The upcoming Star Force 7 feature film, The Chill of Distant Eyes, is set on the Elven planet Despian. Six different exterior locations from this massive world were needed: the Elven city of Thal-Kilii, where the royal family resides; the harsh, icy region of the Dragil Badlands; the Mage’s Citadel in the T’Keln Islands; coastal areas between Thal-Kilii and T’Keln; matte paintings of the planet as seen from space; and an abandoned structure in an arid region Southeast of Dragil.
We Built This City…
The capitol city of Thal-Kilii is featured heavily in the film, requiring either exterior shots or matte paintings for the palace interiors (such as distant mountains or skylines seen out the palace windows). We needed early morning, daytime, sunset, and night shots of the city.
The original exterior set of the city (above) was created from November to January 2010. I hastily marked it as a final after a couple days work and published it in Hellsquad: RECON Issue 1, only to realize 6 months later that it looked far too industrial—as the voice artists brought their characters to life and we began to develop this alien culture, that style just didn’t fit. The city needed a mix of nature and technology, and a much “warmer” fantasy look. It also needed to contrast with the colder-looking sequences of the space and starship scenes.
In reworking the set, I kept the basic terrain and palace placement, but carved more rocks and craggy cliffs. Removing the concrete jungle, adding lush trees and a river, and changing the atmosphere helped give the city an authentic fantasy feel, as seen in one of the stages below. However I still liked the blue-tinted atmosphere, so I kept that to use in the night-time versions.
Unlike their kin, the subterranean Du’ari, the Elves of Thal-Kilii are tech-savvy. Not content to live in the trees, these beings possess advanced starships, weapons, and computers. But they have also learned to build without destroying the natural beauty of their planet; the coastal city’s structures are nestled among the oceanside forests and cliffs with minimal clearing of the forests.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at part of the SF7 world-building process. To stay updated on all things SF7, subscribe to our newsletter and social media channels below.
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