Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by FrontierTrek, Jan 16, 2013.
Yup, that was my inspiration.
I'm content with the current TAS box set. I don't really see what a BluRay version will bring to the table. So unless it proves to be something unexpectedly amazing I'll pass.
The collar is black on the DVD edition as well, it's just that one short scene where it isn't. I wonder why ...
Not even the entire scene—just one shot. Something slipped through the cracks in the paint department during production.
Say what? I can't really call a Critic's Corollary to Sturgeon's Law on that one. The paintings weren't bad, but they were hardly the best in the business.
As for those suggesting a CGI remake of all the animation, that would be fairly easy with today's computer tools, and it would make TAS a truly animated series. But buying the series on DVD or Blu-ray or whatever is meant to be a trip down memory lane, or a revelation to those who did not see the series in first-run. I feel the same way about colorization or the upgraded FX in STAR WARS or TREK TOS. "Remastering" is fine, where noise and other artifacts that were never intended are removed and images are improved for today's display devices. But upgraded FX are "wrong"—they're an insult to the original artists and often do not match the production design of the original, thus standing out. ("Look, I'm a new effect!")
Art is often a compromise of time, materials, and other factors. It's the juggling of those factors that is a significant portion of the "art." Going back and reworking a published piece removes the "art" and turns the piece into a manufactured thing.
We so reach, but dear God, if any of the TOS-R lovers find you here . . . You are in grave danger. Quick, you must make your selection and we wil use the atavachron to hide you . . . .
The new effects don't bother me but the key difference between those and the Star Wars ones is the originals are still available in the same set--so everyone is happy. Try finding a hi-def version of the original Star Wars films.
I think you may want to rephrase your statement, or do you seriously consider these TAS "space suits" to be "art"?
(Admitted, it's a pretty two-dimensional concept of an EVA suit but so is the show, apparently)
In this exceptional case, I do think a CGI rework that would give us these TOS EVA suits seen in "The Tholian Web" and "Whom Gods Destroy" could qualify as an improvement.
Well, I've seen comments to that effect from people in the animation industry at the time. It's not solely my opinion, or I wouldn't have said it. While it's fair to say that a lot of people in the industry found Filmation to be a bargain-basement studio in a lot of ways, there were also things it was praised for, and their lush background paintings were one of them. Their artwork may not have moved much, but it looked really good.
The personal force field, perhaps semi-permeable, can be found elsewhere in science fiction, and the simple halo does look "better" than the suits used in TOS. Are they art? Consider my definition above, then remember where the transporter came from—too expensive in production dollars and screen time to "land" the ship every week, so an alternative was needed. Out of that compromise came stories like "The Enemy Within" and many other variations on the concept (such as Trelane's technology).
Thus, the force field environment suits were a cost-saving "compromise," yet also provided options to the story writers. I don't have the entire TAS on hand, but didn't Kirk "protect" the helm console in "Beyond the Farthest Star" with one of those force field belts? What happens to that story if New and Improved™ CGI animation favors the "circulatory system" suits from TOS with the screen mesh helmets? Why weren't bumpy foreheads and studded '80s biker gang uniforms added to all the Klingons in TOS-R? Match-move CGI is easily up to the task...
The backgrounds are good, but "best in the business"? Perhaps it would be better to qualify that statement with "among made-for-TV animations of the '70s." Otherwise you are pitting Filmation up against Disney, the novel and lasting technical creations of Max Fleischer, and even later artists such as Kazuo Oga.
Since I used the past tense, I figured it was implicit that I was comparing it to its contemporaries. Evidently I didn't make that clear enough, but that is what I meant.
The concept of life support belts was actually initially considered for The Tholian Web, before the environmental suits were settled upon.
According to http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Life_support_belt:
And yeah, as indicated by Metryq, a few scenes throughout the series actually depend on the belts being there, through dialog and action. For example, there's that scene in Beyond the Farthest Star when Kirk shorts out the helm controls with his belt, later also it appears that Kirk is using the belt force field for protection against the automatic bridge defense system [pictured at the top of http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Beyond_the_Farthest_Star_(episode)], but my personal favorite, from the same episode, is [from http://www.chakoteya.net/StarTrek/TAS004.htm and pictured at http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Life_support_belt]:
I'm really not interested in seeing them excised.
One of the biggest advantages of TAS was that it was an animated TV series, thus there wasn't any need anymore to "compromise" as they could have visualized anything they wanted without considering budget restraints.
The thing with this life-support belts may have been a science fiction concept compatible with the superior 23rd Century technology we'd seen in TOS (transporter and warp drive) but unfortunately just a couple of years after TAS came TMP and EVA space suits were even bulkier than the futuristic ones we'd previously seen in TOS (not to mention that by the 24th Century of TNG they are still using bulky EVA suits).
