Director Ridley Scott is a master of envisioning sets that become characters unto themselves. He’s an old school director, for the most part, who takes audiences into his world thanks to practical sets, built from scratch, that his actors can interact with. While Alien: Covenant does include its share of CGI effects and details, from what we’ve seen so far, it’s no exception to the Scott style of utilizing practical sets. Now, in a new featurette released online, we can see just how practical we can expect the film to be.
Former Mythbuster Adam Savage visited the Covenant set to see what goes into to bringing the world of Alien: Covenant to life for his Tested video series. The video gives new insight into the world being created for the film, in addition to offering a brief lesson on the history of cinematic set building. Viewers are taken inside the Dreadnaught spacecraft, last seen in Scott’s Prometheus.
Though used in Covenant’s predecessor, Savage reveals that the set had to be rebuilt from scratch, which was no small undertaking. The detail revealed by the video is incredible, and gives a close-up glimpse of the control panels and the famous engineer’s chair, which first captured imaginations in 1979 with Alien, then known as “space jockeys.”
A lot of these are details you’d never notice, but which add to the overall feel of the film. Savage comments on the hard work being done by the set hands and how it deepens the experience of the film.
“Everyone here is getting ready and weathering this thing. They’re all adding different textures and layers to it. All the stuff that I’ve done in weathering my small props, it’s really almost the same process. The trick is to add color, to add texture that doesn’t necessarily pop to your eye but helps bring the details out. It helps to add layering and weathering and, really, a story. If you just paint it one color it just looks like a single object. But when you add that weathering, you are adding more of a narrative to that object.”
While the video doesn’t go into detail about what the specifics of that narrative might be, it’s awe-inspiring to see the work going into bringing this chapter of the Alien saga to life. It’s part of how Scott approaches his films as a director, and that translates to the screen in the form of impressive visual storytelling. Even in a film like Prometheus, which was panned by critics and fans, was often stunningly beautiful, which was a credit to the set design on that film.
Hopefully the hard work pays off on Alien: Covenant, which continues to build a bridge between Prometheus and the original Alien. With what we’ve seen so far, the film will, at the very least, look amazing. We’ll keep you posted on any new developments as they arise.