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That's no Lunar Transporter!
March 17, 2012 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Spaceships that became other spaceships: The Millennium Falcon, The Colonial Viper, The Eagle Transporter - from the blog of Gavin Rothery, visual effects designer on Moon. Previously.
posted by Artw (33 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also: Jawas!
posted by Artw at 9:53 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I covet the Lego Tantive IV set.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:24 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Indeed - I quite like it's cousin the Republic Frigate, which seems to owe a bit to that first Falcon design.
posted by Artw at 10:47 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Goddamn do I love me some old-school scratch-built film spaceship models with plenty of greebling - thanks for these, Artw. As much as I love CG, it's one of the reasons modern SF movies tend to look so clean, slick and sterile.... I'm convinced that there's something about physically building a prop that allows artists to go "hmmm, the edges of this thruster would probably gain carbon buildup over time" or "Huh, this strut doesn't look physically strong enough... I bet they'd add some reinforcement here". The Millenium Falcon was lived-in - battered, dinged up, jury-rigged - and for all that, more convincing.

Moon was one of the very few recent movies that got it right... and hey, look! After a very long absence, the site for the modelmaker of that movie, Steve Howarth, is back up: models for Moon, Red Dwarf and more.

I still think those UFO Inteceptors are the dorkiest-looking spacecraft ever: "Hey! We'll only need one shot at a UFO! Let's just put a single missile on the nose of the craft! No-one could possibly mistake it for a giant space dildo!"
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:12 PM on March 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Gavin Rothery's blog itself is worth a butcher's. He links to and posts so many science fiction illustrations from the '70s and '80s which I used to pore over while growing up. This is excellent stuff. Thanks Artw!
posted by ooga_booga at 11:29 PM on March 17, 2012


Man, to have your day job be "build sweet looking toys" day after day...that must really wear down your soul and leave you a real shell of a person after enough years.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:36 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Goddamn do I love me some old-school scratch-built film spaceship models with plenty of greebling

It's worth going through the rest of the entries, there's some gems...
Making Space 1999
Some of my favourite old TV show intros
The Best Thing About Alien Resurrection
What the hell are you watching?
Inside Alien
Inside The Alien Shoot Part 2
Inside The Alien Shoot Part 3
Inside the alien production - part 4
Denys Ayling - Alien Miniatures DoP
Inside 80s ILM
The Sandcrawler
Alien model Build - The Narcissus
Getting There: The Nostromo
Tyderium Set from return of the Jedi
posted by Artw at 11:46 PM on March 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


As much as I love CG, it's one of the reasons modern SF movies tend to look so clean, slick and sterile...

Hmm.. I'm kind of the opposite opinion. There are problems with using models, for example the masses of Vipers in scenes like this. I always thought the motion of the formations looked horribly fake, which destroyed the illusion. The models were always locked together in a static formation, it was logistically impossible to do a motion-control camera shot of each model so when they were composited, they'd all move realistically, drifting slightly as they flew independently but in formation. This was one of the big things Lucas changed in the CG remakes of the Tie Fighter scenes, the fighters all moved independently. And then he went too far and screwed it all up by taking simple scenes and adding a kajillion ships all moving in different directions.

But I will show you the peak of evolution of non-CG models: The Hunt for Red October. See that shot? That was a model. And it was huge. Check out the model of the little submarine, the DSRV. I think that's like 75% scale. I saw how the underwater effects were done, they put huge models in an enormous warehouse and filled the room with smoke to simulate lighting through water, then did stop-motion shots of like 3 second exposures (for motion blur and to smooth out the moving smoke) as the motion control camera moved around (easier than moving the model). I saw a little of this because the sets were a few blocks from my loft in downtown LA. But mostly I know about this because I met John Knoll, who did the SFX. He showed me the animatics he did on a Macintosh II. He gave me a floppy disc with an early beta copy of this cool little program he just wrote to manipulate the stills in the animatics. He called it Photoshop.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:53 PM on March 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


Chris Foss is behind the Eagle? I should have known. Someday I will track down one of those two-foot models.
posted by mwhybark at 12:11 AM on March 18, 2012


Gavin Rothery's blog itself is worth a butcher's.

You'll forgive me if I vehemently disagree; four sentences into his post about The Millennium Falcon he goes full-on rape culture, and after a single paragraph he brings it around for a second shot.
posted by tzikeh at 2:24 AM on March 18, 2012


Sexy space burger go FAST!
posted by arcticseal at 2:37 AM on March 18, 2012


The last link has got me confused - it references a 1970s show and upcoming movie called UFO with a concept strikingly similar to the UFO: Enemy Unknown games (secret bases, futuristic weapons, even the ships are called Interceptors). Nothing I've read about the game mentions a TV show or film, and the film website does not reference the games at all. Does anybody know what's going on here?

