In early 2015 Ash Thorp was contacted by 3AM to co-direct a very unique viral spot for the upcoming film The Martian. Hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the spot is an episode of StarTalk set in the future and highlights the upcoming Ares 3 mission to Mars. Ash brought me on to head the design and animation of all UI and hologram elements throughout the piece. It was a great experience and an amazing opportunity to design and execute the graphics in such an ambitious project.
Developing the orbit graphics was one of the first phases of the project for me. Designing this sequence was really a lot of fun and allowed for proper look dev that would inform the holographic style throughout the spot. The design process here helped us explore the color palette, line quality and establish a graphic system to be used in the remaining sequences.

The suit holograms were the largest design challenge of this project. They cycled through an array of various looks, eventually arriving at our final style – trying to balance the visual style of the holograms with legibility of the actors’ faces. Initially starting with dense mesh scans as the basis of the design, Ash wanted to move toward something more structured and graphic that would read cleaner in the spot. I generated a series of design studies based on cleaner poly models while Juice got to work re-modeling all of the characters with simplified quads so we could achieve the desired wireframe look. The final look for the suits is a combination of the low res quad models for the bodies and highly detailed scans for the faces.
The HAB sequence required a little graphic embellishment for transitional moments. For this we fell back on the style I created during the initial look development of the planets and solar system while also incorporating some of the wireframe assets from the suit holograms.
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