Jump to content
Adrian Sierkowski

A question on Star Trek TMP

Recommended Posts

Hey All.

I've been thinking a bunch recently about going back to shoot some film stuff for music videos. I'm lucky I know a few performers who, while I'll be working for little to no money, are willing to invest a bit and play around visually. At present, I'm thinking about 35mm, probably 3 -perf and some Dry for Wet work. But beyond that, I was curious about bringing out this effect:

 

https://youtu.be/mvDma4sG8Vg?t=106

 

There may have been a time when I looked up how to do this; but honestly at present i'm coming up pretty short on the how; so I put it to you all; how did they do all this photochemically? Beyond just camera necessities, also what was done in the printing process?

 

Any help would be much appreciated as always.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks to me like an optical printer effect where they're doing scaling and translation on the image and printing it over a few subsequent frames. Could be simulated in modern compositing software.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll dig up my Cinefex issue. I do recall some of the light streaks had to be added since they "originate" from sources beyond the edge of the frame.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Douglas Trumbull, Cinefex #1, pg.28:

 

"It was done on a horizontal camera stand with 35mm film projected from behind onto a little RP (rear-projection) screen. They isolated the parts they wanted to have streaked -- faces and lights, primarily -- by making individual rotoscope masks that would reveal only those parts. Then, as each masked image was projected onto the RP screen, the camera would move relative to it with the shutter open and record it as a blur. The idea was they're caught up in this wormhole effect and you're seeing a distortion of time and space on the bridge -- everything's started to stretch out. Since the blurs keep changing and undulating during the shots, they had to use a computer to control all the motions. It was an extremely complicated process -- each different streak in a given shot would require a separate pass -- and it took them about seven months to complete the whole sequence. Then they went back and had all the streaks optically superimposed over the live-action footage they'd started from originally."

 

He said that this sequence had been started already by Bob Swarthe working for Robert Abel's company before they were replaced by Trumbul's, but since it was so complicated and being done with 35mm equipment and Trumbull was geared to work in 65mm, he let him finish the sequence at Abel's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a much more detailed description in Cinefex #11 (interview with Robert Swarthe), over a page long which I'm not going to retype. But it does mention that the steppy quality to the streak was an accident of the system, the motion controlled camera took a moment to begin its move, causing a hot spot in the streak due to the build up in exposure in that frame.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice thank you David et. Al I'm going to go out and track down the Cinefex mag and give it a good read over. I'd like to work this all photochemically this go 'round, though it does sound quite a bit involved, I think it'll be worth it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you'll have a hard time finding anyone who could do this work on an optical printer. Let alone find a rear projection screen attached to an Oxberry animation stand set-up.

 

It wouldn't be the same, but a variation would be to mistime a shutter on film camera and shoot everything with a 90 degree tilt to so the streaks move horizontally instead of vertically (you'll have to crop and rotate in post, so ideally shoot on a 4-perf 35mm camera rather than a widescreen format.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I"m thinking is not to do it on an optical printer-- but maybe work with a DSLR in post for this specific sequence (as well as cardboard cut outs).

 

Basically the idea is from the film original once scanned Print out transparencies of each frame needed (perhaps every other frame) (and granted I'm thinking a few seconds worth here, not the long sequence) and throw them onto a light-box with everything masked out minus the "light areas" I want to streak, and then utilizing a stills camera in bulb mode attached to a slider-type thing to do a long exposure, hand moved, to get the streaks, then composite them. I think you're right and photochemical won't work, which is kinda sad :(

Most of those whole idea comes out of me rambling to a good friend of mine about how sad it is these techniques are dying, and wanting to try them before they're gone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I"m thinking is not to do it on an optical printer-- but maybe work with a DSLR in post for this specific sequence (as well as cardboard cut outs).

 

Basically the idea is from the film original once scanned Print out transparencies of each frame needed (perhaps every other frame) (and granted I'm thinking a few seconds worth here, not the long sequence) and throw them onto a light-box with everything masked out minus the "light areas" I want to streak, and then utilizing a stills camera in bulb mode attached to a slider-type thing to do a long exposure, hand moved, to get the streaks, then composite them. I think you're right and photochemical won't work, which is kinda sad :(

Most of those whole idea comes out of me rambling to a good friend of mine about how sad it is these techniques are dying, and wanting to try them before they're gone.

