Moon Features VFX From Cinesite
Created 06/15/2009 - 00:00
Cinesite created all of the visual effects, and oversaw the Visual Effects Supervision for Liberty Films' sci-fi thriller MOON. Their work involved the creation of over 270 visual effects shots, including the photorealistic CG Gerty robot (one of the film's principal characters), stunning panoramic digital lunarscape matte paintings showing the space environment, and extensive multi-element compositing.
Cinesite was brought on board early in the production process, conceptualizing looks and creating effects methodologies for shots in the script and storyboard. A detailed three dimensional set survey was undertaken to ensure it would be possible to rebuild the interior environment digitally, if required. Texture reference and cutting edge HDRI photography (High Dynamic Range Imaging) was also conducted. Although Cinesite did not provide miniatures for the productions, our VFX Supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp supervised the miniature shoots, as well as the visual effects on the main unit.
The 8 week shoot began with principal photography in March 2008 at Shepperton Studios, with Cinesite's Production team of Visual Effects Supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp and Visual Effects Producer Angie Wills on hand throughout to supervise and advise, working closely with Jones, Moon Producer Stuart Fenegan and Director of Photography Gary Shaw. Simultaneously, Cinesite's 3D artists began previsualizing, modeling and texturing CG robot character Gerty, ready to add into scenes. It was vital that the character, voiced by Kevin Spacey, was utterly convincing as he interacted tenderly with Sam during his lonely existence.
Motion Control (a specialized computer controlled film camera), was used to film many of the key effects shots in the film. The VFX Company's portable "Sprog" rig filmed multiple passes in order for Cinesite to create split screen composites. These were used extensively throughout the film, including lengthy and emotional dialogue scenes where Sam 1 and Sam 2 argue and finally ally themselves to uncover the secret of Lunar Industries.
Sam Rockwell was, "like a human motion control unit" recalls Simon Stanley-Clamp. "He studied his performance on a video i-pod and always got his eye lines spot on and knew when and where to move, avoiding colliding with himself. I ran 'Shake' on set for quick composites, which really helped to check performance -- particularly in one scene where Sam plays table tennis against himself."
Another essential aspect of Cinesite's work was in realizing Duncan's stylized vision of the lunarscapes to create the stunning environments as clever digital matte paintings. Ultimately, Cinesite's visual effects, particularly these shots on the surface of the Moon, help create an entirely convincing sense of Sam's vulnerability in a beautiful, yet utterly remote location.
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Duncan Jones
Visual Effects: Cinesite (Europe) Ltd (270 shots)
Visual Effects Supervisor: Simon Stanley-Clamp
Visual Effects Producer: Angie Wills, Paul Edwards
Nearing the end of a three-year contract with Lunar Industries, Sam Bell is counting the days until his return to Earth. The lone occupant of a lunar mining base, Sam monitors the tractors that harvest the moon's surface for helium energy. Buoyed by sporadic transmissions from his wife and young daughter, he combats monotony and isolation by tending to plants, continuing his predecessor's woodcraft project, and interacting with the station's robotic computer, Gerty. But Sam is beginning to unravel mentally. After a hallucination causes him to crash his lunar rover, he wakes up in the sick bay and soon realizes that his life at the base is not what it seems.