The Atlas ship takes off for Mars from a staging base on the Moon. A small practical lunar surface was built for that sequence and “worked beautifully for giving our actors the proper bounce and ambient light from the ground,” says Scalise. “We decided that we would do the wider shots with digital doubles and completely CG. DNEG took on this sequence and did a great job.
“We wanted to make sure the feeling of a working base would come across as dirty and grungy,” he adds. “We spent a lot of time getting the lighting right, because that was how we were going to get it believable. When in post, we opted to replace most of our practical set floor with DNEG’s CG lunar surface, [which] had a lot of amazing details put in the surface.”
In terms of creating the Atlas, Scalise cites Gravity and The Martian as influences on the look of the spacecraft. “Their spaceship shots were beautiful and always felt real to me. It had to do with the way they were lit. That is also what led us to Framestore – they had worked on both [films].” He enjoyed working together with Framestore VFX Supervisor John Kilshaw and the “amazingly creative Framestore team.” He points out “the amazing CG lighting that they did on all the ship shots in the series.”
About the moon launch, he explains, “As the Atlas was being built by Framestore, it was handed back and forth between the vendors. DNEG detailed out the engines for takeoff matching the look of real NASA footage. They nailed it.”