If you can use motion control for each frame so that the streak from each frame looks the same, you might get a look a bit like that Star Trek clip. But I suppose if you went freehand with the camera movement it would look a bit more wrigley and anarchic (yay!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those original ILM teams were wizards. I love practical effects. The level of creativity involved is palpable.

Not to be persnickety, but ILM didn't do TMP, though future ILMer Scott Farrar did shoot some of it (for Trumbull's team under Dave Stewart), as did former ILMer Doug Smith (the latter working for Dykstra at Apogee.) And yeah, they were all geniuses! Again, if you want to drown in TMP VFX tech, just read the last half of the monstrously thick RETURN TO TOMORROW book on the making of TMP ... put that together with Cinefex and AmCin coverage and you're probably about as close to knowing most of what and how they did things as you're going to get.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to be persnickety, but ILM didn't do TMP, though future ILMer Scott Farrar did shoot some of it (for Trumbull's team under Dave Stewart), as did former ILMer Doug Smith (the latter working for Dykstra at Apogee.) And yeah, they were all geniuses! Again, if you want to drown in TMP VFX tech, just read the last half of the monstrously thick RETURN TO TOMORROW book on the making of TMP ... put that together with Cinefex and AmCin coverage and you're probably about as close to knowing most of what and how they did things as you're going to get.

 

Ah yes, ILM didn't get involved till Wrath of Khan. And I thought I was Trekkie.

 

I'm particularly fascinated by the miniature work. The Enterprise in that film is probably the most convincing miniature I've seen. This includes 2001, the Star Wars saga, and the more recent CGI Trek films/tv series.

 

On the other hand, it would be difficult to make that model "fly" as effectively as the ships in the mentioned films and tv. A big model like that can't roll, bank, or accelerate as freely as a CG model.

 

Clearly I've thought a good deal about this, lol! If I could wish myself into the director's chair on a ST film, I'd want to see the gravitas of TMP Enterprise coupled with the agility/nimbleness of the more recent ships. But I'm hijacking now. Apologies for geeking out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

On the other hand, it would be difficult to make that model "fly" as effectively as the ships in the mentioned films and tv. A big model like that can't roll, bank, or accelerate as freely as a CG model.

The model doesn't, much. The camera does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spaceships don’t need to roll and bank in zero-G...

 

But forgetting that for a moment, you usually convey size in a transportation vehicle miniature by the sort of moves it makes, and the Enterprise is the size of an aircraft carrier, so you risk making it feel smaller if it moves too nimbly.

 

What a CGI model does allow is for the virtual camera to fly around the “big” spaceship with greater freedom, from near to far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spaceships dont need to roll and bank in zero-G...

 

But forgetting that for a moment, you usually convey size in a transportation vehicle miniature by the sort of moves it makes, and the Enterprise is the size of an aircraft carrier, so you risk making it feel smaller if it moves too nimbly.

 

What a CGI model does allow is for the virtual camera to fly around the big spaceship with greater freedom, from near to far.

I entirely agree. I would add that the CGI model is able to have a lot more moving parts, which should make it much richer character. But if they keep destroying her every movie, she can't really develop as a character. Now I'm definitely rabbit-trailing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first decade though of CGI spaceships, there was such a high cost to detailing the digital model at a high resolution, that CGI spaceships either tended to lack texture or they avoided getting too close to them or they did everything at a low resolution. The physical model of the Enterprise E in "First Contact" looked better than the digital version in "Insurrection".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh yeah, the most convincing CGI starship thus far has been the USS Kelvin from Star Trek 09. The scale and detail of that model were really excellent. I also loved Enterprise in Star Trek Beyond. That's the best she's looked since TMP. I hate that they destroyed her. She moved in a similar way to the Refit Enterprise as well. So much sci-fi model work (CGI or practical) lately gives me motion sickness. It's important to see the model clearly if the audience is to believe it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



  • Broadcast Solutions Inc



    CineLab



    Paralinx LLC



    Glidecam



    Gamma Ray Digital Inc



    Metropolis Post



    Wooden Camera



    Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS



    Rig Wheels Passport



    Abel Cine



    Tai Audio



    New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment



    Visual Products



    Serious Gear



    Ritter Battery


×
×
  • Create New...