I, Robot (Marco Beltrami)

Director Alex Proyas' "I, Robot", a loose adaptation of the Isaac Asimov stories, released in cinemas in 2004, to moderate success. The film tells the story of homicide detective in near-future Chicago who must investigate the death of the owner of the world's largest robotics company--and uncovers more than he bargained for in the process. Joining the venture was American composer Marco Beltrami, who was just breaking into the Hollywood A-list (after a few years in the horror circuit thanks to the success of the "Scream" series). The large sc-fi story gave Beltrami his biggest musical canvas yet, with a haunting central theme and featuring some rollicking action cues and choral and electronic touches.

This film came out when I was in high-school, and as a growing lover of science-fiction, I was a big fan of this film's premise and general noiry tone, as well as the (at the time) cutting-edge CGI character of Sonny (voiced by Alan Tudyk) as the emotional center of the film. This was also my first exposure to Beltrami's music, and I was captivated right away. The original album cover is fairly dull and minimal, so I was excited to dig back into the artwork of the film to see how I could spruce it up. I ended up creating eight new covers to choose from. 

The first cover uses the central poster, featuring Will Smith as Del Spooner (this pose was adapted into several different posters, as you can see below). It's strange looking at some of these posters up close though, as it becomes quickly apparent all the shoddy work that into the robot clone armies in the distance. In this particular instance, I chose to shrink Will down in size, so as to not chop him off awkwardly at the elbows, and I then had to copy the robots on the right edge from another picture to expand that side a bit (and also try to slightly improve the horribly distorted angle), and then blend it back into the existing background/sky.

Cover 2 again features Will looking ever-so-cool in his leather jacket, though at least here with a different expression--used for the video cover. I like having more color and texture here in the sky, though I again had to copy in a different batch of robots onto the right side to try to make the butchered cloning job a little less wonky (like, why does this army just float and blend randomly into the sky?).

The third cover gives a different style to the poster, and is only one of a few (the other is pretty lousy) to feature Bridget Moynahan as the robot doctor. Because of lack of quality, on pretty much all of these posters, I had to superimpose several filters, to increase the size, then simultaneously de-noise, and then add new noise back in (sounds bizarre, but it's a pretty common trick), to try to sharpen them up a bit. The design here feels a little dated (mostly the bottom scope effect), but this poster gave me a chance to break from my usual symmetry obsession, and move things off-center.

Covers 4 - 6 offer a more slightly more minimalist set of covers, rather than the usual Hollywood Photoshop job. The first two offer cool, moody looks at the NS-5 robots at the heart of the story, maybe Sonny himself. Editing was fairly simple, just doing some cloning to widen out the images a little from side to side to allow better framing. I generally kept the same time, and a fairly identical text style throughout the whole series, though small adjustments to sizing, color, shading, etc., must be made to fit each image. Cover 6 uses a still image from the film--fairly simple job, with a simple black matte, but I think it's functional, and offers something a bit different.

The seventh cover uses a poster that I believe was for the later 3D releases. The bottom features an image from a fight scene with the hacked robots attacking Del's ride. I shrunk the car down and centered it, allowing a nice spot for the composer credit. 

Cover 8 offers another variant on the Will pose, though now the background offers a closer look at our robotic antagonists. I had to comp together a few version of the image to get the widest angle on the robots. Their red glowing light stereotypically reveal their evil intent--and I choose to keep that pinkish hue in the text accents--perhaps not a central color in the film, but one which works pairs nicely here with the blue. 

Hope you enjoy the new selection of covers. What are some of your favorite Beltrami scores, and which of these covers do you think best represents the film and its music?

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