ST: TMP blurry film

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by JJohnson, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2013
    Oh, that's good to know they had a meaning. It's all a throwback to my graphic design days, I guess. There were always critical observations of things like, "That's nice...except aren't those the colors of the Miami Dolphins?" or "This is high-end merchandise, and that layout looks like a seed catalogue." :lol:

    Guess I wasn't on the ST:TMP design team! :)
     
  2. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    That's almost word-for-word what cinematographer Amy Vincent told me back in 2001, with respect to delivering the cleanest sharpest negative up front, even if it was going to be messed with during post (which is even more of a concern these days, since during the digital intermediate process you can pretty much almost wreck a DP's work.)

    It even ties in with ILM and EEG's vfx work, which was so pristine that they sometimes had to downgrade the image to make it match with the live-action. But you're in a much betteer position to be doing that than to have inferior looking stuff that can't be upgraded after the fact (if you look at the probe sequence in TMP, that's a classic example of having to do so much to the image that you essentially destroy most of what makes it look like a real movie ... it really looks like Super8 at times, there is so much detail lost due to all that 'hands-on' reworking of the image to get the guy carrying the light pole out of the shot.)
     
  3. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    Internal security station is on the opposite side of the bridge from Chekov's security/weapons station? Geez, why not put the helm right behind Kirk and navigation inside the turbo-lift?
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I think the idea I had for why the internal security and tactical stations were so far apart was so that if a weapon hit to the bridge took out one of the security posts, the other one would probably still be there.
     
  5. drt

    drt Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Overall, I concur, but I almost don't mind how terrible the image looks, it's as if the brightness of the probe is washing out the image. I think it also makes the switch to the crystal clear image of the tricorder clattering to the floor, combined with the instant quietness, more effective at selling the shock of Ilia's abduction.
     
  6. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2013
    You know, you're right! Your very well-stated 'tricorder clattering to the floor' is very embedded in my memory, probably for the reasons you state.

    I have wondered if there were more takes of that tricorder shot filmed, just to get it right. It's very effective if it were (miraculously) a one-take! :techman:
     
  7. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    That one half of the background blurry while the other side is not almost makes me think that they used a tilt shift lens. Anyone got any shots of the cameras they used filming on the bridge?
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^As established before, the double-focus effect was achieved using something called a split diopter.
     
  9. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Ah, okay. Must have missed that post...
     
  10. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    The problem with the energy probe is that it's a pillar of light...which casts a shadow. The way I'd have done it would have been to hang the light source from a camera crane (assuming you could pull out enough of the radial ceiling beams to do so) and float it around the set instead of having the thing on a big wheeled base which would need to be removed in post. That way it could throw light in every direction and not cast its own shadow.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
  11. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    That is a brilliant solution, and the ceiling would definitely have accommodated having some holes (or perhaps a ring) cut in it without compromising the look. The weight of the light is significant, but even so, a closed circuit camera op could let the off-set operator see where he was moving the thing.
     
  12. JJTrek4ever!

    JJTrek4ever! Lieutenant Junior Grade

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Even with CCTV, the safety issues of a monster lighting rig swinging from a crane in such a tightly confined space as the bridge set (which was not designed to "wild out" at the specific request of the DP) would probably have had SAG picketing the studio. This actually reminds of the "Ice cream!" scene in CE3K where Doug Trumbull originally proposed that the UFOs flying over Neary et al would be done in-camera with full size "miniatures" hanging from a crane hidden behind the roadway set. The completion insurance company stooges were, needless to say, profoundly unhappy with that idea hence the the use of VFX.
     
  13. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    Considering the weight considerations and potential for disaster (as in the end of STRANGERS ON A TRAIN) with an out of control gimbal or motion base, or even a runaway motion control rig like the Image-G Bulldog if it ran amuck, (it operated at real-time speeds for shooting live-action, flying right up to the cockpit window of the Mars Recovery in MISSION TO MARS), this idea doesn't sound anyway near as dangerous.

    Specific to this, from where I stand, is that the probe pretty much, with only slight changes, runs in a circle or oval, which ties in with the cutting a one- or two-slit approach for the overhead rigging. It could have been hung off a crane like the BoP bridge was in TVH for its tiltawhirl moments (though to be fair, TVH's physical fx guy was top-of-the-line, which I don't think can be said for TMP's guy, who seemed to have problems even with getting the doors to open.)

    There are practical lights installed in it (not talking about the ones in the soffit round the edges, but a series of I think 3 holes that in the ceiling, probably behind the captain's chair) I think in TWOK or SFS, so cutting into it would not damage it (if it were so flimsy, they wouldn't have been able to clear installing it overhead for the same safety concerns you cite, especially given that it contains stuff that is probably motorized or blockNtackle driven, like the astrogator/tilting dome thing.)

    Anyway, with the path of the thing limited to arcs, you could keep it from getting too close to actors or other obstacles in wide shots, and you could do whatever cheat you wanted in closeups, putting it on an ironing board or whatever. Plus, running the power out of the set from above would have stepped around some of the teeny danger of an on-set electrocution or short-out, which would have been possible given that some metal was in the sets.

