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Reverse Engineering Studios & DVgroup Talk Alien: Isolation The Digital Series

Following the release of all 7 episodes of Alien: Isolation The Digital Series last week, IGN also published an article in which Kinga Smith from Reverse Engineering Studios and Fabian DuBois from DVgroup talk about pitching the idea to Fox and some of the choice making that went into adapting the game for the Digital Series.

“We then made storytelling choices based on the idea that we would be going deeper into Amanda Ripley’s psychology – to discover her demons, her fears, her motivations. The final series is comprised of three types of scenes: brand-new scenes that are rendered from scratch, cinematics taken directly from the game, and first-person scenes from the game we re-shot, edited and inserted a CG model of Amanda Ripley. Viewers will get to enjoy an exciting narrative that doesn’t repeat the Alien: Isolation story, but completes it.”

 Reverse Engineering Studios & DVgroup Talk Alien: Isolation The Digital Series

Concept art from Alien: Isolation The Digital Series released via Alien Theory on Twitter.

You can head on over to IGN to read the complete interview. If you haven’t already, you can also watch all seven of the episodes on IGN as well.

Keep a close eye on Alien vs. Predator Galaxy for the latest Alien news! You can follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to get the latest on your social media walls. You can also join in with fellow Alien fans on our forums!



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  1. Perfect-Organism
    *plop*

    https://youtu.be/2JlTvTG_6D0

    Thanks for that!

    Thanks for another great pod-cast.  It's fairly accurate.  I haven't watched the series since the first time when it was released.  I am just watching it again now as I am working on a design project.  It's playing on my iPad as I work.  Mind you, I am watching the fully linked up version which was recently released here by David's Creation.  I have to say, it's very much enjoyable.  It works as a unified film.  It's certainly not annoying me as I'm working.
  2. Hudson
    the fact that
    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
    Spoiler (click to show/hide)

    You’re not wrong, but I think I’m mostly thinking of the character in 3, the captain (it’s been a while since I’ve played it). His inclusion turns everything into something that feels different and petty. The first two games are more psychological while the 3rd is something else. Still need to finish it.
  3. BlazinBlue88
    I tried watching The Digital Series. It was a bit difficult. I've played a small portion of the game. (Got to the part where had to get a key card while avoiding the Alien) It felt jarring seeing the Amanda model. The background plate was off as well. I give them points for having the thought of it. But the way it was handled was a little subpar. Or should I say more whelmed than anything.

    However, this has turned my attention to this Youtube gameplay movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbp-01epFmk
  4. SiL
    the fact that
    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  5. Bad Replicant
    I liked it. There were obviously limitations they were working with, but is what it is and didn't ruin it for me. The way a lot of the sequences were put together was beautiful IMO, especially with the music.
  6. Hudson
    Both entries, Mass Effect 3 and Dead Space 3 became compromised by Electronic Art's interference.

    Leading to the indirect downfall of both Visceral Games and Bioware.

    Neither are awful games, they just have awful rushed parts.

    I don't think either game is bad, but both trilogies are similar in that Parts 1 & 2 are one thing while Part 3 feels like another thing.

    To be fair, I haven't finished Dead Space 3 yet. But beyond the gameplay itself being quite a departure to the uniform consistency of Dead Space 1 & 2 (think consistency as in Gears of War 1/2/3 consistency), the fact that
    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  7. Corporal Hicks
    Just curious: where did you get image for this podcast from? Alien head looks similiar to Covenant one, doesn't it?

    I think it's some of the Alien artwork from the Isolation press material. This was just another press material piece too.

    I'd actually prefer to see this story theatrically to most things, and Im not 100% sold on the idea of Amanda continuing on for long. I like the character but at this point it's starting to get absolutely ridiculous to keep assuming all of the stories in the franchise have been covered up by the company.

    To be fair, we only know her story extends as far as Resistance. We don't know how much further it goes or how far Fox is going to be taking Amanda.

