Have you ever wondered how some of the most incredible shows like upload, the game of thrones, and movies like Harry Potter, Troy the legacy, Inception have created a world that’s surreal and yet plausible with details? The advancement of technology has been a game-changer in design for production where it’s achievable to completely originate a world that has minimal tangent reference to ours. Also, one has to keep in mind that virtual reality does not change or restore into the physical world; it merely brings to life an idea of ancient or futuristic scenarios with themes revolving around the dystopian or utopian set-up.

The markets have expanded in providing software that helps designers generate a layout in extremely realistic renders virtually. The movies made by D.C or Marvel that are inclusive of a superhero figure do plug-in graphical elements that demonstrate visuals difficult to differentiate with reality and create a platform for interaction between 3D technology and the audience. The company called Autodesk has created products for designers such as Maya, 3Ds Max, Motionbuilder, Mudbox that enhance the quality of output for three-dimensional modeling, digital animation sculpting, compositional settings for an environment with detailed props. Other software products by various companies like adobe illustrator and photoshop, google SketchUp, blender, Unreal Engine and Unity 3D are now the integrated ubiquitous tools used by VR development to effectuate more favorable outcomes with better control in simulations than ever before.

The scope of work in the industry has broadened especially for architects and graphic designers who want to be constitutive in the Television and film industry yet stay true to their skills by conceptualizing wonders strenuous to materialize in the present modern world. However, it comes at an investment cost to get the best performance workstations with a supportive graphics card, RAM, and engine to manufacture the finest draft. Designers need to investigate and articulate ideas by collaboration with directors, cinematographers, and choreographers to get the extent of the requirement for the project. Virtual simulation and haptic interface design with immersive reality modelers have enhanced the experience and work to develop, alter and fuse motions captured physically with the virtual built environment for a comprehensive design that works on a given television or movie production project.

Let’s look at some examples of motion pictures to see how the industry can elevate the scope of each genre, not limiting to just the physical set.

1. Upload Directed by – Greg Daniels.

A science-fiction genre; comedy-drama based T.V show on Amazon prime video. The show’s concept revolves around the idea of humans being capable of “upload” into a virtual afterlife of their choice from a range of available landscapes in the year 2033. The main character undergoes a series of challenges with the pros and cons of this digital paradise and tries to navigate himself through this controlled set-up. However, there is a catch to survive well in this virtual space: one needs to have the bank account in the real world that could support them with data usage flexibility. The entire project’s photography of places was done between Vancouver, New York, and Mohonk Mountains House to recreate the built environment for upload called the lake view. This is an interesting clash between the real and digital worlds with the environment being not too significantly distinct.

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2. Stranger Things Directed by – The Duff brothers and Shawn Levy.

A science-fiction horror genre-based T.V show on Netflix; the show revolves around a mysterious disappearance of a boy in a fictional town called Hawkins, Indiana with supernatural occurrences around the town and a girl who appeared with psychokinesis abilities. The production set added a film grain over the footage to create the 1980’s timeline that delivers the required mood and atmosphere of suspense with themes inspired from pop culture, video games, anime, absurd experiments done during the cold war and real-world conspiracy theories especially experiments secretly conducted by government agencies. The other world in the alternative dimension called “upside-down” has creatures that might threaten life on Earth; the built environment of this landscape is fragile, spooky, and dark with elements connected most absurdly. The creatures were created out of construction props for appearance scenes while digital effects were used for them to run through mediums like walls. The two worlds being different sides of the same coin have a spectacular contract in the built-environment where the Earth is dynamic, alive, and sunshine while The upside-down is still, dead and gloomy.

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3. Artemis Fowl Directed by – Kenneth Branaugh.

This science-fantasy adventure movie by Disney released in 2020 based on the novel Artemis fowl by Eoin Colfer has picturesque landscapes dealing with two different worlds. One on the surface of the earth where humans thrive and another at the epicenter of earth’s core called Haven city; a secret civilization of fairies. It is way ahead of the bygone fairyland and has undergone scientific advancement resulting in a futuristic utopian landscape that runs on pure energy and has an aesthetic of cyber-age. There is a sense of divergence in the timeline between both realms with similarities drawn in systematic approaches and societal behavior.

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4. The Hunger Games Directed by – Gary Ross.

A science-fiction adventure movie based on post-apocalyptic future earth as a  dystopian scenario of a particular nation called Panem where there is a social hierarchy based on various factors where the capital has state of the art, modern landscape, technologically driven society dressed in extravagant glam while other districts being twelve in number merely can survive and contribute most of the labor force to keep the capital running. Every year two tributes from each district compete in the hunger games to win a chance at a new life in the capital. The competition to survive in a built-environment designed to kill people by the introduction of various endangering elements that challenge the participants. This strange merge of reality within an artificial set-up does mesmerize erasing the possibility that everything has been under someone’s control.

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5. Avatar Directed by – James Cameron.      

An epic science-fiction movie based on the reason that earth has an energy crisis in the year 2154 caused due to depletion of natural resources and the environment is inhabitable as a result of toxins present in the atmosphere. Humans try to find mineral and combustible matter to compete with their demands in the closest star system being the Alpha-Centauri. They discover  “Pandora”, a moon with a densely forested habitat that has a large deposition of unobtanium. There is a sense of harmony in the natural landscape of Pandora as every living cell connects with mother nature, who is worshipped by Na’vi humans of the land which draws parallels to concepts of paganism. To study and explore the ecosystem, a hybrid body designed where the mind of humans is bound to control this vessel by virtual simulators. Also, creatures of this territory have familiar body structures to those found on earth except their aesthetic and functional aspects are completely different. The environment has an integral structural element at the heart of its creation called ” the tree of souls” designed to be the energy source that protects and generates life on this moon.

The advancement in technology has assisted in exploring different conceptual designs that seem to change the way production houses create storylines for the virtual built environment and can find many projects currently exploring possible dimensions. Individuals are interested in pursuing a career in this field a master’s program in design for production on-screen offered by universities in New York, London, and Melbourne to give one the edge to harness the potential creativity and communicate their abstraction. The industry will witness a further evolution in the way it functions, fabricates, and collaborates soon to improve audience interactions.

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Author

Subhay Baberwal, a practising architect at Taller-S and a visiting faculty at SJB School of architecture and planning, Bangalore. He is an art and culture enthusiast as well as a certified wildlife Eco-volunteer by the Karnataka Forest Department for activities regarding conservation, census, preservation. Furthermore, he is a poet and currently exploring his voice in architecture writing along with being a ghostwriter for mobile application, fashion collections and bloggers.

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