With the recent release of the movie, I wanted to share a couple of the pieces I did for Spielberg’s Ready Player One. The film is based on the best-selling book by Ernest Cline, were the characters engage in a vast virtual world, filled with many characters from notable science fiction games, movies, and books. I was hired to do several concept paintings for key scenes in the film, as well as storyboards to design some of the action effects.
There was a hope, when I was originally approached for this project was that Spielberg wanted to present the movie in Virtual Reality. We weren’t sure how it would be done, but we were encouraged to create images with the intention of them being presented in 3D, with elements that came towards the audience.
A key scenes I had a blast working on was the race early in the film, where almost every vehicle is recognizable: the Delorean from Back to the Future, the Batmobile, the Spinner from Blade Runner, the Mach Five from Speed Racer, the motorcycle from Akira, and many more. This was a high-paced scene added in the film that was not in the book which really set the tone for the rest of the movie, so I started with several storyboards of the race itself, exploring using a parallax effect, with action sequences that exploded out of the scene.
One part of the project that was particularly challenging was creating the virtual city of Incipio, which plays a key role in the movie. Spielberg was clear from the beginning that he didn’t want Incipio to look anything similar to what had been seen before in science fiction film, even referencing other concepts that I had done that he wanted to avoid aesthetically.
But though he knew what he didn’t want, he didn’t have a visualization of what he did want. So as artists, we developed dozens of sketches and paintings ranging from the most complex to the most minimalist architecture, with multiple shots from different angles. It was a practice of patience and deep research, proposing dozens of iterations over a few months.
Unfortunately, much of the work on Incipio didn’t make it into the film, but it was a great opportunity to explore my lifelong love of architecture, and deep dive into much of the organic architecture movement that is likely to develop over the next two decades.
This was certainly a rewarding project to work on, and I’m excited to see the final product. While the original idea to showcase the film in VR didn’t manifest, it was fun to structure images to read as three-dimensional as possible, and explore such a wide variety of architectural concepts.
Check out more storyboards, iterations on Incipio, and additional shots from the film in the gallery below.