As most Alien fans know, Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. have been responsible for quite some time with creating the practical effects needed to bring to life the titular creature of the series and its spin-offs. Woodruff Jr. himself wore the suit from Alien³ onwards.
The pair first worked with Stan Winston on James Cameron’s Aliens before creating their own effects company, Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. (ADI), and took over the work on all the following films in the franchise. ADI’s stunning practical effects can also be seen in films such as Starship Troopers, the Tremors franchise, Death Becomes Her, Mortal Kombat, Spider-Man, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the prequel of The Thing among many others.
Having such an amazing body of work, they both really enjoy talking about their craft, and they regularly post behind the scenes photos and videos on their social media accounts. This past weekend Gillis and Woodruff Jr. posted a new video on ADI’s Youtube channel in which they talk about their work on every film on the Alien and AVP franchises they have been involved with, explaining the design process for each of those films including the challenges they had to overcome to bring such iconic creatures to life.
They pair also address some of the negative reactions and rumors running around online including that infamous idea that they “believed to be better than Giger” himself, the more organic Alien: Resurrection design and why they had to reuse most of it for the AVP movies. The video runs for over half an hour and even though there’s a lot of stuff that should already be known to die-hard fans, Gillis and Woodruff Jr. make it very entertaining. Enjoy it below!
Over the years Gillis and Woodruff Jr. have taken a lot of undeserved crap from a sector of fans who doesn’t realize that they aren’t the big decision makers, and their job is to interpret the requirements of a director, a script, a studio and balance them out within a budget limit to create something that looks real and great on screen. Despite the difficulties they had to go through on each Alien and AVP movie I believe they managed to do a lot of amazing stuff that built upon what H.R. Giger did, and that it worked within the context of each story.
Regrettably, ADI isn’t working on Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant. They also didn’t work on Prometheus but at least it was somewhat understandable since the main creature of the franchise wasn’t featured in that movie. I do hope that, should the franchise continue, they are called back again. Interestingly, they will be working on Shane Black’s The Predator which is due next year.