'The Wandering Earth' Featurettes: Behind The Out-Of-This-World Visual Effects By Weta Workshop And Pixomondo

The Wandering Earth is an astounding achievement for China — not just in being the country's very first sci-fi blockbuster, but for its out-of-this-world visual effects.

The jaw-dropping effects were created by a cabal of visual effects studios, including Peter Jackson's famous Weta Workshop, which was behind the Lord of the Rings series, and Pixomondo, which created the dragons for HBO's Game of Thrones. Two featurettes from both companies delve into the making of the global hit, which has quietly become 2019's highest-grossing film worldwide.

The Wandering Earth Featurettes

Weta Workshop created the the film's highly specialized spacesuits, exoskeletons and weaponry worn by the heroes of the sci-fi film as they attempt to save Earth from certain destruction. The spacesuits were much more elaborate than they appeared, boating an array of tech and equipment on top of a customized exoskeleton that Weta designed.

"[The Wandering Earth's team] approached us with some beautiful conceptual design work done by the Chinese designers and asked if we wanted to help with the heroes' suits," Weta co-founder and creative director Richard Taylor said in the behind-the-scenes video released by the company. Using a combination of director Frant Gwo and his team's ambitious designs and their many years of expertise, Weta crafted stunning-looking spacesuits that had both form and function.

But Weta was only one of the many companies that worked to make The Wandering Earth a reality. Base FX, Bottleship VFX, Dexter Studios, Macrograph, More VFX, Black Mondo, and Pixomondo were among the companies that worked on the film's visual effects. Pixomondo also released a video of their work on The Wandering Earth in a form of a VFX breakdown reel.

The company completed 216 shots, including over 50 full CG shots which ranged from full CG environments to simulations of collapsing ice and frozen buildings. It seems the company was in charge mostly of the surface-setting shots, in which the characters encounter frozen carcasses of former cities and navigate collapsing buildings and shattered streets. The company's biggest project was the CG ice wall, which was over 400 meters in height, pushing PXO to build an entirely new scene management pipeline for the project.

Combined with the film's gorgeous vision of the cosmos, these effects create a film that demands to be seen in theaters. The Chinese mega-hit will be coming soon to Netflix, but I encourage you to check it out in the big screen in one of the select theaters showing it nationwide.

Here is the synopsis of The Wandering Earth:

The sun is dying out. The earth will soon be engulfed by the inflating sun. To save the human civilization, scientists draw up an escape plan that will bring the whole human race from danger. With the help of thousands of infusion powered engines, the planet earth will leave the solar system and embark on a 2,500 year journey to the orbit of a star 4.5 light years away.