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VFX Supervisors Confess Their Feelings About Creating Graphics for ‘Space Sweepers’

Credit: YTN

YTN has greeted VFX Supervisors Jung Seong Jin and Jung Chul Min through written interviews. They are the very ones who illustrated the visuals of the outer space within Space Sweepers, the first Korean space Sci-Fi film.

Jung Seong Jin said, “I’ve experienced multiple universes and phenomena while working on movies. Even hell, through Along With the Gods. But designing the space was really different. My motivation was the pressure and expectation that more space movies would come out in the future if we did well. Everyone participated with a sense of purpose.”

Credit: Netflix

Out of 2500 cuts from the movie, 2000 cuts – hence more than 80% of the film – was made with VFX works. The project was participated by more than 1,000 related experts. The production of the movie, after filming alone, took 10 months. Supervisor Jung Seong Jin stated that “a Sci-Fi movie was not impossible with Korea’s Computer Graphics (CG) technologies. It’s a genre we were able to do but didn’t so far. I wanted to show that Korea can also make such a film. We also felt a great sense of responsibility, thinking that more movies of a similar genre would be released if we made a good start.”

Space Sci-Fi has somehow been considered a genre exclusively Hollywood’s. There were of course concerns along with expectations ahead of Space Sweepers’ release. Jung Sung Jin said that “people’s expectations for Korean Sci-Fi were not that high.” 

The solution was to differentiate. The production team approached the work with the purpose of creating a ‘K-Sci-Fi’ that incorporates sentiments and styles specific to Korea. “In terms of appearances, it had to be a VFX that embody Korean mindsets.” This is how the unfamiliar concept of a Korean spaceship pilot became a reality. 

Credit: Netflix

“We also reflected the characteristics of each country in each spacecraft, first deciding on colors then designing it. For example, the Chinese cleaning ship is red and big. There’s also a dragon on its side. For the Egyptian ship, we designed it triangularly to reminisce the shape of a pyramid, as well as painting an Egyptian cat on its side. We also worked on the license plates and their directions according to national characteristics.”

The early sequence of Tae Ho (played by Song Joong Ki) leaving into space on the space elevator is the most elaborate scene made by the VFX team. Jung Chul Min confessed that he thought this was the most important scene in the film. “We thought that the world of the movie should be acknowledged smoothly by the viewers in the beginning, so it was a scene we thought hard about until the end.”

They chose the first appearance of the Victory ship as their most memorable scene. In collaboration with the art team, they designed about 200 cleaning spaceships that take references from various eras and national characteristics from the 1980s to the 2000s.

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