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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old January 27 2012, 08:12 PM   #1
Redfern
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Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

Do any definitive articles, accounts or even transcribed anecdotes exist concerning the construction of the titular prop from "The Doomsday Machine"? I plan to model the "weapon" in digital form, one that I will share with the 3D community for use in their various fan projects. If I had some insight as to the materials and methods used on the physical prop, that knowledge might help me make it a bit more screen accurate. The "holy grail" of background information would be snapshots of the model under construction, before the crew filmed it. But since "behind the scenes" snaps of the Enterprise are somewhat rare themselves, I realize there is little to no chance photos of the DDM miniature exist. Still, it does not hurt to ask.

I remember the recent YouTube interview with Norman Spinrad discussing the episode and his comment about the prop supposedly being a "wind-sock" dipped in cement. But I suspect that observation was said purely tongue in cheek. A concrete based "spacecraft" model would be far to unwieldy (read: heavy) to film suspended upon wires or even upon a support rod. Plus, it looks nothing like concrete. Theorizing from screen captures, I suspect the "cone" was constructed from multiple, overlapping sheets of cardboard, probably painted and covered with a layer of translucent, wrinkled cellophane to give it an irradecent "shimmer". These pieces possibly covered a frame of chicken wire. The various side on "panning" shots as well as the slow "zoom" into the "maw" appear to be static, photographic cutouts. Notice how the perspective never changed in those shots. Only when the artifact "swung about" to face the audience does it appear the camera crew used the model itself rather than a photographic cutout.

Of course, all this is merely wild theory based upon final production footage. I could well be wrong.

But any information anyone can relay I'll greatly appreciate!

Sincerely,

Bill
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Old January 27 2012, 09:19 PM   #2
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

From my own attempts to analyze the Planet Killer, I'd say its core is made of wood; what you can see of the interior of the maw (the part without the special effects) looks like roughly carved/dug-out wood to me. And we know that the Enterprise miniature itself was mostly made of wood, so it's consistent with the techniques used in the day.

But the exterior is definitely wrapped in sheets of some clear plastic, though it looks thicker than cellophane to me. It's really remarkably crude when you examine it closely, considering how effective it was.
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Old January 27 2012, 09:37 PM   #3
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

I enjoyed the snack food tie-in.
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Old January 27 2012, 09:45 PM   #4
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
I enjoyed the snack food tie-in.

You are so right
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Old January 27 2012, 09:48 PM   #5
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

I think we can even see a couple strips of cellophane adhesive tape bracing the cellophane sheets around the "maw". And in some screen captures, it looks like those plastic sheets overlap one another, going around the edge of the "maw", almost like blades in a turbine jet engine.

I've addressed this same question at the Starship Modelers' forum and the first (and only) reply so far wants to take Spinrad's comment about a cement dipped wind-sock at face value. I just can't "buy" that.

Sincerely,

Bill
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Old January 27 2012, 10:16 PM   #6
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

You will never figure it out,.. the hull is solid Neutronium, and the heavy sub-space interference which the thing emits makes any analysis impossible.

I could not resist
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Old January 27 2012, 10:17 PM   #7
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

The best theory I've seen for the model's construction was put forth by Daren Dochterman over on The Replica Prop Forum (his most specific posts about the construction (link) and images to support his idea (link)). His thought is that it was made of "gaffer's foil" (the foil used on film sets to shape light or make improptu flags) wrapped blue lighting gel material. This would have allowed a small stage light to have been put inside it. Shaw also chimes in on the possible use of the Catspaw 3.5" metal Enterprise in the episode. Here's the full thread (link).

Looking at photos, you can see the foil-like texture and these odd strips that look like tape folded around the maw.

It's not a windsock dipped in concrete, that's pretty clear.
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Old January 27 2012, 10:34 PM   #8
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

I'll examine those links when I return home. (Something is causing the browser to "crash" when accessing here at the office.)

Thanks for the informative (and some humorous) replies so far!

Sincerely,

Bill
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Old January 28 2012, 01:06 AM   #9
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

Maurice wrote: View Post
His thought is that it was made of "gaffer's foil" (the foil used on film sets to shape light or make improptu flags) wrapped blue lighting gel material.
I have some of that material here at my studio, I can't think of anything else the dooms day machine could be made of.

Seems highly plausible.
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Old January 28 2012, 01:15 AM   #10
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

Borjis wrote: View Post
Maurice wrote: View Post
His thought is that it was made of "gaffer's foil" (the foil used on film sets to shape light or make improptu flags) wrapped blue lighting gel material.
I have some of that material here at my studio, I can't think of anything else the dooms day machine could be made of.

Seems highly plausible.
May I suggest an experiment? If you have that material on hand, would you be willing to try to create a replica of the Planet Killer and post photos for comparison? Maybe the way to answer the question of how it was built is to try to build one that looks just like it.
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Old January 28 2012, 01:26 AM   #11
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

Maurice wrote: View Post
The best theory I've seen for the model's construction was put forth by Daren Dochterman over on The Replica Prop Forum (his most specific posts about the construction (link) and images to support his idea (link)). His thought is that it was made of "gaffer's foil" (the foil used on film sets to shape light or make improptu flags) wrapped blue lighting gel material. This would have allowed a small stage light to have been put inside it. Shaw also chimes in on the possible use of the Catspaw 3.5" metal Enterprise in the episode. Here's the full thread (link).

Looking at photos, you can see the foil-like texture and these odd strips that look like tape folded around the maw.

It's not a windsock dipped in concrete, that's pretty clear.
Redfern wrote: View Post
I'll examine those links when I return home. (Something is causing the browser to "crash" when accessing here at the office.)

Thanks for the informative (and some humorous) replies so far!

Sincerely,

Bill
Those links are using "therpf.com" not "thereplicapropforum.com" URL they've been using since their main domain got kidnapped and held for ransom a month or so ago.
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Old January 28 2012, 01:28 AM   #12
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Borjis wrote: View Post
Maurice wrote: View Post
His thought is that it was made of "gaffer's foil" (the foil used on film sets to shape light or make improptu flags) wrapped blue lighting gel material.
I have some of that material here at my studio, I can't think of anything else the dooms day machine could be made of.

Seems highly plausible.
May I suggest an experiment? If you have that material on hand, would you be willing to try to create a replica of the Planet Killer and post photos for comparison? Maybe the way to answer the question of how it was built is to try to build one that looks just like it.
Doesn't even have to be the whole thing, just a section as proof-of-concept.
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Old January 28 2012, 02:32 AM   #13
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

In universe, was it conical, or just so long, perspective made it look tapered?
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Old January 28 2012, 03:42 AM   #14
Christopher
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

plynch wrote: View Post
In universe, was it conical, or just so long, perspective made it look tapered?
We did see it in a straight-on side view when the phaser beams were hitting it. It was definitely a cone.
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Old January 28 2012, 06:01 PM   #15
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Re: Any info' about the "Planet Killer" filming model?

Christopher wrote: View Post
plynch wrote: View Post
In universe, was it conical, or just so long, perspective made it look tapered?
We did see it in a straight-on side view when the phaser beams were hitting it. It was definitely a cone.
Yeah, watched it last night. Conical. And dammit, comical at the end (the ep), where Kirk has a one liner and the orch plays the cutesy music. ARRGHH! O for a serious ending after such great drama, a la COTEOF. or even PrivateLi'l War.
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