male figure from La Specola Anatomical Collection - a strangely elongated form, smooth and sinewy . (Alien Covenant artbook)
  5. Conor O'Sullivan: [Art director] Adam O'Neill​ was saying that when he worked on it, he could almost feel his stomach knotting up. (https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/a-strippeddown-killing-machine-alien-covenants-terrifying-new-creature-20170501-gvw1rd.html)
  6. Den of Geek: On the e, erm Master Class creatures feature, you said the alien carried a lot of baggage which is pretty impressive for a stowaway, um, but er, how, how did you tackle the pressure of doing something new with such an iconic creature
    Conor O'Sullivan: It was quite a battle to try to understand, adapting what it was that Ridley was looking for
    Den of Geek:
    Hmm (Den of Geek Interview at Madame Tussauds)  
  7. Conor O'Sullivan: Nous nous sommes mis à quatre pour concevoir ce nouveau xénomorphe; Colin Shulver, Bradley Simms, Dominic Hailstone et moi-même. La première étape a consisté à essayer d comprendre ce que Ridley voulait. Nous avons par exemple passé en revue les designs existants et il nous a dit ce qu'il aimait ou pas. Ça nous a donné une direction générale dan lequel aller. Nous avons commencé par travailler sur papier, puis dans zBrush, ensuite sous forme de prototype miniature, et enfin, en sculpture taille réelle. Le look a été finalisé par Colin. On associe tellement le xénomorphe à cette école de design qu'il s'est avéré très compliqué d l'oublier. Les artistes intégraient du bioméchanique presque sans s'en rendre compte! [Rires] (SFX May/June 2017)

    Conor O'Sullivan: We have set ourselves four to conceive this new xenomorph; Colin Shulver, Bradley Simms, Dominic Hailstone and myself. The first step was to try and figure out what Ridley wanted. For example, we reviewed the existing designs and he told us what he liked or not. It gave us a general direction in which to go. We started by working on paper, then in zBrush, then as a miniature prototype, and finally, in real size sculpture. The look was finalized by Colin. We associate xenomorph so much with this school of design that it proved very complicated to forget it. Artists integrated biomechanics almost without realizing it! [Laughs]
  8.  
d) See: Return to Necronom IV



https://alienexplorations.blogspot.com/2019/01/alien-covenant-return-to-necronom-iv.html

e. iv) Shulver's beast

Colin Shulver was shown this image and gave his design for the alien beast eye sockets that were under the dome, based on the eye goggle shapes of this biomechanoid beast. 

If ever he had come to know the name of the painting itself, soon it would fade from his mind.

  1. Colin Shulver: So, like for the alien itself, we kind of had a, there was a sculpt produced by Bradley Simms initially as a as a concept, er, beautiful sculpt, and we had, that was scanned, and then that was given to me as a as kind of digital model and I was then back engineered that, create the inner skull and the dome and the kind of create all the teeth parts and so and then that was 3d printers so and that was then, after we got the printers mold again and that was used for sculpting the rest you know initially kind of sculpting the rest of the creatures and the skin Bradley then went back to work on the head for the live scale alien, and so he kind of created the skin for that, so had a kind of real world uses as well which is really really fantastic (AVPGalaxy podcast 54)

Colin Shulver

Alien head with eye sockets


Alien head with eye sockets

f) Towards the wax anatomical model

Going back to the source didn't convince everyone in the studio, and so Ridley went a different direction, taking the alien head and using a wax model of a skinless human with all the muscles showing. 

Ridley had also selected images from Italian and French anatomical figures made in the 18th Century for the use of medical education found in the Spinoza museum, as well as images of newborn birds and then also focused on wax anatomical models from the Specola Anatomical Collection in Milan. 

For those who would believe that the original alien had some sort of armour on, perhaps this new beast was another earlier form of the Alien life form but without its armour.

Source: https://twitter.com/

Conor assumed that this was what he wanted instead of the biomechanical look. 

He even had a drawing that Ridley had drawn over with reference to the wax work. 

