The Daily: Mission to Mars

An epic journey to the Red Planet, 100 years in the making.

It might seem odd to picture a mile-long city crawling along the surface of Mars, if not for the 12-foot tall barbarians, fantastic environments and exotic creatures also featured in Andrew Stanton’s « John Carter. »

The new Disney/Pixar film tells the story of a Civil War veteran transported to Mars in Stanton’s first live-action effort after directing the classics « Wall-E » and « Finding Nemo. »

Hundreds of visual effects shots were required to bring Edgar Rice Burroughs’ series – written in the early 1900s – to the screen, thanks to artists at Double Negative, Cinesite, MPC and Nvizible.

Cinesite animated complex computer-generated geometry, including 674 legs, to create the walking city known as Zodanga, which moves along Mars as a giant mining machine.

The visual effects team also placed live-action actors shot against green screens inside Zodanga, and then added in scores of details such as towers, tents, tables, dust, flying ships and even motion-captured city-dwellers.

« This was big, big scale, » Cinesite production director Courtney Vanderslice told The Daily, « and the challenge really was, can we render it and actually get it through the pipeline? »