The capsule itself offered a variety of challenges. Adkins had to ask, without fudging, what really were the light sources? Much of the lighting then came from the instrument panels surrounding the character, which allowed a great deal of freedom to play with color, levels, and flashing, blinking or alternating series of lights.
“I used these LED panels from Color Kinetics,” says Adkins. “It was quite nice because of the wide variety of options—an array of colored lights and white lights. So when there is a red alert in one scene I was able to switch instantly over to the red LEDs. I didn’t have to gel them. I did put a little Opal diffusion on them, just because they were so close in some cases. But all the color combinations were created by using percentages of the red, green, and blue LEDs on the panels.”
An additional challenge on the film was depicting the span of years that the narrative covers. The character ages two decades, forcing make-up requirements as delicate as the need for scientific accuracies. The clarity of 4K can cause make-up artists to break into a cold sweat. Testing the Dalsa’s relationship with make-up was high on Adkins’ shopping list in doing the shoot. “Initially the make-up person was quite nervous, but then she saw the lighting treatment and saw that we weren’t going that edgy with it. And we found it worked quite well.”
Postcards from the Future was shot in 24p. Adkins, looking back wonders: “We didn’t want it to look like film. It was an image from the future. Who knows? Maybe we shouldn’t have even shot it in 24p. Maybe we should have shot it at 30p. Just to be different. You even start to wonder: Well, how far would Lars Von Trier take 4K?”
We may colonize Mars before John Carter of Mars is ever made, but in the meantime, we get to see what Eric Adkins can accomplish not just on the planet Mars, but throughout the entire solar system.