Concept Design of The Wandering Earth: The Chinese Way

In early 2019, The Wandering Earth was released during Chinese New Year. As Director Gwo says, the deep love to motherland is the core in a Chinese Sci-Fi. “What is Chinese sci-fi? We are looking for something that comes from Chinese cultural values in this movie. Otherwise it will be another Hollywood story.”

 

Understanding the Essence of a Chinese Sci-Fi

 

The main priority in this project is to understand its core. Even in the early stage of film making, the director, Frant Gwo has already got some very solid ideas about the visual language of this movie. To stand on the same page about the art direction in a short time is the first challenge we met when PIXOMONDO concept team joined in the visual development stage in October 2017. PXO team understood director’s visual language in only 2 weeks and started working following this style.

 

 

“In this film, director is trying to convey an aesthetic style full of justice and legitimacy. The lines we used are quite straight. Only if we have an in-depth understanding of these core feelings we can work with director smoothly. ”Said Joker Huang, Art Director of PIXOMONDO. “I understand what Director Gwo wants, as those are also the things that I believe deep in my heart. Making a Chinese Sci-Fi blockbuster is like climbing a mountain, and we start at the foot of the mountain.”

 

VFX Concept Design

 

The Frozen City of Shanghai sequence is quite challenging technically, invloving a great deal work of collapsing, earthquake and ice wall. However, the most difficult part in the whole process is to find the best visual communication to fully express director’s emotions. In such a frozen world, we still can feel the warmth and hope. Even it looks like the end of the world, we want to make the audience feel touched, instead of desperate cold. It all comes from the creative decisions in different stages.

 

 

 

In Frozen Shanghai sequence, the whole environment is gloomy sky, white snowfield and snow storm everywhere. If we only focus on the physical correctness, the image will be quite flat without enough details or even fake, let alone the story telling. Therefore, from concept to the post production, we had to think creatively all the time, we need to figure out where does the light come from? Where to add some shadow and details but also make sure of the physical correctness? With all these creative solution and details, we made this Frozen Shanghai as real as possible and touched the audience.

 

 

Concept Design of the Noodle Bar

 

Talking about the end of the world, a lot of people may think about the movie 2012, in which the huge architectures that represent civilization collapse, picturing out a desperate world. Whereas in the concept design of The Wandering Earth, there are much more light and hope even the whole earth is buried in snow and ice due to human’s deep love to it.

 

Even it looks like the end of the world, the whole world is not just full of darkness and ruins. The Frozen Shanghai seems like a sleeping city which will be waken up one day. So we showed the light in many concept.

 

 

 

 

“Light” in Concept Design

 

When the flood came, it took away thousands of lives, only a baby was saved out of the flood by the hands of many strangers. The triangle framing, the transparent ice and a mother in the position of holding a baby, these elements all give the audience a feeling of warm and hope rather than horror that we are used to.

 

 

Concept Design of “Saving a Baby”

 

Shot Design

 

The concept design helps the crew to better understand the aesthetic and art style, while the shot design can give a very direct guidance for all departments in the post-production.

 

 

 

Shot Design vs Final Design

 

 

 

Shot Design vs Final Design

 

 

 

Shot Design vs Final Design

 

 

 

Shot Design vs Final Design

 

 

 

Shot Design vs Final Design

 

 

 

Shot Design vs Final Design

 

 

 

Shot Design vs Final Design

 

 

 

Shot Design vs Final Design

 

Just like Professor Dai Jinhua from Peking University said “this story is about the determination to win victory and the courage to surmount every difficulty, it’s a story of going wandering bringing your homeland with you for thousands of years”. From the very beginning to the final release, the production crew developed from 4 persons to 7000. PXO is honoured to be part of this great team to bring the story and its unique art style to the big screen, and also the hope and light.