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

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Old August 19 2014, 08:49 PM   #16
Redfern
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

Well, whatever the proper definition of the image projected onto the briefing room screen, I know I would enjoy seeing a sharper resolution version...if it exists.

Sincerely,

Bill
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Old August 19 2014, 08:57 PM   #17
Last Redshirt
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

I always loved the matte paintings and such. They looked far better than the CGI backdrops of stuff like Voyager and Enterprise.
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Old August 19 2014, 09:52 PM   #18
Maurice
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

As to the image projected on the screen in "The Cage", it appears to a photo collage. It's basically this unused image (link) without the Pleiades, and flopped.

Indeed, Gone With the Wind was arguably the first real big showcase of matte paintings, having reportedly anywhere up to 100 mattes of one form or another. Many of those were indeed mattes, not glass shots. (Just to clarify, by "glass shot" I mean a painting on glass shot in set. Many matte paintings are painted on glass and sometimes confusingly referred to as glass shots even when used with a matte process.)

For thems what's interested, glass paintings and hanging miniatures were widely used instead of matte paintings in part because they were more reliable than compositing. You got the shot "in-camera" with no jitter, matte edges or generational loss. The limitations were that you had to execute the paintings and models prior to photography and thus you were locked into the decisions you'd made early on. You couldn't change your mind about the angle or height of the camera. Matte paintings don't have as many restrictions because they're done in post.

There were some really sophisticated optical techniques in use even before sound. Murnau's 1927 silent feature Sunrise has some really amazing VFX work (link to a blog post about it), some of which you don't even notice because it's so convincingly pulled off.

One example: in early days the Schüfftan process (link) was also widely used as a method for combining miniatures with live action. Metropolis is chock full of Schüfftan process shots.

While rear projection into paintings is a technique which was exploited by a number of films, the matte composite remained in use right up to the end of the optical era.

If anyone wants an education in matte paintings and related arts they could do a lot worse than reading the blog Matte Shot - a tribute to Golden Era special fx (link).
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Last edited by Maurice; August 19 2014 at 10:24 PM. Reason: Clarified a term.
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Old August 19 2014, 09:56 PM   #19
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

Last Redshirt wrote: View Post
I always loved the matte paintings and such. They looked far better than the CGI backdrops of stuff like Voyager and Enterprise.
Well, those are still matte paintings, just done using digital painting programs instead of canvas and pigments. They're still usually 2-dimensional artworks created by individual artists, just using more versatile tools. I suppose that in recent years it's become more common to use 3D digital environments, but there are still a fair number of 2D paintings used for backgrounds, even if they're sometimes mapped onto 3D wireframes to give them depth.

As much as I love the Whitlock paintings from TOS, I also love most of the digital matte paintings done for TOS Remastered to replace the recycled shots in later episodes. Max Gabl's painting of Flint's mansion is really gorgeous and makes more sense than the reuse of the Rigel fortress.
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Old August 19 2014, 10:00 PM   #20
Redfern
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

Thanks, Maurice! Both for the larger resolution of the projected screen image and the links to the essays.

Sincerely,

Bill
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Old August 19 2014, 10:25 PM   #21
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

Maurice wrote: View Post
There were some really sophisticated optical techniques in use even before sound. Murnau's 1927 silent feature Sunrise has some really amazing VFX work (link to a blog post about it), some of which you don't even notice because it's so convincingly pulled off.
Isn't that amazing, how some of these old films can stump even modern eyes as to how they're done? There are those that I actually can't believe what I'm seeing, they're so, as you put it, convincing!
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Old August 19 2014, 10:59 PM   #22
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

What a fantastic topic!

I'm a city person, so I love the Mojave back drop, but I also love the retro-futurism of Starbase 11 colony.

And, oh my lord, that Eminiar VII matte painting????

WOW.

AMAZING.
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Old August 19 2014, 11:21 PM   #23
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

I am a huge fan of the TOS matt paintings. They have such style to them and are just beautiful works of art. Glad that there are others of us who really appreciate these beauties.
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Old August 19 2014, 11:27 PM   #24
LMFAOschwarz
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

EnriqueH wrote: View Post
What a fantastic topic!

I'm a city person, so I love the Mojave back drop, but I also love the retro-futurism of Starbase 11 colony.

And, oh my lord, that Eminiar VII matte painting????

WOW.

AMAZING.
Yeah, that's a huge disappointment for me in the last two movies, that they had a real opportunity to bring that great look alive with modern technology, and give these films a truly unique look alongside the monkey-see-monkey-do designs in current films.
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Old August 20 2014, 12:58 AM   #25
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

I, too, love the mattes.

Back when TOS-R was released (how many years ago?) there were a few postings here of some of the new "matte" changes. It expanded to a thread with most ALL Star Trek matte paintings, movies and TNG and such.

I remember saving all the swell pics that were posted, I've got a huge collection now, far more matte paintings than I'd recall seeing in the eps.

