By Anton Adianto
Production designer Nathan Crowley, who has frequently collaborated with famed director Christopher Nolan such as in The Prestige and The Dark Knight trilogy, channelled his distinctive filmmaking skills to creating planets, wormholes, black holes, spaceships, a tesseract (a construction inside a black hole) and other spectacular celestial features in Interstellar. There were many challenges in creating the visuals in the movie, the tesseract being the most complex. Other difficult designs include TARS Robot, Ranger, Endurance, the Lander spaceships, the water and ice planets, basically whatever appears in the farmhouse sceneries. Crowley went on to receive his third Academy Award nomination for the unforgettable Interstellar.
There were four main challenges Crowley had to face in making the most realistic on-screen portrayal of the cosmos in the sci-fi movie. First on the list was leaping through the space-time sequence. He worked closely with the VFX team that was supervised by Oscar winner visual effect specialist Paul Franklin. The breakthrough came when Franklin came up with the concept of a black hole as “a vertical waterfall of light” portrayed in a unique blend of contemporary and retro designs.
The second challenge lied in creating the ice and water planets. Both planets were shot in Iceland, inspired by the marble ice sheets in the north of England. The water planet contained more than 1,200-metre never-seen-before tidal waves. Thirdly, it was just as challenging to create the next generation of NASA spaceships: the Ranger was created based on the design of a sports car, Lander was inspired by Russian heavy-lift helicopters and Endurance resembled a 12-pod circular station with a central docking system that spun around in a space.
Last but not least, Crowley had to build the intelligent TARS the robot. Inspired by the iconic monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey film, TARS appears on screen a minimalist metal block that was embedded with enhanced personality. Nolan also contributed to this design as an admirer of the late architect Mies van der Rohe and his minimalism.
Photo by Warner Brothers & Paramount Pictures