It was as if Ridley wanted what seemed to be a naturalized version and that's what the creature creators did. 

Conor came to realise that ultimately it turned out that the designer of the alien beast was Ridley himself.

He also realise how artists found themselves associating with Giger's original Alien design so much in their lives that it proved complicated to forget it, and artists integrated biomechanics into their work almost without realising it.
  1. Conor O'Sullivan: Ridley's constantly drawing - storyboards, ideas, designs, etcetera. He would draw over any photo you gave him - correcting it to what he wanted. He did this with a photo of a Giger painting called 'Necronom IV' and an image of an anatomical waxwork from Italy. This was the referenced for the next Xenomorph look (Makeup Artist #126, p82)
  2. Conor O'Sullivan: If you look at the original Giger, it’s much more organic than the classic alien, Ridley was interested in a wax figure in the Spinoza museum. I think this is what he wanted, not the biomechanical look. I’ve got a drawing he’s drawn over with reference to the wax work. Ridley wanted a naturalized version, and that’s what we did. Ultimately, the designer was Ridley himself. (https://www.inverse.com/article/31921-alien-covenant-interview-conor-o-sullivan-xenomorph-latex-silicon)

Source https://www.flickr.com/
Source : https://www.flickr.com


g) Breakthrough

g.i) Back engineering

They started working on paper, their first breakthrough came with a head that Bradley Simmons had sculpted.

Conor O'Sullivan photoshopped images of this and twisted it into the proportions of Giger's design, before he got Bradley to to sculpt another head based on this and Giger's design. 

Once Ridley liked that, we took a bunch of photos and scanned it and then Colin Shulver cleaned that up in ZBrush. 

Ridley immediately approved of the resulting effort, then it was scanned and given to Colin Shulver as a digital model which he deconstructed or as it were 'backengineered' using Zbrush, recreating as separate parts, the inner skull, the dome and the teeth .



h.ii) Alien Kit

They also molded the sculpt and used the mold to create stunt heads. 

They broke it down like a model kit, with all the different parts going off to be printed, which meant that the skull, jaw and teeth were printed in nylon in Melbourne and the dome was printed in resin in the UK, mainly due to the ability of the print sizes, ( It's also known that some of the prints were used directly but most of them were moulded and then cast out in super light-weight resin,while the final carapace instance was clear gel coat and fibreglass resin.  (Someone might wonder if the the carapace and the dome ought to be the same thing. That's yet to be known)

Brought together they fitted perfectly. 

They molded the two to produce a core over which Bradley sculpted a skin as well as lightweight clear resin versions for the suits. Bradley's new sculpt was then modeled and produced in a combination of foam latex and silicon.


Odd Studios: Alien: Covenant. A WIP pic of our full scale Xeno chest sculpture. Combination of mediums- 3D sculpted/printed ribs, WED clay and medium Chavant clay. Sculptors Dominic Hailstone @dominic_hailstone_ Adam Johansen @adman855 and Colin Shulver. Creature effects by Odd Creatures- Odd Studio & Creatures Inc.(Source https://www.facebook.com/oddstudiopl/ 24th April 2019)


Odd Studios: Alien: Covenant. A WIP pic of our full scale Xeno chest sculpture. Combination of mediums- 3D sculpted/printed ribs, WED clay and medium Chavant clay. Sculptors Dominic Hailstone @dominic_hailstone_ Adam Johansen @adman855 and Colin Shulver. Creature effects by Odd Creatures- Odd Studio & Creatures Inc. (https://www.facebook.com/oddstudiopl/ 29th April 2019)



Odd Studios: "Alien: Covenant. The Xenomorph. The 
body sculpture of our suit version worn by Goran D. Kleut 
and sculpted by Andy Hunt @andy_hunt2000 and Colin Shulver
 Creature effects by Odd Creatures, Odd Studio & Creatures Inc. "
Source: https://www.facebook.com/oddstudiopl/ August 18, 2017 ·
  1. Arnold Goldman: Is this sculpted in our Monster Clay?
    Adam Johansen: WED clay Arnold. (Facebook
    https://www.facebook.com/oddstudiopl/ August 19, 2017 ·)



