September 15th, 2016

New Trailer for ‘Passage to Mars’ Doc About NASA’s Arctic Expedition

“Before man makes it to Mars, he must conquer the Arctic.” IFC Films & Sundance Selects have debuted a trailer for a film called Passage to Mars, an experimental doc with narration by Zachary Quinto retelling some of the stories from the crew on NASA’s Arctic expedition. As a test to see if astronauts could survive on Mars, NASA sent a team of six people on a 2,000-mile journey up into the Northwest Passage in the Arctic – this film recounts their voyage. “As an expedition that was supposed to take weeks stretches into a two-year odyssey, the crew must overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and life-threatening conditions if they hope to realize their dreams of someday reaching the Red Planet.”

September 13th, 2016

Mars Comes to Miami as an Immersive Interplanetary Experience

Mars 2030 at iii Points from III Points on Vimeo.

From October 7th through the 9th, Miami’s III Points Music, Art, & Technology Festival will premiere the debut of Mars 2030, an immersive virtual reality production designed by FUSION. Participants will slip on a spacesuit and helmet and effectively fly to Mars, where they can explore a topographically accurate landscape. Though the experience feels magic (you’re on Mars!) it’s functionally realistic, both a simulation and an adventure. Mars 2030 is filled with details from real missions to Mars, thanks to Fusion’s Space Act Partnership with NASA. This partnership allowed FUSION to explore NASA’s research labs (including their Hybrid Reality Lab) and create an ultimately symbiotic project: as project designer and FUSION Virtual Reality Developer, Julian Reyes, explains, “We gave NASA all of our information so they could convert it and use it as a training simulation for their astronauts.”

August 10th, 2016

NASA Rover Game Released for Curiosity’s Anniversary

As Curiosity marks its fourth anniversary (in Earth years) since landing on Mars, the rover is working on collecting its 17th sample. While Curiosity explores Mars, gamers can join the fun via a new social media game, Mars Rover.

On their mobile devices, players drive a rover through rough Martian terrain, challenging themselves to navigate and balance the rover while earning points along the way. The game also illustrates how NASA’s next Mars rover, in development for launch in 2020, will use radar to search for underground water.

“We’re excited about a new way for people on the go to engage with Curiosity’s current adventures on Mars and future exploration by NASA’s Mars 2020 rover too,” said Michelle Viotti, manager of Mars public engagement initiatives at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “Using social networks, the user can share the fun with friends. The interest that is shared through gameplay also helps us open a door to deeper literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” JPL collaborated with GAMEE, a network for game-players, for development of the game, called Mars Rover.

For more information about how the Mars Rover game relates to exploration by NASA’s Mars rovers, visit:

July 29th, 2016

Humanity Finally Travels to Mars in Ron Howard’s New Half-Scifi, Half-Documentary TV Series

This November, the National Geographic Channel will take audiences into outer space in a way we haven’t seen before. From producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer comes Mars, a six-part TV miniseries that blends documentary and science fiction to dramatize humankind’s first trip to Mars in 2033—and io9 is proud to exclusively debut the first trailer. Half of the show is more traditional drama, with sequences directed by Everardo Gout with plenty of input from Nasa, SpaceX, and others. The aim was to show viewers the closest thing possible to what an actual trip to Mars in 2033 could look like, in a very dramatic way. Those stories are then juxtaposed with a present-day documentary about the possibility, and importance, of a trip to Mars. That’s where you get interviews with Elon Musk, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, The Martian author Andy Weir, and a slew of other experts on space exploration, Mars, and more.

April 24th, 2016

Lockheed Martin’s school bus takes you on a ride across Mars

Lockheed Martin’s Generation Beyond initiative aims to “inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers, inventors and pioneers to pursue STEM careers.” And what better way to spark young students’ curiosity than to give them ride on a bus that simulates a ride across the Martian surface? Passengers aboard the Mars Experience bus are treated to an immersive virtual reality adventure. As the bus moves, it makes the students feel like they’re driving across the red planet by showing 200 square miles of its surface on the boarded-up windows.

The aerospace company says the VR experience was built with the same software used for “the most advanced video games” today, which hopefully means it has great graphics. Lockheed Martin’s high-tech vehicle will tour the US to give students from different regions a chance to try it out. It’s not Generation Beyond’s only projects, though. The company is also providing a free deep space curriculum to all middle school teachers and has released an app that sends you real-time Mars weather reports.

