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The Winter Olympic Games are a showy statement of Russia’s regained power on the world stage. But the designers behind it are American. Jerry Anderson of Populous talks about the joys and challenges of working with Russians despite a tricky political history. 
Two Oscar-nominated movies have had people talking about their visuals as much as their gripping performances: Her and Gravity. K.K. Barrett talks about imagining a future LA for Her; Andy Nicholson talks about the work that went into creating a “period piece” about space.
Main Topic Jerry Anderson and Populous, Sochi Architect 6 MIN, 1 SEC
The Winter Olympic Games have been presented at President Putin’s showy statement of Russia’s regained power on the world stage. So it might come as a surprise to know that the designers behind it are American. Populous, formerly known as HOK, designed Camden Yards, London’s 2012 Olympic stadium, the new Yankee Stadium and numerous other sports and convention centers -- and the massive events that go in them. In the Southland they’ve built the Honda Center, the Angel Stadium and are now working on the expansion of the LA Convention Center.

Jerry Anderson, Populous

Main Topic K.K. Barrett: A Vision for Her 10 MIN, 38 SEC

Her is the Spike Jonze story of love and seductive technology in near future Los Angeles. Its designer K.K. Barrett has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Production Design, along with set decorator Gene Serdena.

And he’s found he’s had to do a lot of talking because people have been so intrigued by his depiction of Los Angeles – a vision that to some seems rather synthetic and cold, to others upbeat and modern.

In this interview K.K. talks about how he, Jonze and the team went about envisioning Los Angeles, from why they chose to film in Shanghai to the parts of city life they chose to eliminate to create a future of easy living, including belts and ties.

K.K. Barrett, Production Designer

Main Topic K.K. Barrett: Is Her a Vision for LA? 4 MIN, 28 SEC
One of the fascinating things about the movie Her is the reaction it’s gotten -- not only from movie goers who like the love story, but from those interested in the real future of LA. 
Gizmodo’s urbanism editor Alissa Walker tells DnA about the laughter that greeted Joaquin Phoenix’s character Theodore Twombly when he emerges from the subway at the sea. They were laughing with delight at the very idea of a transit-based, more urbanized LA -- that is forming as we speak, a future that seemed to be validated and enhanced by Her
I asked K.K. how he felt about their fictional cityscape being viewed as a real projection of LA. And does he really want LA will be car-free or a city of towers like Vancouver or an Asian city? K.K. says the team has been tickled and surprised by how much their fictional creation has been received as a seer on urban planning and near-future technology. Not only was it not based on any expert indicators of LA’s development he says, it did not take cues from other futuristic movies. Besides, he says, he does not want to see old LA ripped away to make way for towers, and he loves his car – even as he would like more public transit, and for personal mobility to be automated. 
And yes, he talks about the high-waisted pants too.

K.K. Barrett, Production Designer

Main Topic Andy Nicholson: Gravity 6 MIN, 18 SEC

Gravity is Alfonso Cuarón’s story of lone survival (by Ryan Stone/Sandra Bullock) amidst disintegrating technology in space. Where space used to be depicted in movies as gleaming and futuristic, now it is filled with space junk and a disintegrating International Space Station. For Andy Nicholson, production designer, creating the sets for this film involved the same level of intense, detailed research and photorealistic recreation as he would apply to creating the backdrop for a “period piece.” He talks about delving into a huge on line archive of images of past space flights, and finding not only fascinating facts about spacecraft – like just how useful Velcro is – but also just how brilliantly engineers over the past 50 years have designed every aspect of a spacecraft, adding up to purely functional non-design design.

Andy Nicholson is nominated for an Oscar for Best Production Design, along with Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard for set decoration.

Once he and his team created the set, they were recreated in CGI by the company Framestore.

Andy Nicholson, Production Designer

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