Odd Studios: Happy Alien day everyone!! To celebrate,  
we’ll be posting some never beforeseen pics from Alien: 
Covenant 👽💀 This pic taken during a fitting of our suit 
version of the Xenomorph, played by Goran D. Kleut. 
(source https://www.facebook.com/oddstudiopl/, 26th April 209)

Odd Studios: Happy Alien day everyone!! To celebrate, we’ll be posting some never before seen pics from Alien: Covenant 👽💀 Here’s an on set pic of our Covenant Xenomorph suit. (https://www.facebook.com/oddstudiopl/ 23rd April 2019


Odd Studios: Happy Alien day everyone!! To celebrate, we’ll be posting some never before seen pics from Alien: Covenant 👽💀 Here’s another on set pic of our Covenant Xenomorph suit, played by Goran D. Kleut. https://www.facebook.com/oddstudiopl/ 23rd April 2019




Odd Studios: "Alien: Covenant. Blocking out the 
big chap. Head sculpt by Bradley Simmons, body by 
Dominic Hailstone & Adam Johansen. Creature effects 
by Odd Creatures. Odd Studio and Creatures Inc "
(https://www.facebook.com/oddstudiopl/ September 20, 2017 )

Odd Studios: "Alien: Covenant. The Xenomorph.
One of the many fittings with Andrew Crawford for the 

full scale (9ft) xeno suit.  Adam Johansen, Marea Fowler 
& Greg McKee. Creature effects by Odd Creatures. "
(https://www.facebook.com/oddstudiopl/ December 27, 2017)
Odd Studios: "Alien: Covenant. The Xenomorph production line.
Paint job by Damian Martin and Julian Ledger. Creature effects by ODD CREATURES
"

https://www.facebook.com/oddstudiopl/ August 30, 2017


Odd Studios: "Alien: Covenant. Ridley Scott.
Damian Martin painting our hero animatronic Xenomorph puppet.
Creature effects by Odd Studio & Creatures Inc. Odd Creatures."
https://www.instagram.com =Odd Studio , June 2, 2017

Odd Studios: "Assembling the alien kit. Alien: Covenant. The Xenomorph.
Adam Johansen, Rob Trenton & Colin Ware working on the 

animatronic version of the creature. Fun times.
Creature effects by Odd Creatures-Odd Studio & Creatures Inc.
"

(Facebook/ Odd Studio August 17, 2017 ·)
  1. Conor O'Sullivan: Our first breakthrough came with a head that Bradley Simmons had sculpted. I photoshopped images of this twisting it into the proportions of Giger's design, and got Bradley to sculpt another head based on this and Giger's design. Ridley immediately approved of it. I then had the clay model scanned and Colin Shulver deconstructed this in Zbrush, splitting it into a skull, dome and jaw. We also molded the sculpt and used the mold to create stunt heads. The skull, jaw and teeth were printed in Nylon in Melbourne and the dome printed in Resin in the UK, mainly due to the ability of print sizes. When the two came together, they fitted perfectly. We molded the two to produce a core over which Bradley sculpted a skin as well as lightweight clear resin versions for the suits. Bradley's new sculpt was then molded and produced in a combination of foam latex and silicon. We made two different versions of the body. One was a puppeteered Bunraki type suit and the other was an actual suit. (Alien Covenant artbook)
  2. On this project we really experimented and embraced 3D printing. We had a lot of designs ZBrush modelled. However, most creatures did begin as clay sculptures. The Xenomorph head started as a sculpt that Bradley Simms did. Once Ridley liked that, we took a bunch of photos and scanned it and then Colin Shulver cleaned that up in ZBrush. Then we broke it down like a model kit, so the inner skull, jaw etc all went off and got printed. Some of the prints were used directly but most of them were moulded and then cast out in super light-weight resin. The carapace for instance was clear gel coat and fibreglass resin. The body was sculpted by Dominic Hailstone and myself. The ribcage was cast in urethanes. We went to foam latex for the arms, neoprene, lycra and things like that for the inner fabrications. And we had some silicon elements on the face, too.

