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Max Jenkins as Will Robinson in 'Lost In Space'. Image courtesy of Netflix.

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Exploring the Essence of Reimagination with 'Lost In Space'

Story by Mun Kang | June 22, 2018

Jabbar Raisani, Special Effects Supervisor from Lost In Space

Terron Pratt, Visual Effects Producer from Lost In Space

Netflix's 'Lost in Space' is a reimagination from the original 1960s show created by Irwin Allen and developed by the writers of the Power Rangers movie and Gods of Egypt, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. This modern science fiction television series, set in the year 2048, follows the adventures of the Robinson family as they are selected for the 24th mission aboard the Resolute spacecraft to colonize a new world. The Robinson family features a phenomenal cast of Molly Parker ('Deadwood') as the brilliant aerospace engineer Maureen, Toby Stephens ('Black Sails') as former Navy SEAL John, Maxwell Jenkins ('Sense8') as the 11-year-old youngest son Will, Taylor Russell (Down a Dark Hall) as the 18-year-old bi-racial daughter Judy, and Mina Sundwall (Freeheld), as the 15-year-old middle child Penny. When the Resolute is suddenly attacked, the Robinsons escape in their Jupiter (a smaller ship) space craft, but then crash land into an unknown planet with an Earth-like resemblance. As the initial season progresses, the Robinsons are situated in a multitude of obstacles in attempting to make way back to the Resolute. After 50 years from the debut of the original show, superior technological advances with unbelievable visual effects has made it possible to emulate a cosmological, immersive, visual wonder for modern viewers, with the interstellar imagination of the minds of visual effects supervisor Jabbar Raisani ('Game of Thrones') and visual effects producer, Terron Pratt ('Black Sails').

As Will Robinson haphazardly stumbles upon this mysterious, futuristic, cyber alien robot, the robot yells out a familiar quote, 'Danger, Will Robinson!' which is used in both the original and the modern versions of the show. However, the robot has an astronomical major upgrade this time. Raisani described, "A company called Spectral Motion built the practical suit for the robot to work in tandem with having a digital character. In terms of the face, we wanted to display galaxy like stars, so we built an onset laser projection system into the helmet and visual effects would render galaxies that would be projected in the face. The design of the face was to be very simplistic, almost like an emotional mood ring for the robot. We meticulously planned out what he looks like when he's angry, attacking, sad, happy, or exploring."

Evil Robot. Image courtesy of Netflix

Besides the robot, other unearthly creatures were artificially produced and scattered throughout. "The predator from episode 105 was something we put in lot of time into, as it was a really big sequence. The design of those gross, flying, drooling cave creatures were made solely to maximize the impact when it interacts with our hero character, Penny. We had the little creatures on the ground on the beach in episode 4. We kept reminding the audience we are in another place by adding living creatures that obviously don't belong on Earth," added the supervisor.

To differentiate this alien planet from Earth, modifications were applied to the landscapes and environments. Raisani continued, "We tried as much as possible to shoot in practical locations, knowing we were going to augment them. With the glacier footage, we took that to ILP, who was able to design on top of the plate and really lean into all those physical reality cues to copy with their digital work. Image Engine Design Inc. did a lot of the forest stuff with a 20% augmentation by adding bright purple and bioluminescent mushrooms on the trees and the moss hanging down. We have the black, sand desert. When Maureen is on the purple grass, that was just meticulous rotoscope and color correction for every single shot in the sequencing, something like 60 shots. Space was one of the most difficult, because all the light had to feel like it's coming from the sun. It has to have this bounce from the Earth to match up with the digital and the physical."

(Left to Right) Toby Stephens as John, Mina Sundwall as Penny, Taylor Russell as Judy, Max Jenkins as Will, Molly Parker as Maureen. Image courtesy of Netflix.

'Lost in Space' explores the essence of reimagination from the original robot to futuristic cyber design enhancements. The added element of a variance of interplanetary unique creatures, and visually captivating landscapes with the astonishing mind-blowing vastness of the cosmos informs the show with a sense of interstellar wonder.

"One of the places we tried to tip the hat to the original was in the robot in a subtle way in that glass dome in front of the robot's face as we were trying to harken back to the dome glass of the original. In general, we wanted to update it for modern audiences and hopefully give everyone that liked the original show something new, cool, and different; but still something they love, as opposed to making the same thing again," romanced the supervisor.

Molly Parker as Maureen (left), Toby Stephens as John (right). Image courtesy of Netflix.

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