In some ways Oblivion is pretty standard. Alien war. Last humans on earth. Tom Cruise. Etc. But the movie has something else going for it: a stunning backdrop for all the hunting and sleuthing.
The Sky Tower was conceived by Oblivion's director, Joseph Kosinski, during very early treatments of the movie. Kosinski trained as an architect and his eye for design is evident in his directorial style. Everything from his Halo 3 and BMW ads to TRON: Legacy shows a particular futuristic aesthetic. Kosinski told BuzzFeed that:
I built the initial 3-D sketch models of the Sky Tower. A very simple model compared to what ends up in the film, but the basic concept of it was there from the very beginning. That's how it all started.
Kosinski uses his 3D modelling skills to work out ideas and conceptualise scenes and then translates this vision on set (see sketches below). He maintains that he stops short of micromanaging, though he is clearly conceiving scenes at a microscopic level.
I don't try to poke my nose into everything, but I respect the process. It's important to a director to make sure the design is going to allow me to tell the story I want to tell, so I make sure that the set's going to work for all the scenes and it's going to allow me to block out the action and put the camera wherever I want.
Kosinski says that he doesn't miss architecture because being a director allows him to design and depict structures that could never actually exist physically. At least not yet. Who's gonna step up and take a stab at a true sky tower? [BuzzFeed]
Photos courtesy of Universal Pictures