The World of Raised by Wolves - A Behind-the-Scenes Look Page 3

The production had to constantly adapt to changes in weather, sometimes day to day. "Ridley moves fast, so we would capture one scene in a half a day, instead of three days it might take, in order to keep the same day's lighting conditions," Wolski explains. If a day was cloudy, he would add additional fog/smoke — via 5 km of piping built by the Special Effects Dept, buried around the set — to give it a dusk-like look. Or if the day was sunny, he would add backlight to everything, "to make it very monochromatic, and really stark and interesting."

There is seemingly constant wind and dust — and sometimes snow — present — because that's what was there. And, like any good atmospheric filmmaker would do, they would expand on what they had, blowing snow from snow machines, if necessary. "The special effects guys did a tremendous job, always keeping an eye on it," Luke states. "They were constantly reminding us, when clouds would come out, 'Do you want snow and smoke?'"

Indeed, the wind is a constant on Keppler-22b, something always audible, which kept the sound department busy. "Ridley was very adamant that we feel what Keppler-22b was, as a thing," explains Re-Recording Mixer Russell Smith. "The planet is actually a character in the series. He wanted you to have a sense of what the characters, android and human, were going through. It had to be an omnipresent thing." Adds fellow Re-Recording Mixer Ron Eng, "It was a real challenge for our Sound Designer, Jamey Scott, and Sound Effects Supervisor Victor Ennis, coming up with ten episodes of wind. That's hard to pull off."


The Settlement set, built at the Lourensford Wine Estate, 20 miles east of Cape Town, complete with the Lander, crop spiral, the red Lab dome and silos. (HBO Max / Coco Van Oppens)

Eng would take advantage of the multiple sets of stereo wind tracks Scott provided, skillfully placing them around the 5.1 surround field. "I'd put one pair always up front, to help smooth out the dialogue, and then between the left/right and the surrounds. You should feel it all around you."

The inhabitants of the Settlement are constantly terrorized by one kind of native beast, a four-legged thing known simply as a Creature. While originally planned to be covered in hair and other details (such as a slight tail and genitalia), the design was simplified as the bony, hairless, frightening animal seen onscreen, to simplify things for VFX. "They actually come in all sizes," notes Guzikowski. "There are male, female and even smaller children," all of which, it is eventually revealed, are devolved humans.

On set, the Creature was performed by an award-winning South African dancer, Lee Shayne Buoyson, known for his strong work in movement theater, who was placed inside a Creature costume. But about halfway through the season's production, the team realized that it would be clear to audiences that that was exactly what they were seeing. "The suit was really good, but, when you took a step back, you could still tell it was a person in a suit," explains McIntyre. "There are just certain human qualities, like the thickness of your arms and legs, and where they attach and how they bend — you can't get rid of that."

So though Buoyson was indeed filmed for every appearance of the Creature, he was rotoscoped out by VFX vendor Pixomondo and replaced with a new digital design, which better reflected the devolved human sensibility — though its performance was still driven by the actor's, as well as reflected how light behaved when hitting Buoyson on set. "When you do something in CG, the lighting is the most critical thing. We would look at what was shot and note how the light behaves when he would move from shade to highlight, etc. It just gave us that real world reference, which is invaluable." Also, notes Luke Scott, "You get a more real, visceral experience from the actors he's interacting with. We even had him surprise the kids, jumping out from behind a door! You can't get that kind of reaction from a green ball hanging on a pole."


Beautifully-detailed holographic “HoloControls,” designed by French VFX house BUF Compagnie, as operated by the actors aboard the Ark set. (Courtesy HBO Max)

Getting There
There are three spaceships important to the story of Raised by Wolves. The first is the small ship which carries Mother and Father from Earth to Keppler-22b. "It's small because it's only carrying these two androids — who don't require any life support system," explains Guzikowski. "You can just kind of pack them like luggage and send them off."

The vessel doesn't look like ships you've seen before in Ridley Scott films — and that's also on purpose. "Ridley had gotten sick of all the ships that had tubes and weird stuff on the outside," the writer adds. "He wanted something much sleeker."

The inspiration for the design came one morning while the director was grooming himself, using his Wahl beard trimmer. "It's a small, domestic beard trimmer, which has a few buttons," says his son. "I had one, and he must have seen it and gotten himself one." Notes Seagers, "One morning, when we got back to London, we were going over the script, discussing the ship, and he said, 'The funniest thing is, I was having a shave this morning, and I liked my shaver.' He brought it in, and we photographed it, and the took the basic shape and adjusted it. But the original design came from a shaver." Adds Luke, "Well, that's what he does, clearly, in the bathroom — he plays spaceships with his cosmetic materials."

