Two characters venture off into the forest together near a lake, when one of the characters steps on a bed of fungal growths. Spores emit into the air and form into a virus that takes a creature-like form and enter the character’s ear. To create this virus, Luma developed particle simulations that were based off the murmuration of flocks of starlings. Effects artist Omar Meradi defined this behavior and was able to establish a difference between “leaders” and “followers”. The team then created 3D volumes that contained the cluster of spores and take a threatening shape into a silhouette. Even this silhouette was designed internally with a story and concept: concept artist Nicolas Pierquin designed a model with cues taken from the facehugger alien and the underwater creatures.
To create the CG ear canal, the Luma team studied real world references of endoscopic photography and medical imaging of an ear canal. Most of the available references had a shallow depth of field, a spherical lens, a lot of distortion and a light attached to the camera. “The trick was we recreating a photoreal ear canal with a tiny camera inside, while avoiding the mundane documentary style seen to create something that looked cinematic and a part of the Alien universe”, explains Brendan.