EXCLUSIVE Interview With Eddie Yang ; MAN OF STEEL & SUPERMAN: FLYBY Designs
When veteran conceptual artist, Eddie Yang, who recently worked on The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers, teamed up with legendary creature designer, Steve Wang, I wanted to find out about their new company, Alliance Studio, and their new film, Outpost 37.
Eddie Yang's artwork has been showcased on our site numerous times, as his artistic capabilities have been used to help shape some of the biggest comic book movies in the past decade, such as Iron Man, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Amazing Spider-Man. His talents were cultivated over the past few decades by working with make-up effects gurus, like Rick Baker and Stan Winston.
This past year Eddie joined forces with, Steve Wang, a highly acclaimed artist that also worked with Academy Award winners Stan Winston and Rick Baker, as well as the legendary Dick Smith. Steve is perhaps best known for designing one of the most iconic creatures to grace the silver screen, "The Predator." You would also recognize his work from Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy, as he helped bring Abe Sapien to life.
Today, I spoke with Eddie Yang about his and Steve's new company, Alliance Studio, and their upcoming film, Outpost 37. By the way, you can see more of their work over the next year, as they contributed on three big budget Hollywood films; R.I.P.D., Ender's Game, and the new RoboCop.
As I understand it, you and Steve Wang have joined forces in the past year, could you tell me a little about your new company, Alliance Studio?
Sure, we are a design and build company for just about anything entertainment related. Our aim is to be a one stop studio that can take a production studio's idea from story through design to completion of assets whether they be for live action entertainment, films, games, or products. We have a solid pipeline tested on several feature film productions, displays, and products and we use pretty much every state of the art technology available to produce a really efficient workflow. You can see some of our work at www.alliancestudio.net.
What was the main driving force behind that decision?
Well first off, Steve was pretty much my mentor so we have very similar taste and styles. We also have a short hand way of communicating because I know exactly how he approaches a build and how he would sculpt or finish a piece. I went on to learn digital tools and began producing digital parts for specialty costumes and conceptual designs. Concept design eventually was my passion and I continued on this path. Since I design in 3d, many of my files could be used for a final product whether it be an asset used for printing or used for VFX. I was asked a few times if I could take the design to a finished real world product but I didn't have a studio set up. Steve had the studio but didn't have a good digital solution for his studio. I recently visited Steve's studio and we had lunch, I remembered how fun it was working together and after thinking that we probably never would never work together again, something clicked. I thought about the possibility of joining forces to help support each other with our mutual projects. Many of Steve’s recent projects deal with digital assets in a big way and using this new technology will create a more efficient pipeline for much of the work he does as well. So together we believe we offer a very extensive service with many solutions at our disposal.
What type of companies will benefit from working with you and Steve?
Companies that have the idea for a story or a game and need to see it visualized in a unique way. Such as a film production than needs art for their pitch to the studios, pre-production art, or VFX designs.
Companies that create virtual art and would like to see the best interpretation of their properties materialized in the real world. Such as Blizzard or Riot, who’s characters exist only in the digital environment but love seeing their characters materialized for exhibition, and vice versa. Companies or individuals that have established themselves in the practical world but need digital assistance to update their workflow and quality, such as many of the veteran Hollywood designers who are looking for digital solutions to create better quality costumes, props, or creatures.
What sets Alliance Studio apart from other companies?
Design sense and execution. Steve is a legend and has an incredibly unique design sense that revolutionized character design with the Predator and his style has been copied for decades! I have tried to take that design sense and push it further in my costume and production designs.
Another major difference is that as owners we actually do the work! Many companies in our field hire people like us to do the designs and do the sculptures, but we understand that the reason these clients are hiring us is for our work and we actually do it ourselves. Of course often there is too much for us to handle and we do recruit help but nothing leaves the studio without our hands in the mix.
Alliance Studio has been working on a new film, Outpost 37. Could you tell us about the film?
This is actually Alliance Studio's first official project and one that Steve and I used to test our new venture. I had been working with the Director and creators, Jabbar Raisani, and Blake Clifton on their films for a while. The films would often come close to going into production then fall apart as we neared pre-production. This was one finally got some legs under it and came together pretty quickly. I was brought on board as production designer and we started designing on it early on.
It is basically a documentary style film starring Rick Ravanello, Scott E. Miller, Joe Reegan, and Reiley McClendon. It is about a pair of reporters embedded with a military unit in the not so distant future. We follow the unit as they deal with an alien enemy that has invaded earth. It is a low budget feature shot in South Africa and was quite challenging from an art department perspective. Alliance Studio designed and built the aliens played by the awesome Doug Tait who has portrayed numerous creatures and is now acting in several roles without donning a creature suit. After we finished the design phase, Steve was in the U.S. building the suit and I went on with the production to Johannesburg to head up the art department and build the world of Outpost 37 out there. I basically used every technique that I have learned in my career to pull this one off. There were prosthetic FX, specialty costumes, props, animatronics, and Visual FX that I supervised on top of my regular production design duties and we even had time to innovate and pull off some FX in a way that has never been done before! This project was so well suited for a pairing like Jabbar and myself because we are both creative problem solvers and have a similar approach to things. The art department out there was really good and really helped pull this one off with little time and money. It’s being edited right now and should be out for release sometime in 2014. You can drop by the Outpost 37 facebook page and like it by clicking here.
I understand your company worked on Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel, what was your contribution?
Yes, this was actually done under my old studio. We were contracted by Shownee Smith’s Frontline studio to create all of the armor trim parts for Superman’s suit. This included the front Glyph and at that time a cape glyph.
The design was under the lead of Jim Acheson, creator of the Sam Raimi Spiderman suits. My team consisted of project supervisor, Jabbar Raisani, and modelers, Paul Waggonner, Mahito Mizobuchi, and Simon Halpern. We would have weekly meetings at the costume department with Jim and designer Warren Manser and go over every detail of the parts we were creating till everyone was happy. We even wrote a script that adjusted the shapes of the parts we created so that we could literally change the dimensions in front of Jim until it was to his liking! Once the digital models were approved we printed out the parts finished them off and sent them over to Shownee for molding and placement on the suit.
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Man of Steel wasn't the only Superman film that you've worked on. Could you tell us about your experience working on Superman: Flyby?
Yes, I believe it went through a few different directors at the time. I did some Brainiac designs back when it was under Tim Burton, then I think it went to Brett Ratner, and then McG. I was actually on 2 different incarnations of the Superman films under Director McG. One was under the supervision of costume designer Kym Barrett. I mostly worked on the Tyzor costume. Then that went on hiatus and later reappeared when I was at the Stan Winston Studio, under McG again. It was there that I worked on the designs for the Superman suit and some other Tyzor designs until that fell apart and continued with Byran Singer.
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