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Treatment for Project Athlon

Writer: Shaun Fontaine
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy/Adventure/Horror
Working Title: Project Athlon
Length(aprox) 90 minutes.

Log Line:

A small team of deep space salvagers led by captain Jack Harris land
On the planet Athlon looking for a precious metal called Orantium but bite off more than they can chew and end up fighting for their lives from monstrous aliens on the planet surface.


Act 1
Jack Harris is in charge of a group of space salvagers. His mission from earth is to locate a suitable planet and find precious metal. They land on a planet which has never been explored called Athlon. They find a ruined city full of the precious metal Orantium. It’s in the buildings, ground, it’s everywhere. It’s a great find, the crew rejoice and begin preparations to strip the city of it’s metal. After a night of partying, the salvagers get to work. It’s still an unknown environment so Captain Harris orders the few space marines at his disposal to set up a perimeter around the city. This is when the crew run into trouble.

Act 2
Stealth like monsters kills the Marines. Captain Harris orders his second in command Flight Lieutenant Hurtler to take a task force and find out what happened to the missing marines. While descending downwards into the heart of the city, a monster attaches itself to the hull and breaks through the bulkhead. The ship crash lands and it’s a fight for survival on the ground. Lt Hurtler discovers the remains and engages the monsters in battle. The task force is annihilated. Hurtler escapes into a nearby into a building where he is stalked by the monsters. He tried then to communicate with the captain, but the communication system is down.

Act 3
Captain Harris tries to get the ship working, while another crewmember – Crewman James Cisco defends the position, firing on anything that comes near the ship. Lt Hurtler kills the monster and re-joins team. Hurtler is critically injured and agrees to stay behind with a bomb and blow up the city while the captain and the rest of the survivors get away. Captain Harris pilots the damaged ship into orbit; a huge mushroom cloud can be seen on the monitors. He smiles at Crewman Cisco. The monster isn’t dead, it spears Cisco through the heart with a razor like tentacle. The captain tricks the monster into the airlock and flushes it into outer space.


Below is a short storyboard sequence for my film. This is designed to give you a feel for the theme of the movie.


One of my creature concepts involves tentacles, these tentacles will be used for all sorts of behaviours, from grabbing food to eat to feeling around the layout of a room. When looking at tentacles three creatures came to mind, an Octopus, a Squid and a Jellyfish, the first two are similar in the way the tentacles behave. The Jellyfish however behaves in a very different way. I’ll explain.

Here is a very of a Jelly Fish Eating, or catching it’s food. I’ve avoid the word prey, because prey suggests that a Jellyfish hunts. But to hunt you need a brain and a thought process. A Jellyfish has neither. Jellyfish aren’t even fish they are plankton. Their tentacles don’t really search out food, it’s more like a fishing net, when fish float near them, the sensors in the tentacles react, stinging and grabbing the fish, it’s all pretty mus
much automated.

A few of my designs feature spider legs or something similar along those lines. I was looking at various videos and came across a sea creature called a Japanese Spider Crab. Below is a video showing how it walks under water. The movement is similar to a spider but with it being underwater, it’s very slow.

An Octopus is also a creature like the Jellyfish who uses tentacles. However it’s tentacles work different and are much more complex. The Octopus has intelligence and a brain, so unlike the Jellyfish it can control each tentacle all at the same time. In the Video it feels around the floor looking for away out. One of it’s tentacles enters the water and then the whole Octopus shifts direction towards the water.

This is a clip of an ARM DROPPER – a species of Octopus that drops two of it’s tentacles and runs as if it were bipedal.

Video taken from Youtube (
Video taken from Youtube (
Video taken From Youtubr (



After researching into different creature movements. I decided to look at examples from the industry. My creature designs
are based on tentacle monsters such as the giant squids and octopuses. Luckily for me there are plenty of movies which feature monsters with similar features.

