Thanks for the indepth review Fux. The lighting as I'm sure you'll agree is probably one of the hardest things to get right. Not enough ambient illumination and all the detail is lost, too much and it looks washed out. I have played around with the lighting quite a bit, I thought (though not uber realistic) that as the Avenger is the centre of focus it should be well lit.
For the sun, which incidentally nearly caused more trouble than it was worth
I planned originally to have a sunflares visible as the craft went past like you guys said giving an eclipsing effect but as I still haven't got the lighting working as I would like its still w.i.p.
Another aspect of the lighting that hasn't been finished is the running lights. I haven't been able to animate the red and green wing lights yet either but I will address these when I figure it all out.
The early camera movement was indeed meant to signify that the Avenger was 'boosting' and snapping away to get the kind of speed needed for the (normally 9 months) journey to Mars. But like Fux says without something to show the movement, it would be difficult to believe the movement. I guess the problem for any space based movement is the lack of referencing to either a static object or some other means of showing the movement. Think maybe increasing the speed at which the Avenger goes away from the camera and past the moon will help there.
The Mars section of the movie also still needs quite a bit of tweaking and things adding in that I haven't included yet. Like the fact that the Avenger would be decellerating like a bullet hitting a wall and I wanted to place in the rear firing of the engines but that opened a whole new can of worms. Also as its slowing down so quickly I wanted to physically portray it having a tough time and the airframe shaking under the stresses to scrub off the enormous velocities.
Other than that the only thing I'm not 100% happy about is the final camera movement to show off the iridium sheen. Other than that I'm quite happy with the Mars side of the anim.
Possible things to add would be a takeoff sequence and of course the Cydonia landing. Maybe its possible (if in doubt ask a programmer) to have the music continuing onto the Equip screen after the cutscene has finished just to reinoforce that sense of impending doom the Mars music has? Maybe play the music track as a seperate item to the vid?