The design was fleshed out by renowned concept designer Steve Burg, and then built by the Construction team in South Africa, using a plastic specifically developed for the show. "We worked with The Polymer Institute, here in South Africa, to try to get the slickest finishes we could," notes Eatock, for that ship and other sets.


A piece of Ark wreckage set, constructed – unknown to most of us – at Lourensford, not far from the Settlement set. The completed shot includes extensions by visual effects, leaving audiences astonished. (HBO Max / Coco Van Oppens)

The Mithraics had arrived on the planet from the orbiting Ark on an even smaller craft, known as the Lander, which looks much like a whistle (though Eatock notes that production team members came to refer it as "the Bee Sting"). Says Seagers, "Ridley wanted it to look like a teardrop. But it needed to be robust, to get people in and out of it, so we ended up with that shark's tail there on the back."

The Lander has another cool feature — it can camouflage itself when it lands to match its surroundings. "Ridley is always thinking 100 years ahead of his time — he's obsessed with the future," Eatock notes. "Every conversation we had was always, 'No — take it further. This technology will be something else in 100 years.' No hydraulics, looking seamless, camouflage that is technology-based. But all inspired by actual technology."

It is controlled, as all the ships are, by "Operational Hologams," or "HoloControls." Instead of physical controls, the user simply holds their hands out over the dashboard, and globes of images appear, in which they can either see what's going on or place their hands inside and operate the controls of the ship.

Executed by French VFX house BUF Compagnie, McIntyre explains, "Every one of the holograms was designed to also tell the story, visually. Whether or not the character is telling you what's happening, you should be able to get it by watching the hologram." Color also helps identify the severity or importance of what's going on, greens and blues for some simple controls, with red indicating a danger mode, such as when the Lander is headed towards the Earth's core in a later episode.

It is the Mithraics' Ark, though, which plays such a key role in the story. Though Guzikowski originally figured it might carry 300 people, Scott insisted it be much larger — big enough to carry 1000 - massive. "It's a colony ship," says Seagers. "It's taking all of these bodies to the new land."

Its design, like the Lander, is sleek, inside and out — as is everything about the Mithraics. "The Mithraics are all about purity," the writer explains. "And that translates into their aesthetic and their design. Everything's white and smooth and clean."


One of Darren Christien’s concept drawings for an interior piece of Ark wreckage. (Courtesy HBO Max)

The interior of the Ark contains SIM pods — for a special type of hibernation for the 13-year journey, called Shared Simulation. "They go into hypersleep, and basically share the same dream as everyone else who his in hypersleep on that ship," he says. "When they awaken, it's not as if it felt like they were dreaming for 13 years — it just feels like a long dream, feeling not much unlike waking up after a really, really long nap, for a week, and having this bizarre, really detailed dream lodged in your memory."

That memory is of interactions between each other in something known as the Virtual Monastery. "It's this cavernous, endless structure, that they're all able to move around inside of. And they can talk to one another and live with one another. They basically start to exist as a community, before they arrive on the planet. It's a way of practicing, so that they can begin to terraform and be a ready-made community on Day 1."

The Virtual Monastery set was built in a building in Cape Town known as the Good Hope Centre. Built in 1976, the structure — used as an exhibition hall, conference center and even, with a 7,000-seat capacity, gymnastics tournaments and jazz concerts — was designed by architect Pier Luigi Nervi — something that didn't escape Scott on his location scout. Recalls Eatock, "I was shooting a Vin Diesel film in there when Ridley came to have a look. And he knows his architecture — he saw the interior of the building and went, 'Oh, my gosh, I know this — Pier Nervi. This is his work!'"

The Monastery's unique high, cross-shaped ceiling was inspired by the Zeita MOCCA — the Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. "At one point," remembers David Zucker, "Ridley wanted to shoot inside the museum for the Monastery, but we couldn't. So we rebuilt that inside the Good Hope Centre, with their permission."


SuicideSquid's picture

Haven't had a chance to watch the show yet, but this was an extremely interesting article.

MCFGPurpleSpeed's picture

I connected to HBO Max when ROKU finally opened up the site. Fighting with HBO over $$ and

Made a deal of some sort, OK got it. Get it free with my HBO deal on DirecTV scrip.

I have not seen a wilder and more intense Sci-Fi show in many years, amazing. Of course

It’s by Sir Ridley Scott so what would one expect.

As I watched the first episode I was, at first, not too into it – seemed somewhat slow, 60 minutes or so.

Then all at once, and bang - all of a sudden the second episode banner had popped up on the screen. I totally

Lost all track of time during the first one. I can not recall watching anything, recently that this has happened.

Maybe with The Expanse and the first SGU ones, but just time and the show zoomed by, intense would be

An understatement to say the least, wow. OK - this may be fighting with the best overall Sci-Fi to hit the tv screens.

Just wonderful and the acting is prime some of the best I have seen in many years, Mother is just over the

Top in her performance should win everything