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KH Martin

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    freelance writer on film production and visual effects

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 ...
  10. I think Coulson did a lot of behind the scenes on ERASERHEAD too. Not sure how good she was pulling focus on KHAN, there's a scene with Kirk at home where he is out of focus and the drink he is holding is in focus (don't think this was a deliberate choice.) E&S created a planetarium program that Scott Farrar went to Utah to use for the film's starfields, especially the very dimensional opening credits. E&S was also the company that was supposed to solve all of the previs problems on the first TREK movie for Abel, but I guess it took forever to get their equipment and then to debug it ... when Trumbull came on, he didn't use any of that stuff. I think the very nice graphic of the E that opens the Kobayashi Maru part of KHAN was also done on E&S, but there's some question about whether it was done for KHAN or done for by Abel for TMP and just not used till KHAN, as it seems to show the Enterprise in a slightly different form, like it was before Trumbull came on and it got rained on by the A/C.
  11. Pretty sure he was living in Palo Alto (with Gale Anne Hurd maybe?) at the time, so it was almost a work from home thing. The movie doesn't rate too many pages in editor Paul Hirsch's bio, but that book does cover all of Hirsch's DePalma work to some degree or other, and has some new stories about many popular and some classic flicks.
  12. Streak photography, probably using the slit-scan process. In fact, here you go: https://www.artofthetitle.com/title/superman/
  13. Physical media, baby. So long as I have a power supply, I've got tons of viewing options, nearly a thousand of which are at least blu-ray quality.
  14. So long as this super-8 site is drawing attention, wanted to throw this out there selfishly. I picked up an Elmo ST 600 D M for a song recently but the seller moved out of the country the day he sent it, and he sent it without a power cord. I have looked around on the net and not found anything about how to get one. His email from after he moved said he tested it and the bulb and everything works, so I'm wondering if there is a way to use a generic cord -- I can't figure out why he didn't include the cord unless he thought it was unimportant -- he included the original box and packaging and instructions. ANY help would be greatly appreciated -- I've got a lot of film from the 70s through the early 90s I'd like to transfer, but they've all got bad sprocket moments, so sending them to a transfer place would just result in 'skippy' DVDs, so I will have to ride herd on the transfers.
  15. I've come round to the point that I wish more of my stuff was posted online rather than being print-only. Too many times print stories only wind up on sale in mag batches on eBay, and I'm kind of disappointed to realize now I don't have any access to past stories of mine where the mag never sent me a copy and/or they have since taken them off the website (which happened with my PROMETHEUS VFX piece and my Christopher Nolan/Wally Pfister interview for HD VIDEO PRO.) ICG only puts up cover stories now, but they used to always put up the EXPOSURE Q&As.
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