The original concept art for I Am Legend was much bleaker and more post-apocalyptic than the movie's final look. Production designer David Lazan talked to us about why he and director Francis Lawrence opted for a more gorgeous back-to-nature look. Our interview, plus a concept art gallery, after the jump.
I Am Legend concept art from Warner Bros.
So much of the look of I Am Legend was outdoors. How much of that was designed in advance?
We illustrated it or key-framed it. It was an illustration of the area that we were dressing. We conceptualized how much we could visually do practically, and how it was going to be augmented in the computer.
Some of the concept art sketches look very painterly, especially the evacuation scenes.
Some of the early concepts were ... entirely created as an illustration, and then as we found the practical location, we took a picture of the location and augmented the location, and added what we needed to add to it. And altered the sky and added a grainier texture to the look.
Did you watch Omega Man?
A little bit. There was the original, with Vincent Price, and then Omega Man. It was kind of a take on both of them. But also the director Francis Lawrence wanted to make it feel like it was three years later, but it was not an apocalyptic environment. But nature takes over.
Some of the original concept art looks really bombed out. There are buildings that are just skeletons of metal.
As I came on... it was [decided] not to look so apocalyptic. It was kind of a mixture, [with] a hint of what happened in the midst of the chaos, and then nature taking over. It's been three years since the virus and the town has been blocked out. So rather than having it like Omega Man, with the streets littered with trash and stuff... things are biodegradable. Nature takes over, cleans and moves things around.
Parts of it are quite idyllic and beautiful. What was the reason for deciding to make it look less post-apocalyptic?
Not to look like all the others, and also it's a combination of rather than being him in this post-apocalyptic world, it's the natural world taking over. Nature's evolving.
Did you have anything to do with designing the mutants?
A little bit. Originally the concept was to do it live action, and there was a lot of pre-concept work done early on. And then as it didn't quite play out [as] they wanted it to. It became part of the digital world. So I was involved in some of the meetings [about] how to make the creatures or monsters still human, but a little more defined in its body structure and a little more elongated.
Did the original production designer leave because of the decision to make the film look less post-apocalyptic?
Oh no. No, not at all. It just had to do with personal family stuff.
So what are you working on now?
I'm working on Fast And The Furious 4.