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How would one achieve an older, Battlestar Galactica-esque look.


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#1 Von Bilka

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 06:48 PM

I was just wondering what I can do now to achieve the old look of tv shows like Battlestar Galactica? Thanks.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 06:54 PM

I was just wondering what I can do now to achieve the old look of tv shows like Battlestar Galactica? Thanks.


I assume you mean the TV show from the late 1970's... that show was shot in 35mm negative on 5247 (100 ASA) and probably telecine transferred from a low-con print, or perhaps even a projection print (though a low-con print is more likely.) Mike Most might know better.

I haven't watched the DVD's of the old show to tell if they have been remastered from the original negatives or not, or whether they are using the old video masters. If they were retransferred from the original negatives, they should look quite good.

Those older shows often used zoom lenses from back then (like the Cooke 20-100mm) and sometimes diffusion filters from then (Fogs, Low Con, and in this case... the silly 4-point star filters used when they fired their ray guns.)
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 08:16 PM

and in this case... the silly 4-point star filters used when they fired their ray guns.)


That was obviously before the leaps in technology leading to the 6- and 8-point star filters. ;)

All kidding aside, isn't an old zoom AND diffusion a little much? I haven't seen the show but that's a whole lot of softness unless the sets were lit to to where the zooms were at a healthy stop.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 10:01 PM

That was obviously before the leaps in technology leading to the 6- and 8-point star filters. ;)

All kidding aside, isn't an old zoom AND diffusion a little much? I haven't seen the show but that's a whole lot of softness unless the sets were lit to to where the zooms were at a healthy stop.


We use the old 20-100mm Cooke zooms on "Big Love" -- they aren't that soft. I still had to diffuse them on some close-ups. Plus an old TV show used more hard lighting, which would make the image look sharper.

I didn't say that "Battlestar Galactica" used a lot of diffusion, just that back then, a show like that would occasionally use a Fog or Low Con filter.

I hate to publically admit this... but I have the old photonovel of "Battlestar Galactica" pilot. Mostly what I see is a lot of contrasty hard lighting and the use of the 4-point star filter, looking at the photos.
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#5 Von Bilka

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:27 AM

Wow thanks a lot for responding and helping me out. I'll look around and see what I can find. I wasn't sure if it was completely having to do with the lighting or the camera or whatnot.

Now, if it's not going too overboard - would you have any suggestions on how to achieve something close shooting on Super8mm? I know it's a stretch, but for one of my films I recently bought a Beaulieu 4008 ZM II which has the C-mount (i haven't found any prime lenses that fit that mount yet though).

But yes, I'm going to look into these 4 point star filters - but I'm really hoping I can find a lens or other solution to emulate that "foggy" look of TV shows of that era.

Thanks again

Von
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:55 AM

You're going to be fighting for resolution using Super-8 that I don't think it's worth messing with diffusion filters other than the star filter.
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 02:11 AM

...and the use of the 4-point star filter...


It's hard to picture a Cylon without the look of star filter breaking up those reflections off their shimmering armor.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 06 February 2008 - 02:14 AM.

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#8 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 02:32 AM

Hey I think those star filters looked bad ass! I LOVED the old Battlestar Galactica (a whole lot more than the new "re-imagined' soap opera version. I actually think the writer had mother issues, Starbuck a chick!?? Come ONNNN!!!) . B)
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 02:39 AM

I never could figure out why it took three robots to pilot one Cylon fighter vs. one human to pilot a Colonial fighter...
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#10 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 03:00 AM

I'm guessing it's because Cylons weren't all that bright although I always liked the Jonathan Harris football headed Cylon that worked under Baltar. :D The only thing I hated about the show was that robot dog, that damn thing was annoying. :blink:

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 06 February 2008 - 03:01 AM.

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#11 Von Bilka

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:35 PM

Haha I'm so glad I started a nostalgic Battlestar Galactica discussion. I imagine you are right that the diffusion and such isn't really suited for Super8. I shot a short sci fi with a little girl and a robot with my Beaulieu and the footage looks pretty good in Black and White. High contrast and shadowy stuff looks really cool with the grain and everything. Didn't use the 4-point star filter, although had I known about it I very likely would have considered it!
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#12 Mike Washlesky

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:39 PM

I never could figure out why it took three robots to pilot one Cylon fighter vs. one human to pilot a Colonial fighter...



