Prince of Persia Film |’Morocco’ Alamut Design by Oliver Zeller

by CGAfrica in Articles,

on January 12th, 2017

In 2008, Oliver Zeller worked four months in the Moroccan art department of the Bruckheimer/Disney film, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. As Sr. Digital Set Designer, he primarily worked on the city of Alamut, later realized by visual effects firm MPC.
The film, directed by Mike Newell with Production Design by Wolf Kroeger, stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Sir Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, and is based on Jordan Mechner’s classic videogame.

Alamut Palace

The entrance to the Palace recalls Mughal architecture and the golden temple in Amritsar. Light sepia toned portions indicate built elements; the entrance and surrounding structures in Morocco and the balcony at Britain’s Pinewood Studios. The white portion are digital set extensions.
Based on concept artist Julian Caldow’s intial work with Production Designer Wolf Kroeger, & some modeling of built elements by digital set designer Bogdan Strugar & concept artist Kim Frederiksen, I proceeded to redesign the front facade and other elements, accounting for revisions & integration of the built aspects whilst imbuing further elegance into the design. Also designed the palace side and rear facades along with the basic plan for a sprawling multi-terraced garden fit for a Palace of this magnitude, though ultimately cut during post. 


Produced an accurate CG model and previsualizaiton walkthroughs of Alamut that were built around an old portion of Tamsloht in Morocco. Almost entirely based on drawn plans by various art directors including the renowned Leslie Tomkins.

The only feature below not practically built is the temple dome and its immediate base. Which I reworked based on Julian Caldow’s initial concept illustration and model, enhancing structural integration with Production Designer Wolf Kroeger’s desire to make it “bigger, bigger”.
In the film, these linked parts represent different areas of Alamut including the palace, city walls and various streets. A close-up example of the Tamsloht CG model, captures a market and part of the temple. Below that is a photograph taken on set during early construction of the same area.

Digital Alamut

Built a library of basic urban elements, from spires & doorways to balustrades & crenellations. A selection of elaborate balconies and pagodas are depicted below along with a few rooftop elements. Such elements were used by digital set designer Bogdan Strugar to create building modules. These provided a starting point for visual effects firm MPC to populate the city plan of Alamut as developed by VFX Art Director, Tino Schaedler.

In addition I produced vfx studies of city blocks for both Alamut and Nasaf, particularly concentrating on elevation transitions and conceived a series of guidelines to aid VFX in realizing Alamut.

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