At the very beginning of the design creation of The Tomorrow War’s aliens, director Chris McKay told the team: “I want you to be scared and think you're going to get hurt just looking at this thing.” As a result, the crew has created the most horrific thing that catches your attention at a glance, they are called “White Spikes.”
In this article, we’ll dive into the phenomenon of creating these dire creatures and uncover some more details about creating awesome graphics of aliens for films.
Let’s get it started!
How the White Spikes Design Was Created
According to the film’s main concept, the White Spikes were the most terrific enemies of humanity. These otherworldly humanities seem to appear from nowhere and pose a great threat to the existence of all mankind. Their appearance can’t be ignored and, surprisingly, it was these creatures that have brought The Tomorrow War such an incredible success. But how were these creatures actually implemented into the film’s plot, and how have the creators brought it into life with graphics?
The First Drafts of White Spikes
The overall process of creating the appalling creatures started from the simple description of the alien’s parameters. According to the script written by Zach Dean, these were called White Spikes because of their appearance and the ability to shoot deadly spikes. However, at the very beginning of designing the creatures, the director Chris McKay described them as the “vicious creatures that attack and eat everything in sight”, as Ken Barthelemy mentions later on his blog. So, the rest was entirely the graphic designers’ imagination.
Because of such a wide description of White Spikes, Ken Barthelemy has provided a few different options to choose from at the very beginning of the film project. Basically, that was entirely the brainstorming with plenty of catching ideas.
The Aliens Concept Improvement
Next, Chris McKay offered to make them more threatening, so the graphic designer came up with the idea of spike-shooting tentacles and presented them with a sketch. Such an effective yet memorable feature of White Spikes worked out perfectly, so Ken Barthelemy started developing that alien concept for The Tomorrow War.
Thus, at the final stage of White Spikes concept development, these killing machines feature the following qualities:
- Pale color that can point to the specific disease, so the human may get sick even by being around it
- Terrific hunger and intelligence
- The dangerous teeth and multiple limbs
- The ability to jump, grasp and claw
- The tentacles that could be weapons and that also shoots spikes
- The ability to quickly attack in close and at a distance
- The specific swimming, jumping, and flying skills
- Agility and the ability to move extremely fast
After this sketch was approved, Ken Barthelemy started working on the 3D model and renderings to present for the studio.
Filming the Actor Scenes
At this stage, the main scenes with the fighters are shot and transferred to the production.
And, while shooting the actors’ interaction with those terrific creatures, VFX Supervisor James Price stated, that they had plenty of different tools to use for actors on these scenes: the full-sized puppets onset, that were to occupy the right space and volumes. Sometimes they simply had a person in a green suit working against the actors, and sometimes it was just a rig.
Because of lots of different graphics used, the team tried to make every scene as natural and realistic as possible. In some cases, they even "have a stunt person in a gray suit and photograph them right alongside the actor”. Additionally, the actors could grab the specific pieces of the so-called “White Spikes”, like legs or tentacles. For this purpose, they’ve made different practical props that were eventually replaced, and at the same time could enhance the actors’ performance by making their moves and reactions more live and realistic.
Finally, they end up with great pieces that ideally fit the main concepts and atmosphere of the film, since, as Price says, they “were doing our best to shoot the movie as if the creatures were actually there.”
Besides, lots of useful insights and experience were taken from Chris Pratt, who was earlier known for the leading roles in Marvel Cinematic Universe and has lots of experience acting alongside the creatures that are going to be added at the production stage.
Finally, under the direction of Chris McKay, the filmmakers created the first draft of the film plot, by organically fitting each scene of The Tomorrow War.
The Production Stage: Adding White Spikes to Film Graphics
Though these monsters may look similar to the other extraterrestrials introduced in the latest most popular blockbusters of the 21-st century, in this case, we can see lots of graphics improvements made on the production stage. The fighters are never shown the exact images of these creatures because of their terrific appearance.
Next, the graphic designers started implementing the 3D models of the White Spikes with the powerful video editor for films. At this stage, it’s not only enough to add the finalized 3D models to each stage of the film. Designers need to make lots of adjustments, corrections, and improvements to make these terrific creatures look organically on the screen and give a significant boost to the film concept.
All the visual graphics added to the fights described in the film helped to give the production a more modern feel. The blockbusters like The Tomorrow War, basically define the overall atmosphere of the film and, consequently, its success.
However, if you’re planning to give it a shot and try making a similar creature for any sort of project, like blockbuster or thriller, then masking the tools like Magisto, VideoStudio Ultimate, or PowerDirector can be a thing for your future project. They provide all the necessary tools for the effortless implementation of any aliens to your videos and films.
To conclude, White Spikes has brought a brand new vision for designing aliens in the film industry. Multiple visual graphics techniques and feature-rich video editing technologies allow creating even more horrific creatures that can scare viewers and at the same time draw more interest towards the plot of the film.
There are numerous aliens films that have never been made because of numerous challenges such as graphic creation. Now that you have fully discovered how the famous White Spikes design was built, why wait for more? Download the powerful video editing tools for filmmaking and try to make one yourself!
If you're a fan of Alien / Prometheus and would like to discuss Alien: Covenant and its upcoming sequel with other like-minded fans, be sure to join in our Alien: Covenant forum! Ranked the #1 Prometheus forum back in 2012 and reigning as the web's top Alien: Covenant fan site, it's a great place to discuss the upcoming Prometheus sequels, dissect details from every trailer and engage with other fans just like you.
The future of Alien
The Alien franchise is taking a dramatic turn at 20th Century Studios, now owned by Disney. Currently there are two major Alien projects in development - a new Alien TV series by Noah Hawley and a new, stand-alone Alien movie being directed by Fede Alvarez. Both of which will be taking the franchise in a new direction - moving away from the Alien prequel direction Ridley Scott set out to pursue back in 2012.
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