Its because their one eye moved back and forth. You try flying a space ship with a single bouncing eye! :lol:
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#13 Mike Washlesky

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:42 PM

Hey I think those star filters looked bad ass! I LOVED the old Battlestar Galactica (a whole lot more than the new "re-imagined' soap opera version. I actually think the writer had mother issues, Starbuck a chick!?? Come ONNNN!!!) . B)



Dude, the new show rules man. I know it takes a while to get used Starbuck as a chic, but seriously, she kicks ass and drinks hard. I saw her stab a fork in a Cylon numerous times! The show is well written and uses many present day issues like terrorism and occupation in the story line which really makes it contemporary and pertinent to the current political climate. Plus things go boom!
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#14 John Sprung

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 02:29 PM

All kidding aside, isn't an old zoom AND diffusion a little much? I haven't seen the show but that's a whole lot of softness unless the sets were lit to to where the zooms were at a healthy stop.

Remember that these shows were made strictly for analog NTSC TV. Nobody was even thinking about HD until a decade or so later. They knew better than to expect a whole lot of resolution to survive.




-- J.S.
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#15 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 01:26 AM

Dude, the new show rules man. I know it takes a while to get used Starbuck as a chic, but seriously, she kicks ass and drinks hard. I saw her stab a fork in a Cylon numerous times! The show is well written and uses many present day issues like terrorism and occupation in the story line which really makes it contemporary and pertinent to the current political climate. Plus things go boom!


It's NOT Battlestar Galactica any more than the Tim Burton planet of the Apes is Planet of the Apes. When I heard they were re-making Battlestar Galactica, I was like a kid at Christmas, waiting to see one of my most beloved shows resurrected and breathed new life into, then I found out there was no Santa Claus. This series would have been fine if they had called it something else. Starbuck was one of the best characters in television history. This dark moody downer of a series is uninspiring and a chore to watch. Stabuck, the 5ft1 chick doesn't kick ass and is about as bad ass as a plate of wilted lettuce. She mostly just wines. Give me the womanizing, cigar chomping, cocky hotshot best pilot in the fleet and knows it but doesn't lord it over anyone, lovable con man pretty boy Dirk Benedict Starbuck any day of the week. AND Cylons are machines not resurrecting, can't tell if their sitting next to you, androids, That's another freaking cop out I hate about this re-imagined "version", one of the BEST things about the old series was the very cool Cylons, the new re imagined Cylons (the metal ones) are little more than an afterthought, The android Cylons also mostly women, are BORING. LIKE I SAID, this guy had a LOT of mother issues!! The thing I liked about the Cylons is that they WERE so different from us, an issue that was explored in the first series and could have been explored in this one. I HATE this series with a passion that burns thought to my very SOUL! Present day issues? Terrorism and occupation? The current political climate? They've substituted women for men in all the key roles in some sort of a pathetic gesture of "political correctness" to prove how "enlightened" they are, turned the comradely, friendship and esprit de corp onto a series of convoluted, political backbiting fairytale passion plays set up on a soapbox to shout out at the masses "LOOK HOW F*CK UP WE ARE!!!!!" and destroyed every vestige of joy and fun the series ever had. If I wanted to be beaten over the head with political correctness and blatant metaphoric rhetoric, I'd watch PAX. B)
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#16 Paul Bruening

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 09:11 AM

I never could figure out why it took three robots to pilot one Cylon fighter vs. one human to pilot a Colonial fighter...


