Animation enables Miditech to recreate ISRO’s Mangalyaan Mission for Nat Geo

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A one-hour special documentary Mangalyaan: India’s Mission to Mars on India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) also known as Mangalyaan will premiere exclusively on National Geographic Channel on 5 November, 2015 at 9:00 pm. The documentary commissioned by Nat Geo is a pet project of Miditech, a Delhi based production house, in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), supported by Purple Monkey Studio, which has created the CG animation.

The most intriguing spectacle in the entire documentary are the 40 3D CGI animated shots, which explain in detail the entire journey of this mission right from 2013 to 2015.

Speaking exclusively to director and writer of the docu, Pria Somiah Alva says, “The whole documentary is a geeky film as it includes high space science and in-depth information about the whole mission. And to portray this high level information, ‘Animation’ was the most effective way.”

The documentary is a combination of science and drama as it features the key team of highly experienced scientists who worked closely on the mission, the entire journey of Mangalyaan, the expanse of the environment that it had to travel and the crisp animation denoting the complete entry into the Mars orbit. The docu has a voiceover that keeps the audience hooked to the proceedings of the mission throughout; including interviews of scientists and researchers, with brilliant 3D animation helping to better understand the exact technical work of the mission step by step in detail.


Pria initiated the idea and spent around 6 months to get permission and access to ISRO. With research spanning 2-3 months long, Miditech worked with Purple Monkey, day and night, for 4 months to complete the entire documentary. Pria highlights, “The entire mission is quite complicated as ISRO’s projects have a lot of information and processes. It was difficult to concise the entire information in just 45-60 minutes, as otherwise it would have become quite complex for the audience to comprehend it. So, animation was the way to convey the information in a creative manner which would be easily understood by anyone.”

Use of animation and info-graphics has become a norm nowadays in many films and videos. It has been scientifically proved that visuals always leave a more lasting impact on the minds, as against spoken words. Even large corporates are using animation to communicate their brand messaging, thus it was a wise choice by the director to use this medium for creating more awareness around the mission.

“We wanted to bring the feel of the mission alive to the audience. And, all this in a simple precise manner. So, we worked closely with Nat Geo and ISRO for detailed fact check.” adds Pria. As the Mangalyaan consists of high technical developments, the documentary was shot in labs, testing centres, work areas and research centres of ISRO. “The most challenging part was to convey the information exactly the way it is in Mangalyaan and the technicality behind it. 40 per cent of the documentary is CGI as the technicality was well researched and shown with a view to take the audience on a space journey. It was a project of India’s honour so we could not afford any error. And hopefully we have done justice to the work,” says Pria.

mars orbit

“Without Animation, the film would be dull as animation brings life to the entire documentary. If animation was not used the entire film would only feel like an overload of information and the message would not have been conveyed,” admits an animator from Purple Monkey Studio, who worked on the animation.

The 40 shots of animation were created on softwares like Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects by the Delhi based Studio in a month with in depth research of every minute angle and camera positioning. The team used images provided by ISRO as reference to then visualise the entire space in a small computer screen as it would appear in the documentary. Inputs from scientists and researchers were also incorporated to cross check and verify that the CGI created was accurate and technically precise.

On the Anniversary of the launch of India’s first interplanetary mission that took place on 5 November 2013, today is a big day for celebrating the space achievements of India. And on this occasion, this highly informative and in-depth researched documentary is a tribute to the prestigious mission that encompasses tremendous hard work of the master minds. Pria beams, “Mangalyaan is a qualified success of India that deserves recognition and should be documented. Moreover, everyone in India as well as globally should be aware about it. We are grateful to ISRO and Nat Geo for the collaboration.”

This documentary involves inputs from a lot of intelligent and creative minds, but the main team includes Pria Somiah Alva as the director & script writer, Shivani Muthana as the associate director & researcher, Ajay Kumar as the editor, Gurvinder Kochar heading the DOP, Andres Williams as the narrator and Purple Monkey being instrumental in creating the entire animation.

Nat Geo

Commenting on the success of Mangalyaan, ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar said in an earlier press statement, “It was a proud moment for our team, and in fact for the entire country, when Mangalyaan successfully entered the Martian orbit. We are glad that a brand like National Geographic Channel has partnered us in showcasing not only this historic journey, but also the science and technology behind it. This documentary will give viewers an exquisite glimpse into the Mangalyaan journey, the salient features of the mission, and the major milestones accomplished by the team behind it.”

Fox International Channels (India) business head Swati Mohan added, “Nat Geo is pleased to be associated with ISRO in showcasing the success of Mars Orbiter Mission. Nat Geo has been a pioneer in showcasing landmark events and ‘Mangalyaan: India’s Mission to Mars’ is another breakthrough production that underlines our focus on original productions in India. To showcase the scale of this mission, our special episode will feature the subject experts who will not only explain the nuances behind this delicate technology, but also demonstrate the subtle nature of this inter planetary mission.”

With Mangalyaan: India’s Mission to Mars premiering on the most renowned factual entertainment channel in the country today, this documentary will definitely take the world on an extravagant space journey. If expressed in an analogy, the ‘Whole world below will embrace the expansive world out there in space’ only and only through the medium of animation…

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