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Old 02-04-2009, 07:26 PM   #21
David A. Sobral
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Originally Posted by JD View Post
Well, for the shots where the model was stationary the stage crew pushed the camera dolly past it on a track. That's a bog-standard 'tracking shot', which you'll see applied on any live-action shoot as well.

Nope, the models on Star Trek were stationary against a blue screen, and the camera was again dollied around them, in some cases starting or finishing far outside the stage door! The 11' Enterprise was far too big to move out of a stationary lighting scheme, the principle advantage of this technique.

The "Lost In Space" model work was indeed 'old school', as you say. The studio still had it's own FX department, and the techniques were descended from the work of the Lydecker brothers. You can even see the name of the legendary Ralph Hammeras on a slate in some bts footage.

'2001: a Space Odyssey'. The 50'+ Discovery was again far too big to light 'on the move'. The camera moved past it on a worm gear mechanism, which not only gave a dead-smooth motion it allowed a second pass to be shot in register, of live-action footage projected onto the cockpit windows.

All of the Star Trek series' up until Enterprise used motion-control model work. Ditto the majority of the features. It was the prevalent technique into the late 90's when CGI work began to encroach on it.

Even then, the miniature work on 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy was shot largely with motion-control. In fact we had four stages, each with their own rig, shooting simultaneously.

And by the late 80's motion-control had moved onto the live-action stages, recording or repeating moves for the later addition of VFX. It's everywhere!
Well, what I meant about "Space:1999" being among the first to use "primitive" motion control, I was referring only to TV series. I know TNG was practically ALL model work. There really wasn't a blend of CGI & miniatures until "Voyager" then, "Enterprise" tilted the balance the other way (I think...don't know a lot about the last three "Star Trek" series. It may sound kind of lame but, series wise, I think the Animated "Star Trek" was superior to the last two series...and, I DO count it as a 4th season. I watched the special features last night & everyone from DC Fontana to David Gerrold to Larry Brody to Larry Niven...even Roddenberry himself, although his position is a little wobbly, considered it to be "canon" as it should be. Just because it was animated & only 30 minutes doesn't make it "not-Star Trek"...oops, sorry, wandered off the parth a bit).
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Old 02-04-2009, 08:25 PM   #22
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John Dykstra

John Charles Dykstra, A.S.C. (born June 3, 1947 in Long Beach, California, United States) is a two-time Academy Award-winning special effects supervisor and pioneer in the development of the use of computers in film making. He is married to Cass McCune; their daughter is actress and model Chloe Dykstra.

Education and early career
After studying industrial design at California State University, Long Beach (where he was a member of Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity), Dykstra landed a job working with Douglas Trumbull on Silent Running filming model effects.

Working with George Lucas
When George Lucas was recruiting people for the special effects work on Star Wars, he approached Trumbull who pointed him towards Dykstra. Dykstra led the development at Industrial Light & Magic of the Dykstraflex motion-controlled camera, which was responsible for many of the film's groundbreaking effects. The system was made possible by the availability of off-the-shelf integrated-circuit RAMs at relatively low cost and secondhand VistaVision cameras.

However, there was tension between Dykstra and Lucas who later complained that too much of the special effects budget was spent on developing the camera systems and that the effects team did not deliver all the shots that he had wanted. Regardless, following the release of Star Wars Dykstra secured his status in the industry with Academy Awards for best special effects and special technical achievement.

Battlestar Galactica
Dykstra had a Production credit for the television series Battlestar Galactica and contributed to the series' effects but after Star Wars these stock shots were a bit of a disappointment. Universal Studios that produced Battlestar Galactica also had a legal dispute with George Lucas so that when work started on The Empire Strikes Back, Dykstra did not want to come back Dykstra also worked on the effects for Star Trek: The Motion Picture with some of these effects being recycled in subsequent films.

Dykstra's next major achievement was the effects work on Firefox in 1982. Here, he took on the same challenge that Lucas had set with The Empire Strikes Back of combining miniature effects with actual backgrounds and matte work on white backgrounds using reverse bluescreen. The film secured further awards but was only a modest box office hit.

Comic book films

Dykstra was supervisor for the special effects of Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. He was also Senior Visual Effects for Stuart Little. Dykstra was Visual Effects Designer on the first two Spider-Man films, and was rewarded with an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects for his efforts on Spider-Man 2.

Video games
Dykstra directed the 1992 full-motion video game Sewer Shark. The game was a critical and commercial flop, and was packaged with the Sega CD.

Dykstra was also involved with the laserdisc-based arcade game spin-off from Firefox that proved a big hit and for the next decade concentrated on video games.

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