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Set Building

We  tried to construct the station as  a complete whole, using an empty warehouse space.  Carol Clouse sketched the design in chalk on the concrete floor, and wood framing provided the skeleton on which to build the "layered" techno-look we were after. 

We tested and applied various materials and texture paints to the wood. Concrete-like finishes, plastics and metals gave us a suitable skin that looked functional and believable. We always had to weigh appearance against cost and square-foot coverage.

 The sets were meticulously "aged" and "lived-in" touches were applied throughout.

 

The gateway (above) was the first element totally completed. It set the tone and style for the rest of the construction. We actually began the shooting in the cabin set  - the scenes were less technically complicated and mostly required only one actor, Paul Nolan. 

 

We constructed the sets within the real constraints of the station's design - hallways were barely three feet wide, and most walls and ceilings were permanently affixed.  Although this made shooting more difficult, we wanted viewers to sense the structure "closing-in" on them.

 

Many of the built-in lights were just facades. We placed 650 or 1000 watt lights behind the shell - this gave us greater light output that was properly color-balanced. However, all the fluorescent fixtures were real.  

  

Corridors were mostly lit with fluorescent fixtures used within the frame. A few lighting "facades" were placed in the center to open things up. Again, these were illuminated from the outside of the set with conventional film  fixtures.

A special "cyclorama" was created outside the windows of the observation dome set. During shooting, we'd enhance the view through the windows with stage smoke, fans, and a variety of dirt particles. We also ended up creating some of the exterior views digitally.

Production designer Carol Clouse and a team of long-suffering, under-compensated helpers worked throughout a year to bring Ascension to the screen.  Here (below), she's wondering when it will all end.

 

 

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