So What Are you Reading?: Generations

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by captcalhoun, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, the sets were definitely used, just upgraded for the big screen. That's why they were able to keep using the same sets for nearly 30 years, redressing them for multiple movies, then TNG, and then Voyager. Movie sets are flimsy, meant to be used for a few weeks and then disassembled, but TV sets are made to last for years of regular use. So the fact that the Enterprise sets were built for Phase II was what enabled them to stay in use for decades.

    Plus, of course, the pilot script was reworked into TMP, but it was rewritten so heavily that maybe that made little difference from a time and budget standpoint.


    Not quite. The version in the novelization draws on the Memory Wall sequence in its descriptions of V'ger's interior, but the action conforms to the final filmed version, with Spock going in alone and being sent back just after Kirk exits the airlock.
     
  2. youngtrek

    youngtrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Yes, what I meant was that Robert Wise, upon being hired, took one look at the sets that were built for “Phase II” and said essentially, “These won’t work at all for a feature film. They need to be completely redone.” The bridge, mostly, I think. Maybe the transporter room, too. If I recall correctly (I’ve already returned the book to the public library) they were able to use some of what had already been built for the main engineering set still.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, but that's just the surface appearance. We're talking about budgetary matters here -- about the cost overruns the studio blamed Roddenberry for. So it's not a question of how the sets appeared onscreen, it's a question of whether the investment put into building them for Phase II paid off or was wasted. And the investment was absolutely not wasted, because the money and effort they put into building those sturdy, long-lived sets (and by "sets" we mean the underlying structures rather than the surface facades that appear on camera) was not only used to good effect in the movies, but was amortized across 14 years of TNG and VGR.

    And the bridge seen in the movie was very close to what was built for Phase II. I have the "Flight Manual" book that Lee Cole put together for the series, with modifications for TMP, and the changes were relatively minor. Mainly it was just the weapons/defense station and the bridge transporter station that were completely redone (with the latter being reworked into a "Gravity Control" station), with the rest remaining largely intact. As for engineering, the main change was to the central intermix shaft, which was completely redone. The overall structure of the set and consoles was largely retained, though some of the freestanding consoles were rebuilt or removed.

    If Cushman's book claims that most of the Phase II sets were discarded, that's just one more piece of Cushman's incredibly sloppy research, which has been well-documented by Harvey and Maurice in other threads.
     
  4. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Producer vs. Executive Producer,

    I've been told that theatre is an actor's medium, film is a director's medium, and series television is a producer's medium.
     
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  5. youngtrek

    youngtrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I don’t want to try to remember exactly what was said in Cushman’s book from memory alone (as I said earlier, I’ve already returned the copy I read to the library) for fear of misrepresenting it so I won’t try to.

    I never said anything about the money used to build or refashion the sets as having been “wasted”, though. I was merely using them as examples as to how the overall production budget of ST:TMP ended up being so high, that it was partially because they had to include the costs of all of the previous attempts including “Phase II” into ST:TMP’s budget. (I wonder if that has ever happened on any other similar projects? Like, did what James Camron got paid to write a script or whatever it was that he did for a Spider-Man movie, was that cost wrapped into the eventual budget of the Sam Raimi movie?)

    Back to how much work (rework) was actually done on the sets that had been built for “Phase II”, I did find the following section in my ebook version of Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Neal Preston Jones (and I do recall it also being discussed in the Cushman book that the redesigned bridge sets were intentionally designed *without* movable sections like that had done on the classic tv series bridge, that this was an aesthetic choice made that did end up making shooting the bridge scenes more difficult):

    “MICHAEL MINOR: Harold Michelson showed up in late March, and Lee Cole, Rick Sternbach, myself and the other set designers sat down and tried to give him a crash course in what had transpired, what was happening, and where we thought it was headed. He was told, basically, “The sets are up, all you have to do is a little bit of changes, just add a bit or take out a wall here or there….” When he came to the stage and saw what a total redo was necessary, we still had a time problem. We had to modify and build cosmetics over existing pieces, like the bridge, which was made for a TV show, with breakaway walls. And by this time, they also had the director of photography, Richard Kline, and he wanted to shoot things intact, without breaking out walls. He wanted to use bounce lighting and shoot the sets with what we called, I think, integrity. So we worked in very cramped situations, planning things, tearing out walls. Working with Harold, and Leon Harris, the art director, and the set designers, I really started evolving into more of an assistant art director, which is my direction anyway. And I was lucky enough to have some of my input used, because we were all taking a piece and running in whatever direction was called for.

