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

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Old March 26 2013, 08:45 PM   #1
Dale Sams
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Stunt double madness

Have we ever determined why they used stunt doubles in some of the simplest scenes, (Most of the Court Martial fight, and Space Seed), but didn't for something like Kirk's wall jump in Journey to Babel?
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Old March 26 2013, 10:03 PM   #2
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Re: Stunt double madness

Then you have "A Taste of Armageddon" where Shatner does the entire fight scene himself in a uncut take. Maybe he was particular about who he'd work stunts with. Actor Garth Pillsbury (Chekov's turncoat henchman in "Mirror, Mirror") claims Shatner wouldn't let him do the face punch stepping off the turbolift, preferring one of the regular stuntmen.
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Old March 26 2013, 10:14 PM   #3
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Re: Stunt double madness

Also, although "Court Martial" and "Space Seed" only have the simplest of stunt scenes in the final cuts of the episodes, it could well be that there were other far more complicated (and dangerous) stunt scenes that were planned and shot that simply ended up on the cuting room floor.
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Old March 26 2013, 10:26 PM   #4
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Re: Stunt double madness

It's pretty ridiculous in Space Seed, they don't even try to hide it or anything. Shatner just... regenerates in to somebody else.
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Old March 26 2013, 10:30 PM   #5
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Re: Stunt double madness

The BABEL fight with Kirk's turn-your-back-and-get-stabbed tactic was filmed in medium shots, making it harder to fake. But the long shots used in SPACE SEED and COURT MARTIAL didn't help to disguise the doubles. Would soft focus have done the trick? I realize only female actors and Warren Beatty tend to receive it.
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Old March 26 2013, 10:50 PM   #6
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Re: Stunt double madness

Dale Sams wrote: View Post
Have we ever determined why they used stunt doubles in some of the simplest scenes, (Most of the Court Martial fight, and Space Seed), but didn't for something like Kirk's wall jump in Journey to Babel?
There are a number of reasons that determine whether a given stunt will use a double or not. As mentioned above, the visibility of the actor's face is one factor. Another is whether the stunt is fairly basic or something more involved that's potentially dangerous for the actor. Or maybe the actor may be trained in some stunts or fight moves but not in others. Or it could be that one director is more reluctant to let actors do their own stunts than another.


DalekJim wrote: View Post
It's pretty ridiculous in Space Seed, they don't even try to hide it or anything. Shatner just... regenerates in to somebody else.
We can see that now, because we have big-screen TVs and HD-quality home video. Audiences in the 1960s were watching on smaller sets, often in black and white, often with much less image clarity, often through fuzz and distortion due to poor signal reception or mis-adjusted knobs. (There were so many things that had to be synchronized or tuned just right to get a good picture, and they all depended on manual adjustment. You often had to work to get a decent picture, and sometimes "decent" was the best you could hope for.) So the substitution of the stuntman for the actor wouldn't have been nearly as obvious at the time -- which was why they were okay with doing it that way.
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Old March 26 2013, 10:59 PM   #7
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Re: Stunt double madness

Another factor in obvious stuntmen situations is the set lighting. Everything's evenly lit with few heavy shadows. Compare with something like Enterprise, where the stage has more contrast in lighting, and a substitution's easier to fake.
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Old March 26 2013, 11:36 PM   #8
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Re: Stunt double madness

Christopher wrote: View Post
We can see that now, because we have big-screen TVs and HD-quality home video. Audiences in the 1960s were watching on smaller sets, often in black and white, often with much less image clarity, often through fuzz and distortion due to poor signal reception or mis-adjusted knobs. (There were so many things that had to be synchronized or tuned just right to get a good picture, and they all depended on manual adjustment. You often had to work to get a decent picture, and sometimes "decent" was the best you could hope for.) So the substitution of the stuntman for the actor wouldn't have been nearly as obvious at the time -- which was why they were okay with doing it that way.
Trust me; this is exactly correct. As one who has watched TOS from the beginning. I never noticed the difference simply because you couldn't tell back then with the primitive equipment.
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Old March 26 2013, 11:56 PM   #9
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Re: Stunt double madness

Alluded to also: I've done plays before where the director (or some higher up) will bring in some tech guy even though the play has the simplest of stunts or fights. My reaction is usually, "Really? Didn't we all play 'army' as kids? We can't figure this out ourselves? Well...allright."

