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Original Battlestar Galactica...16mm episodes?


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#1 Colin Curtis

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Posted 05 February 2011 - 03:29 AM

Hey folks...

I read somewhere (and I can't find where now) that there were a few episodes of the original Battlestar Galactica series ('78) that were shot on 16mm film. Does anyone know anything about this? I would love to know if it is true. There are a couple of stand alone episodes (The lost Warrior, The Long Patrol) that do look extremely grainy, but I'm not sure if 16mm has anything to do with it. I'd love to hear back about this. Thanks!

Colin
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#2 Mitch Gross

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 02:30 PM

I would find this incredibly hard to believe. 16mm stocks back then were extremely limited. Just one neg. stock and some reversal, which they would have never used.

It is possible that some 16mm was used during the effects work process. It was common practical to mix elements back then as was physically necessary to achieve effects. Sometimes 16mm was used to rear project the image of actors inside a miniature set, such as Kirk & Scotty in the pod in the spacedock reveal of the Enterprise in the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture. 16mm was used to rear-project the monitors in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Super-8 was used for screens in ST:TMP. This was all done because of the physical space requirements. That's the only way I can imagine it happening in Battlestar Galactica.
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#3 Will Montgomery

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 05:09 PM

I think you may be confusing the first episode or mini-series of the NEW Battlestar Galactica which may have been shot on Super 16mm then went to digital for the series.

There may be 16mm PRINTS available of the original Battlestar Galactica but they were almost certainly shot in 35mm at that time.
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#4 K Borowski

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 05:35 PM

The '78 series was at the tail end (pun intended) of 16mm film distribution for television stations. However, the enitre series was originated on 35mm.


The 2005 series, believe it or not, was shot on 35mm for the pilot then HD for all but slo-mo (Sorry to anyone involved, I think they both looked incredibly ugly. There was a big discussion on this very series as to whether intentionally making something ugly meant it wasn't ugly but was in fact beautiful. I leave that up to Rod Serling to decide ;-) )

The pilot was 35mm pushed either one or two stops (so 16mm look at a 35mm+double push price!) so it looked like 16mm, but was shot on a BMW budget. This may be THE pilot that convinced Sci-Fi SCYFY, whatever the station goes by now to ban all film from its productions. So, good job!



I liked the orignal show far better, the BLATANT ripping off Star Wars including a Han Solo and a Look Skywalker lookalike a robotic dog (C-3PO/R2-D2 ripoff) a wise old man Commander Adama/Ben Kenobi Cylons/Stormtroopers, Base Stars /death stars Battlestars/Star Destroyer Vipers/X-Wings John Williams Symphonistic Score/Battlestar Galactica forget whose orchestra etc etc etc.

So blatant it earned a Lawsuit from Lucasfilm Ltd.! A masterful rip-off of a man who blatantly ripped of WWII movies, in some cases frame for frame in the case of the Millenium Falcon TIE fighter sequences, and used Sci-Fi format to hide it :-)



What was the new one? A thinly-veiled satire of the Bush Administration's War in Iraq. My "favorite" part of the series is where they're walking around downtown Toronto or Vancouver (forget which now) and they're supposed to be on a "floatiing astroponics ship" Mmmhmm. . . Way to go doing a worse job than they did in the original BSG or even "Silent Running" in the '60s with 4x5" transparencies and models.

I've seen 16mm Star Trek prints go for $150-200 (this was before HD versions, so they may be worth less now, BSG might be still worth the same as I don't think it's been remastered in HD - maybe never will). So don't be surprised if one of these will set you back a cool $250 plus shipping on the Bay.
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#5 Colin Curtis

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 04:31 AM

Hey...K Borowski...Thanks for that very detailed blast of information. Wow! You know your stuff.

I guess what I read, might have been related to the new series starting out on film, and perhaps the grainy look they went for might have lead people to believe they actually used Super 16, when it was actually 35mm. It just might have gotten confused with the original show in what I read - not really sure. Another commenter suggested that also. What I don't understand though is (in the newer BSG pilot)...why didn't they just use Super 16? If they wanted a grain that extreme anyway, couldn't they have saved in budgeting? I worked in Toronto on many different TV shows and Super 16 was used often (2000 to 2002).

I recently became interested in 16mm prints and was searching Ebay for some...but man...they ARE pricey. Saw a 'Frankenstein' one on there! Projecting Frankenstein at home...that would be VERY cool...

The rip offs you mentioned WERE pretty blatant, weren't they...Haha! In some ways though, I actually prefer the story line of Battlestar Galactica (either series) to the story line of Star Wars. I think it was unique to put the humans in the position of being the ones on the run, unlike most sci-fi shows/movies where there are usually humans at the seat of power, governing everyone else. And, them searching for Earth, meaning they were essentially in the same 'universe' as the viewer, made it more identifiable and 'closer to home' I thought - even as a child at the time.

Anyway, thanks for clarifying some things!

Colin
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#6 Colin Curtis

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 04:41 AM

Hey Mitch!

Thanks...some very informative stuff you mentioned! You are likely right about the FX.

C
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#7 Colin Curtis

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 04:45 AM

Thanks Will!

It seemed hard to believe to me also. Where-ever I read this, a few years ago, I think the info was just mixed up with the new series, like you suggested.

C
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#8 Will Montgomery

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 11:40 AM

That is a shame SyFi went to all video... it is really an obvious difference on most of their shows. A few of the digital BSG shows looked ok, but most had blow outs and just looked like video. All the other shows on that channel DEFINITELY look like video. It just goes to show how difficult it is to shoot digital well. Those involved are extremely talented so I'm sure they're working on it and with digital acquisition constantly improving we'll get closer to what we know and love.

As discussed earlier, the AMC shows shot on film are more pleasing to the eye.
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#9 Mitch Gross

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 11:53 AM

High Speed shots in the new series were captured using the Phantom HD.
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#10 K Borowski

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 12:01 PM

In which season? :rolleyes:
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#11 Chris Burke

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 01:21 PM

That is a shame SyFi went to all video... it is really an obvious difference on most of their shows. A few of the digital BSG shows looked ok, but most had blow outs and just looked like video. All the other shows on that channel DEFINITELY look like video. It just goes to show how difficult it is to shoot digital well. Those involved are extremely talented so I'm sure they're working on it and with digital acquisition constantly improving we'll get closer to what we know and love.

As discussed earlier, the AMC shows shot on film are more pleasing to the eye.



The look was intentional. THey wanted a cruddy looking documentary feel and they got it. I always watched it streaming online, so I was never impressed with the look. They I rented a bluray disc of Razor and saw for myself that it had the cruddy scyfy look baked in.
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#12 Mitch Gross

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 02:29 PM

The look was very much intentional. They shot on F900 at either +6db or +9db (I forget which). This is a very different look from other SyFy shows such as Eureka or Warehouse 13, both of which are shot pretty clean (Warehouse 13 was Genesis the first season then moved to RED MX, I forget what Eureka shoots).

Battlestar Gallactica rented Phantoms from Abel Cine numerous times throughout its production run including for the Razor telemovie.
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