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Oscar On Mars: Behind The ‘Invisible’ Visual Effects Of ‘The Martian’

Astronaut Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, works to survive alone on Mars in "The Martian." (Courtesy 20th Century Fox)

Astronaut Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, works to survive alone on Mars in “The Martian.” (Courtesy 20th Century Fox)

Sean Devereaux, co-owner, VFX supervisor and creative director at ZeroFX. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Sean Devereaux, co-owner, VFX supervisor and creative director at ZeroFX. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Part one of our special four-part series, “Oscar on Mars.”

We’re kicking off a series leading up to this Oscars, focusing on the movie “The Martian.” It’s been nominated in seven categories, including some we might not normally think about — sound design, mixing, visual effects and more. We’re diving into those fields to get a sense of how movies are put together — and what makes them powerful.

“The Martian” is about a manned mission to Mars in the near-future. Astronaut Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, is believed to be killed in a storm and his crew leaves him behind on Mars.

So, Mark Watney uses scientific ingenuity to reach NASA and survive on a hostile planet.

We’re calling our series “Oscar on Mars,” and we’re first tackling the movie’s Academy Award-nominated visual effects.

Guest

Sean Devereaux, co-owner, VFX supervisor and creative director at ZeroFX. He tweets @filmsoup.

More

A.V. Club: A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Martian’s Visual Effects

  • “Outside of a few space-set scenes, The Martian doesn’t necessarily seem like a special effects heavy movie. Unlike Gravity, which had to send Sandra Bullock to space without actually sending her to space, The Martian mostly features Matt Damon walking around on Mars—an easy enough location to replicate on Earth. And The Martian did spend about seven days filming in the Wadi Rum valley in Jordan, which has previously stood in for Mars on Mission To Mars, Red Planet, and The Last Days On Mars. But it turns out it still takes quite a lot of visual effects work to turn an Earth-desert into a Martian one, and this new demo reel from visual effects company MPC breaks down the crazy amount of detail that went into creating the film’s seamless final look.”

Variety: Subtle Visual Effects Push Films To Awards Contention

  • “Great visual effects have always been more about the thoughtful technique than the big bang. They are specific details that convince the eye and suspend disbelief. And this year’s Oscar-nominated visual effects teams placed their most convincing elements deep under the skin of their creations or far out in the space around their characters.”

Other stories from this show:

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