Bringing The Martian To Life

January 11, 2016

Discover how Territory Studio used Cinema 4D to create convincing on-set technology for Ridley Scott's Golden Globe awarded sci-fi thriller.



By Duncan Evans


Creating on-screen graphics for actors to interact with and relate to is a specialty of London-based Territory Studio. However, when those screens have to be scientifically accurate or coherent in terms of existing NASA technology and practices, it becomes a whole different ballgame. That was the challenge facing David Sheldon-Hicks, founder and creative director of Territory Studio. Fortunately, having already worked on massive sci-fi projects like Jupiter Ascending and with Ridley Scott on Prometheus, David had a good idea of what was going to be required and how Cinema 4D could help make it happen.


In the seven months it took to create The Martian, five artists at Territory created around 400 screens across eight different sets, and Mission Control alone featured almost 100 screens. The displays and animations were all for live playback on with which the actors to engaged. Most of them were interactive as well.


The film was based on Andy Weir's best-selling novel about stranded astronaut Mark Watney. It's set 20 years in the future and tells the story of NASA's third manned mission to Mars. The key concept was that the plot, and thus the on-set screen displays, was fixed in real science rather than fanciful popcorn sci-fi. This meant that Territory had to research the science being used before getting started with any of the designs.


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