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Old December 15 2011, 09:07 AM   #104
Creepy Critter
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Re: The Improving the JJprise thread

Irishman wrote: View Post
YARN wrote: View Post
Comet and Cupid wrote: View Post
I was addressing a post by WWI Flying Ace, not you.
You were responding to my post, so you must've been responding to me at some point...

Comet and Cupid wrote: View Post
Do whatever you want.
It's too bad. If you'd read that post you might see how your response to Ace was unjust.

Oh well.

I think the trickiest aspect of the TOS-E is the design of the nacelle struts. That stated, there have been respectful revisionings of the TOS-E which make them more graceful.
I think what I gathered from Comet's comments about ISDs, etc, was that - if you have a simple silhouette, you need surface details to create visual interest, or vice-versa, thus any redesigned Enterprise, using that observation, would need one or the other to be effective.

I might be reading meaning into it, but that's what his comment meant to me.
You can draw that conclusion from what I said, but I wouldn't go that far. My original point was really a very narrow one, which was: The level of greebling of the ISD etc. cannot be applied to the TOS Ent without making its surface so rough that the actual silhouette would be altered. Period.

The reason this is a significant point in this context is because the purists who would want the silhouette of the TOS Ent to prevail wouldn't want that outline besmirched (in their eyes) in any way, not to mention by what must occur if you were to apply ISD-type greebles to it. You just can't apply that much of it without altering the shape more than would be tolerated by them. That's why I said it was apples and oranges. If you did it, yes, it would still preserve the overall trends of the outline, but there would also be bumps and indentations everywhere, which would be a no-no to the purists.

[Note - If you consider the situation uncritically, the Death Star could appear to be an exception, because you can zoom in quite a bit and and it still appears to be round. But it's not exception, because its scale is on a completely different order from all of the other examples. It's huge. Appearing to retain a smooth silhouette as one zooms in is part of the optical illusion that makes it appear the size of a small moon. Being spherical, like a moon, also supports that illusion. Once you compare it on the scale of the Ent, the surface of the DS is incredibly rough.]

I've indicated the following already, but I'll spell it out: IMO simple rules about you should or shouldn't do in general are very hard to come by. A lot depends on execution, a lot depends on what the audience is looking for, and a lot depends on the overall art design of the film. Also, the appropriateness of elements is a function of how that art design meshes with the themes in the film. There are so many particulars at play.

IIRC someone upthread made an observation that the Millennium Falcon cockpit was adapted from WWII bombers, holding that up as an example that retro works. It does work in that particular case. However, that example did not exist in isolation, as there were many elements of WWII design in Star Wars (1977). The sidearms, the Imperial officer uniforms, and the dogfighting style are just a few other obvious and prominent examples. These elements drawn from the same historical era (which was still active in the consciousness of the viewers) helped to evoke a consistent atmosphere. The film also resonated with this real-life era on purpose to support its theme of epic war on an industrial scale. To say, "Oh, it's just retro," completely overlooks these subtleties, which are particulars contributing to success in the case of SW retro elements, which if not appreciated might contribute to failure in a different film.

So, getting back to your interpretation of what I said, Irishman, I'd phrase it like this: Overall silhouette and greebles are two of the factors at play that make a good design. I believe you can indeed get mileage by trading silhouette complexity for greebling, and vice versa. But how far that goes depends upon other factors that define the context. In the case of the Ent, it's probably true, as far as it goes, that you need one or the other. It's harder to prove a negative than a positive, so I won't say that there isn't an appropriate design with a simple silhouette and limited surface detail, but I doubt there is.


ETA: Another relevant aspect of the Star Wars retro elements is that SW is supposed to resonate as a myth or fairy tale that occurred in the past. Using retro elements helps accomplish this end, which is another reason why the context of SW is one in which retro elements are appropriate.

On the other hand, Star Trek is supposed to happen in the future. It is admittedly a future conceived from a perspective that is inherently retro to us today, but that is part of its charm. Nevertheless, the indiscriminate use of retro elements could potentially undermine the film; undermining (in the opinion of the filmmakers) the ability of the audience to stay engaged with the film would be one criterion the filmmakers might use to reject a retro element. On the other hand, dispensing with retro elements altogether could make a less entertaining film, for example by taking the source material "too seriously", or by acting in a way that the audience might perceive as being embarrassed with its roots.

There's quite a circle to square here. This is one reason why I personally don't begrudge the filmmakers elements that in particular I don't care for. Reject JJTrek, demand Paramount get someone else to do it, and odds really are that you will get something that is on balance at least noticeably worse, and probably substantially so.

In fact, I've said this before and I'll say it again. I was astonished with how faithful they were to the original series. Even on their first try, they got something I enjoyed more than the majority of other Trek films (and the majority of other TOS Trek films, if you restrict it to films I through VI).
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