Star Trek: TMP questions and observations

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Gotham Central, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Unlikely, at best. Phil Tippet's "Go-Motion" was still years away from development. The motion of the characters was entirely too fluid and natural to have been animated figures.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Soundstages are big. The shot could've been taken from a camera in the rafters on the opposite end of the stage. Or if they needed to be even farther away, they could've set up the hull piece outdoors and filmed from the roof of a nearby stage.
     
  3. Maab

    Maab Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The fact that the same effect is in different products could mean that the effect was made by the studio and not by the third party companies making the various merchandise. It would be nice if it was one of the abandoned tests for V'ger's cloud. I'd like to see again the viewmaster version (which was in 3D) but it's too difficult for me to access the original slides now.

    Best,
    Maab
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, that "cloud" image looks to me like some kind of magnified textile, something like a shag carpet or maybe a microscopic image of some kind of cloth. It would only suggest a cloud as a still image. So I suspect it was created by the makers of those photo books out of some bit of image reference they had on hand.
     
  5. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Took the liberty to check it out. Slide B 3 appears to feature an enlarged section of the card picture above, same as C 1 that has the Enterprise next to it.

    C 6 has a strange visual effect that almost looks like a distorted version of Epsilon 9 and A 1 has several spheres above the Enterprise with swarms that appear to be "birds".

    At least there are two real stereoscopic images. One with Kirk in front of the San Francisco aircab (with a view inside the cockpit!) and the other one at the V'ger core site.

    Bob
     
  6. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I think the wall unit showed up behind a native in the shopping mall part of Farpoint Station as well. Haven't seen the ep in at least 20 years, but I remember that as jumping out at me.

    As for the straw's origins, the CFQ article on SFS (and I think this is in MAKING OF THE TREK FILMS as well) indicates that was practically the only thing they found already available and not needing to be made or rented from Modern Props. I think they bought it at a high end store, Nordstrom's maybe, if those were around back then.
     
  7. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    CHRISTOPHER is right, it was almost certainly done by putting a camera up in the rafters.

    Was almost certainly NOT shot outside, unless it was at night, since it would have been more difficult to get the shadows right (also, AFAIK the only day exteriors on the whole show were Yosemite and the backlot Vulcan, and the VFX plate shot of San Francisco bay for one side of the water in the very first tram shot.)
     
  8. Psion

    Psion Commodore Commodore

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    Weren't the space-suited figures at Epsilon 9 and the space-dock animated with stop-motion?
     
  9. SpHeRe31459

    SpHeRe31459 Captain Captain

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    That was my thinking too. It sure looks like a textile or something similar, maybe fiberglass, under a microscope.

    So I assume it's just something one of the contracted companies and/or someone in the Paramount merchandising department threw together due to the VFX not being finished when they started to produce the merch.

    If you look at those other TOPPS trading cards on the website that Maab linked to they don't have finished effects in the "transporter accident" card, it's the raw footage of the two actors writhing in pain, without the blue transporter energy column around them.
     
  10. SpHeRe31459

    SpHeRe31459 Captain Captain

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    Yes but they aren't articulated figures. They're just little dudes in space suits floating around (on a string), they don't actually move their joints.
     
  11. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Actually those spacesuited figures are all servo-activated with lots of joint motion built into them, kind of an electric version of the puppet stuff Apogee did later for LIFEFORCE.

    They don't hold up to close scrutiny, hence what I've always found to be the most embarrassing moment, in TMP, when the little guy fleeing Epsilon 9 moves so badly at the end of the shot it looks like he did fall off his wire, though I've been told here it was an attempt to make it look like he was tripping on a piece of the station or being hit by the vger effect.

    The guy doing the backflip on the dock looks really good though, I've always thought that was probably live-action. Trumbull did have the suits for the live-action and a control arm pole that went into one of them set up so he could flip a person and control him like the performer was a mo-con miniature. Can't believe they could have gotten that smooth an action on the dock guy (even in long shot) and then fail so epically on the Ep9 shot.


    on the weird stuff between the E and K/S on the cards and promo pics, I always thought it was mylar or saran wrap lit with colored gels, which was an established zero-budget way of making mystical space shit for Super8 folks back then.
     
  12. SpHeRe31459

    SpHeRe31459 Captain Captain

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    Oops I stand corrected.
    Either way though they aren't used to show walking, which is a motion that is very hard to get right with marionettes. So it still lends credence to the fact the saucer shot was done with the actors from way high up in the rafters of the soundstage, not puppets on a scale model.