    Quote
    If they want to keep the franchise going the need to make a theatrical film or TV series, that addresses some degree of what is going on in WY. The suspension of disbelief required to swallow all of this having been swept under a rug is just silly and is just no longer working IMO.

    Or perhaps something that gives a better understanding of the workings of the Company. I know how shit big companies are at internal communication so I wouldn't be surprised at all to see different elements of WY working towards the same ends but without awareness of each other. That's completely in the realms of possibility from my own experiences. Perhaps, it might just be good to see that in more black and white for people.

    Quote
    I still would be thrilled to see a proper animated / computer-animated Alien series in the vein of Final Fantasy, as Hicks mentioned. I especially thing this is the only way AVP will ever work theatrically, but they need to go back to the source, and make a film that links WY's perspective to all these events while maintaining the air of mystique ALIEN and A:Isolation managed to embody.

    I'd be more excited for something like this - especially an animated AvP, whether it gets a theatrical release or not - than a new Ridley Scott film. This has been something I've wanted since that first viewing of Final Fantasy and those early morning showings of Roughneck Chronicles.
  8. CainsSon
    Podcast discussion/review is up. :) https://www.avpgalaxy.net/2019/03/06/alien-isolation-the-digital-series-discussion-avp-galaxy-podcast-82/

    And YouTube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9Nzf477FAc

    Listening to this made me realize that I was focusing entirely on the positives. I mean, I certainly noticed a lot of the negatives (especially the poor animation and horrible editing) but there were things like the "epilogue" and the surreal dream sequencs that I liked so much and have wanted to see in an Alien story for so long, that I think I wasn't judging the thing as a whole. As one of you mentioned that is the only fair way to judge something like that and I'll have to admit that as a whole, its a mess. There is some imagery and art direction in there which rivals some of the best the franchise has to offer, but the framework doesnt really hold together. Too bad the rest of it was so rushed because I feel that there are sequences that really work littered among and otherwise slap-dash presentation.
    I'd actually prefer to see this story theatrically to most things, and Im not 100% sold on the idea of Amanda continuing on for long. I like the character but at this point it's starting to get absolutely ridiculous to keep assuming all of the stories in the franchise have been covered up by the company.

    If they want to keep the franchise going the need to make a theatrical film or TV series, that addresses some degree of what is going on in WY. The suspension of disbelief required to swallow all of this having been swept under a rug is just silly and is just no longer working IMO.

    I still would be thrilled to see a proper animated / computer-animated Alien series in the vein of Final Fantasy, as Hicks mentioned. I especially thing this is the only way AVP will ever work theatrically, but they need to go back to the source, and make a film that links WY's perspective to all these events while maintaining the air of mystique ALIEN and A:Isolation managed to embody.
  9. Corporal Hicks
    I particularly liked these shots.

    https://scontent.fper6-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-9/53325241_361340287795539_243126871582048256_n.jpg?_nc_cat=103&_nc_ht=scontent.fper6-1.fna&oh=f27ebf29f5f6f992e073a3fd2ab02265&oe=5D265CFB
    https://scontent.fper6-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-9/53352651_430289741060697_4503368562424938496_n.jpg?_nc_cat=109&_nc_ht=scontent.fper6-1.fna&oh=c9811e7b2e39e4aa5a1a3e3f71b23154&oe=5D279C05
    https://scontent.fper6-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-9/54255362_1265732086937717_3514605445220139008_n.jpg?_nc_cat=101&_nc_ht=scontent.fper6-1.fna&oh=35d1a8c2c13f4c56acf0fe7e5b84fdc6&oe=5D202E85

    Gorgeous. I loved so many of the free flying shots of the Alien in this.

    The 4K 100%'s a superior version.
    Picture's better, sound is better.
    https://tinyurl.com/DGeoffAlien4K

    Perhaps. It's just not something I picked up on.
  10. Frosty Venom
    Episode 5 and 7 were my favourites. The conclusion and epilogue were pretty great.

