Directed by Stephen Hopkins
Visual Effects Supervisor: Angus Bickerton
Visual Effects Producer: Lauren Ritchie
Sequence Producers: Anthony Bluff and Arthur Windus

Visual Effects Produced by:

Executive Producer: Colin Brown
Digital Effects Producer: Deanna Gould

Producer: Alison O'Brien
Designers: Tom Debenham, Adrian De Wet, Paddy Eason

Producer: Matthew Holben
Compositors: Richard Bain, Charlie Noble

Supervisor: Paul Docherty
Producer: Fiona Watson

Executive Producer: Bill Scanlon
VFX Producer: Andy Fowler


Producer: Drew Jones
Supervising Artist: Robert Duncan

"Blawp" Animation Unit
VFX Producer: Michael Turoff Supervisor: Hal Bertman

Miniature Photography by THE MAGIC CAMERA COMPANY
Model Construction by THE MAGIC MODEL COMPANY
Producers: Roger Lofting, Anthony Hunt
Model Unit Supervisor: Jose Granell
Director of Photography: Nigel Stone

Producer: Ange Wills
2D Supervisor: Angus Cameron

VFX Supervisor: Phil Attfield

VFX Supervisor: Jamie Friday

Animation Supervisors: Dan Sumich, Kevin Spruce

Digital Effects Supervisor: Philippe Montagny

Animation Supervisor: Uli Meyer



Digital Matte Painting Supervisor: Leigh Took

Review by Aladino V. Debert
Contributing Writer

In what is without doubt the first big effects movie of the year, director Stephen Hopkins gives us LOST IN SPACE, the exciting adaptation of the TV classic. Starring William Hurt and Gary Oldman as Professor Robinson and Dr. Smith, respectively, the movie delivers almost 2 hours and 15 minutes of non-stop action and solid entertainment, despite some intermittent moments of cheesy dialogue. A variety of British houses teamed together to produce the effects packed film, including Cinesite Europe, The Film Factory, Framestore and The Magic Camera Co. Jim Henson's Creature Shop created some impressive full size animatronic robots.

The movie starts with a dramatic sequence involving a terrorist attack on the "Jump Ring," a huge structure being built within Earth's orbit. While the rest of the film's space sequences were completed with a combination of computer generated imagery and composited motion control models, this particular sequence was entirely CGI. The Jump Ring looks quite realistic and the lighting is very consistent. There is some lack of depth cueing on these views, but since the scale is so huge and there's little to compare it with, it doesn't hurt the visuals badly. A frenetic dog-fight takes place between Major Don West (played by Matt
Additional Commentary
by Todd Vaziri
LOST IN SPACE is the newest film to break the digital effects record for total number of shots (~750), and continues the tradition of sci-fi films that combine stunning art direction, cinematography and effects, with a nearly-passable script. The effects had an impact on every scene in the film.

The miniature work on the film is phenonmenal, with the highlights being the launch of the Jupiter 2 from Earth, and the crash landing of the Jupiter 2 on the alien planet. The alien planet features some brilliant matte paintings, which significantly expand the scope of the live-action footage. An early shot of future Earth reveals a multi-level highway system within skyscrapers, then boldly pans right with a camera move, allowing the audience to fully take in the imaginative view of the future. Previous shots of such complexity would have contained a simple tilt down, or no camera move at all.

Holographic displays are featured throughout the film, and are perfectly matchmoved and composited. The roto and bluescreen pulls on this show were exceptional and extremely intense. Especially interesting were the shots featuring the crew's retractable safety helmets. The shots were executed not with full-CGI helmets, but with careful compositing of multiple takes of the actors performing moves first with the helmet on, and then with the helmet off. Careful attention to shadows and animation make these shots quite memorable.

The film's all-CGI space dogfight that opens the film reeked of "Babylon 5"-type problems with scale, texture and depth. The animation is superb, as is the matchmoving of the human elements, but the excessive use of lens flares and 2D camera shake were distracting. The pyro elements, also, seemed quite two-dimensional.

Quite shocking is the bad integration of "Blawp", the monkey-like alien that the crew befriends. Although the creature animation is exceptional, it appeared quite soft. Extensive roto helped the scenes (holding out areas where the creature moves behind objects), but the sequences are unconvincing, only reaching the believability level of intergration featured in ROGER RABBIT. Also puzzling is the enormous amount of film grain in these "Blawp" shots.

LeBlanc) and Sedition fighter crafts that is wonderfully executed. The fight involves four crafts and from the design of these crafts to the choreography of the fight, the sequence is seamless.