    Adam Johansen: On this project we really experimented and embraced 3D printing. We had a lot of designs ZBrush modelled. However, most creatures did begin as clay sculptures. The Xenomorph head started as a sculpt that Bradley Simms did. Once Ridley liked that, we took a bunch of photos and scanned it and then Colin Shulver cleaned that up in ZBrush. Then we broke it down like a model kit, so the inner skull, jaw etc all went off and got printed. Some of the prints were used directly but most of them were moulded and then cast out in super light-weight resin. The carapace for instance was clear gel coat and fibreglass resin. The body was sculpted by Dominic Hailstone and myself. The ribcage was cast in urethanes. We went to foam latex for the arms, neoprene, lycra and things like that for the inner fabrications. And we had some silicon elements on the face, too. (https://vfxblog.com/2017/06/09/practical-creature-effects-alien-covenant/#jp-carousel-4982)

    On this project we really experimented and embraced 3D printing. We had a lot of designs ZBrush modelled. However, most creatures did begin as clay sculptures. The Xenomorph head started as a sculpt that Bradley Simms did. Once Ridley liked that, we took a bunch of photos and scanned it and then Colin Shulver cleaned that up in ZBrush. Then we broke it down like a model kit, so the inner skull, jaw etc all went off and got printed. Some of the prints were used directly but most of them were moulded and then cast out in super light-weight resin. The carapace for instance was clear gel coat and fibreglass resin. The body was sculpted by Dominic Hailstone and myself. The ribcage was cast in urethanes. We went to foam latex for the arms, neoprene, lycra and things like that for the inner fabrications. And we had some silicon elements on the face, too.

  3. Conor O'Sullivan: In our rush to get it done, we overlooked one practical aspect of the sculpt whereby the sculpted cheeks and lips of the creature were too loose when the mouth closed and looked too fleshy. We resculpted this area, Rob Trenton and Adam Johannson making new lips and muscle groups over about three days, with Adam artworking the finish until Ridley was satisfied . (Alien Covenant artbook)




Odd Studios: "Alien: Covenant. The Xenomorph. 
On set maintenance. Image by 20th Century Fox
Creature effects and prosthetics by Odd Creatures. 

Odd Studio and Creatures Inc. "
https://www.facebook.com/oddstudiopl/ October 28, 2017

i) Men in alien suits

i.i) Steering towards men in suits

By January 2016, Ridley Scott had steered away from using a biomechanical alien and by then he wanted to use film creatures played by actors wearing costumes. This would immediately require four actors very thin, two very tall large ones to play two Xenomorphs and two to play Neomorphs. In the end both the Xenomorphs are played by one man.

Conor, following the reduction in biomechanic elements, felt that what he was doing was what Ridley always wanted as if he didn't want any mechanical aspects to any of the alien creatures in the film that they made, to make them completely organic. He thought that if one looks at the biomechanical elements in Giger's work, it looked beautiful, but in reality it would have been made by some other creature, but in this story, the alien is almost naturally occurring through the basic fundamental physics of the body and their DNA.

They had made two versions of the body. One was a puppeteered Bunraku type suit and the other was an actual suit. 

i.ii) Bunraku type suit: 
The Bunraku type suit worn by Andrew Crawford who was a dancer about 6'4" built so that parts of his body were exposed. His face and eyes were looking out of the ribcage and on top of that was a huge neck/head extensions which is all animatronic. 

He operated the arms, which are painfully thin, externally, and he was also on stilts, so, standing he was about nine foot. He had basic animatronic movements, overseen by head mech Greg McKee, including the mouth and head. 

Head fabricator Marea Fowler did a fantastic job overseeing the fabrication with the help of Aline Joyce, Shannon Riggs and Elisa Heimann on this and the other xeno and neo suits. 