A thread search here would probably help...
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Old August 20 2014, 04:23 AM   #26
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

SchwEnt wrote: View Post
I, too, love the mattes.

Back when TOS-R was released (how many years ago?) there were a few postings here of some of the new "matte" changes. It expanded to a thread with most ALL Star Trek matte paintings, movies and TNG and such.

I remember saving all the swell pics that were posted, I've got a huge collection now, far more matte paintings than I'd recall seeing in the eps.

A thread search here would probably help...
Great idea. I would do it if I was at all technically inclined. Hopefully someone with better Kung fu will see the idea and make it a reality
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Old August 20 2014, 08:46 AM   #27
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
. . . City of Mojave skyline with arch in foreground.
This is a backdrop. It was always a little hazy and hard to see in standard def, especially as syndication prints faded in the 1970s, and that gave it a mystique for me. I used to doodle it in high school, among many other things from ST and Lost in Space. I was pretty bored.
This is one of the few instances where the new digital FX in the remastered versions actually improved on the original, IMHO. The new version blends the background city and the live-action set so they actually look like part of the same landscape.



ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
Lithium cracking station on Delta Vega (matte painting).
The industrial fuel bins are pretty cool; the office building in the foreground is some amazingly ugly architecture. Like world-class ugly. It reminds me of the gas company plant where my father worked when I was a boy.
I wouldn't call it "ugly," just typical of 1960s civic architecture. Those curved four-pointed star shapes were everywhere in the Sixties!

BTW, am I the only one who thinks the Delta Vega painting looks a bit too much like an oil refinery?




Metryq wrote: View Post
. . . And so the visions of the future must be sullied by nurnies (were the models of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY the first high-profile use?), smaller window panes, and surface textures to give our eyes some cue for scale.
Are "nurnies" the same thing as "greeblies"?


Christopher wrote: View Post
. . . "Matte" means "mask." A matte painting is a painting that masks out part of a live-action image in order to substitute a different image. The earliest matte paintings were glass paintings placed between the camera and the set/location in order to create an in-camera composite during filming (Gone With the Wind used a bunch of these, I think). By the time of TOS and the ILM era, matte paintings generally had holes through which live-action film was rear-projected.
I believe that in Trek TOS, matte paintings were usually combined with live-action footage in postproduction by means of an optical printer.
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Old August 20 2014, 10:13 AM   #28
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

Yeah, I don't think TOS used the rear projection method so far as I can tell.

There's a lot of work involved to get rear projection to expose properly to match the painting, especially since you have to shoot it, then go to the lab and print it, and then shoot it again if none of your shots worked. It's easier to do on the optical printer because you can adjust the exposure of each element in different combinations to create "wedges" until you find the one that looks the best.
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Old August 20 2014, 10:31 AM   #29
Robert Comsol
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

scotpens wrote: View Post
This is one of the few instances where the new digital FX in the remastered versions actually improved on the original, IMHO. The new version blends the background city and the live-action set so they actually look like part of the same landscape.

I don't want to get too nitpicky, but assuming the original presentation (it's a much denser city) considered the outdoor scenes to take place in some kind of larger NYC Central Park would then question the artistic CGI revision.

An interesting detail worthy to mention I think is this four-legged structure in the background. It's the same kind of structure we saw in the matte painting of Starbase 11. A deflector shield projector, perhaps?

And we also saw it on Planet Q (obviously a re-use from "The Cage").

scotpens wrote: View Post
BTW, am I the only one who thinks the Delta Vega painting looks a bit too much like an oil refinery?
No, you are definitely not. But then, of course, it's a "lithium cracking station" and cracked lithium (for real life applications) is an essential reactant we'd be needing for commercial nuclear fusion reactors.

IIRC, the lithium inside a nuclear fusion reactor would be liquid, so the oil refinery allusions would be rather adequate, IMHO.

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Last edited by Robert Comsol; August 20 2014 at 11:04 AM. Reason: Planet Q backdrop
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Old August 20 2014, 10:40 AM   #30
Metryq
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Re: Matte Paintings and Backdrops

scotpens wrote: View Post
Are "nurnies" the same thing as "greeblies"?
nurnies=greeblies=greebles

All the same thing. The model makers spray the surface of a model in glue, then roll the model in "kit bashed" parts.

Anyone looking for a more technical description of optical VFX techniques should look up Raymond Fielding's THE TECHNIQUE OF SPECIAL EFFECTS CINEMATOGRAPHY, Focal Press. The fourth and last edition was printed in 1985 and mentions some of the then-newer VFX tools. (Digital tools were barely a glimmer on the horizon; now there are entire schools which teach digital VFX.) I have not yet looked over the Kindle version to see if there are any updates. The book may not detail everything about optical techniques, but it is an excellent general reference. I would recommend it to anyone delving into digital VFX, as all the new software works "in the same way" as the older, mechanical techniques. (My first foray into "bluescreening" made use of the software's channel math tools, as a purpose-built chroma-key filter was not included.)
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