Fallout production designer explains major change to iconic game gadget

Kayla Harrington
Ella Purnell in Fallout

Fallout’s production designer breaks down the decision to change the look of one iconic gadget from the game for the TV series.

When Amazon Prime Video gained the rights to adapt the Fallout game into a TV series, a lot of changes had to be made to bring the world to life and one of the biggest was changing the look of the Pip-Boy, one of the game’s most iconic gadget.

The Pip-Boy is a wearable computer vault dwellers wear on their wrists and it has multiple functions including video playback, tracking the user’s location, and keeping tabs on the user’s health, but only certain models have these capabilites.

In the game, the Pip-Boy is displayed as the user’s entire screen so they can make the selection they want in the moment, but that design wasn’t going to work for TV audiences as it would be too much on their screen.

The Pip-Boy from Fallout 3

So Fallout production designer Howard Cumming broke down the decision to make the Pip-Boy more palpable for TV audiences, telling ScreenRant, “Everything Fallout is all about scale, right? And the Pip-Boys are huge in the game. Huge. So, I talked to Todd Howard about it, I said, ‘You know we’re shrinking the Pip-Boy?’ And he said, ‘Oh, no, the Pip-Boy is big in the game, because you have to play it on your screen. Pip-Boys should be smaller.'”

“And then we had Ella Purnell, who’s a tiny girl and she has a tiny wrists. So, we had to question everything, but I kept it exactly the way it looked. And we shrunk it down and they wanted it to work. I forget what the prop guys did, I don’t know which phone we found, it was some weird phone that actually could fit in that thing. So when they’re using it, you’re seeing it, it’s not replaced later in post, we actually did all that stuff.”

Despite changing the look of the Pip-Boy for TV, many viewers, including the game’s creator, praised Fallout’s production design for being incredibly accurate to the world inside the game and that’s all thanks to the show’s dedication to using real sets and only using VFX when needed.

Fallout Season 1 is now streaming and, after you finish it, check out these burning questions Season 2 will need to answer. We also worked out the main characters’ SPECIAL scores and perks and complied all the hits from the show’s amazing soundtrack.