It stood over 8ft tall with the actor using carbon fibre raisers to achieve the height, but the raisers made it difficult to use on uneven ground, so it was impractical in a lot of locations.  

Bunraki type suit
i.iii) Man in actual suit

Ridley actually preferred the actual suit due to its practicality although it was small and looked more like a man in a suit, but worn by Goran D. Kleut

c.iv) They also made an animatronic version for closeup work.


The alien suit worn by Goran D Kleut

Goran D Kleut in an alien suit

i.iv) Replaced by cgi
While the creature was shot with physical special effects, they would be replaced, and Conor was content to go with this and it would be better for the people in the CGI department if they had something physically real to copy. Then Conor and Ridley would hand all the 3D files to the visual effects department who essentially worked over the real effects caught on the camera. What turned up on the screen in Conor's view what essentially what the creature department had designed

  1. Conor O'Sullivan:  Ridley preferred the actual suit due to its practicality though it was smaller and looked more like a man in a suit. The puppeteered suit was large, over 8ft tall with the actor using carbon fibre raisers to achieve the height. The raisers made it difficult to use on uneven ground so it was impractical in a lot of locations.  We also made an animatronic version for closeup work. (Alien Covenant artbook)
    Conor O'Sullivan: This is what Ridley always wanted, I think, If you think about it, the biomechanical stuff from Giger looks beautiful in Giger's paintings, but their relation to reality would have had to have been made by some creatures. The storyline of [Alien: Covenant] is that these [creatures] are naturally occurring — well, almost naturally occurring — through the basic fundamental physics of the body and their DNA. (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/alien-covenant-alien-types-xenomorph-continues-horrify-audiences-1004459 May 18th 2017) 
  2. Adam Johansen: During the shoot, the scariest white-knuckle kind of shots involved Andrew Crawford running in the full scale suit. There’s a really long platform that the Xenomorph is seen running down amongst all the dead engineers. Andrew, who is a dancer actually, is about 6” 4’, slim build with a fantastic sense of movement. He’d never done anything like this before, and here he is in this suit with very limited vision, weight restrictions on his head, on these carbon fiber blades, running down an angle. So I’d be there right before the shot holding him. And he’s got one of our hero heads on the top of his own head. So he runs down this platform onto gravel, like big rocky gravel, and it was scary! The whole crew were holding their breath during the takes. I was very concerned about Andrew and concerned about the suit. But he did it, he pulled it off.
    (https://vfxblog.com/2017/06/09/practical-creature-effects-alien-covenant/)
  3. Adam Johansen: One of the suits we produced, which was worn by Andrew Crawford, was a Bunraku style puppet/suit combo. It was built so that parts of Andrew’s body were exposed. His face and his eyes are looking out of the ribcage and on top of that was a huge neck/head extension, which is all animatronic. He operated the arms, which are painfully thin, externally, and he was also on stilts. So, standing he was about nine foot. He had basic animatronic movements, overseen by head mech Greg McKee, including the mouth and head. Head fabricator Marea Fowler did a fantastic job overseeing the fabrication with the help of Aline Joyce, Shannon Riggs and Elisa Heimann on this and the other xeno and neo suits.  (https://vfxblog.com/2017/06/09/practical-creature-effects-alien-covenant/)


j)  The fat, sugar and salt situation
Conor would compare it to a situation with fat, sugar and salt , that if one combines them in the right quantities, it becomes an irresistible combination but if one ate them on their own, one would be sick. When it came to designing the alien, he understood that others would see it as erotic looking, and quite beautiful, but it's also horrifying, disgusting and terrifying 


