As the earliest stages of pre-production were rolling along, our team at Perception assembled a test for Director Barry Sonnenfeld. Without any brief, or even a plot synopsis, we decided to add our twist to an existing element within the MIB universe – the iconic sunglasses. This test suggests the notion that the glasses could serve as an interface display.
MIB Agent Sunglasses Test
Because one of the most highly touted aspects of MIB 3 was the fact that it would released in 3D, we wanted to make sure our initial test should how much fun could be had with stereo interface animation. Utilizing an early iteration of Cinema 4D’s stereo camera rig (graciously provided to us by Maxon’s VP Rick Barrett), we created the test with a careful balance of parallel and “toe-in” 3D set-ups, allowing us to add a whole new layer of depth to the interface.
3D Sunglasses Test
After our test was received well with the MIB team, we quickly got to work with Director Barry Sonnenfeld, Production Designer Bo Welch, and VFX Supervisor Ken Ralston in figuring out which elements throughout the film would need various interface effects and design elements. The first of these elements was a graphic display commemorating (and deleting) the life of recently deceased agent Zed.
We began with style frames exploring a wide range of options. Since this was our first “concrete” element, the design language was flexible and open to exploration. With this in mind, we covered as wide a range as we could.
ZED'S MEMORIAL INTERFACE CONCEPTS
The final design for Zed’s memorial is sleek, drawing inspiration from futuristic interfaces. This interface can quickly file through data and information in a snappy, enticing manner.
FINAL ZED MEMORIAL INTERFACE DESIGN
Zed Memorial Interface Animation
As part of Zeds memorial sequence, we see a fluttering of various documents relating to Agent Zed's history with the MIB. We created 30+ custom documents with the goal of authenticity, as well as detail, covering everything from commendations to gym membership cards.
After discussions with Barry Sonnenfeld, we started work on Agent J's (Will Smith) computer terminal. This screen went through several iterations as it needed to condense a complicated plot point (the history of the film's villain), all while in the unusual format of an oval-shaped monitor.
J'S WORKSTATION CONCEPTS
We settled on this approach which remained clean and legible, while feeling advanced enough to belong in the MIB Universe.
J'S WORKSTATION FINAL DESIGN
WORKSTATION 3D TEST
Although the monitor is displayed in the film primarily from a straight-on camera angle, we wanted to explore the possibilities for depth within the display. We developed this test to show how much complexity could be contained within the layout of the monitor when viewed from alternate angles, exaggerating the sensation of depth within the screen.
3D Workstation Exploration
One of the elements that appears during this interface sequence is the Archnet — a protective shield around the earth created by the MIB's. At this point in production, the actual effect itself was not yet completed, so we were asked to conceptualize a diagrammatic view of the Archnet to appear within the screen.
INITIAL ARCHNET DESIGNS
We carried over the design of J's Workstation to several other formats, most notably, the Mini-Orb workstation. This allowed us to take the existing design language of the J's workstation, and apply it to a more simplified format.
TIME JUMP DEVICE
Being that MIB 3 is a time travel story, we were asked to create a fantastical display for the Time Jump Device – a handheld time travel controller that Agent J uses to travel to the past. We were provided with early designs of the prop, and had to design it's 'activated' state, which needed to convey the notion of preparing to jump through time.
TIME JUMP STYLE FRAMES
We began be exploring numerous visual options for the time jump device, ranging from technical to organic.
TIME JUMP DEVICE EARLY LOOKS
TIME JUMP ANIMATION TEST
With the approved design, we began working with the animation of the Time Jump Device, resulting in this motion test.
Time Jump Device Animation Test
TIME JUMP TYPOGRAPHY
Relatively early in the design process, it was decided that the device needed some form of typography to show the passage of time. It was important that this clearly conveyed the passage of time, while still feeling like an alien device. Our team developed this custom typeface which was designed specifically to feel ambiguously alien, while still being recognizable as english numerals.
VARIOUS INTERFACE GRAPHICS
We tend to find that films containing futuristic screens require a wide range of various background screens, to make the sets come to life. MIB 3 was no different, and we ended up creating a wide range of additional screen content to appear in numerous places. It was important that these not be "filler" screens, but each should serve it's own specific purpose, or even include various Easter eggs.
TITLE SEQUENCE EXPLORATION
After expressing some enthusiasm regarding the title sequence of the film, we began to pursue a concept for the title sequence of the film.
TITLE SEQUENCE CONCEPT FRAMES
We wanted to keep the titles in the same world and design language as the rest of the film. Our team was inspired by Pablo Ferro, who crafted the title sequences for the previous two MIB films. We played with his familiar typography while adding an edge to it.
Men in Black 3 Title Sequence Motion Test
From agents on Earth to aliens in space, our team at Perception was honored to collaborate with Sony Pictures on bringing the unique technology of the MIB world to life in Men in Black 3. We are eager to see how this brilliant universe continues to expand!