An environment artist is responsible for creating the most breathtaking and immersive environment possible in context, and these criteria are mainly achieved by the small details which create the world. Where is it set, what period, what time of year? What’s the climate like? What wildlife live there? Have people ever settled? Where would they live and how would they have access to water? How would they have evolved and built settlements?
All of these questions are essential, and in my honours project I ask a lot of questions. This post will answer most, if not all.
Where is it set?
The Harz moutains in Germany. Wikipedia.
Soviet Russia were at conflict with Germany during the late stages of WW2 and research into Soviet secrets & showed some incredibly interesting ties. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a pivotal turning point for Germany, as well as the turmoil before and during the Cold War involving the Soviets. With the country occupied by over 6 different countries including the USSR, the UK & the USA, there were many different cultural influences at the time. There are still remnants of this in Germany, but the Harz mountains was an area under Soviet control. The area was incredibly covered by mountains, allowing for a base to remain undetected. There are no direct railways through the area allowing for a freight route to go unquestioned. This is the way secret personnel would access the base.
What time period is it set?
1999. ^ uncubemagazine.com
1999 is 7 years after the complete demolition of the Berlin Wall, which was a key reason for a lot of occupied military bases to be abandoned. It’s also a the year before ‘Y2k’, the theory the world was going to end on the new millenium. This leads me options to add conspiracies and add a darker, fiction narrative to a possible parallel universe in which the plot takes place. The previous year, the organisation considered a terrorist cell named the ‘Red Army Faction’ was disbanded. This allows for propaganda and remnants of the organisation to remain and tell their own story.
What season is it?
The season will be early autumn/ late summer. The leaves have not yet changed, but the light is less intense and the sun is lower. The lighting will look similar to this, a small moodboard I created:
The dawn light will shine through the trees and birds will be singing, evoking an ethereal, warm calm feeling with an underlying sense of danger as the trees are still dark and the light isn’t too visible. This helps me to add tension and drama without going overboard.
Early morning, around 6 or 7am.
What is the weather like?
The weather will be brisk, but dry. Wet mud/ grass is hard to achieve and I feel I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. I’m not the Chinese Room!!
Is the area populated?
No the area will be unpopulated, the base will be between mountains, in an incredibly small location where humans will most likely not be able to go without direct access. The only populace will be government/ military personnel, and those with a clearance level to get past the security checkpoints.
Will there be wildlife?
No. Wildlife require rigging and animating. I ain’t got time fo’ dat! But with the narrative, I intend to show what has happened to the personnel who are missing, and it will definitely explain why there are no animals. Spoiler, they were eaten!!!
What will the set dressing involve?
The set dressing will involve foliage, a lot of propaganda, vehicles, possibly weapons, abandoned technology, and other elements to indicate there has been conflict involving gunfire.
Part 2 may follow!