Image Engine and Maya Modernise A Classic

It’s thanks to the power, and remarkable malleability of visual effects work that a series as familiar as Netflix’s Lost in Space can be given new life today, and that creators can successfully reimagine 50-year-old concepts and stories for the modern era.

Lost in Space‘s famed robot saw a complete transformation for the new series. The original robot reflected the design aesthetic and technological capabilities of its era, but the clunky, slow-moving character wouldn’t have the same kind of impact now. Today, with the immense muscle and flexibility of visual effects artistry, we’re not limited by the bounds of practical effects.

The producers wanted a much more dynamic robot—one that would transform and become something that humans could more easily relate to, even with an alien touch to it. The mandate was to create that connection and dynamism via animation, lighting, and other flourishes.

Helping to craft the environments of Lost in Space was a unique challenge, and it’s one that speaks to the potential of VFX artistry. When working on the backdrops, they start with something real—actual filmed footage of real-world terrain. In this case, it was their native Vancouver surroundings. It was very inspiring to have that natural beauty provided for them to play with and to be able to transport it into the show.

Of course, they take that pristine footage and augment it to give it a unique, out-of-this-world character. By playing with CG, exaggerated colours, and other effects, they can transform what’s essentially their backyard into a believable alien world – yet it still has that photographic realism that helps ground the setting in this day and age. While some action films and shows shoot for hyper-realism, they strived to keep that balance of lifelike terrain amidst alien augmentations.

Between defining the new robot’s distinctive mannerisms and movement and helping to build these stunning, out-there environments, the goal with Lost in Space was always to maintain the essence of the source material while charting a new path forward via VFX artistry.

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