  1. Conor O'Sullivan: Ridley wants to shoot things for real, even if they’ll be replaced. He believes, and I agree with him, that it looks better in the end if you’ve got a real reference for the CG guys to copy,” (https://www.inverse.com/article/31921-alien-covenant-interview-conor-o-sullivan-xenomorph-latex-silicon)
  2. Conor O'Sullivan: Nobody ever said it, but Ridley definitely didn't want any mechanical aspect to the aliens or any of the creatures in this film that we made, They were all completely organic. (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/alien-covenant-alien-types-xenomorph-continues-horrify-audiences-1004459 May 18th 2017)
  3. Conor O'Sullivan: When you combine fat, sugar and salt together, it becomes an irresistible combination that if you ate them on their own, you'd be sick. With the alien creature, it'll be erotic. You'll [see it] as erotic-looking. It's quite beautiful, but it's also horrifying and disgusting and terrifying. So it's almost like the fat, sugar and salt situation. Individually they're all horrible on their own, but when they're combined in the right quantities, then it's almost irresistible. That's what I wanted to achieve.(http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/alien-covenant-alien-types-xenomorph-continues-horrify-audiences-1004459 May 18th 2017)
  4. SFX: Comment s'est passé ce processus de design "en accéléré" ?
    SFX: How was this design process "accelerated"?

    Conor O'Sullivan: (Rires)  On peut le dire... J'ai découvert qu'ils avaient déjà des centaines de designs pour le néomorphe et le xénomorphe. Certains concepts remontaient même à dix ans! Mais Ridley n'avait rien trouvé qui lui convienne.  Pour le xénomorphe, son idée était de revenir à la peinture originale de Giger qui avait tout déclenché pour Alien, une oevre intitulée Necromon IV. Dans ce design, one retrouve la silhouette de xénomorphe, mais avec un approche entièrement organique. Pour Alien, Giger avait repris ce design en développan le côté bioméchanique, et Ridley pensait que ce serait une bonn idée de revenir aux sources. L'idée n'a pas canvaincu tout le monde au studio, je dois dire, car chacun a sa version préferée du xénomorphe, mais Ridley a eu gain de cause.(SFX May/June 2017)

    Conor O'Sullivan: (laughs) You can say ... I discovered they already had hundreds of designs for the neomorph and the xenomorph. Some concepts dated back ten years! But Ridley had not found anything to suit him. For the xenomorph, his idea was to go back to Giger's original painting, which had triggered everything for Alien, a work entitled Necromon IV. In this design, one finds the silhouette of xenomorph, but with an entirely organic approach. For Alien, Giger had taken up this design in developing the biomechanical side, and Ridley thought it would be a good idea to return to the sources. The idea did not convince everyone in the studio, I must say, because everyone has his favorite version of the xenomorph, but Ridley has won. 
  5. Bref, vers le fin janvier 2016, nous avons compris que Ridley n'avait pas envie de formes biomechaniques, et c'est au même moment qu'il a clairement indiqué qu'il a clairement indiqué qu'il souhaitait filmer des créatures jouées par des acteurs portant des costumes.Nous allions devoir réaliser quatre créatures différentes - deux aliens et deux neomorphs - et comme nous nous étions déjà installés en Australie, cela signifiait qu'il allait falloir trouver illico presto quatre acteurs très minces pour les jouer. Dont deux très grands pour jouer les xenomorphs. En fin de compte nous avon pu utiliser le même acteur pour jouer les deux aliens.
    In short, towards the end of January 2016, we realized that Ridley did not want biomechanical forms, and it was at the same time that he clearly indicated that he wanted to film creatures played by Actors wearing costumes. We would have to realize four different creatures - two aliens and two neomorphs - and as we had already settled in Australia, it meant that we would have to find "hey presto" (?) four players very thin to play them. Including two very large ones to play xenomorphs. In the end we could use the same actor to play the two aliens. (L'Ecran fantastique)
  6. Den of Geek: Was that

    Conor O'Sullivan: Was that something you saw potential doing varied

    Den of Geek: Something you can sink your teeth into, doing that sort of a varied xxxxxx

    Conor O'Sullivan: Well the baggage came with that, that's where the baggage came, because everybody who works for me is generally, they are the fans who, they probably started in the business that was do because of the alien franchise, the Alien films

    Den of Geek: yeah,

    Conor O'Sullivan: And they were dedicated to the idea of the, the er the alien being quite true to what they thought was Giger's sort of legacy.

