Alien Resurrection: Designing The Final Auriga

leading from 
Alien Resurrection 
and 
Sylvain Despretz 
 


Auriga (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)

Auriga (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)

a) New design for the Auriga
Nigel came in to the art department and rounded up Jim Martin, Bill Boes and Sylvain Dspretz, and said to them "Well, guys, we've got three days to come up with another one so, anything lying in your draws, just bring it up, "

The art department went to town or perhaps even got to their battle stations and then again it was like a race, where they had to produce around ten or twenty different drawings of ships and then Jean-Pierre came down to the room and looked at the different drawings and started selecting what he liked. But he would begin to "hack" at drawings, which a sort of typical process, somebody would brings in a bit , Sylvain would be watching over what they've just done hoping that his design doesn't get butchered too much.

Illustrator Jim Martin did one design using a scientific approach evoking the feel of a space station, complete with detachable looking sections and softer more rounded shapes while Sylvain Despretz picked up on the fact that there were so many ribs in the corridors, it would be interesting to give the place an organic feeling, almost as if the ship was an animal, with areas that almost looked like facehuggers.

Despretz was aware that Jean-Pierre seemed to like things that looked very organic, rusty, seemingly ribbed and gnarly, and so gave him something that he would ideally chose, and that's what happened, he got a good response from Jeunet. Despretz  did a front and a back and Jeunet said "that's perfect" and took the drawings and left. The long horizontal Auriga was the direction that they went and the new shape would lend it self to the photography format that they were using.

Phelps thought that the engine that Sylvain had done was fantastic, and there was a spaceship that Jim had done which was great, while the final things was cobbled together from both of these.

Auriga by Jim Martin (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)
Auriga by Jim Martin (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)
Auriga by Jim Martin (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)

Source quotes
  1. Alien Anthology: In contrast, Sylvain Despretz - inspired in part by designs for the interior of the ship - envisioned the Auriga as being more angular and streamlined. Director Jeunet eventually chose this look for use in the final film. (Alien Anthology blu-ray)
  2. Sylvain Despretz: Finally, a few weeks before the model shop deadline, the director gave it the ax and said, 'I want a new ship,' so we went to town. Illustrator Jim Martin did one design using the scientific approach while I felt there were so many ribs in the ship's corridors, it would be interesting to give it that organic feeling, almost as if the ship itself was an animal, with areas that almost looked like facehuggers and they really responded to it."(Starlog 252, p37) 
  3. Sylvain Despretz: We had to go to our battle stations and try to come up with a design Jean-Pierre would like. He seemed to like stuff that looked very organic, rusty, kind of ribbed and gnarly. So I tried to give him exactly what he'd choose and that's kind of what happened. I did a front and back  and he came by and said that's perfect and took the drawings and left . (Alien The Archive)
  4. Nigel Phelps: There was a fantastic engine that Sylvain had done, but there was a great thing Jim had done, so it was cobbled together from different concepts. (Alien The Archive)
  5. Jim Martin: Sylvain did the one that's probably closest to what is in the film. I think Bill Boes did a scratch model of it, a rough foam core and cardboard model, and then I did a detail and drawing pass. (Alien The Archive))

Auriga (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)


Auriga (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)


Auriga by Sylvain Despretz (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)

Auriga by Sylvain Despretz (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)

Auriga (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray) (October 1996)


Auriga by Sylvain Despretz (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray) (November 1996)

b) The beast
Despretz would be critical about his own design,  didn't think that his design was great, that it wasn't as nice as Syd Mead's Sulaco from Aliens, but the department had to work with what he was given and that was limitations.

Sylvain would have preferred to have designed a ship where he knew what the function of the ship was. His idea was that in a normal science fiction movie , a ship would have a function or it would be perhaps a military ship or even a refinery. then he would have something to go from or for. But in this case there didn't seem to be a single scene that transitioned between the inside and the outside of the ship, so that one would never get a sense of the functionality of the ship, or where the cockpit was or where the people are inside it. He found it was just an excuse to cut away and have a bunch of wide shots in space. He came to the conclusion that it was a terrible ship, on that oddly fans of the Alien films were not trying to make models of. He decided that it looked an alligator or a crocodile swimming away, like a weird, dark ribbed thing to the extent that it near enough looked like a flying ribcage, but anyway his idea was to make it look like a very organic thing, as it it was near enough like an animal.

Jeunet however thought it was a nice ship but nothing special. For him it was something that was horizontal and worked for the film in terms of narration


Auriga by Sylvain Despretz (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)
Auriga (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)


Auriga by Sylvain Despretz , (1996 )(source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)

 Source quotes
  1. Sylvain Despretz: The problem was I was never clear in my own mind as to what the function of the ship was. In a normal science fiction movie a ship will have a function, or it's a military ship, or it's a refinery. Then you have something to go from or for.  But in this case, I don't think there's a single scene that transitions between inside and outside the ship, so you never see how functional it is, or where the cockpit it, or where the people are inside it. It's just an excuse to cut away and have a bunch of wide shots in space.  In the end it's a terrible ship. It had the dubious honour of being the only ship from an Alien movie nobody has ever tried to make a model of. It looks like a crocodile swimming away, like a weird, ribbed dark thing. (Alien The Archive)
  2. Sylvain Despretz:It was a nice ship but nothing special. It was horizontal and was working for the film in terms of narration.  (Alien The Archive) 
  3. Starlog: While Despretz wishes that ALIEN Resurrection had gone a bit further in terms of exploring new artistic areas he still considers the film one of the proudest moments in his career. (Starlog 252, p37)
  4. Sylvain Despretz: I also did one of the two ships in the film. It's not a great ship - it's not as nice as Syd Mead's ship [the Sulaco] in the second one or anything, but we had to work with what we were given, which was limitations...and no time! (Laughs.) It's called The Auriga, it's the one that blows up. It looks like an alligator or something. It looks like a flying rib-cage - that was the idea, actually. The idea was to make it look like a very organic thing, it almost looked like a sort of animal itself. (http://www.reddwarf.co.uk/features/interviews/sylvain-despretz/)
  5. Sylvain Despretz: The problem was I was never clear in my own mind as to what the function of the ship was. In a normal science fiction movie a ship will have a function, or it's a military ship, or it's a refinery. Then you have something to go from or for.  But in this case, I don't think there's a single scene that transitions between inside and outside the ship, so you never see how functional it is, or where the cockpit it, or where the people are inside it. It's just an excuse to cut away and have a bunch of wide shots in space.  In the end it's a terrible ship. It had the dubious honour of being the only ship from an Alien movie nobody has ever tried to make a model of. It looks like a crocodile swimming away, like a weird, ribbed dark thing. ( Alien The Archive)
  6. Sylvain Despretz: It was a nice ship but nothing special. It was horizontal and was working for the film in terms of narration.  (Alien The Archive)

    Auriga (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)
    Auriga by Sylvain Despretz (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray) (1996)

    Auriga by Sylvain Despretz (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)
     
    Auriga (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)

    Auriga (source Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)

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