New Richard Taylor TMP VFX interview

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by trevanian, Jul 3, 2013.

  1. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Page 2 has a PHOTO of Magicam's discarded VGER model from Mike Minor's design!

    Taylor is still misremembering a lot (like saying the unfinished Ent model was 2 to 3 ft in length when it was 5-1/2), but there is a great bit where he tries to talk GR into doing something about those idiotically wasteful oval display screens on the bridge.


    http://beyondthemarquee.com/21244/

    http://beyondthemarquee.com/21991/
     
  2. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    He's sure taking a lot of credit for stuff he didn't do. I mean, it's long established that the refit ship is a refined version of Jefferies' phase II design. And for instance, the damned bridge was built before they were going to make a movie, so those round and oval screens were already in place and the control panels designed and built.

    That said, there were some cool photos there. Though that V'ger model is pretty WTF.

    (In case anyone doesn't figure it out, if you click on a pic in the article it opens a page for that pic, and if you click on the pic again on that page, it opens a much higher resolution one...like this!

    What strokes me is they had these models built for the TV show that they just tossed...they could easily have used the earlier drydock and other elements to be in the distance facilities to imply a larger dockyard system, etc.

    He's correct about the dodecahedron modules...a bad idea all the way around.

    And...wow, that pic of the engine room reveals something I've never seen before! Check out the ceiling! Look familiar?
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2013
  3. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Oh my goodness! :eek: The Vulcan floor and the "Battle Beyond the Stars" wall tiles...

    Bob
     
  4. Joe_Atari

    Joe_Atari Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Andrew Probert himself chimed in in the comments section; I encourage everyone to check out his thoughts. He acknowledges the "Design credit anomalies" in Taylor's comments. Even the foul-mouthed guy (John S) -- who may very well have been involved in the original production (perhaps on the studio, Trumbull, or Apogee side -- I'm guessing the first) -- made the point that movies (particularly huge, convoluted productions like TMP) ARE made by committee. Even when the contributions of some are not scientifically or technically accurate, they may very well have artistic or practical merit (e.g. the unrealistic movement of stars, the large front window on the Travel Pod, etc.).

    I love Probert's recollection of Harold Michaelson's comment, “People don’t go to the theater with a slide rule!” Man, Michaelson sure didn't know his audience did he? :vulcan:

    I am SO glad to see these photos again (and in such high-resolution!). The first time I saw them was at a screening a few years ago at the Egyptian in Hollywood of TMP (and a tattered, ersatz 35mm print of the SLV at that!) where Taylor did a Q&A prior to the movie. They projected most of these on the screen during the Q&A, including the unused V'ger, drydock, and docking port models.

    Taylor (then and now) seems to harbor a great deal of bitterness about the whole Abel/TMP affair -- often justifiably so. The perfunctory "RA&A Designs by Richard Taylor" credit toward the VERY END of the TMP end credits roll is nothing short of insulting given the amount of his design work that ended up in the film.

    The slides at the Egyptian screening showed much more of these. IIRC, the photo showed BOXES full of these modules, and they did look awful. Many of these photos seem to be from Abel's initial assessment of the "embarrassing" Phase II miniatures, and that particular one seemed to be Taylor's way of saying, "Look at all of this crap we'll have to throw away!" I'm guessing they did, or they would have probably turned up as a background decoration on TNG or something.

    A ladder? :lol: Seriously though, I'm not seeing what you're seeing, but the way TMP-era stuff was repurposed into later Trek productions (sometimes MUCH later) nothing would surprise me. Is it the triangular pattern in the ceiling? It does look vaguely familiar.

    EDIT: Just saw Robert Comsol's post. I'll look up the Vulcan scene; any stills from BBTS? I can so picture that production dumpster diving over at Paramount for their set decorations!

    As cool as it is to see the original Engineering set, where are photos of the (supposedly color-coded) original Phase II corridor sets? I haven't seen the Phase II footage on the TNG S2 BD set; did anything show up there?

    After much research from available sources, and without a definitive account of the making of TMP, my unbiased assessment is that Paramount and Trumbull were right. Abel was trying some extremely cutting-edge VFX techniques (including CGI pre-visualization of motion control work) on Paramount's dime (and absconding with the gear according to more than one account). R&D of this sort had no place in Hollywood of the day in general or the chaotic, rushed TMP production in particular, and they fell way behind schedule even without the script changes, etc. Had these innovative but half-baked VFX ended up on screen within the film's compressed production schedule, they very well might have brought to mind the VFX on TFF only 10 years earlier, paling in comparison to everything else being done by Trumbull and Dykstra at the time. As much as I prefer Abel's more literal Memory Wall concept over Trumbull's stylized "Spock Walk", I'm not convinced it would have worked based on the footage and stills available.

    Abel's reach exceeded its grasp -- hardly a condemnation but the best conclusion I can reach from the available facts.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2013
  5. Navigator_NCC2120

    Navigator_NCC2120 Captain Captain

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    I think what Maurice is referring to is this picture of the Phase II Engine Room and that the Engine Room set is 3 decks/stories tall.


    Navigator NCC-2120 USS Entente
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  6. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I think he is talking about the Vulcan tiles, myself. Hadn't ever noticed them, but that's it, that's for sure, and it ties in with Mike Minor's comment about how some stuff got recycled in the strangest ways ...
     
  7. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Awesome find. I also see the top half of what would become Regula 1 (or the bottom half of the Orbital Office Complex...)
     
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, of course I'm taking about the tiles. I meant the ceiling of the level the picture was taken from, not that of the area above.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2013
  9. JJTrek4ever!

