Creating native looks in alien worlds: the making of The Martian


Richard Baker TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
with Richard Baker
Issue 107 - November 2015
Prime Focus Worlds Richard Baker explains how Mars was brought into stereo 3D with the help of Fusion Studio for Ridley Scotts new SciFi survival epic, The Martian

Directed by SciFi master Ridley Scott, this years The Martian has all the makings of a space exploration epic to remember.

The film stars Matt Damon in the role of Mark Watney, an astronaut who is presumed dead after a fierce storm separates him from the rest of his crew during a manned mission to Mars. Stranded and alone, Watney needs to find ways to survive with only meagre supplies, as well as discover how to let people on Earth know that he is still alive.

The main stereo conversion partner on the film was Prime Focus World (PFW), which was called in by 20th Century Fox to deliver 15 minutes of stereo for the movie with the help of its award winning View-D conversion pipeline and Fusion Studio.

Our first job on The Martian was to stereo convert the trailer, and that really helped us understand what our clients were looking for in the feature work, begins senior stereo supervisor at Prime Focus World (PFW), Richard Baker. Having already provided the highly praised 3D conversion work for Gravity, the PFW team was certainly no stranger to projects involving science fiction or space. The team needed to convert over 200 shots for The Martian into 3D, making sure that the work both emphasized the main characters loneliness as well as perfectly matching the rest of the films stereo, most of which was shot natively on set.

An Eye for Detail

The client stereographer, Gareth Daley, comes from a native 3D background and has a really fine eye for detail, remembers Baker. Gareth and the team had established the native 3D look on set while they were shooting the film, most of which was natively captured. So when we received the shots we needed to convert, for example high angle aerial helicopter landscape shots that couldnt be captured with a native stereo rig, we had reference for the stereo and we could ensure our conversion matched the established look of the film.

To match Ridley Scotts native look for the film, the PFW team created 3D with a more linear fall off, giving the shots a good amount of 3D depth. The resulting look made it so that even in the far background, such as in the distant hills of Mars, there was still some subtle layering between hills that could be as far as ten miles away, says Baker.

Another of the things that we tried to convey is that hes on his own on this planet. We manipulated the depth to make him feel very small in this massive world.
3D Geometry

As with its work on Gravity, the PFW artists had to deal with converting space suit helmets full of reflections and refractions: elements that would be difficult to extract depth from. By using actual 3D face and helmet geometry provided by the production, the London based PFW team would matchmove and track the scans to the character on the plate, then produce a depth map that could be combined with the rotoscoping that had been created, before going through the View-D pipeline for stereo.

One of the main workflow challenges in creating the stereo 3D world of The Martian was resolved by using Fusion Studio to script View-D pipeline tools specifically for PFWs shots. Ridley sharpened the footage significantly in the DI as part of the visual style of the film, and this quickly became apparent during our work on the trailer, tells Baker. This had an effect on our conversion pipeline in that subtle edge issues that you might not notice on a normal plate became noticeable on the sharpened plate.
To deal with this, the shots would come from our artists as EXRs, and we would then run them through our Fusion script which would bake in a new color grade and a heavy sharpen. This meant I could view not only the plate version as provided by the client, but also a heavily graded and heavily sharpened version in the theatre, so I could easily identify any of these small edges. What we produced really hit the nail on the head for the client.

If theres another Ridley film coming up, he quips, were all set and ready to go!

Tags: iss107 | the martian | matt damon | behind the scenes | ridley scott | prime focus world | stereo 3d | Richard Baker
Contributing Author Richard Baker

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Behind the scenes of the Teradek booth on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Behind the scenes of the Teradek booth on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013


Articles
Future proofing post production storage
Josh Goldenhar Advancements in NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express), the storage protocol designed for flash, are revolutionising data storage. According to G2M Research, the NVMe market will grow to $60 billion by 2021, with 70 percent of all-flash arrays being based on the protocol by 2020. NVMe, acting like steroids for flash-based storage infrastructures, dynamically and dramatically accelerates data delivery.
Tags: iss135 | nvme | sas | sata | it | storage | post production | Josh Goldenhar
Contributing Author Josh Goldenhar Click to read or download PDF
Grading BBC Sounds
Simone Grattarola

The BBC has launched its new personalised music, radio and podcast app with a campaign that follows one listener’s journey from meeting Kylie Minogue in a lift to Idris Elba on a bus. 

BBC Sounds offers a single home for the BBC’s thousands of hours of audio content, including live and on-demand shows and special music mixes curated by artists.

BBC Creative, the broadcaster’s in-house creative division, took the brief to agency Riff Raff Films and Megaforce directing duo of Charles Brisgand and Raphaël Rodriguez who in turn brought on board regular collaborators Time Based Arts.

Tags: iss135 | bbc | grading | bbc sounds | davinici | resolve | blackmagic | editing | Simone Grattarola
Contributing Author Simone Grattarola Click to read or download PDF
21st Century Technology for 20th Century Content
James Hall A big challenge facing owners of legacy content is rationalising and archiving their tape and film-based media in cost effective and efficient ways, whilst also adding value. Normally the result of this is to find a low cost means of digitising the content – usually leaving them with a bunch of assets on HDD. But then what? How can content owners have their cake and eat it?
Tags: iss135 | legacy | digitising | digitizing | archive | James Hall
Contributing Author James Hall Click to read or download PDF
The making of The Heist
Tom Hutchings Shine TV has never been one to shy away from a challenge, be that in terms of using new technologies, filming ideas or overall formats: we pride ourselves on being ambitious and risk-takers.
Tags: iss135 | liveu | heist | streaming | cellular | mobile | connectivity | Tom Hutchings
Contributing Author Tom Hutchings Click to read or download PDF
Your two week editing future
Alex Macleod

So here we are - January again! Usually a good time to reflect on the year just gone by, and a good time to look forward to the coming months as the new year begins.

When I was reflecting on my 2018, and when thinking about what to write for my first article for Kit Plus - I kept coming back to one theme - organisation.

Tags: iss135 | editing | mediacity training | premiere pro | dit | Alex Macleod
Contributing Author Alex Macleod Click to read or download PDF