Planet X FX

exterior zillion

When we set out to recreate the Zillion club building's exterior, we opted to use a completely CG approach rather than relying on matte paintings or physical set pieces. Only a very small part of the exterior - the front entrance door - was built as a set piece and stuck against the facade of the abandoned warehouse where the shoot took place.

The challenge, as it turned out, was fitting the former club into the shoot location, as they had very different dimensions. Also the locations for the front and the back entrance were geographically separated and very different, making it necessary for us to come up with a building-block approach where we could resize and reposition the individual buildings the complex was constructed out of on a per-shot basis. That way we could, for instance, make sure the landmark industrial chimney that was at the center of the complex, was visible in most of the shots.

Actual image of club Zillion that opened its doors from '97 till '02. The building was demolished in 2017.
3D model of the chimney

We then modeled, textured and shaded the building blocks, taking care especially of reproducing the mix of metallic and reflective tiles the main entrance building facade was plated with. This way we managed to get its signature shimmering effect.

Further care went into fitting the whole with the many neon tubes and spotlights that would light it up at night-time. This really helped to get the cutting-edge technoclub-feeling the Zillion was famous for.

Wireframe of the Zillion and final result
Before and after of the facade with the many neon tubes

One further challenge in this production was in the aesthetics of the shots; elaborate camera moves, focus pulls, characters crossing in and out of frame, dynamic effects-lighting, and stage smoke. Although this meant matchmoving was kind of a nightmare, it also helped to integrate the CG and the plate to an extent that everything blended into a seamless whole.

The actual back of the building before it was knocked down
Still from the movie with our 3D model