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"Outland"


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#61 George Ebersole

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 11:38 AM

Well, like I said, Probert did some sketches to illustrate Trumbull's idea and go beyond what he suggested, and these are reproduced in a few places like THE ART OF STAR TREK, so maybe you saw them there.

 

My initial response to the movie was largely the same as yours, except a LOT more negative -- way too much of a s-l-o-w ripoff of THE CHANGELING, when I'd been hoping for BALANCE OF TERROR, or maybe THE IMMUNITY SYNDROME (that's the one with the big amoeba, but more importantly it is very character-centric on Spock and the Doctor, PLUS reuses the great music from THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE.)

 

My shorthand perception (which actually ignores a couple of my favorites that aren't typical eps, like THE EMPATH and RETURN TO TOMORROW) of good TREK was, "ship fires its guns and Kirk gets his shirt ripped' and TMP had precious little of the one and none of the other. I was so ticked off I didn't even let myself get seduced by the cloud visuals, which in retrospect were some of the most beautiful shots ever attempted back then, but my positive takeaways were primarily just the Goldsmith score and (most) of the miniature work, which I still think is just gorgeous, especially given the time pressure involved.

 

Don't know if you're aware, but a redshirt -- well, a helmeted security guy -- did get zapped in the rough cut, when the glowy thing invades the bridge, but Dykstra's group couldn't get the whole sequence done in time, so they dropped that portion, which happens before the probe wanders around the bridge and buzzes Chekov. It was the only time you'd have seen somebody shooting a hand phaser in the film, since the other scene, when Spock shoots vger antibodies that are mistaking Kirk for Rachel Welch, also got thrown away when Trumbull came in and started fixing the mess that was left for him.

 

Ah, the coffee finished brewing!

 

Yeah, I didn't go back to see it a second time, and only watched it casually when it hit HBO.  From a writer's standpoint the film was a departure from the TV series, and rehashing a monster episode probably wasn't the best choice.  The movie felt more like a studio trying to play catch-up with another studio's film.  

 

Then a year later "The Empire Strikes Back" hits the screens, and in retrospect I wonder why a Trek feature film couldn't have that level of energy.  I mean to me, again in retrospect, it seems like Lucas and Kirschner out did Trek at its own game ... going to a snow world, a massive memorable chase sequence in space coupled with a little bit of laser fire, visiting a jungle world, and going to a city floating int the clouds (which I think both Trek and Flash Gordon did in previous TV and serials).

 

But yeah, I mostly liked STTMP's model shots.  There's one or two that have me scratching my head.  There's a shot where the Enterprise comes within 500 meters of V'Ger, and the POV shot you see of the bridge crew looking at the screen shows some out of focus stuff for the V'Ger miniature.  Given the sterling Enterprise shot I wonder why that was out of focus.  There's also a top down shot with some shotty matte work as we see the Enterprise traverse that same section of the alien....more of a lab issue, but I wonder why they didn't clean that up.  

 

I think the story concept was okay, but that film maybe needed more Klingons, needed Kirk and Crew to beam aboard and get into some fisticuffs and fire fights with V'Gers energy-probe crew .... and maybe another space battle or two along with all of the high falutin stuff about humanity evolving with machines and saving the Earth.  Just my inane opinion here.

 

And yeah, the extra footage in the "special extended" edition doesn't add too much.


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#62 George Ebersole

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 05:50 AM

Well, I went and saw Blade Runner 2046 (or whatever the title is), and I can't say I was all that impressed with the story.  The visuals are so-so on the impressive side, but the story, however well acted and well shot, was pretty low on the sophistication meter.

 

I'm glad a slower paced film as made, but it wasn't that smart of a story.  There was one major story twist, but once that was over the whole thing was fairly predictable.  Not to mention a lot of loose ends are never tied up.

 

I don't care how arrogant I sound in saying the following, and it'll probably cost me several career opportunities from pros reading this forum, but I would have shot a different script, and maybe go back to the visual color-noire look back in the 80s.

 

I understand why it was made, I understand who the audience is, but it's like did you really need to use the Blade Runner setting to tell this story?  It really feels like a different film that borrows from the 80s to put backsides in seats.  That's pretty blunt, but that's how I see it.

