FX Guide have a fasciniating article on the practical and special fx's of Alien Covenant. They also give some insightful stories into the production of the film.
Alien: Covenant also introduces a new species in the Alien universe, the Neomorph. With early concepts and references from a goblin shark for its extendible jaw and skin quality, the assets team was focused on the emaciated model and pale skin shader to bring this new creature to life. The concept came from the art department, they had come up with a pale or white skinned concept that Scott really liked. "The skin was even slightly bagging in places, unlike the '79 Xenomorph", explains Domenech. For both characters bones, muscles and skin were created to give them a realistic feel when they move, but also how they react to light. "The birth of the Neomorph was also a challenge. It has four stages of life; baby, toddler, teen and adult. We needed to be able to blend and transform each stage from one to another to show its fast growth".
MPC played with the translucency and the veins, like the Goblin Shark while making sure it felt like it shared DNA with the Xenomorph. An actual Goblin shark has distinctive eyes, the Neomorph does not but it does "have a small amount of protrusion, a bit like an eye socket - but very subtle. We had an animation control on it so we could move it slightly, to give the Neomorph the sense of a vestigial or remnant of his eyes. But you would almost need to know it is there, the texture is ever so slightly darker so when we animated it , it felt like a sensory organ".
The Xenomorph as the weaponised version of the two creatures comes across as colder and more insect like. "It is economic in its motion and only moving when needed, switching from predatory and contained, - to blinding burst of speed and ferocity in an instant" he explains. At two and a half meters tall, the Xenomorph moves like great cats and other fast but heavy mammals; switching between greyhound when at full speed, tiger when leaping and running, and ape when cantering. When stationary, observing and studying its prey, animators used bird and insect references as those were integrated into the accents of his head and upper body motion. “Praying mantis” with its clicking fast motion, and birds like the “Shoebill” with their stabilised head motion and otherworldly movements were matched carefully to ground the motions of the Xenomorph in reality. The original 1979 Alien film was also greatly referenced and studied for the more subtle details from the facial performance, its inner mouth and slow opening and quivering of its lips.
Reading this you truly appreciate how much work, thought and genuine love for the Alien Franchise went into this film.
That is a lot to take in. However, a brief scan shows just how much work, research etc went into what we see. Even studying how a tiger attacks is interesting to watch imagining it from a movie making angle.
It makes you wish they had shown more of the Xeno/Proto to appreciate all the work that went into it's development.
I like the touch of the Neomorph's having vestigial eyes, Ill have to have a close look for them next watch
But you would almost need to know it is there, the texture is ever so slightly darker so when we animated it
Excellent article. Thanks for the link.
The latest issue of Cinefex has a good article of the Covenant effects as well.
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