Star Trek: TMP questions and observations

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

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I read once that stop-motion animator Jim Danforth was not a fan of Go-Motion because he found it too constrained and programmed, or something like that. His preferred method of simulating motion blur was to double-expose consecutive poses so they'd overlap each other and smooth the transition. Which was really very smooth-looking from what I've seen of it.
     
  2. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Well, if you look at CAVEMAN (which Danforth started but got the boot and Dave Allen did the work), they did the pterodactyl wings with the multiple exposure and it looked really good, because it was a ways off. Try that trick close up and it looks like reverse action on a helicopter blade, really strobey weird (as in Q THE WINGED SERPENT, done for less than a pittance.)

    I remember the DRAGONSLAYER stuff as looking really good, but I've never looked at it a frame at a time or deconstructed it (I haven't seen it since the laserdisc days, or maybe it was VHS.) There are some frames in CINEFEX 5 or 6 that show the motion blur on the head swinging round, and I think there is a matte line around it, so it may have been limited by the pre-digital matting tech, which wasn't always good with handling blur (you could do it with spaceships against black, as long as you weren't working for Bran Ferren on STAR TREK V, but most other situations allowed artifacting to show up.)

    Go-Mo may have been more trouble than it was worth in some instances, as JEDI's Rancor pit monster was a rod puppet instead of go-motion.
     
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As I recall the problem they felt was that go motion as applied in Empire was a half measure in that they blurred the legs but not much else, so it felt "wrong" when you looked at it, especially because there was blur when it was running, but when it stopped and looked around it got that typical staccato stop motion look about it.
     
  4. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ... AGREED! Go-Motion was only partially successful. But isn't that so typical of HOLLYWOOD? They come up with this one solution to this one problem and try to use it as a catch-all, instead of trying to solve the entire scope of it.

    Once computer graphic imagery hit the scene, instead of cheap-looking men in rubber suits, we got cheap-looking CGI. The point is, whenever one technique is over-used, or used to the exclusion of all other techniques, almost, the shortcomings of that technique tend to get magnified.

    But yes, Dragonslayer was just a brilliant movie for its time, in all regards. The dragon itself, was handled absolutely right, with where technology was, at the time. Even so, the dragon didn't really feature much and about a quarter of its time onscreen does reveal the limitations of the time. It's herky-jerky, but you can kind of see, too, ILM trying to compensate for it. The angle would be such, that it would be less noticable, or the camera would move, or shake, to sort of mask the imperfection. I give ILM an "A" for effort ...
     
  5. Psion

    Psion Commodore Commodore

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    That's awesome, thanks! Once again you prove what a fount of knowledge you are.
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Bashing Hollywood is easy, and I don't think anyone saw go motion as a gimmick to use all over the place, as the Rancor proves.

    I just looked at sequences Dragonslayer and I don't know what shake you are referring to.
     
  7. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Rancor was handled as a hand puppet, because of effiicency in time, mostly. For whatever reason, they had to get it in-the-can, quick and dirty, somehow. I believe it was because Jedi's space battles pushed the envelope so much, that it started going overbudget. It may also have to do with the fact that Lucas wanted to have the Rancor realized as a monster suit, at first, despite protests from the crew that this "solution" presented many of its own problems. I've not watched Dragonslayer recently, I was going by memory, by the way ... though I'm convinced that what I said about the animated puppet dragon was only true - and very full of proof.
     
  8. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    The Rancor itself was just fine. In fact, it was probably better as a puppet than stop-motion or any other alternative available at the time.

    To my eyes, the biggest problems with the Rancor scene in 1983 were first and foremost the matte lines around Luke and/or the beast depending on the exact moment, and then came not matching the lighting between Luke and the model.
     
  9. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I completely agree with the matte lines/lighting. When Luke stuffs a bone in its mouth, it's particularly evident. Even Lucas' revamps and redo's didn't do much about the apparent fakeness. I always hated the Rancor's copious, thick saliva ... it was way overdone, especially with this thing roaring, somehow - despite the fact that its throat is completely clogged with this garbage. When it eats the guard, though, it's a very pleasing effect. The pig puppet fits perfectly in its mouth and the creature's multiple chomps to get it down its hatch all look good. I hated its slow hand that you'd have to be so absurdly immobile to not be able to walk away and escape from. Aside from which, it did not seem to have much dexterity, even though the fingers and arms are extra long to grasp prey. But never mind all of that ... the closest the first six STAR TREK movies ever came to presenting us with a monster this size was a placid whale. Aside from a couple tail splashes and blowhole spouts, it was such a dud. What kind of shit is that? I wish I even knew ...
     
  10. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I just finished reading the new book The Making of Return of the Jedi and the decision to go with the rod puppet for the Rancor was because George didn't think the suit worked at all, despite his initial instance on using it, but some of the tests where they had people outside the suit operating the arms showed some promise, which supported the idea of a rod puppet approach. As the 50 shots in the sequence weren't possible to accomplish with go-motion given the schedule the decision was made to go entirely the opposite direction and use high-speed photography on a rod puppet because they could get tons of takes in very short order. Since it was shot "live" it also minimized the need for optical compositing. It wasn't a so much a quick and dirty approach as much as a "this will work, look good, require no motion control rigs, and work within our schedule" approach.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  11. Maab

    Maab Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Here
    you can find few slides of the TOS reels (The Omega Glory), including the two Enterprises special effect made with the AMT models. I've never seen the ones from The Motion Picture on-line. I may do that some time in the future, but it's more difficult that to scan standard slides.
    The good thing is that, once you have the sterescopic pictures (left and right pictures), you can use any technology you want to watch them in 3D, from red-green glasses to modern 3D polarized glasses (well, assuming that you have the necessary hardware).

    Best,
    Maab
     
  12. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Well, because the Trek movie scripts didn't call for giant, ugly monsters... until Shatner tried for a giant orange rock man for ST V and couldn't achieve what he'd imagined on paper with the budget he'd been given.
     
  13. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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  14. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's an excellent point, sir! Yes, the Rockmen would've rocked! Oh, well ... at least we got a CGI beasty in STAR TREK '09, at long last. Face flaps and all ...
     
  15. Maab

    Maab Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Oh, I didn't know it. I always tought that they were both AMT models. Thank you.

    Best,
    Maab
     
  16. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Where was it described as orange?

    Sure. You can see the 3 footer's distinctive mounting rod point sticking out the bottom of the ship.
     
  17. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Well I'm possibly thinking of The Thing from "Fantastic Four" and the Rockman from "Galaxy Quest" (hilariously envisaging the FX Shatner couldn't afford). Was he orange? I guess living-lava rockmen do come in other colours.
     
  18. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Of course, the Shat didn't want one rockman...we wanted all kinds of cherubim which would then become a hoard of rocky gargoyles...but this got whittled down to one rockman suit which they couldn't figure out how to make work.
     
  19. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Which "Galaxy Quest" also did. At the gala sneak preview some Trek friends and I went to for GQ, we were in hysterics by that point. I declared: "Now all we need is a giant rockman..." - and suddenly there he was!
     
  20. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yarnek was a kind of rockman, I thought he was pretty well done for TOS. Sure, not much mobility but fairly convincing as a rock guy.

    I don't know why it was such a problem for TFF. It's not THAT difficult or groundbreaking, is it?