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KH Martin

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    freelance writer on film production and visual effects

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  1. What are you talking about? The guy referenced how a generation has grown up seeing bad use of flares, but your post cited pre-youtube exceptions (which, as tradition have it, help prove the rule.) Man, sometimes even this site produces some weird posts. EDIT ADDON: I just read down the rest of the thread, maybe I should change 'weird posts' to 'weird posters.' You aren't the same guy who poisoned the well on tech discussions at Nolanfans years back are you?
  2. Context. The occasional lens flare can well be appropriate, or such a use can even be inspired. A few sequences relying heavily on them can even be effective (first DIE HARD.) But the way flares have been chronically misused this century by The Abrams Bunch and others is visually about as imbecilic as the results you get when you give a 9 year old a zooms lens, and about as engaging. It's like some folks have decided ADD editing needed a new component, since I guess filmmaking is now often about distracting away from feeble content and/or execution.
  3. Talked to him about MUTANT CHRONICLES 12 or 13 years back, very much enjoyed him and the interview. Meant to ask him about a doc he shot on THE PRISONER back in the 80s. Damn ...
  4. Given that MR's space shots were done almost entirely through double exposure rather than traveling matte, does the higher-rez image betray this to any degree? They usually avoid bleedthrough of stars into ships by designing the shots to avoid crossovers (and supposedly by Meddings fading the stars down by hand at approximately the right moment, which sound industriously like magic to my mind), but I'm thinking indiscriminate HDR would make the stars pop in a way that should blow this illusion here and possibly on ALIEN as well. The latter supposedly used elaborate rotoscope techniques, but on the blu and I think on the LD too, you could see the quality and blackness of space was different in the area of the ship's path in many shots, which to me was as distracting as the garbage mattes in 2010 and SW.
  5. Reading that made me think 'if Conrad Hall was shooting Imax ... ?' and of course, that IN COLD BLOOD pane of glass with rain falling across Robert Blake's face came to mind, but up on an Imax screen, and perhaps done with even more prep and subtlety. Geez, B&W and real Imax could have been an incredible combination. Now I'm thinking David Lynch in the early 80s might have been ideal to pair with it. There's an alternate reality where the manned space program didn't stall/die out with Apollo and Timothy Dalton started doing Bond movies with FOR YOUR EYES ONLY ... maybe it's the same one where Doug Trumbull's Showscan revolutionized filmmaking and the only way Imax could compete for large-format was by giving Lynch carte blanche, partnering with DeLaurentis to do DUNE in B&W (perhaps with desert scenes tinted or hand-colored a la old B&W films.) Oh, if wishes were sandworms ... you'd all be eating my Arrakeen dust.
  6. Hey David, With you being an appreciator of TMP, was wondering if you had looked at the 4K disc yet. Have read a lot about the weird stuff done to the image in some VFX shots (I guess to smooth out or cover mattework) that creates a smear effect where before there was crisp beautiful miniature photography. I don't have a 4K setup right now (just player, no big TV), but even if I did, I'd have to think twice about 'up'grading on this, given that the whole reason I wanted TMP on UHD was to see the modelwork and the vger cloud passage looking the way I remembered them from the theater. One site indicated that the smearing on the model shots came from averaging the frame in front and I guess behind it, so it is kind of like cascade optical printing, but done digitally. Can't figure out the WHY of messing with something that is the theatrical version of the movie. I can see an excuse for wrecking it all with the 'director's' version (not that I'd support it), but not the theatrical.
  7. Thanks David. I just read something on imdb where someone suggested this was supposed to imply James Darren returning to his old 60s TV series THE TIME TUNNEL, and I gotta admit it does kind of remind me of that awesome op-art piece of art direction.
  8. I just caught this 2017 movie on HBO -- it is a wonderful little film, an 18-day wonder in which Harry Dean Stanton occupies nearly every frame. It has great performances and writing, but the thing that is really sticking with me was this incredible lens flare about halfway through the film, when James Darren enters a red-lit area and disappears. I've never seen a lens flare like it, it was almost like a screen graphic out of a war or space movie ... but I don't see how it could have been a post effect. I was just wondering if anybody knows how this particular flare was achieved, with some net on the lens or a particular light source and lens combination. You'll know it when you see it, it is practically like a circular grid effect. And stay for the rest of the movie, it is great, and Tom Skerritt has got a wonderful extended cameo. Really good cast, great directorial debut for the actor best known for playing Drew Carey's brother.
  9. My piece at ICG gets into it somewhat, too. Starts on page 50: https://www.icgmagazine.com/web/icg-magazine-april-2021-digital-edition/ I haven't read how much got cut (I went way overlong on the story), but imagine there is still some mention of the Petzval lenses.