    I particularly liked these shots.

    https://scontent.fper6-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-9/53325241_361340287795539_243126871582048256_n.jpg?_nc_cat=103&_nc_ht=scontent.fper6-1.fna&oh=f27ebf29f5f6f992e073a3fd2ab02265&oe=5D265CFB
    https://scontent.fper6-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-9/53352651_430289741060697_4503368562424938496_n.jpg?_nc_cat=109&_nc_ht=scontent.fper6-1.fna&oh=c9811e7b2e39e4aa5a1a3e3f71b23154&oe=5D279C05
    https://scontent.fper6-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-9/54255362_1265732086937717_3514605445220139008_n.jpg?_nc_cat=101&_nc_ht=scontent.fper6-1.fna&oh=35d1a8c2c13f4c56acf0fe7e5b84fdc6&oe=5D202E85
  11. SiL
    Downfall is a really rushed mess (pacing wise), doesn't line up with the game it's supposed to explain, and just feels cheap through and through. I like it -- and Dead Space -- but it's not the quality I'd want from an Alien animated film.
  12. HuDaFuK
    I absolutely loved the first Dead Space, so I'm still not entirely sure why I never got around to any of the sequels.

    Always said the original was the best Alien game ever made until Isolation came around, it just didn't have the Alien in it.
  13. Corporal Hicks
    Hicks, glad to know I'm not the only one who picked up a 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe about the dream sequence. Yes, the heads were odd and surreal. I'm sure that was the point.

    I haven't seen anyone else mention that. Glad it wasn't just me!

    Quote
    Xenomorphine, I agree the function of the web series was to bring casual fans and people who did not play Isolation into the fold, and it worked. And you're right, it was no doubt a lot of work on no budget.

    It does seem to be doing pretty well with the people who never got to experience the game so it seems to have done the job in that respect!

    Quote
    I agree Alien/Aliens stories could work as animated features. Deadspace:Downfall, anyone? That's a festival of blood! And a guilty pleasire. Dead Space:Aftermath is interesting and brutal, too.

    Another Deadspace fan! The Old One will be pleased! I've still not played it myself but it's installed and waiting for the time.
  14. Prez
    Podcast: complete. Good job, as usual.

    Hicks, glad to know I'm not the only one who picked up a 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe about the dream sequence. Yes, the heads were odd and surreal. I'm sure that was the point.

    Xenomorphine, I agree the function of the web series was to bring casual fans and people who did not play Isolation into the fold, and it worked. And you're right, it was no doubt a lot of work on no budget.

    Personally, I'm completely repulsed by the idea of sitting through the further adventures of Amanda Ripley, but I guess other people like it.

    Ridgetop, you really like AVPR?! That's great! I enjoyed it in the theater. It was a hoot and a good popcorn movie. It's a shame the TV commercial gave away everything including the end. I watched it again recently and it still wasn't horrible. It's got some good points, some really disgusting ideas brought to life, a couple of darkly humorous sight gags, and some bad points, but OK!

    I agree Alien/Aliens stories could work as animated features. Deadspace:Downfall, anyone? That's a festival of blood! And a guilty pleasire. Dead Space:Aftermath is interesting and brutal, too.

    It's a shame 4K doesn't reveal more detail in the film, but I guess the source has resolution limits. It was shot 40 years ago, so maybe the greater wonder is that it's still important enough to receive special treatment.

    Anyway, thanks for the discussion.

    I concur. Enjoyable podcast as usual. Even as someone who hasn't played the game a whole lot (but is a big admirer) I took Xenomorphine's line in that it was free, enjoyable for what it was and didn't kill any buzz for me. That said I totally appreciate those who have lived and breathed the game being disappointed.
  15. XenoHunter99
    Podcast: complete. Good job, as usual.

    Hicks, glad to know I'm not the only one who picked up a 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe about the dream sequence. Yes, the heads were odd and surreal. I'm sure that was the point.

    Xenomorphine, I agree the function of the web series was to bring casual fans and people who did not play Isolation into the fold, and it worked. And you're right, it was no doubt a lot of work on no budget.

    Personally, I'm completely repulsed by the idea of sitting through the further adventures of Amanda Ripley, but I guess other people like it.

