Zathura is set in the stratosphere, where a pair of young brothers discover a board game with an intergalactic twist. Having catapulted their home into the Milky Way, they must finish the game from a living room at zero gravity.
Director Jon Favreau and visual effects supervisor Joe Bauer worked closely with Digital Dimension to develop look of the star field backgrounds that completely surround the house for most of the film. The company also delivered two dozen heavy composites that combine small-scale models of the house and various spacecraft. Digital Dimension also contributed look development for comet and disintegration effects, CG debris, torpedoes and smoke.
“I’ve enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Digital Dimension that spans five or so motion pictures,” says Bauer, who also worked with the studio on Elf.
Digital Dimention used Autodesk 3DS Max for CG elements, including debris, rockets and chains. Eyeon’s Digital Fusion was used for compositing. The star field composites were created with moving cameras and a parallax change to create backgrounds that were photoreal yet mystical. For the miniature shots, Digital Dimension worked from elements shot on stage and then used motion control data for the interactive lighting, key lighting, ship engine flame and interior ship passes of more than 20 layers.
Additional effects the studio created for the film included adding reflections on astronaut visors and animating a CG bicycle seen floating throughout the movie.