'Space: 1959' A Retro Space Odyssey

Being a huge space fan, and space history buff, I made a few models of some old concept spacecraft that were put forward by Wernher von Braun and Willey Ley in the 1950’s. This was before the space age kicked off . A painter by the name of Chesley Bonestell did the realistic paintings of what they thought our first outings above the atmosphere would be like. This was presented in a series of magazine articles in Collier’s and turned the idea of going to the moon from complete fantasy to a real engineering possibility. Disney later animated sections of this for their own ‘Man in Space’ series
later in the decade. Wernher knew his stuff as less than two decades later he would help design the Saturn V rocket that would put two men on the moon for real.

I had created one or two of the ships from this series before and had the fateful decision to animate my own video featuring them. I decided to focus on the voyage of the recon rocket.

This is my first real proper animation project that I’ve seen to completion. I’ve learned a hell of a lot over the way. The shots have evolved so much over the last year.

All the models were created in Blender. Textures were created in Substance Painter. Animation was done in Blender and rendered in Eevee, except one or two scenes in Cycles.

Here are some production shots:

And here is the trailer.

I should be releasing the full film soon.


Great work, congrats.

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Here are some shots of the lunar recon rocket model I made. Modelling in Blender, texturing in Photoshop and Painter.

Next up are shots of the compositing and editing of effects in Blender. All compositing and video editing except for one or two shots was done in Blender.

The ships, stars and planet were all rendered to layers, and then composited together with effects added. The planet was originally rendered in Cycles, but the atmosphere haze looked horrible so I came up with a fix. I found out how to render the planet with refraction in Eevee and then copied the planet layer, put it behind the main layer and applied a blur to the back layer. Instant atmosphere haze!
The attitude jets were done by Adam Palmer and were added as a render layer in the editing process.

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Here are some shots of the other ships in the film. Some of these were built a while ago and have been given an update for the movie. All are based on the designs from the Collier’s magazine set of the 1950’s.

The Bottle Suit

The Space Wheel

The Shuttle Rocket - The shuttle rocket shared a basic hull and engine assembly with the recon rocket. I get the idea that the recon rocket was adapted from a spare shuttle.

(This was an early shot).

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One thing I failed to mention, we used a special branch of Blender 2.92 to render most of the movie. This special branch utilises parallax occlusion mapping (POM).

Link to the Blender Development page: https://devtalk.blender.org/t/parallax-occlusion-mapping/15774

Graphicall build page: https://blender.community/c/graphicall/frbbbc/