Matte Paintings and Backdrops

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by ZapBrannigan, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Isn't that amazing, how some of these old films can stump even modern eyes as to how they're done? :wtf: There are those that I actually can't believe what I'm seeing, they're so, as you put it, convincing! :eek:
     
  2. EnriqueH

    EnriqueH Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  3. feek61

    feek61 Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  4. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  5. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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...
     
  6. PCz911

    PCz911 Commander Red Shirt

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    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
     
  7. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    [​IMG]

    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?

    [​IMG]


    Are "nurnies" the same thing as "greeblies"? :confused:


    I believe that in Trek TOS, matte paintings were usually combined with live-action footage in postproduction by means of an optical printer.
     
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  9. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    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:shrug:.

    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").

    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.

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014
  10. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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. :lol:

    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.)
     
  11. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That's called a horse. :guffaw:
     
  12. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    :techman: Apparently the ability to ride a horse is a requirement for the captain's chair aboard the Starship Enterprise.

    Bob
     
  13. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    Another great piece of CGI is in the teaser of "The Menagerie" Part I, when Captain Pike's wheelchair is in front of the hospital window. The camera whirls around and, instead of a simple diorama apparently made of back-lit flats, a full cityscape is out there, in full motion with the camera.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    The (incorrect) night time windows in the original episode were basically a reuse from the previous "Court Martial" episode, apparently for budget and/or credibility reasons (no way they could have created a credible daylight window simulation)

    Thus the new CGI windows in "The Menagerie" are an improvement, they now correspond to the daytime matte painting seen in the beginning and after the opening credits and feature an accurate perspective.

    Bob
     
  15. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm still wondering what the other four lights on Captain Pike's wheelchair were for.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    If you mean the round silver things, they aren't lights, they're metal knobs. Presumably they're controls of some sort, or maybe locking knobs for the front plate.
     
  17. Myko

    Myko Captain Captain

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    In case he gets kidnapped by Cardassians?
     
  18. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    I find the Mojave background an interesting case.

    The two approaches suggest very different things. Yes, the digital effect "blends" much more smoothly with the live action elements. There's no denying that. But the painted backdrop also works...by implying a very different landscape.

    The digital update suggests there is open land that recedes into the distance until we reach the buildings that rest upon the surface. The backdrop, on the other hand, suggests the open land recedes to a point...where it simply "drops", possibly into a canyon. From the depths of that canyon the buildings rise into view, implying they are even taller than the parts we see. The blueish, hazy "grain" suggests there is manufactured light radiating from the canyon depths, bright enough to outglow the moderately clear day Pike and Vina are experiencing.

    Both are valid, but each implies a very different topography.

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You're correct. The lighting does seem to be from below on the Mohave city art.
     
  20. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    Someone actually agreed with my "logic"? :wtf: Even I think I'm often stuffed chock full of "wild blueberry muffins" (to paraphrase the great line from "The Thing From Another World"). ;)

    Sincerely,

    Bill