Question on moving star effect in 1966

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Serendipitist, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. Serendipitist

    Serendipitist Cadet Newbie

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    [COLOR=#000000] I am getting a question from a friend of mine, who is a contemporary documentary filmmaker (meaning since the age of computers):

    How did they get the moving stars to move past the Enterprise, independent of the stationary background, using the tools that they had in 1966?[/COLOR]
     
  2. Ziz

    Ziz Commodore Commodore

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    Same way all special effects are done - blue screen. The model, planet, background and other elements are all filmed separately and composited later. At that time though, it was very hard to keep everything in sync, so it wasn't done that often and when it was, they kept it simple. It wasn't until Dykstra and ILM really took motion control equipment to the next level for Star Wars that things really started to pick up.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Quoting Howard A. Anderson, ASC from "Out-of-this-world Special Effects for 'Star Trek'" in the October 1967 American Cinematographer:
    Although that's just how Anderson did it. ST's effects were produced by multiple different effects houses. From the same article, Linwood Dunn discusses how his company Film Effects of Hollywood created their starfield effects:


    So basically they both photographed multiple starscape layers which were moving at different speeds relative to the camera. Superimposing them created the effect of 3-D movement, nearer stars moving faster than more distant ones.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2009
  4. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In tell technical terms, they had artworks with stars on it and they would scale that artwork on the optical printer. You layer multiple passes of this on top of each other and you get what looks like a 3D starfield.
     
  5. Serendipitist

    Serendipitist Cadet Newbie

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    Thank you very much! That was exactly the kind of detail I was looking for.
     
  6. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

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    It was a beautiful, beautiful effect. I think it shaped all of the subsequent generations' idea of what traveling faster than light should look like. I remember loving games on my old Atari computer that featured a Trek-like starfield, and now it comes standard on every desktop as a screen saver.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Of course, it's total rubbish. The stars are light-years apart, so in order to see any kind of parallax shift within seconds, you'd have to be travelling at immense speeds. If you have the Celestia simulator, try it -- in order to get the kind of starfield movement they had in TOS, you'd have to be travelling at least a dozen light-years per second, at which speed you could cross the Federation in under two minutes and the entire galaxy in about two hours. To get the kind of star movement shown on TNG, you'd have to be moving more like several hundred light-years per second, which would let you cross the galaxy within minutes and would jump you clear out of Federation space before you had time to stop.

    Worse, TOS -- and sometimes even the more modern series -- often showed starscape movement like that even at sublight.
     
  8. Brandonv

    Brandonv Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^

    I always liked to pretend that it was just pieces of space dust caught in the warp field. ;)
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    In one of my Trek novels (Ex Machina, I think), I hinted that the "warp stars" effect was actually the result of the warp field cycling and causing the light from the same stars to "sweep" across the ship over and over again as if bent by a rotating prism, creating the illusion of motion.
     
  10. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Even on STAR WARS, a show not known for any scientific credibility, the fx guys didn't want multiplaning starfields. ILM's Richard Edlund, who had actually shot some trek fx for TOS early in his career, dismissed that whole trek notion as crap, saying you'd have to be going through a field of rocks to justify stars moving past.

    DARK STAR had used a comically exaggerated version of the stars zipping by shortly before SW, so that may have been another flag to avoid it.

    A part of me wonders if they were trying to differentiate themselves visually from trek, too, especially since the one time in SW when you DO have something like a dimensional starfield effect is the jump to lightspeed (an element Edlund himself did NOT shoot, though he came up with the DR WHO-like hyperspace vortex seen later in the pic.)
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^I remember back in the '70s, watching Space Academy and Jason of Star Command, I thought it was cheap and disappointing that the stars in the viewports never moved no matter how fast the ships were going. But eventually I realized it was actually more realistic that way.

    Conversely, you have something like Battlestar Galactica where the stars were always whipping past the Viper cockpits at ridiculous speeds and in a single plane, an effect that could only be achieved if the Viper were spinning in place -- or had a flat star backdrop moving behind it. The fact that the revival series imitated this ridiculous effect in many of its Viper shots was one of the first indications that its pretense of greater realism was flimsy and situational.
     
  12. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Well, the nosoundinspace thing didn't really stick either, but by putting the percussion music up high, it gave the impression of not being SW-like. Personally, I don't think having blown out overexposed photography makes things on NUbsg look more realistic either, but clearly I'm outvoted in this area, since it seems like they are inflicting that on CAPRICA as well ...
     
  13. Brandonv

    Brandonv Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I like this explanation. It makes sense that warping space-time around a ship would distort the ships view of the outside universe.
     
  14. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    The original vfx team on TMP had something akin to this image distortion effect designed for their warp drive shots, so you'd see rippling in a bubble around the ship's bow and another streaked ripple between the warp nacelles as they produced the FTL effect. There is some concept art that the authorized books missed out on which appeared in old ENTERPRISE INCIDENTS mags ... could have been cheesey or awesome, depending on execution.