In December 2019, American President Donald Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to establish the sixth branch of the US military called Space Force. Realizing the comedic potential of such a venture, former The Office colleagues Greg Daniels and Steve Carell created the Netflix series Space Force, which features a bumbling General Mark R. Naird (Carell) with the presidential mandate to have “boots on the moon” by 2024.
A satellite repair mission is the focus of the second episode titled ‘Save Epsilon 6!’. Rather than listen to the proposals from his science team, Naird decides to recruit Marcus and Theodore, a chimpanzee and Alaskan Klee Kai husky, in orbit for a promotional mission, to reattach the solar panels on the Epsilon 6. In reality, these animals only exist as digital creations by Weta Digital under the direction of visual effects supervisor Chris White and animation supervisor Aidan Martin, both of whom previously produced CG primates for the Planet Of The Apes prequel trilogy and The Umbrella Academy.
“We worked on a total of 31 shots, and shared Marcus’ spacesuit and helmet with Zoic Studios,” states White. “Zoic was creating the space shots, and we supplied the accompanying helmet cam shots. We aligned the lighting to keep the story beats in sync and consistent.” Greg Daniels provided facial footage of himself to illustrate what type of performance he was looking for in regards to Marcus. “Greg described Marcus’s character as a realistic chimp, not to be anthropomorphized. When we showed Greg some reference and concept ideas, he chose a chimp from our local Wellington Zoo to base Marcus on. We ran with it and made some slight adjustments, such as thickening the brows, but this chimp worked as our reference.”
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