    Ridgetop, you really like AVPR?! That's great! I enjoyed it in the theater. It was a hoot and a good popcorn movie. It's a shame the TV commercial gave away everything including the end. I watched it again recently and it still wasn't horrible. It's got some good points, some really disgusting ideas brought to life, a couple of darkly humorous sight gags, and some bad points, but OK!

    I agree Alien/Aliens stories could work as animated features. Deadspace:Downfall, anyone? That's a festival of blood! And a guilty pleasire. Dead Space:Aftermath is interesting and brutal, too.

    It's a shame 4K doesn't reveal more detail in the film, but I guess the source has resolution limits. It was shot 40 years ago, so maybe the greater wonder is that it's still important enough to receive special treatment.

    Anyway, thanks for the discussion.
  16. Hudson
    w/r/t the podcast:

    I think it was just Amanda's voice reading Ripley's dialogue because they would've had to pay Sigourney Weaver to use her likeness. Same thing with Michael Biehn and Hicks in Alien 3.
  17. TC
    ...
     regarding the low poly Amanda model, I don't think one actually exists in the game. I have 2 reasons for thinking this.

    The first is that when I was looking for Amanda models, I found a forum where the members were saying that they were having trouble ripping the model from the game. They were getting parts but not a full 3D model.
    ...

    That's right. The complete Amanda model didn't exist in the released game, because in the process of optimising the 3D assets they culled all unnecessary polygons from the models, which included parts of Amanda that would never be seen by the player.

    However, If you go to one of my earlier posts, you'll see an earlier stage of development during which Isolation was a 3rd person game, and the complete Amanda model did exist. (But she looked a little rough.) Presumably the Digital Series producer got a hold of that.

    Actually, the biggest lesson out of all this (for me, anyway) has nothing to do with the technical curiosities.

    In reviewing the 70 minute show again I could see that this movie serves as the perfect demonstration of what story structure is all about; or rather, what a story is like when it suffers from the lack of structure. They tried to enforce their own kind of structure with the Amanda-floating-in-space scenes, but it was a flimsy artifice that didn't really work. The story was just as episodic and paceless as it ever was.

    In fact, calling it a "movie" is probably the best way of sabotaging it. Marketing it as a cutscene compilation is a better way of positioning the audience's expectations; which is kind of what they did do, but unfortunately I, like most people, just didn't pay enough attention to what they were announcing. So I have to accept some of the blame for my own disappointment.

    TC
  18. Stitch
    I think this is a rather ambiguous statement, and could just as easily mean they converted the 1st-person scenes into 3rd-person scenes by going back into the game engine but his time including the (low-poly) Amanda model.
    Firstly, kudos on the extensive investigative post!

    Secondly, regarding the low poly Amanda model, I don't think one actually exists in the game. I have 2 reasons for thinking this.

    The first is that when I was looking for Amanda models, I found a forum where the members were saying that they were having trouble ripping the model from the game. They were getting parts but not a full 3D model. I'd look for the site again, but this evidence is backed up in my next reason...

    ...which is this:
    https://youtu.be/ClJIJwNaeRs

    Interesting, eh?
  19. Oasis Nadrama
    Actually the shadow-on-foot thing can be accomplished in multiple ways, it's a simple effect. You could even do that with Photoshop, frame after frame, if you're patient. But After Effect (an old and very easy to get for free program) can do this kind of thing on the move.

    And sure, the behind-object part is a little more complicated, but 15 years ago, in movie school, a friend of mine told me about a program which could select and follow a specific part of the shot. Surely if it was doable 15 years ago, you'd have no trouble to do this now. Otherwise personally, if I had to do this simply, I'd just add back the chair or other elements in the shot after integrating Amanda. A little quicker than to always erase a precise part of her frame after frame.
  20. TC
    ...
    Right, but what I'm saying is that the third person shots aren't rendered in game. The background is, but Amanda is rendered separately and then composited into the shot.
    ...

    I guess we'll never know for sure what went on, but continuing to speculate for the curiosity value...

