These series I did for the Movie ROBOTS some years ago.
In retrospect I know now that this movie was more fun to research and design for, than it was to watch.
We spend a long time developing the world that these robots lived in. We looked at the history of everything "machine", from the advent of the industrial revolution which brought about the machine age, to today's computer manufactured machines (machines that build machines). What this meant is that we had to be faithful to the materials and technology of each of these eras. Ultimately we divided the world into 4 mayor periods:
STEAM, COMBUSTION, ELECTRIC and HI-END.
Architecturally, it echoed human architecture, at least in how we view them emotionally. It most certainly aimed to express a nostalgia for American cultural history. Contrasting the romanticism of early American culture and the skepticism of today. The Star of the film had to remind us of all that we loved about the past in a way that could also inspire the future. Someone of traditional values with present ambitions.
The world around him needed to support all this as well. Ultimately, I think the story failed to support the star of the film and the robot world. I can only speak for that which I was called to do, and say simply that it came down to the budget , the pacing of the film and the studio's lack of faith for the original story.
80% of the architectural potential never could be realized in 3D within budget and the accelerated pace of the film prevented it from taking its time to accurately portray the contrast between the more nostalgic world that the star of the film came from and the precipitous bustle of the world that he came to inhabit. Ultimately all machines worked equally as fast, or not at all. Like all the steam and moving mechanisms we wanted for the depths of the city. Originally intended to look, feel and work like an old watch. Sadly, since only 20% of the architecture was ultimately built, there was only so much we could hope for.
Lack of Budget, lack of resources... Our mistake was designing a movie that was clearly well out of budget.
images © 2005 20th century fox film
Small town Steam era (Above). Pencil/digital.
Big city Steam era (Above left) and Hi-End (Above right). Pencil/digital.
Big city Steam era (Above). Villain's Lair. Pencil/digital.
Big city Electric & High-End (Above). Pencil/digital.
Because the robot city was intended to have been built from the ground up, this presented us with the opportunity to build the next modern era above the previous one. Thus, allowing us to echo the kind of eclectic architecture prevalent in Europe today. Modern structures built directly upon gothic bases, for example. The difference was that we would continue to build vertically so that the Hi-End structures reached into the sky while the ancient steam powered architecture rusted away at the core. But again, since only 20% of the architecture could be built in 3D, most of these concepts became blurred.
Those few buildings that did get built in full detail however, are testament to what "could have been". The folks at that studio are of such great talent, it is a shame that they were not better supported by some of the leadership, to accomplish the goals that the artists faithfully set off to achieve.