I'm Frank Hong, a concept designer on Pacific Rim, responsible for illustrating a lot of the sets and environments. AMA,

Please ask me anything. and I will answer them to my best knowledge.

You can also visit me here, and check out some concepts behind the making of Pacific Rim:



My views do not represent those of Warner Bros. or the director Guillermo Del Toro, or Legendary.

They are just my personal rambles. Thanks!

Comments: 359 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

Scaredysquirrel119 karma

Just saw the movie. So glad it was two plus hours long. This allowed for some decent plot and character development. The movie was great fun and we all loved Glados! Well worth the time and $.

frankhong58 karma

Glad you enjoyed it! I'm so excited because I haven't seen the whole film yet! going this weekend.

Patitas85 karma

Holy shit you did a phenomenal job!

I was completely and giddily immersed in your universe.

Where did you get your inspiration from?

frankhong84 karma

Thank you! Guillermo Del Toro wanted a believable world that felt much like our daily lives and not too far in the future. we based our designs on real world locations and a lot of the inspiration really just come from real life but made to look bigger. The visual style established by Guillermo really brings out the best kind of freedom a designer can hope for. The team had a lot of fun exploring larger than life designs, and effectively bedding them in reality, that came to be a a major design philosophy I followed on the show.

my-name-is-82 karma

Why should I see the movie besides giant alien fighting robots

frankhong408 karma

because if we don't support the new entertainment titles like this one and vote with our wallets we'd go right back to grown-ups 3-4-5, and I'll be damned to concept any baby diapers.

cobaltcollapse53 karma

Considering the reviews, how's it feel knowing your movie is better than the somewhat-recent Transformers?

frankhong93 karma

I haven't look at the reviews yet, but man, before I got this job, I met this really cocky dude who worked design on transformers. I remember thinking damn! that's what I want to do! and as if Guillermo himself has heard me, he offered be a job 2 days later via a phone call.

quezlar51 karma

this movie has a very neon genesis evangelion feel

would it be fair to say that was an influence?

frankhong27 karma

Took a while for me to answer this question, I honestly don't have a sure answer for it. the vibe between the illustrators were that we all had some passion for japanese style anime/games. The style of mechs were phenominal if some of the japanese productions and it would be crazy not to at least reference some of them. Having said that, there were no design documents or briefs that explicitly had anything to do with Anime. The japanese influence were the elephant in the room, and it's very appreant in the office. But no one came out and said, Let's make this like the evangelions.

watchdat_cominatcha33 karma

Which Jaeger is your favorite? I love the cockpit on Cherno Alpha.

frankhong59 karma

Has to be striker Eureka. so mint!

sadshoes25 karma

Did you interact with Guillermo during your work on the film? What is he like, and did you learn anything from your time on his project, specifically from him? Any anecdotes to share?

frankhong71 karma

Oh man he is just SOOO fantastic and humbling. The first time he went into my office about a week after I started he actually remembers our meeting at FanExpo, and thanked me for coming on-board the show. I mean REALLY? YOU are Guillermo Del Toro, and I'm a punk ass kid, as if I would say no. I mean he is the whole reason why I'm even in the feature film industry. had Guillermo not looked at my artworks or ask me for my card during FanExpo I would probably still be running Sub-B level games right about now. Talking to the guy is surreal at first, but he is so calm and humble that the star struck feel is more or less diffused a minute into the conversation. Guillermo just feel like a really good boss to have, genuine and charming. He would curse and joke with the team during meetings, and always got a big Del Toro smug to lighten the mood. Plus, he really like my drawings, how crazy is that?

I_Ask_About_IceCream17 karma

What's your favourite ice cream flavour?

frankhong28 karma

Green tea or cookie cream. in that order. lol

Arandy0516 karma

Amazing work. What was the most challenging thing part of this project?

frankhong26 karma

most challenging part for me was time. I know you are probably expecting an answer regarding production, but the truth is the crew were working 12 hours a day and 60 hours a week minimum. It's hard to stay constantly creative for that long, and with real life struggles it kinds of add up to a lot of stress. We were also asked to come in sometimes in the weekends, and stay longer after the day's end. Each illustration took around 1-2 days, given that I was on the show for almost a year, a lot of designs and stress has came and go.

eigenlaut8 karma

i guess with previously working in the games industry you are used to crunch?

frankhong19 karma

more or less. Game company hours was 8hr/day when I was there. There's the occational crunch (unpaid) but for the most part it rarely hits 12 hours for a concept artist. The whole point of concept is to do things fast, and 8 hours for gaming is more than enough and about as productive as a 12 hour day.

