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Interviews

Q&A with Chris Wildgoose

By Colum Blackett

14/8/19

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To mark our 5th anniversary as an Assassin's Creed Community, we're proud to release a new Q&A featuring Chris Wildgoose, Weapons Concept Artist on the Assassin's Creed Movie!

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Col: Hi Chris, thanks for joining us for this interview! Could you please tell us about your most recent projects, and the part that you played in the development of the Assassin's Creed Movie. How did you find the experience?

 

Chris: Thanks for having me!

I’ve recently finished a couple of concept art projects for TV and film but sadly they are all wrapped up in NDAs, so I can’t name them just yet! When I’m not doing concept work, I’m illustrating comics. Earlier this year I finished a teen Batman book for DC called Batman: Nightwalker, which hits shelves in early October. Right now I’m getting stuck into the design work for a new comic series, which should be announced soon!

 

For the Assassin’s Creed movie I was the weapons concept artist. It was my first concept art job of this scale and the weapons master was also my eldest brother, Tim, so it was a big job for me in a couple of ways. I’m genuinely a huge fan of the games and I really enjoy working with my brother, so I loved every day of it. We had a lot of freedom when it came to the design and it felt like our input as fans was listened to and encouraged. It was a great experience.

Col: Have you worked with your brother on many projects before?

Chris: I’ve worked with Tim for years. As a student I worked as an assistant in the props/weapons department when he was a maker. Back then I'd be more hands on, painting and basic making for a variety of films, TV shows, and theatre. After graduating I started working mostly in comics, so Assassin’s really brought us back together as a little team. Since then we've worked on a number of other projects recently together and hopefully more to come! 

Col: Did you find it challenging to work on a movie set in a long running video game universe?

Chris: It was quite daunting at the beginning. It’s Assassin’s Creed! I was coming to it as a fan, so from the get-go I felt the pressure to do it justice. At the same time, Assassin’s is very open to interpretation with each new chapter or format, so you have space to bring in your own ideas. Ubisoft has such a wealth of existing material, so you can see what has worked before and that can be a reassuring thing to have as a guideline. Also, this wasn’t Tim’s first rodeo, so he knew how to keep me calm.

What was the weapons creation process like? Was it trial and error?

 

I think there's always an element of trial and error in concept art. When you're working on such a huge project, what works for you or within your department, doesn't always work within the grand scheme of the film. We're just a small piece of the jigsaw, so there's usually a few attempts to make that piece fit the big picture.

On Assassin's, Tim and I would have a chat about the specific weapon’s brief, throw ideas and ref around, and I'd respond with some rough sketches. Tim gave me feedback on that first set and then, more often than not, we’d combine elements of different designs into something new. I’d then produce fully rendered versions of these and Tim would show them to Justin the director. He'd give us feedback and we'd make adjustments. If we were very lucky we'd nail it on the first design, but often we'd go through a few rounds of feedback and editing.

For example, Benedicto’s Axe was picked from our first set of designs, but with Aguilar’s blade we went through 4 or 5 sets before we settled on the final design.

Col: What materials were used to create Aguilar's hidden blade?

Chris: Like all the Assassin’s blades, they reflect the specific culture and period of that assassin. For Aguilar it needed to fit the aesthetic of 15th century Spain, so it’s made from metal and ivory, with lots of asymmetric Moorish relief patterns and iconography. The ivory sections were 3D printed and painted to look like bone, then the metal sections were cut, shaped and I think acid etched with the patterns.

Col: How many designs/ concepts did you have for Aguilar's gauntlet?

Chris: We did roughly 4 or 5 sets of designs, from the first loose sketch to the final illustration. I think we actually did around 16 variations of his blade alone, if I gather every sketch and design sheet together.

Col: Were any changes made over time?

Chris: Yes, a fair bunch. Originally it was going to be all metal and a fairly different shape but as the design developed we added more intricacy and materials to make it more decorative. It’s one thing for me to draw a weapon, but Tim and his team then have to make it into a functional object. They needed to adapt bits to allow it to work and move etc. One big change that happened after the final design was the addition of the ivory eagle that sits where the blade retracts in. Tim then added pearl indents to give it some extra flare. I think it turned out great.

Col: I saw that you recently purchased the Aguilar figurine by DamToys. How does it feel to own a detailed replica of items you helped to design?

Chris: I did. I was secretly hoping for something like this to be made! DamToys really don’t spare on the detail and accuracy so it was great to see something so faithful. It’s a nice reminder of a job that I loved. I have it on a shelf overlooking my drawing desk and I’m so happy with it.

Col: Did you work with Sammy Sheldon Differ (Costume Designer) when creating the gauntlet?