 

Compare it to the film which this thread is dedicated, and "Outland" almost looks like Shakespeare in space next to the new "Blade Runner". 

 

Oh well.

 

Replies, retorts, any comments on my comments I'd be interested to hear.


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#63 George Ebersole

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 06:39 PM

Just so you know, your images don't load unless one copies the link and pastes it into the url field in their browsers.

Let me try to attach.

attachicon.gifoutlandshot04l.jpg

attachicon.gifoutlandshot05l.jpg

 

How a long a lens do you think was used for each of those shots?


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#64 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 10:34 AM

Maybe a 50mm anamorphic for the first and a 75mm anamorphic for the second, that's a guess. The first still has some mild barrel distortion which is common with anamorphic lenses from the 50mm and shorter. The second may even be a 100mm anamorphic.
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#65 George Ebersole

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 02:49 PM

Very interesting.  Many thanks mister Mullen.


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#66 Tim Smyth

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 11:49 PM

So much to take in. I haven't seen Outland in a few decades, will have to check it out again, as I too am not too thrilled with to many of today's sci fi offerings.

 

 

Well, to me "2001 a Space Odyssey" still has the best SFX model shots.  Star Wars was able to refine the technique to tell a more dynamic story.  And I always wondered why the original Star Trek series didn't have 2001 like model shots of the Enterprise and everything else she encountered.  The models for the feature films look better, but I think still suffer from the TV image syndrome of the director or production crew feeling the need to light every inch of the ship, giving it a kind of model-like look.

 

I didn't much like Robert Wise's STTMP feature for the story and somewhat static film, but I think the model shots in that film beat the subsequent model shots in the sequels.

 

Someone asked why weren't the effects of Star Trek TV show up to the standards of 2001, or something to that effect, because the effects show different things, and the budgets are quite different.  2001 the ships as I recall do not have to pass by many solid objects, just star fields, so they created the traveling mattes by hand, and used as few pieces of film as possible to put together their effects. Star Trek the ships had to constantly travel in front of planets, shoot phasers and all that, requiring using the blue screen method to produce the traveling mattes. In fact other than the motion controlled camera of Star Wars, the effects of Star Trek and Star Wars are put together the same way. Star Wars also had too much going on to do all hand painted traveling mattes.

 

Alien, Moonraker and other films have just double exposed ships onto space backgrounds to great effect, and this cuts down on the film generational loss, and avoids matte lines.

 

As far as the Dykstraflex motion control camera, it could shoot the frame while moving, or not. ILM just liked to shoot the shots with the camera moving in case someone could pick up on not having a blur, but they themselves looking at the footage could not tell, since the moves were so precise.

 

ILM saved all the camera moves for Star Wars, and re-created the opening shot, in IMAX with a larger model, but the same move.

 

Yes, the shooting stage was pretty big at ILM, they could shoot a model far away, whether they built a smaller model for the opening shot I do not know. They just create a garbage matte wherever the blue screen is not as they move away from the model ship.

 

The only stop motion in Star Wars to my knowledge is the chess sequence, and the Walker sequence in Empire. The Millennium Falcon leaving the dock of the Death Star is a motion control shot.

 

I disagree on ED-209 from Robocop, I think there is just too much unnatural blur, it stands out as much as the jerkiness folks talk about in stop motion. The best go-motion shots I have seen are the Taun Tauns from Empire, and Vermithrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer, in which one of those shots is actually just stop motion.

 

Great thread.


Edited by Tim Smyth, 23 January 2018 - 12:03 AM.

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#67 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 12:17 AM

I think one reason why the Enterprise model looks better in STTMP is just that Trumbull was willing to get so close to the model with wide angle lenses that he risked distortion, but it really made it loom large:

enterprise-star-trek-the-motion-picture-

 

He gave it a reflective paint job and lit it with small running lights to make it feel like it was in deep space away from the sun:

Enterprise.jpg

 

Also, the model was shot by Trumbull's team in 5-perf 65mm instead of ILM's 8-perf 35mm VistaVision cropped to 2.40 : 1.

 

I think ILM did a fine job too with the model, particularly in the last shot in "Star Trek IV" and then in "Star Trek 6", but they played it safer with a matte finish for the paint job since they used a blue screen rather than the front-light/backlight traveling matte method.