February 29th, 2016

‘The Martian’ Lands No Oscars at Academy Awards

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“The Martian” was left stranded without any Oscars on Sunday night (Feb. 28) at the 88th Academy Awards.

Ridley Scott’s science fiction film about a NASA astronaut (Matt Damon) being left for dead on Mars received seven nominations — including Best Picture and Best Actor — but ended the evening with no wins.

“It’s pretty cool just to be nominated,” wrote Andy Weir, author of the book on which the “The Martian” is based, in a post on Facebook. “Slowly but surely, science fiction is worming its way into popular culture and mainstream entertainment. I’m proud to be a small part of that.”

February 16th, 2016

Ryan Reynolds to Star in Orbiting Mars Mission Thriller ‘Life’ For Skydance

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 16:  Actor Ryan Reynolds attends the "Mississippi Grind" premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 16, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 16: Actor Ryan Reynolds attends the “Mississippi Grind” premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 16, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)

What’s next for Ryan Reynolds after the record-setting Deadpool opening? Reynolds is in talks to star with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation‘sRebecca Ferguson in Life, a Skydance Productions film that Daniel Espinosa will direct from a script by Reynolds’ Deadpool scribes Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. Espinosa and Reynolds teamed previously on Safe House.

Espinosa signed on last November, and talks with Reynolds were going on before the film surpassed the wildest dreams of anyone by grossing $150 million domestic and $282 million global in its opening five-day weekend. Skydance’s David Ellison and Dana Goldberg are producing with Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn. Paramount’s expected to be the distributor. It’s a big-scale film focusing on a Mars mission that finds intelligent alien life.

January 26th, 2016

VFX Breakdown of The Martian [Spoilers!]

The Martian was a stunning film, there’s no denying that. The cinematography, writing, VFX and acting were all superb so it’s only right that we spend some time looking into how this was achieved. How the visuals of a film were achieved is often an overlooked part of any films success. That is, unless you want to work in this industry like a lot of our awesome community. So we like to showcase the best breakdowns we can find and curate them here, on our filmmaking blog. If you’re like us, you’re about to start watching breakdown after breakdown because, well, they’re awesome.

This video was made by the production house, MPC. MPC were the lead studio on Ridley Scott’s The Martian, delivering an epic 425 shots. Production VFX Supervisor Richard Stammers and MPC VFX Supervisors Anders Langlands have created VFX that left us breathless from start to finish. It’s by no means the first film to be shot in Space or on Mars, but we think it’s up there among the best looking films of the genre or any genre, really. Over the past few years we’ve seen some epic films of this genre, Gravity and Interstellar. So when you consider that The Martian is setting a pretty high standard for film in 2016 – and it’s only January – we’re in for a treat this year.

January 8th, 2016

How Fox’s “The Martian VR Experience” Became Hollywood’s Most Ambitious VR Experiment

There is, of course, a short demo of The Martian VR Experience, available on just about any virtual reality platform. Coming in at about three minutes, it offers a tease of the full version, bringing users to Mars and showing them a few glimpses of life inside Watney’s helmet. But with the demo version, there’s no interactivity, except for letting users look around them in 360 degrees. Otherwise, it’s a fully passive experience.

The full version requires a high-end VR system, such as the Oculus Rift, HTC’s Vive, or Sony’s PlayStation VR, all of which have handheld controllers that allow users to do things with their hands, opening the door to potentially far richer active experiences than is possible with mobile-phone-based VR hardware like Samsung’s Gear VR or Google’s Cardboard, which offer less interactivity.

All told, the full Martian VR Experience takes users through seven different scenes, each of which exploit the interactive features of the Rift, the Vive, or the PSVR.

December 9th, 2015

Spike Orders ‘Mars’ Trilogy Straight to Series with Writer Michael Straczynski

Red Mars

Spike has made a big move into scripted programming, giving “Red Mars” a straight-to-series order with 10-episodes, Variety has learned exclusively. The hourlong drama marks the cabler’s first original scripted series in nine years.

“Sense8” co-creator J. Michael Straczynski will serve as writer, exec producer and showrunner on “Red Mars.” He will exec produce with “Game of Thrones” co-exec producer Vince Gerardis, who first brought the project to Spike, plus David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross of Skydance Television, which is the studio on the series.