For All Mankind series 3 films
When approaching the science in the series For All Mankind, the goal was to present the science-based facts in a fun, palatable way while also achieving a compelling visual-auditory experience for the audience. We set out to make re-watchable content that would surprise and inform the viewer, whether that is a science fanatic or just a casual viewer of the show.
Connecting the narrative to the science in a conceptual way was a fun part of the project's R&D stage. Different toys and installation spaces served as inspiration which helped to underpin the experiments and make them accessible to the audience.
The biggest challenge was simplifying complex science subjects, including zero gravity, light traveling through space, abnormal pressure on Mars, and utilizing nuclear fission and fusion. These subjects required strong conceptual thinking and execution in storytelling, live-action direction, art direction, CG, design, music, and sound design. Additionally, they had to all coexist harmoniously together too.
From my perspective as a director, treating the CG and live action with equal importance was crucial at every stage. One informed the other to ultimately serve the story and maximize the concept of the films. It was also important to inject some fun within the sequences. In CG, we explored floating yellow rubber ducks, exploded a toy water drilling rig, and took a three-tier wedding cake for a spin. In live action, we even boiled a toy goldfish using pressure alone!
We anchored the series around Wrenn Schmidt, who plays a NASA engineer named Margo Madison in the show, and used a minimal white office space as a visual constant for the opening, middle, and closing of each film. This grounded the films in reality and helped us set up unique in-camera experiments with props. Before activating the window into our science world, the window allowed us the creative freedom to invent spaces that were unique to each film segment.
Once inside our unique installation spaces, we created toy-inspired visual effects elements with clever CG animation to explore the science. These included zero gravity chambers, a giant spinning gravity wheel, a sun tunnel, ping pong ice room, rock installations, and a multi-leveled pinball machine.