12 hours is the industry standard when I got into films, so some adjustments had to be made. instead of occational unpaid overtime, it's like we are constantly doing paid overtime with free lunch.

applepiedestroyer16 karma

How many times during the summer, approximately, do you apply sunscreen?

frankhong33 karma

Everytime when I go out, which is like twice.

riceandsoysauce14 karma

Do you feel like, even though the work is done for you with Pacific Rim, that you could have done things better? Or differently? Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? And last one, I promise, were there ideas that were completely pitched out that you were really partial/attached to? (I have yet to see the movie but from the trailers, it looks AMAZING!)

frankhong21 karma

Things can always be done better, but I'm just riding shotgun, Not saying I would have done any better if handed the steering wheel. I do try to do my assignments to the best of my abilities, and I'm quite happy about how they turned out. I can be as much of a perfectionist as long as it doesn't keep me awake at night.

In terms of ideas, I were heavily responsible for the looks of Hong Kong streets, and having traditional Chinese numbering systems in the shatterdome was entirely my idea. I had a lot of dress up the set kind of work. Tokyo also was a big part I was assigned to.

Wizzrd9313 karma

How did you get into this line of work?

frankhong21 karma

I was picked out by the director Guillermo to be on his movie, I still can't believe it till this day. Before Pacific Rim I was developing games for Xbox.

missjain2 karma

That's amazing! Frank :) btw: It's Garima here :D:D:D

I'm so glad you're doing an IAMA I can officially say that I know someone who did an IAMA hahah :)

But all jokes aside, awesome job :)

frankhong3 karma

OH man highschool budz! That's awesome! How are you? are you still in Toronto?

MayonnaisePacket12 karma

What is Charles peckham (actor who plays Charlie in always sunny) like in person?

frankhong23 karma

He seem like a fun guy on the stage, but I didn't have any interaction with him personally. Should have asked for an autography but I wasn't sure if that's frowned upon during shoots. Probably not a good idea.

iDropkicku12 karma

Ignore any questions you've already answered, I'll read and find them on my own.

First: Loved loved loved the movie. My boyfriend and I had the best time watching it and can't stop talking about it. My twitter feed is 99% Pacific Rim talk currently.

Second: I bought the art book and the prequel comic, is there any additional 'making of' information out there? I see your two sites linked and have them bookmarked for later. I also purposefully ignored all the info pre-release so everything would be new - now I just don't want to miss anything. I'd love to see any physical models of the kaiju and jaegar, besides the figurines out for sale.

Three: Are there any parts, scenes, or shots that were 100%/mostly all your own work? Things that make you go, "That's my baby, wow I did such a good job?"

Four: Anything you really wanted to add but couldn't, due to budget/time/art direction?

frankhong23 karma

I'm not familiar with additional making off, I'm trying to not upload everything I made for the film for legal reasons. Artworks were only for my portfolio use, and of course are owned by Warner Bros.

There were quite a number of shots that matched my concept very closely, it's quite an incredible feeling looking at one of the paintings fully translated into live action. Eventually I will get a blueray and put together a side by side for my demo reel.

Four: One of the art director actually went into my office and yelled "STOP PAINTING EXPENSIVE SHIT WE CANT AFFORD." so I chuckled a little and realized she wasn't kidding. It was kinda awkward, BUT I report to my PD and if he's happy my job is done.

skopey11 karma

If you could change one thing about the Film Industry, what would it be?

frankhong30 karma

I'm not seasoned enough in the film industry to be demanding changes. If anything I'd just like to work on more projects like this one, and encourage new and exciting movie franchises.

outdoorkids6 karma


frankhong28 karma

No reason. just feel like if a movie is good enough why not have more of a good thing. :)

fr00bl3t11 karma

Is your computer digital or analogue? If analogue, is it nuclear powered.

frankhong8 karma

a hahahaa. my computer is digital but I am analogue. =(

Neon_Parrott11 karma

On your IMDb page, it says that you are working on the new Godzilla film. With these two projects sharing a similar concept of giant monsters, what were the differences during pre-production? How much creative freedom do/did you (as a concept designer, and as a whole production) have with a franchise like Godzilla as oppose to Pacific Rim?

frankhong22 karma

I was on Godzilla before Pacific Rim, and I stayed for a couple of Key Frame renders. what it means is that it was before the set design stage of the film, and we were getting the looks of San Francisco and the Godzilla himself nailed in first. I was long gone before they ever touched a camera.