    Den of Geek:
    Yeah,

    Conor O'Sullivan: Um, and when I presented , you know, showed them the sort of reference that Ridley was wanting and er we were working out with Colin Shulver and erm, er, Bradley Simmons, he used to work here in Tussauds, er, what, where we were heading they were, some of them got quite agitated. They wanted pipes and tubes and there, you know, really, Ridley was going back to an original piece of artwork that Giger had done in Necronomicon and he erm, he kept referencing that and that's what he wanted in the end. (Den of Geek Interview at Madame Tussauds)

Alien:Covenant concept art xenomorph image by Leandre Lagrange

Alien:Covenant concept art xenomorph image by Leandre Lagrange, Ravi Bansal and Mark Tompkins.

k) Digital Xenomorph
MPC based in Culver City in LA worked on the digital version of the "Xenomorph". For this movie, Scott wanted the freedom to move away from the ‘guy in a suit’ look of the Xenomorph from the original film and create a more unnatural version of the creature. The Xenomorph needed to have non-human proportions and its own physical signature but still be recognisable as the original Alien. H.R Giger’s original designs were continually referenced throughout the creation of this and there was a physical animatronic on set to match to, however a lot of work went into how this new version of the traditional Alien would move and a lot of different animal movements were incorporated into the animation.

The concept art department that involved names such as Leandre Lagrange, Mark Tompkins was led by Ravi Bansal, and they created different designs for the Xenomorph in pre-production, Stephane Levallois also contributed some designs. They took in the fact that Ridley loved the anatomical ‘écorché’ wax sculptures in the Museo della Specola in Florence, Italy, and this brought a slimmer frame and fleshier look to the creature.

They understood the idea that character David the android has spent years tinkering with the pathogen DNA and re-combining it to create what was known as the "Xenomorph" which was the perfect organism. In the original Alien movie, this creature was a cool and stealthy killer, and so this beast was a larger version of the bioweapon that the engineers had designed in the Neomorph.

The exploration of the Xeno movement language went through a similar process as the Neo, with research into natural references and work on animation studies and reviews with Ridley. They looked at the all the scenes on the original 1979 film for close up details, like the facial and inner mouth working, lip quivering before the bite and how much drool he made.

From nature, they found that the praying mantis was as a good reference Ridley liked. They are a cold and stealthy, sitting perfectly still until the moment to strike, and moving at a blinding speed. The mantis had this otherworldly head movements as it feels the environment around it, turning and locking into place with a mix of robotic and organic motion, truly biomechanical in nature. They also referenced growing larvae and different clips of insects breathing and wriggling at an accelerated rate, this became motion references for the fleshy details on the Xeno’s head and torso, where they could see the skin pulsating and breathing as he moves. They paid close attention to the muscles on the head, connecting the movement of the jaws to tendons and twitches on the side of the head.

With the Xenomorph had many layers of specular. It had a main skin specular layer very similar to the human one; a wet layer on top, then geometry of water drops and a goop as the top layer. Every layer was driven by textures where we painted the textures in an organic way to avoid the use of fractals. Due to the fact the Xenomorph did not have much colour variation overall, every part of it had a texture to drive the reflection roughness in order to achieve a different look for the different parts of its body. Specular was used to differentiate bones from skin and other parts like the dome of the head, nails, teeth, etc.