One of the first examples I looked at Was Monsters by directed by Gareth Edwards. Gareth did all the creature effects for the movie himself, which included all the animations and compositing for the movie. There’s a section below where he explains how he overcome the problem of animating tentacles as well as how he animated the monsters to move.

Watch from 5.44 to 6.15

Another example is from War Of The Worlds. I looked at the tripod machine. Although it’s more of a vehicle controlled by alien
pilots from within, it still behaves like it’s a monster in it’s own way. The movement is very similar to what I wanted to achieve for my own creature animations. However it’s still very alien in the way it moves. It moves very gracefully, with long strides. however each foot, tends to move in an independent fashion and not always in a set rhythm.

Watch From 1.40

Here is my last example, This is the giant creature from the end of The Mist – I Liked how slow and mammoth the creature moved. So big that it seems unaware of the little creatures below it.

Watch from 0.30 to 0.48

My main creature concept which I plan on developing is going to have tenticles. From my research on movment and walk cycles I have been looking at how the creature walks and also, how it hunts, and captures it’s pray as well as it’s overal general movement.

I know that animating the tenticals would be a hard Job, so I looked at various sources. Gareth Edwards also had this problem and came up with an interesting solution. Below is a video of what i’m trying to achieve for some of the tenticales

My main creature is similar in that it’s essentially a squid like creature with Jellyfish like tenticles but has six legs, so It walks like an arachnid. I know how I want it to move, I’m going to be creating a simple walk cycle soon. Iyt will be based on my own research into movement and also the reseach I did online, looking particulairly at Japanese Spider Crab which captures the movement exactly how I want it.

This is my first tenticale test. It’s not that great. I basically drew out a line path around the tea put and deformed a long cylinder to follow it’s path. This meant the cylinder acting as my tenticale would constrain to the line which was wrapped around the teapot. I then used MassFX, I used the cloth plugin to make the cylinder behave like rope, but I set the gravity to zero, This created the weightless effect. I liked the randomness generated by the physics simulation but I Also liked the fact I had some controle over it’s path. It doesn’t look good the way it is, but I hope to perfect the technique in my own time even when the assignement is over. For my next test I want to get the tenticles to wrap around the teapot and pick it up.

Here is another test I did using a CAT rig, I created a pelvis and added tails it, I set them to behave like tenticals from within the motion tab in max which can controle the way in which the CAT rig animates.

ok… so I had a look into max and decided to try and use one of the preset cat rigs which might be something I could use. I found the spider preset. I used the cat spider rig to start off with. My creature is simialr to a spider but it has only six legs, not eight, so I removed a pair of limbs. Next I reshaped the rig and moved all the joints of the limbs into a position I wanted. My creature walks more like a spider crab which is underwater most of the time, these creatures move very slowly and graceful, they have an almost weightless bonouce to their strides. I tried using the Cat rig controles to controle the movement of the rig. Below are the results. This is my first attempt, It’s kind of got the look i’m going for but it’s far from what I want.

This is a short animation of my creature moving, It was very challenging and it’s far from what I wanted to achieve. It’s too robotic and not fluid enough. The creature has the same amount of limbs as the tripod from war of the worlds but I didn’t want it to move exactly like a tripod. I wanted it to move with a more independent brain like a creature would.


The World

Location: Athlon is a world found deep in the solar system Alpha Centauri B. It’s around 4 light-years from earth.

Terrain – Athlon is a huge rocky planet which has a metal core, it’s clouds are composed of sulphuric acid and it’s atmosphere is, the atmosphere is thick with a dense cloud of carbon dioxide which causes a greenhouse effect. This causes extreme humidity and moisture which collects into pools.

History – The world is scattered with ancient ruined cities from a past unknown civilisation of unknown origin. It’s not been determined what caused them to disappear. It’s possible a change to the planets atmosphere forced the population to colonise
another planet. but it’s just a theory.

Inside the City


Underground Cave System

The Outskirts

Creature Designs

Chosen Design and Evolution





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