    JJTrek4ever! Lieutenant Junior Grade

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    Are there any pics of that model online?
     
  10. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    There may have been a pic in the phase 2 book (in fact it might have been a scaled-up model for docking -- I seem to remember the lattice frame that held the pods), but mine disintegrated a long while back.

    But even in his concept art you can see the problem -- they just looked like pieces from the old dodeca baseball game that used 12 sided dice -- no scale indications at all, just smooth.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Yes, there are photos of the various Magicam spacedock/office complex miniatures on pp. 70-71 of Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, including a shot of a cluster of the dodecahedron modules on p. 70.
     
  12. Navigator_NCC2120

    Navigator_NCC2120 Captain Captain

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    Maurice,

    Thanks for the clarification. I did not notice the pattern on the ceiling of the first floor of the Engine Room set yesterday while I was looking at it using a computer at work. However, I see them now using my home computer.

    Sorry for the mistake,


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  13. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    [​IMG]
    Yep.


    I wonder what became of the V'ger model. Was it turned into some piece of set dressing somewhere along the way?
     
  14. Joe_Atari

    Joe_Atari Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Cool BBTS pic; I'm a big fan of both movies and I never would've noticed that. Wonder how that came to be since it's just the pattern and not the actual pieces?

    It must've all been tossed; I don't remember any of it showing up in the various auctions (Profiles in History, etc.). The only things I recognize from PII are the drydock lights and the shell of the engineering set (the octagonal window on the upper level stayed on through TNG).

    That pentagonal armature for the office complex looks really familiar, but I've not been able to pin it down. At first I thought it might have been the containment module from TNG "The Child" or the "egg" from TNG "Evolution" but no. I've also looked for the "targeting sphere" from the original PII bridge. I've never seen an actual photo where it was installed (just a hole in the wall) but in an interview Joe Jennings referred to it being installed and causing an on-set echo so it must have existed at some point.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2013
  15. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I thought somebody once said the targeting sphere was dug up and used in TNG's CONTAGION and again at Amorgosa in GENERATIONS? Or was that not ever confirmed?
     
  16. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Honestly, it looks like those "tiles" are carpeting or maybe soundproofing tiles, which I could see being installed on ceilings in the engine room to deaden echoes. My guess is they just bought them someplace and they weren't designed per se.

    I just posted the following comment on the article at the site:

     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2013
  17. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    MAKING OF TMP shows what they spent on sets after it became Wise's feature, and those numbers definitely reflect a 'save where you can' attitude, as well as the 'sky's the limit' perception when you look at trench and memory wall numbers, as well as the klingon bridge (though the money was well spent there, no question.)

    I've never understood how the production could have shot the officer's lounge without anybody realizing up front that the color of blue in the costumes was going to present a problem (something they didn't even try addressing in the DE); that's the sort of thing VFX supes on set are supposed to guard against ... and for that matter Wise & his camera folk should have realized it as well.

    The room is such a mess in all sorts of ways that it is hard to believe Wise couldn't have demanded a full remodel/upgrade. When he says original p2 engineering was totally unsuitable, I can sort of see where he is coming from, because it looked good without necessarily having full-on feature scale. But the officer's lounge doesn't even look TV-worthy, yet you have a lengthy dialog scene there AND vfx.

    The thing about the ceiling tiles that I find interesting is that when you compare them to Fletcher's Vulcan outfits, they really look like they tie in (so did Fletcher get his costume ideas from looking through Minor's engineering castoffs, I wonder? Maybe Minor deserves more credit.)
     
  18. Joe_Atari

    Joe_Atari Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Definitely! More than one PII staff member got the shaft when the production went from TV to the big-screen, but no one more so than Minor IMHO. The PII sets were constructed almost directly from his designs (the bridge, Engineering, and sickbay in particular), and much of that survived into TMP and beyond. His "Production Illustrator" credit (and a secondary one at that) doesn't do his contributions justice. Of course, Hollywood isn't always just (and nobody at the time knew how enduring the designs would be), but like Taylor much of Minor's design influence survived well past PII and TMP (in Minor's case through VOY, particularly in Engineering).

    Taylor does take a bit too much credit (although Probert seems happy to share credit with his mentor), and Minor's no longer with us to share his recollections of course, but both lost out to Hollywood politics.
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I suspect he got the idea from the Vulcan sets (Yellowstone and Paramount) and not from the engine room. Minor also visualized the Vulcan sets, but who knows if he suggested using the tiles?

    I have an email in to Bob Burns about some of this stuff.
     
  20. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, if he knows anything more about the recycled aspect or those lightning flash rigs built over the vger set, it'd be really nice to know.

    I've always assumed the flashes seen in the air above the set was animation rather than practical, but if those elements were actual physical rigs (like the ones Minor designed and then mentions talking with Trumbull about), that would be one of the more ingenious in-camera illusions in the whole show (by way of comparison, Coppola's DRACULA did something like this with lightning during Harker's coach ride to Castle Dracula, but it was deliberately fake looking, staying on too long and being too artistically shaped to be accepted as the real deal.)

    One more thing about the Taylor interview that might be relevant; he goes on & on about having to reboard the movie every time the script changed, that they did three or four passes. Well Minor did at least that many just by himself on TWOK, what with THE OMEGA SYSTEM and the other drafts generated before they got their act together with Meyer. And he did them WHILE doing a decent hunk of designing as well, and probably in a tighter time-frame.

    Of course Minor's boards LOOK like storyboards, whereas the Abel boards -- the live-action ones reproduced in ART OF STAR TREK and eating up a huge hunk of valuable page space -- just look like a boring comic book, with a lot of unneeded detail.