The visuals of both the desolate Antarctic and the ever-morphing alien creatures in The Thing were envisioned long before the movie was shot. Extensive storyboards were drawn by artist Michael Ploog so that all the departments of the production were on the same page in their preparation for the shoot. This is nothing new… but the similarity between the storyboards and the final imagery shot by legendary DP Dean Cundey is staggering. Storyboards are often only a guide, but in this film they were so specifically rendered that they became gospel. The detail and artistry of Ploog’s work up front, allowed the crew to have clear and defined goals on those frigid shooting days in both Alaska and Canada.
To demonstrate this point… I’ve taken two scenes from The Thing and laid down the storyboards next to the shots in the final edit of the film. The video below examines the discovery of the alien spaceship and the transformation of Norris in the shocking scene that still haunts me today. Just like Hitchcock worked with Saul Bass to create the famous shower scene in Psycho, Ploog crafted beautiful storyboards for Carpenter so that the time on set was best utilized to tell the story. Be it pencil to paper or an iPad app filmmakers can share the envisionment of the worlds they are creating by using storyboards. —Vashi Nedomansky, The Thing: Storyboards to Film Comparison
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