    GENE RODDENBERRY: Decisions about updating the bridge, which elements to retain from the original series, what kinds of instruments we’d want to create—these things come out of a hundred conversations. You sit, and talk, and sketch, and explore dreams and ideas. It almost passes back and forth like osmosis, and you can very rarely remember that scintillating, clear-cut statement that set everything in perspective. What I do recall is that I had a marvelous, marvelous relationship with Harold Michelson and the art department. There was a warm give-and-take, a constant trying to excel, and wandering back and forth with ideas, and so on. Michelson knew a little bit about Star Trek, he had read some science fiction, I think, and had had dealings with people I’ve worked with over many years, and was anxious to talk and compare ideas.

    HAROLD MICHELSON: Bob Wise had been to the stages to see the sets, and of course they had been designed mainly for TV. If they’d put them on the big screen, you would have seen an awful lot of plywood and things like that. When I walked through the sets, I made some quick decisions and went up to discuss them with the art department. I was operating on the feeling that the walls went a certain way and I had to do something inside them. But then I met with Bob Wise, and he said that he would like the ship to really be something special, which meant that I could rip out the walls and really change it. I could take out the walls, twist them and turn them, mold the thing any way I liked. Joe Jennings had pretty much followed Matt Jefferies’ original designs for the Enterprise, which made sense for television. But now we had the freedom of the big screen. In fact, the story, as you know, starts out with the Enterprise being overhauled in drydock, which gave us free reign. I figured we could do anything to improve the design for motion pictures.”
     
  6. youngtrek

    youngtrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Here’s another bit from Return to Tomorrow, including a quote from Robert Wise regarding the sets. (Yes, a lot of what they talk about is surface level stuff: displays, carpeting, lighting, shiny metal surfaces. However, it still doesn’t sound like it was cheap by any means. “We spent money on the sets.”)

    “ROBERT WISE: When I had seen the TV sets, I’d known immediately that we would have to upgrade the entire look of the Enterprise interiors. The exterior we kept pretty much the same, with a few improvements the model builders had made. The bridge was certainly the same circular bridge that they had built for the new TV series, but I upgraded all the instrument panels, the lighting, the flooring and all kinds of things. This was done because 70mm and even 35mm Panavision is very demanding, in terms of detail and look, as compared to the small TV screen. When we screened episodes from the original series, I thought the corridors of the Enterprise looked like the Holiday Inn or some other motel corridors—they were square, boxy looking, so we made new, very striking looking corridors.

    HAROLD MICHELSON: We spent money on the sets. We updated them, using real aluminum, steel, Lucite and plastic molding—in other words, the material that I assumed you would use on a ship like that. The whole thing was very real. Now, we were dealing with illusion, but illusion is a very peculiar thing. When you’re on the wide screen, and you’re up close on aluminum, versus plywood painted aluminum, you can tell the difference. The use of illusion comes in when you’re shooting from 30 or 40 feet back; you don’t need the aluminum anymore, and you can get away with a lot of substitutes. That kind of illusion is used more often on TV, because the image is not that probing. But when you’re shooting widescreen, with that marvelous, grainless film, you have to feel this stuff, you have to be able to hit it and make it sound like aluminum. So, when I’m talking about motion picture illusion, I mean you should start with part of your sets absolutely real, and then go on from there. Kirk’s quarters, for instance, I made into two tubes, two rooms separated by a sliding, clear Lucite door in between. I kept the same square footage, but that’s about all that was left of the first design, it was now entirely different. The corridors, of course, were practically the same as before, except for all this aluminum and lighting, which we added. You see, I thought to myself, “Architecture alone is not going to do it; it’s going to have to be the lighting, too, and I’m going to have to have the cooperation of the cameraman.” Dick Kline was very cooperative. I built lights into the set along the bottom of the walls, so that the onscreen light source came from below. Don’t ask me why. It was just a different feeling than having the lights coming from above. It gave the set a different look: the floor was aglow. And it wasn’t easy. We started with fluorescent light, but fluorescent light affects film a certain way, so we had to scrap that and go with bulbs. Then, the bulbs in certain confined spaces would get very hot and start buckling our set, so we had to cut open some air vents to cool them off. The gaffers were all concerned with this too, of course. We were all involved. It’s an involved thing, making a movie. It’s a team effort, and you depend on everybody. I added certain platforms made out of grillwork. What I wanted with this railing was a feeling of floating, that nothing was necessarily anchored to the ground. We covered certain lights underneath the grilled walkway so that when they were lit the shadow which you’re used to seeing was eliminated. It looked as if there was nothing holding up the walkway. My hope was that the audience would see that and say, “OK, that’s 300 years from now. That’s nothing that we can do today with our present technology.” I kept trying to think of anything that would give us a feeling of 300 years from now.”
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, and I wasn't rejecting the overall argument, simply clarifying one specific point. You were correct that the scripts and miniatures developed for Phase II went almost completely unused in TMP (though "The Child" and "Devil's Due" ended up being used in TNG), but the same is very much not true of the sets. Those sets proved to be an enormous, enduring asset for Paramount far beyond what was ever imagined when they were built in 1978.