  10. They lost a ton with Dykstra's departure. The idea that they would shoot the worms in direct sunlight -- as evidenced by the first worm appearance, which I guess is one of the few Apogee shots that is in the film -- is a great one. I'm sure Dino was probably always at odds with Dykstra's tech-minded approach to things, which kind of begs the question why he hired Apogee in the first place. Don't recall Lynch ever discussing the VFX much, or his involvement with JD. I think your analysis of the structure issues is dead-on. Personally, I've always found the Harkonnens to be OTT evil in the novel, which worked against credibility evinced throughout most of the rest of the book. The OTT aspect is something Lynch plays to very successfully for me. When I finally read the novel and the three sequels that were out right before the theatrical debuted, my takeaway was that you could have shrunk Duncan and Gurney into a single character very easily, and that a good screenwriter could have done a better job with Yueh's motivations and actions than Herbert ever managed (have never read the Rudy Wurlitzer draft of DUNE that was done when Ridley Scott was going to make it, wonder if he addressed that, or if he was too busy creating horrid taboo scenarios like Paul fornicating with his mom to produce Alia!) Back in the 90s, a friend of mine thought the way to tackle DUNE was to start with the Harkonnen attack and get to the Fremen by the end of act1, but his take was to just drop all that went before, which to me seemed like too much to lose. Maybe the right way is to start with the Harkonnen attack, but then drop in the important earlier stuff (Paul's hand in box, ferinstance) in flashback as P & J make their way through the desert and through conversations with Fremen. I think that THE STAND is taking an approach along these lines, so it'll be interesting to see how that is accepted. Obviously the new DUNE isn't going that route since it is just doing the first half of the novel (presuming concluding with P&J meeting the Fremen?), but maybe the next version will try that in 2040 or whenever. I think I'm one of the few people who liked the book and the Lynch but hated the miniseries (actually gave up on it with only a half-hour to go), largely because I felt the license they took was much more outrageous than Lynch's version, with respect to Shaddam's daughter among other things. I picked up both miniseries on DVD this year at thrift stores as business expenses for the now-suspended articles I was doing on the new DUNE's cinematography, editing and VFX, but haven't actually tried watching them yet, though I managed to rewatch both the theatrical and Judas Booth versions of the Lynch during the summer. (I don't think a year has gone by in the last 20 that I haven't watched it at least once.)
  11. DUNE using anamorphics caused problems in other areas too. I think the old CINEFANTASTIQUE double issue on that film is online someplace, and it might be there I recall reading that at least some of the VFX stuff was shot in anamorphic, which creates huge problems with things like starfields, because you need to shoot oval stars instead of round ones. Plus panning the camera on them becomes a nightmare because they'll change shape, so you wind up with static starfields. I think DUNE is a pretty sharp looking movie, and certainly the one that seems to suffer least from the use of LightFlex. It's like Francis had a light painterly touch in scenes like Paul and Jessica with the Rev. Mother up front, which still looks wonderful to me. The process work and some of the other vfx are godawful, but the foreground miniatures are well-nigh perfect. And the cast, except for the lead (who I've described as a black hole that sucks from everything around it), is pretty wonderful. (full disclosure, I love Kyle M in THE HIDDEN and TWIN PEAKS, but he exudes zero charisma in DUNE, one of the aspects that has made me think a lesser actor who had some starpower would have worked better. I know Rob Lowe turned it down after Matt Dillon (!?), so clearly Dino exhausted his options before Lynch got to cast his choice.
  12. Geez, I'm sorry, you're right, I mixed them up. I've mixed up Dick Pope with Bill Pope before too, even though I've interviewed the latter a couple of times successfully.
  13. The Rinzler book on SW gets into this Taylor thing pretty heavily, so it is worth getting for that (even though it completely omits mention of the 1976 Fall shutdown of ILM, instead only noting a brief downtime the year before, which calls into question just how definitive the account can possibly be.) I think Lucas lost his first choice DP because of a schedule delay or conflict (incidentally, several key bts personnel, including Unsworth, John Barry, Leslie Dilley and Roger Christian, were all on Fox's LUCKY LADY before SW got started), and Taylor had just shot THE OMEN for the same studio, so Fox really wanted him and supported him enormously even after he ran afoul of Lucas and especially Kurtz, who in the end wound up shooting stuff without him (I think it is the opening stuff when Vader boards the Princess' ship.) There was a lot of hassle back&forth about the stocking filter behind the lens on Tatooine exteriors, which seems weird since GL originally wanted to use a ton of diffusion throughout, so I don't know why he would have objected to this rather subtle and limited use. (Never understood his wanted a documentary look mixed with heavy diffusion ... can you imagine how horrid the bluescreen work would have looked if the live-action had been shot with diffusion? And diffusion can get really nasty when you go multiple generations, too.) The quote in CINEFANTASTIQUE about Gil Taylor's short tenure on CONAN from Millius read, 'he was terminated with extreme prejudice' and also noted 'his methods were ... unsound.' Just to be clear, I'm not a SW devotee (I only like the first two, and mainly only like the first one because I think the editing is just amazing), but I talked to a lot of guys about it for a Cinefex article back in the 90s so I got fairly immersed in it for awhile. I imagine you could probably go on a site like theforce.net and find all sorts of tidbits. David, does the ALIENS book get into why the original DP got canned? I have assumed it was JC's idea to put the fear of god into the crew by firing somebody major early on, and it would have tied in with being around the time James Remar, the original Hicks, departed too. That particular DP could get kinda prickly ... the one time I was supposed to interview him (I think it was the Tom Hardy Kray Bros movie), he stopped the interview five minutes in when he finally remembered the studio hadn't screened the film for me beforehand (I probably see only five percent of stuff in advance of covering it, so that is business-as-usual for me) and basically imploded the article on the spot. I remember Cracknell having issues on a couple of other films in the 70s ... one might have had to do with the 'blacking up' of white stuntmen on LIVE & LET DIE in one instance, but I don't recall the other one, except that there was some kind of uprising where he backed a faction favoring the director being replaced in mid-shoot.
  14. Just rewatched Frankenheimer/Howe SECONDS on Saturday, and the B&W snippets here really reminded me of those opening credits. This looked really hot! Definitely looked like mylar gags, one of my fave go-tos (and what Edlund used to create hyperspace for the brief views in STAR WARS and RETURN OF THE JEDI.) Some of the early images of the model laying down in space reminded me of the awesome ep 8 of TWIN PEAKS season 3, when Cooper is on that building out in space and falls off.
  15. I used to have a book on computer graphics in the late 1980s that had full page images of those two KHAN graphics, credited to E&S. I say 'used to have' because I carved the book up to use those images for a book proposal. Really regret doing that now ...
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