    Just another example of the Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance aspects that (for me) plague a lot of TMP (and to be fair & honest, parts of TFF as well -- Mike Wood's rig for the turboshaft sequence is a modest miracle given time & resources, but the scene does not bear close scrutiny at all, & I ain't talkin about the deck numbers.)

    The 6P thing jives with my views on other TMP lamebrainedness, like lowering the wattage on internal console bulbs from, what, 25 watts to 6watts, to keep the buttons from melting, reducing illumination 75% on the boards, instead of getting better plastic buttons or cutting them out of plexi or putting some more fans in the consoles.

    And the high-concept notion of the art dept, to have most illumination coming from the floor, while it may look good in theory, is extremely unfavorable to actor faces in practice, and pretty nonsensical when it comes to reading a report, unless you sit upside down in your chair and put your feet up over the captain's headrest to scan the clipboard. (there's probably some good psychological reason you don't light from the floor too, like it messes with your balance or something, because it doesn't look so much futuristic as it does look WRONG.)

    As for the Trumbull notion of flying a physical saucer overhead, I don't see how that differs much from what Dykstra did in LIFEFORCE by rigging a 10K or some monster light to fly over the streets of London set with all those extras underneath it.

    Of course, I guess you could say that was an example of British craftsmanship (it's what I would have called it in the old days), but these days, when I think British, I think British Petroleum, and that's more like crapsmanship, especially now that I've started hearing about their part in the EXXON VALDEZ, and how THAT mess could have been quickly contained if BP's supposed nearby cleanup equipment and vessels ACTUALLY EXISTED instead of being so much vaporware, apparently owing to BP practically owning the political bodies and half the terrain in Alaska. Just something I came across on public radio recently, from a guy who spent years of his life doing the official investigations and whom I guess no longer has any gag orders in effect. Sorry for aside, but it just leapt to mind when I was writing this & I haven't had a chance to mention it to anyone yet.
     
  14. MakeshiftPython

    MakeshiftPython Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Location:
    Ladies love Riker's beard.
    TMP is probably the worst film that I've seen when it comes to using the split diopter. It barely served a purpose. A good example of using the technique to tell a story is probably in any Brian De Palma film, especially BLOW OUT:

    http://vimeo.com/76478462
     
  15. Push The Button

    Push The Button Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Location:
    Smithfield, Rhode Island USA
    Wow, it really does make for some powerful moments when properly used. After viewing this compilation, it makes me think that someone didn't know how to use it correctly when they were shooting TMP.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    That's hard to believe when we're talking about a Robert Wise film. Wasn't it more a matter of the constraints of shooting on the bridge set? Like, the lighting had to be dim to accommodate all the film-projection "monitors," and that constrained the lenses they were able to use, or something like that.
     
  17. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    That's a terrific link and site for film info, I'd only seen the foreground miniature part previously.

    While the constraints noted above are valid issues, the simple fact on any picture like this is that tests are shot beforehand, so the results are evaluated well before you begin the film. The tests would have showed the deficiencies, and at that point a new approach should have been worked out, be it switching from film loops to 24 frame video (which THE BLACK HOLE was doing concurrently) to brighten things up or drastically changing the lighting scheme on set.

    Both the DP and the director had employed split-diopters previously so they knew the limitations and apparently accepted that, figuring it was an okay tradeoff, so the fault such as it is falls on Wise.

    Looking at the DePalma images, it is worthwhile to note that most of the shots are done in fairly dark and/or contrasty settings ... I only noticed one in the hospital where they are in TMP like soft brightness, which is where a lot of the problems lie with TREK's use (though part of it is just plain OVERuse too.) A really good split diopter should look like a clever double exposure or a showy split-screen, but too many of TMP's look like somebody threw splotches on the lens.
     
  18. MakeshiftPython

    MakeshiftPython Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Location:
    Ladies love Riker's beard.
    Whatever the reasons (technical, artistic), the results aren't very good. What are the shots trying to emphasize? The only one I think works is the shot of the captain's chair when Sulu tells Kirk "he doesn't know", everything else seems out of place. I can't help but wonder maybe Wise approached it like a kid who got a new toy, wanting to use it because it looks interesting and different from what we typically see in film, no other thoughts put behind it to justify its use.

    I could imagine it would work for certain moments. One that comes to mind is that whole Memory Wall sequence that got deleted. Maybe have Spock in the foreground, with Kirk in the background being attacked calling out for help, but Spock seems to be in a trance, only vaguely aware of what's happening behind him.
     
  19. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    It wasn't a new toy for Wise. Use of the split diopter is all over The Andromeda Strain.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I still think it's bizarre to hear anyone question the technical competence of the man who edited Citizen Kane. This was not Wise's first rodeo. As it happens, I watched his first rodeo, 1944's Curse of the Cat People, just this afternoon. Wise had been directing for 35 years when TMP was made. It's a safe bet that the "toys" of the business were not new to him.
     

Share This Page