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A examination of the visual effects in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

Prometheus contains approximately 1,300 digital effect shots. Moving Picture Company (MPC) were the lead visual effect studio and produced 420 of the shots. Several other studios also produced the visual effects including Weta Digital, Fuel VFX, Rising Sun Pictures, Luma Pictures, Lola Visual Effects, and Hammerhead Productions.

The disintegration of an Engineer to create life in the film’s opening scene was created by WETA Digital. The scene was considered difficult to produce because it was necessary to convey the story of the Engineer’s DNA breaking apart, re-forming and recombining into Earth DNA in a limited span of time. The team focused on making the DNA stages distinct to convey its changing status, with Scott requesting that they focus on the destruction being done within the Engineer. A light color scheme was used for the Engineer DNA and decayed fish spines were used as an image reference, while the infected DNA appeared “melted”. To gain insight in how to depict the DNA destruction, the team carved vein-like structures from silicone and pumped black ink and oils into them while filming the changes occurring over an extended period of time.

A key scene involving a large 3D hologram star map, dubbed “the Orrery”, was inspired by the 1766 Joseph Wright painting “A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery”, in which a scientist displays a mechanical planetarium by candlelight. While discussing the necessity of a star map with Spaihts, Scott mentioned the painting as how he saw the map being physically represented, although he was unaware of the name and described it only as “circles in circles with a candle lit image”. To Scott’s pleasure, Spaihts located the correct image based on his description. Spaihts stated: “making the leap from a star map, to an Enlightenment painting, and then back into the far future.

The Orrery was one of the most complex visual effects, containing 80-100 million polygons and taking several weeks to render a single complete shot. – Wikipedia

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