In the autumn of 2019 I was approached by Black Hangar Studios to design them some spacecraft models for a TV series project they were working on. Initially hired for three months, this project eventually kept me busy for more than two years.
The TV series is an adaptation of the Necrospace novel series by Sean-Michael Argo and stars Casper Van Dien. It premiered on US streaming TV services in summer 2022.
My involvement was initially for the design and creation of 3D assets for their pipeline, although later I was kept on the project to design some motion graphics for the computer displays and HUDs as well as doing some of the commpositing work for battle scenes. On this page I present some of my more noteworthy 3D model contributions.
One of my earliest tasks was the designing of the Grotto Corporation tug ships, which are a major setting for action throughout all six episodes. The ship went through a number of design changes as post production went ahead, but the final version can be seen here with its nautical-style elevated bridge and blue paint job.
Below: As well as designing the exterior of the tug, I got to have some input on the appearance of its interior. While most of the sets were physically constructed, some areas, such as the cavernous VToL hangar bay, would have been too expensive to build. The actors were therefore filmed in front of a green cyclorama in Lasham, Hampshire and these virtual sets I designed were added in afterwards by the compositors.
Below: Three different colour scheme vaiants for the 'Salvage Transport' ship intended to lift large objects (or containers) to the waiting factory ships in orbit.
Below: One of the Grotto Corporation's city-sized factory ships. Out of all the spacecraft models I built for the series, this one is the most complex, comprising more than seven million polygons.
Above: Seen in the first and second episodes is the Space Hulk, a vast complex of old space wrecks that have been welded together. I designed the exterior of the vessel and also some CGI set extensions used to make its interior corridors appear larger.
Below: 'Mega architecture' designed for the cityscape background on planet Baen 6. This would have been used in several shots during the first episode but was later deemed to be too difficult for the compositing team and most got cut.
Left, right and below: The couterpart to the Reaper's tug is this frigate operated by their rivals the Helion Corporation. As Helion is a more prosperous organisation, their ships had to look more technologically advanced and better maintained than Grotto's. As with the tug, I was required to design some CGI interiors for use as digital set extensions.
Below: Upon entering the alien pyramid, the Reapers encounter spider-like quadrupedal robots and a sinister cyborg.
Above: A ruined alien city environment on a distant planet. This was due to be seen in the fourth episode but I believe most of the sequence was cut due to time constraints.
Below: Another CGI environment created for the purpose of digital set extension; this one depicts a dark and cavernous subterranean space beneath a city.
Right: close-ups of the cyborg CGI body parts. These were rigged and animated over the body of a real actor by other artists, but for demonstration purposes I put it on a CGI male figure while we were developing the look of the character.
Below and right: the only soft-surface modelling I did on this project was the 'bone worm' seen in episode 3. I made this model in late 2019, at which time I was just making the transition from Sculptris to a proper version of Zbrush and was still finding my way around using that tool. Taking some inspiration from the creature designs of Dune and Tremors, this model proved an interesting challenge!
Copyright 2023 Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner CG