Pacific Rim was different because I was on the show while they rolled the cameras, I had enough creative freedom to design and suggest anything I personally liked, but still have to stay true to the world Guillermo envisioned. eventually all the illustrations had to be approved by our Production designer, and Guillermo himself.

CivilWards10 karma

Do you think this is a more mainstream Guillermo film that is good but not a classic or more of a below the radar type like Pan's Labyrinth that's amazing but not all that good in the box office?

frankhong10 karma

Yes I do think it's aiming for a bigger audience this time and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I would compare it to Hellboy, because it's still got the Del Toro type gritty but fantastical world. plus his signature class of monster designs. I would look at it as the bigger than life version of his toys. I can't wait for his next project because this one was so much fun to work on.

SuckCaptcha10 karma

So...if your source of employment was designing parts of Pacific Rim, would you say you had a Pacific Rim Job?

frankhong8 karma

I see what you did there. ;)

tontweer9 karma

I haven't seen it yet but the robots look a lot like the robots from the anime big O. Is that where you got some of your ideas from? It looks amazing by the way cant wait to seen it soon!

frankhong15 karma

Unfortunatly i haven't seen Big O, but I wasn't responsible for the initial Robot looks either. I did do some details for the interior and damaged shots.

night_writer9 karma

I am a big fan!! I have not seen the movie yet but I was wondering what kind of mechanics you looked at for inspiration? Thanks for the AMA! (cannot wait to take my 10 year old to see this. He is a HUGE robot/alien fan!)

frankhong16 karma

I think all those years playing sci-fi video games builds a virtual library in my head for these things. Being a Sci-fi fan myself I can really appreciate a good mech design, we pretty much look at everything out there, and unconsciously reference things that interests us as designers. There were references from aero space technologies, old retro japanese anime, a bit of halo and Metal gear solid. My job was easier in the way that I only had to paint what it looked light. sometimes ambiguously so, but the 3d set designers will actually build the mechs with gears and linkages if the set were going to be practically built or animated.

mik3zhang8 karma

Have you seen Atlantic Rim yet? I think Pacific Rim has some serious competition.

frankhong11 karma

Oh shit no way! I just googled it, is this for real? lmao.

gipper1236 karma

what other things have you worked on? also what is your dream project?

frankhong16 karma

I've worked on the new Robocop and Godzilla, Oblivion, The Mortal Instruments and Hannibal.

So far, my dream project was Pacific Rim.

gipper1232 karma

Interesting. What about favorite video game (excluding oblivion)

frankhong13 karma

Metal Gear Solid, and uncharted.

MisterFF6 karma

Do you like gundam?

frankhong17 karma

I fucking loved gundams since i was a kid. I saved up for a really expensive (for me at the time) gundam model, but left it at an airport when i was travelling. It was so devastating that I quit gundam models all together. Still played a lot of gundam games on psp tho. those were great!

Scaredysquirrel6 karma

Hope this isn't obtuse, but what did you do as a concept designer?

frankhong15 karma

Concept designers will paint/make a picture of how the set should look like before anything was build or shot.

ellojoe6 karma

I loved this movie! Just wondering, but how many Jaeger and Kaiju designs were scrapped before arriving at the final movie ones?

frankhong12 karma

I wouldn't know really. I got on the show when the initial batch of concepts are already completed, I imagine a lot of stuff were thrown away . I had 20+ revisions on each of the environments easily.

D-woo196 karma

Do you typically go to the red carpet premieres of the movies you work on? And if so, what's it like?!

frankhong12 karma

There was a crew pre-release screening that's personally invited by Guillermo. There's refreshments and people get to shake hands, It's not like a red carpet event tho. I think only the executives and stars of the movie walk the red carpet première.

BookEmDan5 karma

One of the only gripes I have with the film is that it wasn't long enough! I loved it. That being said, from what you remember, how many other Jaeger v. Kaiju fights ended up on the cutting room floor?

frankhong6 karma

That's really a storyboard artist or an editor question. I'm not too familiar with that. but they did go through a lot of revisions on the scripts. I only read it once and ignored all the following ones. lol

DreamCatcher245 karma

2 questions:

What films other than the ones you have worked on, have the best set designs?

What is the hardest part of your job?

Looking forward to watching Pacific Rim this weekend.

frankhong9 karma

It's a hard question because I'm not very familiar with the other set designs. I can only speculate by saying that Christopher Nolan's movies have some of the most memorable set designs by my standard.