    I had another look, and I'm not sure they are composited. Are you thinking this is the case from this quote from the makers?:

    Quote
    The final series is comprised of three types of scenes: brand-new scenes that are rendered from scratch, cinematics taken directly from the game, and first-person scenes from the game we re-shot, edited and inserted a CG model of Amanda Ripley.

    I think this is a rather ambiguous statement, and could just as easily mean they converted the 1st-person scenes into 3rd-person scenes by going back into the game engine but his time including the (low-poly) Amanda model.

    ON THE OTHER HAND some of the shots DO look very odd (as though composited on top):

    In this top down angle of Amanda walking past Ricardo, look at the dodgy shadow she's casting on the floor. Not only is it very low res and lacking in density, it also sits on top of the existing shadows being cast in the room. Surely a sign that she is comped on top, yes?

    https://i.postimg.cc/yNQft6K6/After-Talking-To-Ricardo2.jpg


    But then again, in this shot, the shadow from the clamp laying on the floor seems to fall on her foot, which would be very difficult to achieve if she was comped:

    https://i.postimg.cc/qRNmTfBs/Meet-Axel2.jpg


    Plus, sometimes she crosses behind other objects in the scene. Not a problem if you were willing to rotoscope an animated matte around (in this case) the chair backs, but I don't think they had the budget for that kind of messing around:

    https://i.postimg.cc/bwRV0HFt/Talking-To-Taylor-WS2.jpg


    This actually happens quite often:

    https://i.postimg.cc/YSqndGJy/Find-Motion-Tracker2.jpg


    But then, going back to the scene where she converses with Taylor early on in the movie (and probably the most egregious shot of all), look how horrible Amanda's close-up is integrated into the background, exactly like she was poorly comped (you can even see a dark edge around her highlighted hair):

    https://i.postimg.cc/SNCvRp6V/Talking-To-Taylor2.jpg


    There are also many shots where they have added a random jiggle to the camera to simulate a hand-held effect. When Amanda is in the foreground, it creates a disturbing "swimming" effect, which is normally a giveaway of an imprecise 3D match move. IOW, they had a background (without Amanda) which had lots of camera movement, and tried to add a new Amanda to the foreground, having to duplicate the camera movement in her element too, but not quite getting it right.

    BUT, this same swimming effect can also occur if you don't use the right sort of jiggle on your camera; namely, you want to make your camera jiggle through rotations, not translations.

    What does this all mean? Danged if I know...

    TC
  21. maron
    Taylor has more character depth than Fifield. Congratulations.  ;D

    Sure, there's more you could have done (The Hive, i.e.), but I enjoyed this more than Prometheus and Covenant.  :P
  22. Stitch
    ...
    I was just wondering why they didn't use the models on the artstation page, since it seems the artist worked on A:I.

    Probably because the model featured in that artist's Artstation page was too high-res for use in the game engine, because it was made for offline rendering of the cutscene cinematics. It's also likely that this high-res model had incompatible shaders applied to it, such as a "sub-surface scattering" shader for realistic skin, and a special hair shader (which seems to be missing), that were also incompatible with the game engine.

    Here's a reel by one of the Isolation animators who worked on both the in-game animations (for playback in realtime inside CA's custom game engine) and the cinematic cutscenes which were pre-rendered. If you look carefully you'll see the low-poly nature of some of the in-game scenes (e.g. cylinders that are faceted instead of rounded - look at the explosive bolts scene.)



    TC

    Right, but what I'm saying is that the third person shots aren't rendered in game. The background is, but Amanda is rendered separately and then composited into the shot.

    Given that info, there's no reason they couldn't have used a higher quality model.
  23. TC
    ...
    I was just wondering why they didn't use the models on the artstation page, since it seems the artist worked on A:I.

    Probably because the model featured in that artist's Artstation page was too high-res for use in the game engine, because it was made for offline rendering of the cutscene cinematics. It's also likely that this high-res model had incompatible shaders applied to it, such as a "sub-surface scattering" shader for realistic skin, and a special hair shader (which seems to be missing), that were also incompatible with the game engine.