    I have a hardcopy edition of that book, so I know what it says. Certainly there were changes made, yes, but they didn't completely throw out the bridge set, which is my point. They adapted the bridge set that existed, and they kept a lot of the original design and superstructure. They didn't start over from scratch.
     
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  8. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    I'm now closing in on about a third of the way through Brad Parks' Interference.
    The Professor has been kidnapped by fake ambulance attendants, U.S. Counterintelligence has taken control of the entire building where he worked, and we've just been given some surveillance footage indicating that he was apparently kidnapped by Asians, possibly working for the Chinese government. I hope this doesn't degenerate into "Chinese as nondescript black-hats, being evil just for the sake of being evil," the way "the book which I will not publicly name" (nor even privately without an NDA) did practically on page one.

    And a copy of ADF's The Flavors of Other Worlds arrived yesterday, along with a Blu-Ray of Edwards & Stone's 1776 (which is now cheaper than a new-in-shrink-wrap DVD of that movie). Flavors is a bit overpriced for its page count, and I hadn't bought it earlier because I was a bit leery of WordFire Press after all the obvious typos that turned up in Mad Amos: The Complete Stories (not to mention that for what they charged for the hardcover of the Mad Amos book, I was expecting something Smyth-sewn, not just a cased-in TPB block). But since it nudged the Amazon bottom-line up enough to get me free delivery on the order, the net cost wasn't so bad. I compared the titles to the short story biblio on ADF's site; this has at least two new HC stories, one of which is another Icerigger sequel.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2021
  9. youngtrek

    youngtrek Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    So, would this be a more correct way for me to phrase it? “...who would end up marginalizing Roddenberry from executive producer on the original 1960s television series and "producer" on the first movie to merely a "consultant" starting with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Aside from the quotation marks around "producer" and "consultant," which implies that they're fake titles or nicknames or something. Those are the correct, actual titles and thus should not be in quotes. Although his full title on the later movies was Executive Consultant, the usual credit given to a series creator who's no longer working directly on the series.
     
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  11. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm reading a new mystery novel Berried Motives by Peg Cochran
     
  12. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Now 2/3 of the way through Interference. Planning to finish by sometime tomorrow.
     
  13. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think directors have quite as much power over the movies as they used to since studios and producers are taking more of an active hand in the big franchise movies, like the Star Wars, and Marvel movies.
    I read the Star War: Rebels prequel comic, Star Wars Kanan: The Last Padawan, written by Greg Weisman, with art by Pepe Larraz. It's a great origin story for the character Kanan Jarrus, and if you are a comic reading fan of the show I highly recommend it.
    After I finished that yesterday, I started The Shadow Commission, the third book in @David Mack's The Dark Arts series.
     
  14. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Just finished Brad Parks' Interference.

    As I mentioned, when Chinese nationals were implicated, I wondered if this would turn into the "Chinese as generic black-hat villains" cliche that had permeated "The Book I Will Not Name In Public" (nor in private without an NDA), fervently hoping this was not the case. Thankfully, it wasn't.

    As it turns out, the book was quite good, and didn't fall into the aforementioned cliche, and the final reveal turned out to be at once both simpler and more complex than any of the possibilities that had occurred to me. Good detective story, with short, easily digestible chapters. POV shifted among characters, from chapter to chapter, but there was only one place where I lost track of who the current narrator was.

    I just started The Flavors of Other Worlds, an ADF anthology.
     
  15. USS Firefly

    USS Firefly Commodore Commodore

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    Taking a break from "The book of blood", and starting with "Salem's lot" by Stephen King
     
  16. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Genesis. Esau has sold his birthright for a bowl of soup.
     
  17. John Clark

    John Clark Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Revolution Trade by Charles Stross.

    Enjoyed the series so far.
     
  18. Reanok

    Reanok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Star Trek Alternate light by Dayton Ward.
     
  19. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Exodus. And I don't mean as in Leon Uris. Just past the burning bush.
     
  20. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Dracula Lives! by Peter Tremayne. An omnibus of three old Dracula novels: Dracula Unborn, Revenge of Dracula, and Dracula, My Love.

    Haven't read these in ages!