The CGI of Iron Sky

Iron Sky is a dark science fiction comedy directed by Timo Vuorensola with CG supervised by Samuli Torssonen. The film is created in the wake of the cult series Star Wreck which parodies a litle US series of a similar name.

By Paul Hellard

After the completion of the zero budget Star Wreck parody series which took seven years out of his life, the Finnish CGI producer Samuli Torssonen, was thinking about what the creative group could be doing next. Torssonen had overseen all the visual effects himself in that parody and even starred in the productions as well. Another local studio Blind Spot Pictures wanted to make a bigger production and another mentor suggested putting Nazis on the Moon. “After a while we realised this was actually quite a unique, comical story,” Samuli adds.

Concept Art
The director wanted the world to be really believable so that the whole concept would be taken seriously. While Timo Vuorensola clearly had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, he wanted to show how the world would react if it was actually true that the nazis had been living on the moon all that time. True to their task, the crew got straight to work on the serious business of making great CG. “There’s always that cinematic twist of making everything look so very big,” explains Concept Art Director Jussi Lehtiniemi. “We wanted all this crazy technology to be an order of magnitude bigger than the previous one.”

In this movie, the Space Zeppelin the nazis used to transport their attack craft from the moon to the Earth would be over three kilometres in length. But the huge vehicle Götterdämmerung is even bigger still (OK, perhaps not as big as the DeathStar). Everything is super big for no apparent reason, but looking real enough for viewers to be accepting of the absurd idea. But the “real big” concept art and modeling of the massive vehicles was a true goal of the team from the beginning.

Visually developing the scenes and creating a feeling for moving about on the moon was also a gigantic task for Jussi Lehtiniemi and his concept and modeling crew. Many of the Energia and Blind Spot Pictures crew took on multiple roles as the line moved in their production Gannt chart. A lot of time was spent bringing together the final iteration of the fortress, then building and designing the virtual environment of the moon and the lunar autobahn. There was a lot of research and imagining of other shapes to be used for the UFO.

Götterdämmerung
Samuli puts the creation of the effects of Iron Sky down to the Finnish sisu, which translated means that they never give up, “…even when all the odds are against us.” The VFX crew in the Energia made sure to believe in the project and in the story. Because film production for Iron Sky started in 2008, the team had time to develop scripts, do research, play with concepts and devise some really entertaining story arcs, but in the end it is a shlock-horror SciFi film which is a lot of fun. “With only half a million Euros, we knew we had to limit the number of guys who were real specialists on our crew,” explains Samuli. “At the height of production we still only had 10 to 15 guys that were full-time, although we had some trainees to help with the rendering and generating some of the assets. We had only 50 computers, standard PCs i7 cards and 16Gb of RAM. But in our search, some amazing people started to pop out of the community wanting to help. Many were LightWave artists from California, really experienced guys who had been working on shows like Battlestar Galactica, the original Star Treks and Firefly. So we flew them to Finland and rented a couple of flats near the the office.”

Jussi Lehtiniemi worked on all of the concept design for the spaceships, the Götterdämmerung, the machine room concept and a more detailed design for Dr. Richter’s table, and a matte for the Helium-3 mine the ill-fated American astronaut finds on the moon. The schematic explains some of the most important ship parts, such as the atomic explosion chamber for the atomic howitzer, in which nuclear bombs are detonated to accelerate the projectile to launch speed. Also, the main machine room and command bridge seen on the film are highlighted.

Article borrowed with permission from CGsociety.org

See more production videos at YouTube.

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  1. Pingback: 68 upcoming horror movies | The Nordic fantasy movie site

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