Hardest part of my job was trying to be constantly creative through out the 12 hour days. multiply that by 8 month it gets pretty drawn out. No one can expect an inspiration to last that long, so trying to come up with fresh interesting designs and problem solve constantly became a really difficult task. Between the few concept artists we have to constantly bounce ideas off of each-other, and sometimes full out take over a task by another designer. It's not ideal, but we only had a very limited amount of time, and too much to do.

sentual_sloth5 karma

Would you change anything if you could?

frankhong18 karma

Hard to say, really. I may have to comeback to this one, not enough people have seen the film yet to go anywhere into the story.

I wouldn't mind changing my pay grade higher if I could.

tkddude1005 karma

The movie was amazing!!!!!!! i have to ask if Ron Pearlman helped Charlie Hunnam get the lead role? also did you work with either of them?

frankhong7 karma

I did meet Ron Pearlman on set, he's a big lovable guy, really nice and well spoken, I didn't spend much time around the set though.

Don't know the answer to the first part of your question.

SyrioForel5 karma

As a HUGE fan of Robocop, what can you tell us about your experience on the remake?

Also, there is a TON of fan backlash against the new suit, with people saying he looks more like a Batman-type comic book super hero and less like the menacing cyborg of the original film. I don't know if you had a hand in it, as a concept designer, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on it as well.

Just any info on the new Robocop would be appreciated, though.

frankhong7 karma

What I know about Robocop is very limited. I can't comment on the suit since I didn't design it, but I'd give it some faith. I actually don't know how much I can talk about, I think they have more than one suit.

I left the show half-way through to work on something else. They liked more 3D specific concepts, and not my painted style of environments.

NeilaK205 karma

Did you hear about the Asylum's knock off "Atlantic Rim"? The trailer made me cringe-laugh.

frankhong3 karma

Yes i just googled it. wasn't brave enough to watch the trailer tho.

IAmWillAMA4 karma

Was the movie title inspired by a sushi restaurant in Sarasota, Florida?

frankhong15 karma

LOL i have no idea. It was originally called Still Seas while in production.

Lenkie4 karma

What makes this title different than the old school power rangers? Giant robots fighting giant creatures, hell i spent my entire youth watching that in, what i then believed was, the most realistic setting tv would ever get.

Otherwise i do think the movie looks wonderful and my real question is who would you want to work for? Which actor, director, anything

frankhong12 karma

I'd take a bullet for Guillermo right now, if he would have me back for another show I'm game. Other than that, Anything goes really. I'm still rolling in the industry looking for good projects to line up, anything with a cheque book I will look at.

akimboumi4 karma

Sir I would like to thank you for helping create a movie that was not only full of intense action but also had a wonderful story and balanced humor


frankhong1 karma

Thanks! ;)

chilioc4 karma

When making this movie, what is the one thing (or person) that made the whole task easier. Why?

frankhong16 karma

Since I report to the Production Designer, the more information he would give me regarding a task, the easier my job becomes. sometimes not having clear directions doesn't mean more creative freedom, it just means swinging a bat in the dark. Eventually I would still need to hit the right things.

badporno3 karma

As a student from industrial design, is getting into the concept art design field challenging? How long do these digital paintings take you? For someone who wants to learn digital painting, where's the best place to start?

frankhong3 karma

Some of the best concept artists had Industrial design backgrounds. To get into concept or any jobs in this field you'd need a kicking portfolio. Getting the portfolio good enough for people to notice you is the most challenging part, and it's not easy by any standard. With so many people wanting a piece of the concept art pie, you can expect more and more competition coming from the younger guys. I started with Tutorial videos for concept art, then took a technical course to work on perspective, color theory and all that stuff. Like a good college or good research would provide for you.

bwilli553 karma

My dad is a stuntman and he was in pacific rim! Did you go to the premiere in Montreal too?

frankhong7 karma

no I couldn't make it in time, I was in new york for the past little while. :)

GenericWhiteDude2 karma

Just saw the movie and it was awesome! My only question is how was there not a single "jägerbomb" joke in the entire film?

frankhong3 karma

Because we ran out of them in the office.


What about the engineer who asks about the inefficient placement of the air intake?