Thus these "exotic" TAS life-support belts stick out like the proverbial sore thumb in the larger "in-universe" context of Star Trek. If they were doing a CGI reboot (using the original voices), I do think that it would be an issue worth considering (and to match the original dialogue you could always add something onto the original TOS space suits - provided these didn't already have these unique properties we'd seen in TAS).
Not true -- or at least, not true in this specific instance. Filmation was operating under a very limited animation budget, and on TAS's first season they were on an insanely rushed production schedule. So they had to reuse animation cels constantly, recycling the same stock character poses and movements. Putting a simple forcefield halo cel on top of an existing character cel was cheaper and quicker than drawing a whole new set of cels for each character in a spacesuit.
There's also the matter of visibility. Characters in animation need to be easily distinguishable on sight. Putting them in spacesuits would've made it harder to tell who was who in a long shot. The force field belts let viewers see the characters just as clearly as they could normally.
To supplement Christopher's comments above, I am guessing that the life support halo was an "automatic" effect, generated with an optical printer in some fashion. The way the halo sometimes aligns with the characters exactly and other times is offset looks to me like a lens artifact (zooming, focusing).
Even if the halo was not an automatic effect, it would take an artist far less time to trace a quick outline than to draw the detail of a TOS-style environment suit—especially if archival cels were reused, as suggested above.
Does it present a "continuity" error with later TREKs? Sure, but what doesn't? The shuttlecraft in TAS doesn't look like the winged bread box in TOS. (And the spin-off Treks did more time traveling and dimension hopping than the Time Lords of Gallifrey, but that's a subject for a different thread.)
No, they just would've painted colored outlines onto animation cels and layered them on top of the existing cels of the characters. Much simpler and cheaper than any kind of optical-printer effect. The differences in alignment would be a registration problem. Animation cels had holes in them that would go over registration pins on the side of the animation stand in order to align them with each other. The force field auras sometimes being a little off-center would probably be due to the registration holes being a little off.
There are plenty of similar continuity questions across other Trek incarnations. Like, the TOS-era movies introduced helmets and body armor for the security guards and safety restraints on the seats -- so why were those sensible precautions abandoned by the 24th century?
Filmation apparently got fancy enough, at least with some of the shots, to use back-lit animation on the force fields (see below). This image also shows the offset I was talking about—notice the looseness on Sulu's right, the crowding on his left, and the wild offset on Spock. I would say this shot used a rotoscoped (hand-traced) outline. When it was backlit, the camera was soft-focused, rather than filtered with a diffuser. And that created the offset. Spock is farthest offset because his figure is small enough in the frame and farthest from center. I ran into this problem myself the first time I did some multiple exposures of exactly this sort on a slide duplicator.
I don't think it's backlit; that technique was a little more advanced than what Filmation was working with in 1973-4 (though they did some pretty cutting-edge stuff with it starting with Flash Gordon in '79). Note that the yellow aura around Spock isn't really any brighter than the white crags of ice behind him. That looks more like a simple double exposure to me, with the aura cels shot out of focus to create the fuzzy quality. So yeah, they would've been shot separately, explaining the misalignment. But it might've been an in-camera double exposure rather than something involving an optical printer.
If the premise is that misalignment must be explained by cels being shot separately, then how does one explain misalignments such as those of the elevator doors in the shot of Cyrano Jones standing on the bridge?
row 3, column 2 at http://tas.trekcore.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=5&page=14
Couldn't they have just airbrushed paint on cels to make the belt auras and shot them in one exposure with the rest of the elements, the way I assume they shot most every other frame?
Does anybody actually know how they did it?
Just because that's one way images can be misaligned, that doesn't mean it's the only way. See what I said above about registration errors. That would be the reason for a misalignment most of the time in cel animation. Double exposures are a separate technique that would have their own distinct causes for a misalignment. In the former case, the misalignment would result from haste -- in going through the mechanical motions of switching out one cel for the next for the next and photographing them one at a time, a hurried animator might not notice if a cel is misaligned. In the latter case, the animators can't actually see the images together until the film is printed, so they'd be estimating their placement by measurement, and differences in focus or film printing might throw off the relative sizes of the two images, creating a misalignment as seen in the "Slaver Weapon" screencap above.
They probably did that on some occasions. But the blur on the auras around Spock and Sulu in the screencap above looks like an out-of-focus image, not an airbrushed line. Look how much fainter the Spock aura is -- it's a thinner line, so the width of the blur overwhelms it more than the thicker line around Sulu.
And if it had been airbrushed in a single exposure, it wouldn't explain the misalignment in that screencap. Note how the position errors get bigger the farther you get from the center of the image, as if the "aura" artwork was zoomed in more.
Although I suppose it's possible that it could be a cel that was positioned a bit closer to the camera rather than resting right on top of the others, so that it would be slightly out of focus. That would also explain the positioning issue. But it does look like a double exposure to me.
So, the bottom line is that you don't know how they did it, correct? I don't know either; welcome to the club!
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