Balance of terror - shatners lighting

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by PCz911, Nov 20, 2021.

  1. PCz911

    PCz911 Captain Captain

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    Just re watched BOT and I noticed that Kirk is usually bathed in soft light during the episode, sometimes offset with a highlight on his eyes.

    In this era, soft light /focus was usually reserved for the female guest of the week to emphasize their beauty….and help the viewer unconsciously understand that they are watching a thing of beauty. In this episode, even the couple to be married aren’t even treated this well.

    for a show about combat, this is an interesting choice…. Has anyone else noticed this or am I imagining things again?
     
  2. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Screenwriter | Award-Winning Journalist Premium Member

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    Jerry Finnerman often lit the show, especially the first season, like a film noir just bathed in colors rather than black and white. He made use of heavy shadows contrasted by swaths of bright colors. And Shatner's eyes are often highlighted throughout the show.

    One of the cinematographers on the defunct fan film series New Voyages discusses more on Finnerman's lighting choices in this article. Here's what it says on the film noir aspect:

     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2021
  3. vandevere

    vandevere Captain Captain

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    I noticed the focus on Kirk's eyes, and wondered what that was about...
     
  4. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    I find the contention that Finnerman himself was called into "network executive offices" preposterous. That's not how it works. Such complaints go to the top people running the show, not the crew on the stage.
     
  5. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Screenwriter | Award-Winning Journalist Premium Member

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    Oh for sure. I tried to find a better article to link, but alas I wasn’t diligent in hunting one down. :)
     
  6. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They used the same effect on Pike in ‘09 if memory serves
     
  7. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Screenwriter | Award-Winning Journalist Premium Member

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    They did. It was an homage to TOS.
     
  8. Serveaux

    Serveaux Mediocre Old White Man Premium Member

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    There is a noticeable change in the TNG lighting at the beginning of season three, when a new Director of Photography came in. He wanted to get away from the flat, often over-lit look of the first two years and I believe used different lenses on the show as well.

    I mention it because he was at least briefly active at the time on one of the pre-Internet computer services, I don't remember whether it was CompuServe or GEnie, and posted about how anxious he was about crewing it up - I think it was his first work as D.P.
     
  9. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That explains why I thought the early TNGs had a brighter outlook…
     
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  10. PCz911

    PCz911 Captain Captain

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    Thank you so much for sharing, what an amazing article.

    also in the article is this…

    “Another technique Jerry imparted to me was what he called the “Kirk light”. Basically this is the lighting cuts he used on William Shatner to enhance his eyes and downplay his hairpiece. This was originally a necessity but later became a signature lighting style that highlighted the TV series and became a famous look.”


    Now it makes total sense!
    And they short on asa 50 back then! Wow! No wonder they needed so many lights
     
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  11. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh please, his hairpiece wasn't obvious. I didn't even know it was a wig until I was older. Because of of the resolution of the TVs of the day, the lower strength of the TV signals and the size of the screens, nobody but nobody saw the toupee lines. You only noticed it in HD or maybe DVD. Shatner wasn't the only actor on TV wearing a hairpiece and not even the lone actor on the series. Yet they singled HIM out with the lighting to "distract us" from his toupee? Sure.

    The fascination with Shatner's hair over everyone else's is just ridiculous.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  12. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I haven't read the link because it's blocked by a firewall. But so far I gather the guy claims that network executives called Jerry Finnerman in to tell him to tone down the dramatic lighting, and Shatner was lit in a unique way to downplay his toupée. And both of those items are ridiculous.

    • As Maurice said, the network would speak to the show's producers who hire the cinematographer. It's like, if the Pentagon wants a Navy ship to change course, they don't call the helmsman. They call the captain. Otherwise you risk sending mixed messages to the crew. [Also, dramatic lighting was an absolute staple of prestige television, and even ordinary shows like season 1 Lost in Space. It looked great on TV sets of the period.]

    • If Shatner needed his own special lighting to conceal something, he would have needed it all the time, not just for a few highly dramatic moments. And we would have noticed that and been laughing about it for decades.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  13. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    Exactly right. This is one of those instances where Bill just can't get a break. I mean, Dee Kelley had a splendiferous hair helmet stapled on for the entire series and no one ever mentions it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  14. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    But McCoy doesn't point a phaser at his own face, and while his finger is on the trigger. :)
     
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  15. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The RKO style lighting and use of color in those early TOS episodes is beyond gorgeous. Whenever I'd live tweet TOS episodes airing on H&I, I'd often comment on the great lighting and include screenshots of what I was talking about. The show still looks great, particularly in the first half of the first season.
     
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  16. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed. That sounds like yet another idiot attempting to take shots at Shatner, when they (and bitter day players like Takei) should have learned (by now) that Shatner was not, and will not be smeared by such petty crap.
     
  17. PCz911

    PCz911 Captain Captain

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    For the record, I wasn’t making any claim regarding the lighting… I merely quoted the article. And I have no idea as to the veracity of the claim… I just thought it was interesting.
     
  18. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I certainly wasn't blaming you for it, I was just questioning the accuracy of the claim itself.
     
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  19. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Same here. :bolian:
     
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  20. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Toupes were all over TV. Shatner was not like some outlier.