    Here's a reel by one of the Isolation animators who worked on both the in-game animations (for playback in realtime inside CA's custom game engine) and the cinematic cutscenes which were pre-rendered. If you look carefully you'll see the low-poly nature of some of the in-game scenes (e.g. cylinders that are faceted instead of rounded - look at the explosive bolts scene.)



    TC
  24. Stitch
    I was looking online for Amanda Ripley models, to see if they had been ripped from the game when I found this:

    https://www.artstation.com/artwork/Z5lqbX

    I notice that it was posted 2 months ago, so it's fairly recent. The artist says they're not the final renders, because he hasn't got access to the files, but they're better than what was put in the digital series. I wonder why they didn't use these? Or at least ask to use them.

    It's possible that they did for the new scenes of Amanda in spacesuit floating among debris. The model and textures and lighting look a lot better here than in the new in-game scenes. I guess they had to create all new assets for these scenes so it suited them to go the extra effort.

    But the new 3rd person scene angles (e.g. Amanda talks to Taylor in the Torrens commissary) used the in-game assets supplied by Creative Assembly, and their workflow required that they be rendered mechanima style (i.e. in realtime with their game engine). So in these cases either they had to create their own low-poly Amanda model because it wasn't a pre-existing CA asset, or if it did come from CA then it came from the early prototype builds when Isolation was still a 3rd person game.

    https://youtu.be/cJ7xtDvUxEc

    TC
    As far as I read in the IGN creators interview, there was no machinima. The third person scenes were made using the first person view from the game to capture the background, and then a new model of Amanda was inserted into the scene, which is why the lighting for Amanda looks off in these scenes.
    I was just wondering why they didn't use the models on the artstation page, since it seems the artist worked on A:I.
  25. TC
    I was looking online for Amanda Ripley models, to see if they had been ripped from the game when I found this:

    https://www.artstation.com/artwork/Z5lqbX

    I notice that it was posted 2 months ago, so it's fairly recent. The artist says they're not the final renders, because he hasn't got access to the files, but they're better than what was put in the digital series. I wonder why they didn't use these? Or at least ask to use them.

    It's possible that they did for the new scenes of Amanda in spacesuit floating among debris. The model and textures and lighting look a lot better here than in the new in-game scenes. I guess they had to create all new assets for these scenes so it suited them to go the extra effort.

    But the new 3rd person scene angles (e.g. Amanda talks to Taylor in the Torrens commissary) used the in-game assets supplied by Creative Assembly, and their workflow required that they be rendered mechanima style (i.e. in realtime with their game engine). So in these cases either they had to create their own low-poly Amanda model because it wasn't a pre-existing CA asset, or if it did come from CA then it came from the early prototype builds when Isolation was still a 3rd person game.

    https://youtu.be/cJ7xtDvUxEc

    TC
  26. CainsSon
    You think we’ll have to wait until Alien Day for those Tongal shorts?

    I think the Tongal shorts were a means for FOX to try and generate ideas for the franchise. I'm still upset I missed the deadline because I failed to factor in the time zone differences and hope to one day release my short script for fans to read, but as of now Im glad that I didn't just blindly share my ideas because in the fine print it read that Fox owns any ideas you submitted. Standard or not, not my speed.
  27. Stitch
    So basically the game but in a tv-series-sort-of format?
    Honestly looking at how excellent quality the game engine is, it actually make sense to package it in that format. Like a pseudo-animated series form. In a way it would be a great testing ground to see if people would be interested in a Alien animated series of sorts. Its about time that there are mature animated series that don't have to be all about rough comedy like Family Guy or Rick and Morty.

    f**kin hell the teaser intro reeled me in but once we see Amanda and Samuel's intro.....f**kin hell son who wiped away the smooth 60fps into a choppy 30-24fps low resolution with a downgraded color and missing dynamic lighting? This bugs me so much, the f**k?!?
    I was waiting for your reaction. I saw your first post and was going to say something, but there's nothing that can be said, is there?
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