Guys in suits are really cheap compared to name stars. You can pad-up your thin casting by piling on bad guys. It's a budgetary standby in action productions.
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#17 Mike Washlesky

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 09:25 AM

It's NOT Battlestar Galactica any more than the Tim Burton planet of the Apes is Planet of the Apes. When I heard they were re-making Battlestar Galactica, I was like a kid at Christmas, waiting to see one of my most beloved shows resurrected and breathed new life into, then I found out there was no Santa Claus. This series would have been fine if they had called it something else. Starbuck was one of the best characters in television history. This dark moody downer of a series is uninspiring and a chore to watch. Stabuck, the 5ft1 chick doesn't kick ass and is about as bad ass as a plate of wilted lettuce. She mostly just wines. Give me the womanizing, cigar chomping, cocky hotshot best pilot in the fleet and knows it but doesn't lord it over anyone, lovable con man pretty boy Dirk Benedict Starbuck any day of the week. AND Cylons are machines not resurrecting, can't tell if their sitting next to you, androids, That's another freaking cop out I hate about this re-imagined "version", one of the BEST things about the old series was the very cool Cylons, the new re imagined Cylons (the metal ones) are little more than an afterthought, The android Cylons also mostly women, are BORING. LIKE I SAID, this guy had a LOT of mother issues!! The thing I liked about the Cylons is that they WERE so different from us, an issue that was explored in the first series and could have been explored in this one. I HATE this series with a passion that burns thought to my very SOUL! Present day issues? Terrorism and occupation? The current political climate? They've substituted women for men in all the key roles in some sort of a pathetic gesture of "political correctness" to prove how "enlightened" they are, turned the comradely, friendship and esprit de corp onto a series of convoluted, political backbiting fairytale passion plays set up on a soapbox to shout out at the masses "LOOK HOW F*CK UP WE ARE!!!!!" and destroyed every vestige of joy and fun the series ever had. If I wanted to be beaten over the head with political correctness and blatant metaphoric rhetoric, I'd watch PAX. B)


Uh. wow?

I agree with you on loving the old version of BSG. It was a great show, but also a bit campy. And I also hated that robotic dog too that someone mentioned. But Starbuck as one of the BEST characters in television HISTORY? C'mon. He's ok, but Apollo was way better dude. Starbuck's awesomeness is parallel to Micheal Night and Stringfellow Hawke from Airwolf. They were one dimensional cartoons. This new series really brings deeper character development than the whole older series combined. While I also have gripes with the latest version, including the fact Edward james Olmos and Jamie Bamber look NOTHING alike and they are supposed to be father and son. I mean, one guy is from East LA and the other from England. I still cant understand that casting decision.

And, I miss the old shiny Cylons too. They made a re-appearance in the Razor mini movie towards the end that was pretty cool. But the replicant/android thing angle did take a bit getting used to. I hated the "handheld" space battles at first but have now come to appreciate the show as a whole. But comparing it to something found on PAX? You show me a series on PAX where a ship captain shoots her first officer point plank in the head on the bridge in front of the entire crew for disobeying one order, and I will start drinking tea and cuddling up with my kitty.

here's a few pics for you holmes.

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#18 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 03:14 PM

What a joy reading this thread!


I assume you mean the TV show from the late 1970's... that show was shot in 35mm negative on 5247 (100 ASA) and probably telecine transferred from a low-con print, or perhaps even a projection print (though a low-con print is more likely.) Mike Most might know better.



David, could you briefly explain to me that a 'projection print' would be, apparently as opposed to contact prints, I presume?
Thanks in advance!



I haven't watched the DVD's of the old show to tell if they have been remastered from the original negatives or not, or whether they are using the old video masters. If they were retransferred from the original negatives, they should look quite good.


Because of this thread, I just bought and watched the film on the DVD sold in the UK, which is the theatrical version of the first 2.5 episodes that was released in cinemas in Europe back in the 1980s. It's hence different from the US releases of the TV show!

It's claimed to be "digitally remastered", although I was unable to find out any specs what this actually encompasses. Based on an old video tape comparison in my archive, it think it is based on a cleaned-up print with new color grading, although the "BSG expert" at Forbidden Planet here in London claimed that it used the camera negatives :mellow: . It certainly does not use the video masters, as the picture is looking considerably better than it would come from older tapes. It is very sharp, and the colors of 5247 are coming through very "luminously" and brilliant. It is actually a joy watching the set design and the colour schemes they used unfold, corresponding well with the more caramelly inclination of old Eastmancolor. Highly recommended to own, certainly to everyone who was a child when Star Wars meant only 2 films and no "episodes".