    According to Doug Drexler, there was a very large puppet of a person (2 feet tall) in a space suit. That apparently was used for the flipping dude over Epsilon 9. It also had a Kirk head in the suite at one point, Andy Probert repainted it later on to look like himself for fun, as well as the color scheme of the suit itself (from orange to beige).
    https://web.archive.org/web/2012101...press.com/2009/03/06/tmp-spacesuit-pictorial/
     
  13. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Having seen TMP on the big screen multiple times, I'd be completely shocked if the shot in question wasn't of actors coming up and walking out onto a section of the saucer. Animation effects of the day, whether freehand, rotoscoped, stop motion, or whatever, they all had little tells, and that shot had none of those.

    On the other hand, the shot does have all the tells of being a composite shot of live action, a static matte painting, and possibly other elements for the ship lights up near the bridge. You can see where the matte painting ends and the live action begins. The section they walk on doesn't look exactly like the rest of the saucer, and the part of the next section behind the actors doesn't match up exactly, either.

    Needless to say, that's one of the wonkiest matte paintings I've seen in a big-budget science fiction film. It's kinda like a Dr. Seuss impression of the primary hull. Does anybody know, or have they been able to establish, just what mathematical projection was used for that shot (assuming it wasn't just eyeballed)?

    Well, not years. Go motion was used in The Empire Strikes Back, released six months later.

    Wikipedia claims that go motion was used in 1923.
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ugh, my browser crashed just as I was finishing a reply. Grrr. here we go again.

    Trevanian is right that the Wing Walk opening shot was filmed from the rafters. It's really obvious when you look at the perspective on the physical set piece the actors are standing on. The camera was surely less than 100 feet away...the lens gives that away. The live action plate has been optically reduced to fit in the painting, but since the perspective is wrong, you can see how the matte artist ignores it and paints the perspective he needs for for the shot, which is still "wonky" as heck.

    As to Go Motion, well, Wikipedia is only as good as the people who contribute to it, and those people dropped the ball on this entry, which is citation poor and makes the mistake of conflating various blurring techniques for stop motion under the umbrella of Go Motion, which is actually a very specific technique (rod puppets connected to a motion control rig which moves parts of them while the shutter is open to create blur).

    As to 1923's The Voice of the Nightingale, I'm a bit familiar with Ladislas Starévitch's work, being a big fan of his 1912 The Revenge of a Kinematograph Cameraman, and it's not entirely clear what technique he used to create blurs in that the Nightingale film.


    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLJtLc_wVgA[/yt]​
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  15. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    The go-mo in EMPIRE was not exactly a rousing success. However a year later that process was used tremendously well (in tandem with rod puppetry) on DRAGONSLAYER.

    I never had a prob with this matte shot of them coming up until DVD ... in the theater and on VHS it was fine, even on laserdisc it looked fine. But the next shot, the profile of the saucer that makes it look like a small white grey sand dune -- that is positively grotesque, and always was, from day one.

    Oops, just saw MAURICE's post. Man, I've never seem that film or even heard of it. The fast moving animation is pretty damned good, however it was achieved. I suppose it could be one of those where they used to expose the wing in three different positions on the same frame, but usually your eye wakes up to that and can catch it. Very ingenious & impressive.
     
  16. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Sorry, Maurice...I just can't watch your link all the way through. In a sense I am a fan of old films, but certain ones (this included) are just too damned creepy to me! :eek:
     
  17. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    That's how I am with THE 5000 FINGERS OF DOCTOR T or whatever it is called. Scared hell out of me as a little kid on TV and I have never gone near it again.
     
  18. Maab

    Maab Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Interesting. So the purple cloud (whatever it is) appears in at least three different products: the read-along book, the Topps cards and the viewmaster 3D.

    Best,
    Maab
     
  19. SpHeRe31459

    SpHeRe31459 Captain Captain

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    Has that ViewMaster ever been scanned in and put online somewhere?
    I realize of course it's not 3D that way, but I wonder if the slides have been.

    I'd be interested to see it.
     
  20. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Ah, yes. This is really helpful.

    Thanks for this too. So, the regular animation was just conventional stop motion? It looks really top-notch.

    Yeah. Empire was pushing the envelope, which was a good thing, but they might have pushed it just a little bit beyond what they were able to live up to. I'm so glad they did though.

    Dragonslayer was utterly mind blowing to me, though. Is it considered to be at or near the apex of practical model animation?