With films like “The Polar Express,” “Monster House” and “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” under their belts, producers Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey are pioneers in performance-capture filmmaking. And with Walt Disney Pictures’ “Mars Needs Moms,” they’ve capitalized on the latest advancements in both performance capture and 3D, creating a visually mind-blowing experience for audiences.
According to Zemeckis, the technology has come a long way. “The advancement is one thousand-fold. The team that created ‘Mars Needs Moms’ is the best performance-capture digital facility on the Earth. The movie—its imagery and the story the technology allows us to tell—is absolutely beyond anything you’ve seen before.”
Zemeckis says there’s an important aspect of the art form that makes these films special. “One of the great bonuses of doing a movie in performance capture is that it’s in 3D all the time. We have to make our movie in 3D just to do it. We now design the movie to be presented in 3D, too. And when you’re doing a 3D movie that’s completely virtual like ‘Mars Needs Moms,’ the 3D can be more spectacular than you can do in any other form. We spend a lot of time and energy designing our movies for the 3D experience for the audience.”
Director Simon Wells says he feels the film has added spark, thanks to the 3D technology. Since the team knew from the beginning that they had another dimension to play with, so to speak, several scenes were built with that knowledge in mind. Gribble’s lair—with all its gadgets, moving mechanisms and secret monitors—was enormously enhanced by the 3D technology, which was a huge advantage to filmmakers because viewers spend a lot of time there. “They can explore the environment far more than seems possible if it weren’t in 3D.”
Wells adds that the technology worked even better than anticipated on a number of occasions. “The first fall into the trash caverns was always conceived as a very dramatic and gut-wrenching moment,” says the director, “but I wasn’t prepared for just how effecting the plummet and tumble down the first trash hill would end up feeling as a fully three-dimensional experience.”
Even the director was surprised by the evocative quality of the 3D when it came to a spectacular space scene. “When the Martian spaceship creates a wormhole for its trip across the solar system, outer space literally opens up to reveal further, deeper space behind.”
But it’s a scene late in the film—the climactic moment of the movie—that exemplifies what 3D is capable of expressing. “It’s an absolute show-stopper in 3D,” says Wells. “Anthony Shafer and his team carefully scripted the depth in the preceding scenes to be relatively shallow so that at this particular moment, the screen explodes into a shockingly three-dimensional space, which utterly nails the emotion and action of the moment. For me, the movie was worth doing in 3D simply for that one shot.”
“We want to make 3D an immersive, cinematic experience that, like all tools in cinema, ultimately fades away and become invisible. I think ‘Mars Needs Moms’ is a magnificent, state-of-the-art 3D movie.”
Opening across the Philippines on March 16 in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D and regular format, “Mars Needs Moms” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.