Behind The Scenes

DOOM: THE MOVIE - BEHIND THE SCENES AT STAN WINSTON STUDIO

From FPS Video Game to the Silver Screen, how Stan Winston Studio made demonic characters for the movie DOOM.

Jul 20, 2016

Doom - The FPS revolution

Not even 25 years ago, playing an "action" computer game meant you could move icons on screen with your joystick. Then, in 1992, id Software released a First Person Shooter (FPS) game, called WOLFENSTEIN 3D and that changed everything. With gun and projectile weapon-based combat shown through the first-person perspective, you no longer played the character, now you were the character. One of the most influential games in this FPS genre was also an id Software release called DOOM. You, as the player, have to battle the forces of Hell, both demons and the undead. DOOM changed the way the industry looked at gaming. Since its debut, the DOOM universe expanded to a branded gaming franchise including: DOOM II: HELL ON EARTH (1995), FINAL DOOM (1996), DOOM 3 (2004), and the latest DOOM 4 (2016), and the original game has spawned numerous imitations, spin-offs, expansion packs and even, in 2005, a full-length dramatic feature film directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak.

Making a First Person Shooter Movie

Based on the world of the DOOM 3 computer game, the motion picture DOOM tells the story of a group of marines sent to investigate trouble at a science station on Mars. While there, they encounter monsters known as imps, the result of certain bio-engineering experiments. The filmmakers knew they had to deliver photographically convincing imps and other demons, so they turned to a specialist, top character creator and four-time Oscar winner Stan Winston and his team at  Stan Winston Studio.

Pictured above: Baron Demon for DOOM by Stan Winston Studio.

Director Andrzej Bartkowiak wanted to keep computer generated visual effects to a minimum and capture most of the action in-camera. Therefore, he relied on make-up effects and suit performers to achieve most of the film's creatures. Creature suits were designed and fabricated by Stan Winston Studio under the supervision of John Rosengrant“I had never played the DOOM computer game,” said John Rosengrant, “because I’m just not a computer game kind of guy. But I liked being called upon to do a good, old-fashioned monster movie again, which is what DOOM really was. The creatures were going to be a mix of digital and practical, but they definitely wanted to shoot as much practical as they could, then augment certain shots with CG if they had to.” 

Pictured above: Concept artworks by Aaron Sims showing the first stage of the infection.

DOOM features three different categories of monsters: the Baron (aka Hell Knight), imps, and more than 20 other demons. Some characters are entirely CGI, some are a combination of practical and CGI, and some are entirely practical as suits or achieved via makeup effects. Many different prototypes for each category of non-human character were created by concept artist Aaron Sims.

Pictured above: Aaron Sims design for Dr. Carmack (aka Carmack imp), final stage.

Once a 2D design was approved, the SWS team would take life-casts from the performers, then, sculpt, mold and fabricate prosthetics, which would then be custom painted and finished before being applied on set. SWS crew did several test fittings with certain suit performers for critical roles, but due to the short preparation time, the final work often had to be completed in the Czech Republic, in Prague, where DOOM's production was based.

Pictured above: Based on Aaron Sims' design, Eddie Yang sculpts the Carmack imp head.

Pictured above: Rob Ramsdell and John Cherevka detail the grotesque forms of the Carmak imp monster suit. 

Pictured above: The finished Carmack imp head.

Pictured above: Doug Jones in Carmack imp suit next to Kristen Willet at one of the suit tests.

The Baron

Creature performer Brian Steele (aka CreatureBoy) shouldered the Baron outfit. SWS crew wanted to keep the whole Baron suit very mobile with strong and organic movement. Although there were lots of muscles on the suit, it was lightweight so that when he moved, there was articulation, it didn't just move like a big, thick foam jacket. 

Pictured above: More of Aaron Sims’ final concept art.

Pictured above: Joey Orosco details the Baron sculpt, while Stan Winston offers his final critique.

The structure underneath responded to Brian's movements and gave him the freedom and mobility necessary to express the character through choreography and performance.

Pictured above: A test fitting of the Baron character on suit performer Brian Steele.

Different heads were made for the character and each head served a different purpose. One head was treated and prepared so it could be lit on fire; another head was sculpted with an after-burned look complete with burnt and peeling skin. One of the heads had a jaw-and-lip mechanism on it allowing for closeups of the mandible. A last "hero" head that had a little bit of everything, including servo-controlled mechanisms, eyebrows that could be very expressive and a squinting motion around the eyes. Even the lips peeled back providing a chilling smile. Though there were plans in place to augment the head with a CGI version in post, the animatronic head ended up working so well that no digital replacement was necessary.

Pictured above: The finished Baron model.

The imps

Veteran creature character peformer Doug Jones played the Carmak imp as well as three other demonic imps in the film. All the demonic imp heads were constructed of foam latex, silicone rubber and acrylic over a fiberglass substructure. Rob Ramsdell sculpted the imps, which were created as suits. “These characters were very weird and contorted,” said Rob Ramsdell, “almost as if their insides had been turned out. We were trying to make something with elongated forms, and I remember struggling with that when I was doing the sculpture. I asked Stan Winston for some help because he has a real talent for seeing things you may not see when you are working on something. He gave me some suggestions, and I executed them right on the spot, to make sure I understood exactly what he was talking about. We always do that when Stan is suggesting ideas for a sculpt. We’ll take some hot clay and just slap it on and rough it in right then and there, while he is watching.” Each individiual imp had its own distinct head with an individualized paint job. 

Pictured above: The Sewer imp, sculpted over a life cast of Doug Jones by FX artists Jason Matthews, Eddie Yang and Rob Ramsdell.

Some creatures had no eyes, while others had a disturbing overabundance of eyes. The Sewer imp had eleven eyes altogether creating a truely loathsome countenance. 

Pictured above: The Carmack imp puppet used for autopsy scenes.

Pictured above: Close shot of the Carmack imp puppet.

Transformation of The Rock

Dwayne The Rock Johnson plays Sarge, the leader of the mercenary team on Mars. In the last fight scene, his character gets infected and rapidly progresses through three stages of infection. We see the first stage when Sarge's knuckles burst out from his hand. Then the second and third stages each contort and transform his face in different ways.

Pictured about: The Rock undergoes a life cast from the Stan Winston Studios effects team.

Watch The Rock's transformation (from conceptual art to makeup applications) by Universal Studios HERE:

The First Person Shooter Sequence

The favorite sequence for hardcore gamers and fans who knew the characters from the video game was the FPS scene. Shot as a tribute to the game play, almost entirely in first person point-of-view, this five-and-a-half minute continuous fight comprised an intense 2-week shooting plan incorporating a complex combination of live-action shooting, real sets, completely CG generated environments, practical creatures, and makeup creatures with CG heads and arms.

Watch behind the scenes of the FPS unit by Universal Studios with Oscar-nominated Visual Effects Supervisor and director of the FPS sequence, John Farhat HERE:

- Blog assembled by Balázs Földesi with selections from The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio by Jody Duncan

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