Level of reflection had to be adjusted per shot basis depending on how fast the creature was moving. When moving fast, we increased the displacement on the skin to bring detail on the specular and avoid the soft skin effect you get when there is too much motion blur. The displacement on the skin was animated at rig level by a primvar (primitive variables), ripping the muscles when in tension, and relaxing when not. This combination added extra complexity to the skin as it would change as the muscles fired and added lots of pins of specular detail variation with the animation.
  1. artofvfx: The iconic Xenomorph is back too. Can you explain in detail about his creation??
    Ferran Domenech:
    The concept art department at MPC L.A. led by Ravi Bansal, created different designs for the Xeno in pre-production. These were inspired by the original H. R. Giger’s Xenomorph artwork and a new more organic aesthetic the director wanted. Particularly, Ridley loved the anatomical ‘écorché’ wax sculptures in the Museo della Specola in Florence, Italy, and this brought a slimmer frame and fleshier look to the creature. (http://www.artofvfx.com)
  2. artofvfx: On the animation side, what was the main difference with the Neomorph?
    Ferran Domenech:David spent years tinkering with the pathogen DNA and re-combining it to create the ‘Xenomorph’ a perfect organism. On the original 1979 ALIEN, the Xeno is a cool and stealthy killer. This made sense to us as he is a larger version of the bioweapon the engineers designed in the Neomorph.
    The exploration of the Xeno movement language went through a similar process as the Neo, with research into natural references and work on animation studies and reviews with Ridley. We looked at the all the scenes on the original 1979 film for close up details, like the facial and inner mouth working, lip quivering before the bite and how much drool he made.
    From nature, we found that the praying mantis was as a good reference Ridley liked. They are a cold and stealthy, sitting perfectly still until the moment to strike, and moving at a blinding speed. The mantis had this otherworldly head movements as it feels the environment around it, turning and locking into place with a mix of robotic and organic motion, truly biomechanical in nature.
    We also reference growing larvae and different clips of insects breathing and wriggling at an accelerated rate, this became motion references for the fleshy details on the Xeno’s head and torso, where we could see the skin pulsating and breathing as he moves. We paid close attention to the muscles on the head, connecting the movement of the jaws to tendons and twitches on the side of the head.
    (http://www.artofvfx.com)
  3. artofvfx: How did you handle the reflective aspect of his skin?
    Ferran Domenech:The Xenomorph had many layers of specular. It had a main skin specular layer very similar to the human one; a wet layer on top, then geometry of water drops and a goop as the top layer. Every layer was driven by textures where we painted the textures in an organic way to avoid the use of fractals. Due to the fact the Xenomorph did not have much colour variation overall, every part of it had a texture to drive the reflection roughness in order to achieve a different look for the different parts of its body. Specular was used to differentiate bones from skin and other parts like the dome of the head, nails, teeth, etc.
    Level of reflection had to be adjusted per shot basis depending on how fast the creature was moving. When moving fast, we increased the displacement on the skin to bring detail on the specular and avoid the soft skin effect you get when there is too much motion blur.? The displacement on the skin was animated at rig level by a primvar, ripping the muscles when in tension, and relaxing when not. This combination added extra complexity to the skin as it would change as the muscles fired and added lots of pins of specular detail variation with the animatio
    n. (http://www.artofvfx.com)
  4. For this movie, Scott wanted the freedom to move away from the ‘guy in a suit’ look of the Xenomorph from the original film and create a more unnatural version of the creature. The Xenomorph needed to have non-human proportions and its own physical signature but still be recognisable as the original Alien. H.R Giger’s original designs were continually referenced throughout the creation of this and there was a physical animatronic on set to match to, however a lot of work went into how this new version of the traditional Alien would move and a lot of different animal movements were incorporated into the animation. ( "Exclusive ‘Alien: Covenant’ Concept Art Reveals Ridley Scott’s Second Stab at the Xenomorph" by Adam Chitwood June 1, 2017)
  5. Charley Henley: From the outset Ridley had a lot of concepts and references at hand for what these creatures should be like. The Xenomorph was to reference a few favorite H.R Giger designs but also be a little less biomechanical and more organic in a direction heavily influenced by écorché’ anatomical sculptures found in Museo della Specola in Florence Italy.
    The designs started with concepts drawn up with MPC’s art department, where then picked up by the practical creature team for the shoot period and then further refined in post through zBrush sculpts and look development in Renderman. (http://www.artofvfx.com/alien-covenant-charley-henley-production-vfx-supervisor-mpc/)
     
      Final CGI xenomorph in Alien: Covenant

      No comments:

      Post a Comment