Another element that is used in a very effective way are pyro explosions, which are realistic in scale and are perfectly tracked to the doomed ships. The ships themselves are all CGI, with the exception of the cockpit, with LeBlanc's character shot over greenscreen and composited later with motion control data. The matching of the live action and the CGI in this sequence is impressive. The graphics on the bubble glass cockpit deserve a mention for the design and subtlety, never being too invasive. Another little but nice effect is the "target system" eye of the fighter pilots, which is CGI and is tracked to the face of the actors.

Next are amazing views of space headquarters on Earth. The CGI city looks quite realistic, although slightly soft. One remarkable shot is a wide view in which the city and the Jupiter 2 craft tower are under a layer of rain. The rain looks great, with excellent atmospheric phenomena (like wind and fog), and it gives the whole city a very realistic look. There are a variety of other shots of the city and all look impressive, including a shot of multiple level highways.

All the views of the Jupiter 2 craft are very consistent, combining CGI with enormous miniatures and matte paintings. What is great is the immense scale of the craft and it's launching tower. These shots have many composited elements, workers in particular, and are all well tracked

The launching sequence is very well executed with a combination of CGI, miniatures and pyro elements. The only problem here is that certain pyro elements are slightly out of scale, robbing the views of realism. Once the ship reaches space, the outer hull explodes, revealing the Jupiter 2 itself. This shot, although effective, has some debris that have a certain CG look, therefore making the whole sequence a little slim. But the shot is rewarded with another amazing view of the Earth in the background.

As the ship wanders off course, it comes dangerously close to the Sun. Our neighboring star looks incredibly real, with dazzling flares and sun spots. The next long effect sequence comes as the ship enters Hyperspace. As the hyperdrive engine fires up, achieved with some impressive CGI comped over views of the engine room, all the crew members freeze in mid air. The camera then moves around the room while maintaining the frozen bodies in their positions. For an added punch, the shot is rather long, thus making the effect all the more astounding.

After the crew goes into the abandoned ship to investigate, they first find a little monkey-like creature, Blawp. The all-CGI creature is a bit cartoonish,especially when it comes to the skin and face expressions. The interaction with the crew is quite realistic though, and the animation of the creature is nicely achieved as well. A nice touch in the integration is that sometimes Blawp is slightly out of focus, matching the depth of field.

In the never ending gallery of special effects, the crew is attacked by a swarm of spider-like creatures. The animation of these spiders is very good, especially considering the huge number of creatures at any given time. The only problem with these shots is that the motion of the spiders is a little stiff and un-organic. However the placement of the CGI on the live action plates and the tracking of the camera moves is superb. Another example of good use of CGI and live action is a series of shots of Jack Johnson, playing Will Robinson, battling the spiders using an interactive 3D holographic interface of the Robot. These shots are very effective and the match moving animation of the holographic robot is perfectly executed.

After crashing on an alien planet, the Robinsons find a time machine, represented by some very interesting swirling CGI elements were composited over live action plates and here again, the matching of the camera moves is perfect.

In what is probably the most complex character animation of the film, Dr. Smith as his future self, is revealed to be a giant spider creature with human-like features. The animation of this creature is

"[LOST IN SPACE] displays the immense talent and resources of completely off-Hollywood effects houses."

extraordinary, with facial animation and lip syncing performed with with motion capture technology. The body animation of the four legged-four armed creature is subtle and realistic.

In the final moments of the film, the Jupiter 2 craft takes off from the doomed planet about to explode. It travels through the planet's interior trying to reach the other side and use its gravitational pull as a sling shot effect. The entire sequence is phenomenal with very realistic CGI and use of miniatures and composited elements. Especially memorable is a shot of the ship traveling over an oversized water fall. Overall all these shots are amazing and frenetic, the only problem being the actual take off of the ship that has some scale incongruities.

The film has some 750 special effects shots, and this review is definitely not long enough to touch upon all of them. An important side effect is that the film displays the immense talent and resources of completely off-Hollywood effects houses, in what may well be a trend towards decentralizing the special effects industry. LOST IN SPACE delivers exciting entertainment packed with solid special effects, a not-so-bad script and an open ended story which certainly will be followed by sequels.

Check out Cinefex 74.
Official Web Sites: http://www.dangerwillrobinson.com and http://www.lost-in-space.com
LOST IN SPACE Copyright ©1998 New Line Productions, Inc.

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. . VFX HQ Produced by Todd Vaziri . . http://www.vfxhq.com . . e-mail: tvaziri@gmail.com . .
All text Copyright © 1998 Todd Vaziri, unless otherwise noted