 

For its day, the optical printer effects and model work for the original "Star Trek" series were quite ambitious for U.S. television.


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#68 Tim Smyth

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 02:04 AM

Great screen grabs David, thanks for posting them.

 

I believe the top one is exactly as filmed, the same as when it leaves dry dock I think the Enterprise is actually moving through the shot, or that the dry dock is moving past the Enterprise. I do not think it is a traveling matte.

 

Yes I agree, the Star Trek show has really amazing visuals, and like I said made the same way as Star Wars, just that they had to push the camera past the space ships by hand, rather than have a computerized camera set up do it.


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#69 George Ebersole

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 01:02 PM

Thanks for the compliment on the thread.  I guess my main issue is that I read somewhere that a ton of light was thrown on the Discovery model to make it look real.  Verse a ton of light being thrown on the Enterprise to show it off to the TV audience.  As a kid I had the understanding that 2001 was made either just before are around the same time the TV show came out, and as an uninformed young mind I just thought 2001 looked far more real and better than that cool TV show I also used to watch.  

 

I guess in the last five to seven years or so, since I've joined this forum, I've either read here or in a trade somewhere, that the difference was just the placement of lights, but the amount of light dumped onto Discovery to make it look as if unfiltered sunlight were striking her hull.

 

I was always impressed with the Moonraker model shots.  It's been ages since I've seen Alien, but good solid effects from what I remember.


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#70 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 04:47 PM

Sure a lot of the difference is in lighting but the 54 length of the Discovery model, shot in 65mm, didnt hurt, plus it wasnt composited into a star field by using blue screen and duping 35mm color negative to IP and then back onto a dupe negative as was the TV show it was hand rotoscoped to create hold out mattes and composited using 65mm YCM separations. Blue screen work needed a certain amount of fill light back then to eliminate blue spill on the model.
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#71 George Ebersole

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 06:24 PM

That's interesting.  What you're saying is that the Enterprise had a lot of light thrown at it to keep that fuzzy matte blue edge thing from showing up in the print.  I did not know Discovery was hand rotoscoped.  With some older FX heavy films it does seem like the FX sequences are a touch brighter than the rest of the footage.


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#72 George Ebersole

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 06:25 PM

p.s. using a fish eye on the Enterprise in the spacedock does indeed give it scale.  Very cool shooting style.


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#73 Tim Smyth

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 06:41 PM

What David is saying that any blue spill on the white Enterprise will create hole in the matte, creating holes in the Enterprise as it flies through space.


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#74 KH Martin

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 07:38 PM

p.s. using a fish eye on the Enterprise in the spacedock does indeed give it scale.  Very cool shooting style.

Not just a fisheye, but actually a handmade snorkel lens built by Howard Preston and brought to Trumbull, who was still waiting for the one commissioned from another source by Abel the previous year. Apparently it was pretty much made out of cardboard and was a bitch to work with, but the snorkel shots of the E in dock are pretty fantastic, especially the one referenced above. There was a snorkel used on THE BLACK HOLE as well, but I think that kind of blew the scale by getting too close.


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#75 George Ebersole

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 05:27 PM

That's interesting.  I've never heard of a cardboard snorkel lens.


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#76 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 05:34 PM

William Wages, ASC once told me he built a single element lens using a magnifying glass, a paper towel roll, and some blackwrap with a pinhole punched in it for an iris, something like that.


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#77 KH Martin

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 06:44 PM

That's interesting.  I've never heard of a cardboard snorkel lens.

It's discussed in that RETURN TO TOMORROW book on the making of that first Trek film, probably 400 pages in or so. It might be DP Dave Stewart talking about it, saying that everybody was laughing when they first saw it (I guess from the text that snorkels were normally made for 55mm lenses, not 65mm.)


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#78 George Ebersole

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 07:58 PM

The MacGuyver of his time. :rolleyes: 


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#79 Tim Smyth

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Posted 01 August 2018 - 09:32 PM


 

 

I was always impressed with the Moonraker model shots.  It's been ages since I've seen Alien, but good solid effects from what I remember.

 

I haven't seen either film for a while, but I believe they used a lot of latent image work, or back-winding to achieve their composites on those two films. Which means many of the shots we see are from the original negative, and not duped.


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