Chris: Not directly. Tim would often have meetings with Sammy and the director, Justin. I would be passed feedback and notes from Tim. Sammy’s costume team popped in to our studio now and then and we’d swap designs and update each other. I remember feeling gobsmacked when they first brought in the actual Aguilar gauntlet as it has so many intricate patterns running through it. It was a thing of beauty.

Col: Which other pieces of equipment did you help to create?

Chris: All the assassins’ blades, Cal’s dismantled blade, the smoke grenades, Aguilar’s throwing knives, Aguilar’s grappling hook (originally a separate wrist blade), the assassins’ ceremonial finger cutting blade, Benedicto’s axe, Shao Jun’s sword, Ojeda’s sword, the Abstergo guards’ batons, and the Templars’ 15th century swords, shields, and crossbows.  

 

Cal’s dismantled blade was especially fun, as I needed to figure out how different parts would be hidden amongst the disguised assassins.

Col: Do you have a favourite item that you helped to create?

Chris: Ooh, it’s genuinely hard to pick. I was really, really happy how Cal’s father’s blade turned out. They wanted it to look like it was a blade from the 70’s, as if Travis Bickle had made it. That got a few really nice close-ups in the film.

If I could pick a couple of cheeky others, then Benedicto’s blade turned out gorgeous and retracted the blade really nicely. Also, Shao Jun’s sword was really fun to draw and is a nice Easter egg.

Col: Do you have a favourite item that you helped to create?

Chris: Ooh, it’s genuinely hard to pick. I was really, really happy how Cal’s father’s blade turned out. They wanted it to look like it was a blade from the 70’s, as if Travis Bickle had made it. That got a few really nice close-ups in the film.

If I could pick a couple of cheeky others, then Benedicto’s blade turned out gorgeous and retracted the blade really nicely. Also, Shao Jun’s sword was really fun to draw and is a nice Easter egg.

Col: Back in 2017, Tim (Damage Inc) generously donated three throwing knives used by Maria in the movie for our three year anniversary giveaway. Did you help to create them?

Chris: I did. I worked on them alongside Aguilar’s blade when I first started. I think we settled on that particular design from the first set of design variations.

Col:

Quite a few of the AC Movie items can now be found on Prop Store. How do the production team decide which items to keep or sell?

 

Chris: I don’t really know. I’m usually long gone from the project when that stuff gets handled. I think props usually go back to the studio once it’s completed.

Col: Do you have any pieces from the AC Movie set lying around your studio?

Chris: Sadly, no. However, Tim did let me keep a spare cast of the head on the pommel of Ojeda’s sword.

Col: Where would you personally like to see the franchise go next?

 

Chris: Since the very first game I’ve hoped for Japan. A film of that would be incredible. I loved the comic that was set in 20’s Russia, so I’d love to see more of that outside the platform game and book.

As for somewhere not really considered before? Perhaps any era of New York. What a city to play with!

Col: If a sequel was to be announced, would you like to be involved in its creation?

 

Chris: Straight up yes, especially if Tim and I got it again.

Col: What are your overall thoughts on the movie?

Chris: Obviously I have severe bias towards the film but I honestly, really liked it. It’s not without issues, but what film is? 

I would’ve liked to spend more time with Aguilar in his period, known more about him and Maria, or learnt more about the group of old Assassins. Personally, I also think it would’ve benefited from a touch more lightheartedness. However, it was a very respectful adaptation while trying to handle a new setting. Not an easy thing to balance.

From being behind the scenes I know there was a lot of love and consideration for the fans thrown in from everyone involved, which goes a long way with me. To me, it’s easily one of the most faithful game-to-film adaptations. But like I said, I’m biased.

Col: Do you have any designs from the movie that we can share with the community?

Chris: I have!  I’ve sent you: 

 

Shao Jun’s sword. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Easter egg but she has a bigger appearance in a deleted scene and Jin fights with her sword in the big escape from Abstergo.

As a fan, I was so happy to work on this one. I also designed the dragon that was etched into the blade of the sword, but I couldn’t find that particular design sheet.

 

Super early, rough sketches for Maria’s blade, plus the final design. It has a very similar design theme to Aguilar’s, but she had the double thin blades and a different mechanism action.

 

Design sheet for Benedicto’s wrist blade. The final design used was a combination of the second blade to the left’s back spinning mechanism with the blade on the far right. 

 

Smoke Grenades. These were the very last thing I worked on for the film. The design used was the bottom left one. Though again sightly adapted as we changed it to look as though it contained two liquids that when combined would create the smoke. 

Again, Tim adapted it when actually making it, I think the end result was a more metal looking piece rather than ceramic. 

 

Col: Thank you so much for joining us Chris!

You can find more from Chris on Twitter and Instagram and Tim on Twitter 

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The Assassin's Creed Community are raising

money for Ocean Conservancy.

                           Donate today

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Save 10% on officially licensed Assassin's

Creed Origins merchandise with the code "TOWCB"