I must, however, agree that using softening or diffusing filters whenever you see a close-up or portrait shot of female actress or "love-interests" can come across to contemporary eyes as a bit.. comical.
Never had that feeling with the star filters for the Cylons, although they must spend an incredible time in their barracks polishing themselves... really... I think Stormtroopers really must be envious of their living conditions.
There is also a nice essay by Dirk Benedict called "Starbuck: Lost in Castration" which is a very reflected stance on how gender perceptions in film and society changed or rather evolved between the optimistic original and traumatic re-imagining series.



As far as copying that look with a Beaulieu 4008 ZM II using current S8 film stocks are concernend: I fear that apart from the aesthetic of the film stocks (better use 7217 and do extensive colour grading in a DI post-chain to get the best out of S8) the short variable shutter opening times of the Beaulieu 4008 ZM II would be be biggest hindrance to emulate that look, even at 18 fps. The issue is less the exposure time itself, but the lack of motion fluidity that results from it, as the 4008 gets a certain "strobe" with 1/87sec.
I would maybe recommend to use camera that opens up to 220°, closer to Panaflexes of that time: Nizo 4080 or Nizo 6080. The coating on these Schneider Macro-Variogon is also warmer, less color-neutral then the Schneider Optivaron that came with the ZM II-model. But using Nizos will compromise the sharpness that you can reach with the Beaulieu... so it's a trade-off decision you face...

A plus point for the Beaulieu: Les Bosher in the UK can manufacture C-Mount adapters which allow you to put most lens mounts, Nikon, ARRI-Standard, PL-Mount etc, I think excluding PV-Mount, onto the Beaulieu. So you can easily rent a Zeiss or Cooke, something quite worthy if you shoot with Vision2 on S8 anyhow.

-Michael
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#19 John Sprung

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 08:56 PM

David, could you briefly explain to me that a 'projection print' would be, apparently as opposed to contact prints, I presume?
Thanks in advance!

A projection print is one that's intended to be run thru a projector and viewed on a screen. Projection and lo-con prints are usually made by contact printing. Because it's intended for projection, where stray light is a factor, the projection print needs to have a net end to end gamma of about 1.4. On a film chain, that gave you a look that's too contrasty. So, Kodak made a special low contrast print stock, with an end to end gamma of, IIRC, 1.0, just for TV use.

With the advent of telecine direct from the negative, lo-con prints went out of style. We did have one MOW maybe 15+ years ago that did a lo-con for telecine, but that's the only one I've ever personally had to work with. Lo-con, though, is way high contrast compared with negative (gamma usually 0.65), and this was no fun at all to transfer. I wonder if Mike Most would remember -- we did this at Encore, but maybe before he was there. It took days to telecine both NTSC and PAL versions, and they changed the tube in the Rank on us between sessions. In any case, the lo-con was a large unnecessary expense, as even in those days, you could get the same contrast and color straight from the neg, just by spinning those balls and rings on the Da Vinci.



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#20 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 09:27 PM

:lol: OH MY WORD, how embarassing from my side! Sorry!

Thanks, John, for the extensive explanation of (*Dr Evil-style finger quotes follow:*) 'projection print' :rolleyes: .
It is greatly appreciated :) !


Sorry for the silly question, in hinsight. Obviously 'projection print' is A Projection Print for running through a projector. :lol:


I don't know what happened with me there... :wacko: ... as for some inexplicable reason, I thought along the lines of the processessing technique. I was under the impression that David was writing about the methodical process of the actual printing, not just plain and simply the name of the print type.

Hence why I suspected to have come across - thanks to David's extensive knowledge - some new and phantastic old-school method of "projection printing" which is different than 'contact printing'. While typing the question, I imagined some gargantuan rear-projecting apparatus filling entire rooms in 1970s film labs that exposed the print film somehow otherwise than is done with contact printing... I don't know what I was thinking there... maybe the "easier times" of the BSG technology of the 1970s fooled me into technological numbness.

Nevertheless, I learned alot about the gammas used for each print type. Thanks, that is very interesting indeed and got duely noted in my little cine-booklet :) .

I shall leave today with my cine-reputation in tatters as I can't seem to recognise a 'projection print' when I see one ... :)
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