Not trying to rude but did you just design the robots based on aesthetics?

frankhong4 karma

I didn't work on the exterior robot, but my guess is if they had a choice between practicality and looks, they would have went with looks. I like it enough not to mind the obvious wrongs.

sohma25012 karma

going to see this tonight and have been very excite for the movie since I saw the previews. Where did you get the ideas and design ideas for the monsters? And what gets you inspired to create something?

frankhong6 karma

I didn't work on the monsters, Guillermo bought in some expert in sculpting to help him bring the monsters to life. :)

CanIGetaHellYeah2 karma

I saw this last night in 3D and I thought it was a visual spectacle, delivering some really beautiful and terrifying moments, congratulations on a fantastic job.

My quesiton - Can you tell me how the set for the Jaeger cockpit works, are the actors on a big step walker and then wires used to throw them around ?

frankhong10 karma

To my observation, the jaeger cockpits (con pods) where elevated off the ground via a huge hydraulics platform. two identical con pods were created on two different hydraulic systems that allowed for maxium range of movements. One was designed for walk cycle and another one was for tilting and movements that the first system weren't able to do.

The actors where physically thrown around with the entire stage as they do their fighting moves. It's really crazy in action, and everything in the con pod was build as practical set. Twice for every robot.

yamammiwammi2 karma

Oh my gosh, I've been searching Reddit today looking for places to discuss concept/game art and stuff and couldnt find any and this AMA is PERFECT.

I'm currently a grad student in astrobiology (what??) but I have tremendously huge passion for the arts...especially concept design. I used to buy video games and take the manual books with me to bed because I loved looking at character art and stuff. Nowadays I collect concept art books. The only reason I haven't gone in that direction myself is because everyone here talks about how poorly secure jobs are in the arts (at least in Canada) and so I stuck with other interests. However, there are days that I really just want to drop everything and try my skills at concept work.

Anyway, my question is how successful/secure is concept design, and also how does one make a career out of concept design? I'm hoping after my masters in science I can make the jump back to the arts because I just miss it so much! Thanks for this AMA!

frankhong3 karma

Hey man, I was exactly like you but instead of astrobiology i took Classical Animation. We share the passion for concept design, and I hope you achieve your goals. To answer your question truthfully, Concept design in Toronto is abysmal, a bit better in montreal and vancouver. I had to work at a Matte-Painting for half of the year to fill any down time where there isn't any design work around. Mixed in with some book covers, concert backdrops (I painted backdrops for 3 Days Grace), and odd random comic book stuff, the pay is never that good until I can secure a job on a film for a few months. even then, concept work were always the first to be let go. The best job security as a concept designer is in gaming. Any major games studios that hires you tend to keep you long term given you are good. If you want job security and a good concept job, aim to get your portfolio looking Absolutley smooth and golden. better than the guys doing it already, and you'll have a shot at the game studios. states side generally better.

BUT i don't know man. your masters in science may serve you better cars and a bigger house than just concept art. Plus, the passion wears thin when you turn what you love into a 9 to 5 or 7 to 7. Anyways, I have faith you'll find what you want.

Joewnage2 karma

There have been rumors of a possible tie-in between Pacific Rim and Godzilla, do you have information or comments about that? From what I have heard about Pacific Rim it doesn't sound like too much of a long shot.

frankhong4 karma

lol. I honestly have no idea about this. your guess is as good as mine.

Strobelight317MkII2 karma

Where do you find inspiration for the work you do?

frankhong7 karma

being a professional artist we can't always wait for inspiration to kick in, if I only painted and designed when I had inspiration, i'd be very hungry and unemployed. the truth is I have to gather a pool of references to look at everyday. Good designs, photos of interesting things, real life stuff that's both weird and amazing. pretty much everything. And sometimes nothing works, and I will still have to paint as if i knew what i was doing. Some point along the way I have developed the ability to autopilot through the boring parts of the painting, and just focus on finding things that interests me.

joumunji1 karma

dude; i remember your artwork from anime expo in LA. great stuff. I bought like 5 of your pieces. I hope your success continues; are you working on Guillermo's future films?

frankhong1 karma

Hey Thanks a lot! Guillermo said he's going to continue shooting movies in Toronto, if he does I might get a call again. Haven't heard any rumors yet.

Mamaku1 karma

out of 10 how do you rate your own work?

frankhong7 karma

a solid 6 just above asian fail, because quite honestly, there are enough shit i dont know how to do yet.

brinz11 karma

For the big fights, what was choreography like? I read in an interview that Del toro overlooked it in great detail,

frankhong1 karma

I wouldn't know really, all the robot cherography was done is post production, the Art Department closes before the visual effects were done.