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Old March 27 2013, 12:05 AM   #10
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Re: Stunt double madness

Dale Sams wrote: View Post
"Really? Didn't we all play 'army' as kids? We can't figure this out ourselves? Well...allright."
Yeah, but on film it looks really fake when you throw your arms up in the air screaming "Ahhh!" when you "die". Lots of examples in old 20s and 30s cowboy and war movies, before stunts were recognized as an art form.
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Old March 27 2013, 01:31 AM   #11
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Re: Stunt double madness

feek61 wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
We can see that now, because we have big-screen TVs and HD-quality home video. Audiences in the 1960s were watching on smaller sets, often in black and white, often with much less image clarity, often through fuzz and distortion due to poor signal reception or mis-adjusted knobs. (There were so many things that had to be synchronized or tuned just right to get a good picture, and they all depended on manual adjustment. You often had to work to get a decent picture, and sometimes "decent" was the best you could hope for.) So the substitution of the stuntman for the actor wouldn't have been nearly as obvious at the time -- which was why they were okay with doing it that way.
Trust me; this is exactly correct. As one who has watched TOS from the beginning. I never noticed the difference simply because you couldn't tell back then with the primitive equipment.
Yep. The fight scenes in Space Seed and Court Martial never looked bad to me on a 19-inch CRT. Then I got my 32-inch flat screen and it was pretty obvious.

Nimoy's double stands out a bit in Mirror Mirror, in the Sickbay fight.
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Old March 27 2013, 01:50 AM   #12
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Re: Stunt double madness

Christopher wrote: View Post
[We can see that now, because we have big-screen TVs and HD-quality home video. Audiences in the 1960s were watching on smaller sets, often in black and white, often with much less image clarity, often through fuzz and distortion due to poor signal reception or mis-adjusted knobs. (There were so many things that had to be synchronized or tuned just right to get a good picture, and they all depended on manual adjustment. You often had to work to get a decent picture, and sometimes "decent" was the best you could hope for.) So the substitution of the stuntman for the actor wouldn't have been nearly as obvious at the time -- which was why they were okay with doing it that way.
I disagree that it was particularly normal for the time. I watch a lot of 60s television, mainly action shows in fact such as The Avengers, The Saint etc. I can think of no examples of a more obvious stunt double than in Space Seed.
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Old March 27 2013, 01:59 AM   #13
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Re: Stunt double madness

Melakon wrote: View Post
Another factor in obvious stuntmen situations is the set lighting. Everything's evenly lit with few heavy shadows. Compare with something like Enterprise, where the stage has more contrast in lighting, and a substitution's easier to fake.
Huh? How long has it been since you've seen TOS? The lighting is full of shadows. The show's director of photography, Jerry Finnerman, was trained by some of the great black-and-white cinematographers of the noir era, and he used a lot of the same techniques, painting with light and shadow in a way few of his contemporaries even knew how to do anymore. He always shot male actors with heavy crosslighting, putting one side of their faces in shadow to bring out the texture (while always frontlighting women and usually using soft focus or diffusion filters). And there was that very noirish trick he used a couple of times where Kirk's eyes were dramatically highlighted in a narrow strip of light with the rest of his face in relative shadow.

Okay, the lighting in engineering in, say, "Space Seed" is more uniformly bright than it was in, say, "The Enemy Within," where it was very shadowy and mysterious. But that's about that specific episode and scene, not a function of the series as a whole. TOS's lighting was remarkably film-noir for a show made in the 1960s, let alone one set centuries in the future.
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Old March 27 2013, 02:34 AM   #14
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Re: Stunt double madness

Yes, I thought of Finnerman's work when writing it, but I was referring to Space Seed's engineering set in the post.

And perhaps Gary Combs wasn't the best double for Shatner. Physically, Paul Baxley was probably a closer match for body and movement, with great effectiveness in "Mirror, Mirror".

We had a 25" color tv when Star Trek aired in the 60s, and it was usually easy to spot the stunt Kirks. One of the most effective uses of Kirk doubles is in "The Enemy Within" when both Kirks are fighting in sickbay, though it's minimal stunt work, primarily movement blocking with actor Don Eitner.
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Old March 27 2013, 02:51 AM   #15
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Re: Stunt double madness

I never noticed as a kid, when it mattered.

I never noticed Nimoy had one at all until I read it.

This is why I don't get blu-ray. The way everybody writes about better definition, it seems to actually make for a worse experience though I will grant you it is indeed a sharper two-dimensional image of actors pretending to be spacemen.
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