Have I completely missed this or have we reached the postmodern pinnacle where a videogame cannot be made into a movie without fabricating evidence of a previous version to reboot?
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:46 AM on March 18, 2012


UFO was a live action Gerry Anderson show that ran in the early 70s. The upcoming movie is a modern remake. The games were influenced by the show not the other way around.
posted by Z303 at 5:12 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I always felt the Eagle Transporter was cribbed off the design of the Moon Bus.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:32 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brian Johnson work on both projects, so that's not surprising
posted by Z303 at 5:54 AM on March 18, 2012


I didn't know that those Eagle Things could reproduce, but then I couldn't watch that show anyway.

How about robots that became other robots?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:25 AM on March 18, 2012


Too...many...superfluous... apostrophes...gaargh!
posted by Mooseli at 6:54 AM on March 18, 2012


four sentences into his post about The Millennium Falcon he goes full-on rape culture

That squicked me out a bunch, too. And yet there's a lot to unpack in the use of that metaphor: men being so emotionally stunted that they only know how to appreciate something by sexualizing it, that this guy (like many nerd-men) is so uncomfortable with his feelings that he can only act when he's so drunk that he'll instead hurt someone (and the whole situation is played for laughs), that spaceships are used as a stand-in for the objectification of women because they're actual objects, etc.

/beanplate
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:51 AM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


But I will show you the peak of evolution of non-CG models: The Hunt for Red October. See that shot? That was a model. And it was huge.

That's not Red October. The conning tower is too far forward. That almost looks like a Los Angeles-cass sub, but it's missing the tubes on top.

Here's Red October. More here.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:16 AM on March 18, 2012


Otto Wagner and the Millenium Falcon (via this, which, um, come on Reddit dudes, seriously?)
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on March 18, 2012


You'll forgive me if I vehemently disagree; four sentences into his post about The Millennium Falcon he goes full-on rape culture, and after a single paragraph he brings it around for a second shot.


What does that "butchers" thing even mean? It seemed to go all cockney rhyming slang out of nowhere.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:13 AM on March 18, 2012


Ah, my mistake, that image came up under a web search for Red October. It's been a while since I saw the film.

Thanks for those model shots. They're not quite as huge as I recalled, but it's been decades since I saw them. My recollection is that they used large models because it was easier to shoot at that scale since you didn't have to use short focus lenses that required more accurate motion-control camera work.

That film really was the watershed moment for SFX, the CG tools came to fruition right at that time, as I noted with Photoshop, which was invented for internal work at ILM during that film.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:16 AM on March 18, 2012


charlie, you seem to be saying that Photoshop was created by or for ILM. That does not appear to be the case.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:30 AM on March 18, 2012


Yes, it's rhyming slang for "look" from "butcher's hook." I'm assuming ooga is from London? Or thereabouts?

At any rate, I've been trying to come up with a thoughtful response to Jon_Evil's comment, and failing. I'm glad you noted how in-the-face nasty that was, J_E, but you had to follow it up with "And yet--" and turned a blatant example of rape culture into a musing on how "teh nurd-menz is so saaaaad!" And that's the comment that gets the agreement/up-vote/whatever (favorites ain't bookmarks and we all know it). As soon as we can make it about how bad guys have it, well, then it's something worth discussing, right?

So tired of it, right now. I was going to point out the ME3 thread to a friend of mine to show that there is a lot of great, in-depth discussion of narrative and theme and what we expect from the stories we take part in telling within gamer culture, but the "having to go through all that stupid romance" comments were just door-slammers. I actually clicked on the first link in this post in order to cheer myself up after being discouraged by the ME3 thing; I figured reading about the evolution of designs would be something I could do free and clear of the endless problems of how women are viewed/treated in the "nerd" world--dismissed at best, objectified and violated at worst. I don't know how I keep managing to forget what "endless" means.

Hoo boy.
posted by tzikeh at 10:33 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


ergh - on lack of preview that "yes" et al is in response to Senor Cardage.
posted by tzikeh at 10:34 AM on March 18, 2012


Yes, it's rhyming slang for "look" from "butcher's hook."

Well that just sounds unnecessarily convoluted.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:35 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Senor - you just made me laugh out loud, and I'm not exactly in a giggly mood at the moment. Ah, the power of a few well-chosen words and some italics.
posted by tzikeh at 10:46 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well that just sounds unnecessarily convoluted.

It's just to confuse the foreigners... ie anyone born out of the sound of Bow bells....

Wait until you get into back slang and double slang with stuff like, 'Move your arris!' = 'Can please move to one side to let me though'... Arris from Aristotle, Aristotle = Bottle, which leads to, Bottle And Glass = Arse.

(It took me years to find out where 'drum' meaning a house, flat, where you live came from... to save you the google it's 'drum and bass, place')
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:11 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


tzikeh, Sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound like I was being an apologist for rape culture, but I totally shifted the focus to men without realizing it. The point I was trying to make was "rape culture begets more rape culture" but looking at it now, it didn't come through at all.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:35 AM on March 18, 2012


Jon - no, I know, and I didn't mean to reply like "Oh, sure, make it about you, why don't you!" as if it were you personally, purposely doing that. It's... it's not even a knee-jerk reaction so much as it's... ugh. Can't make words work right today. I get you. It's ok.
posted by tzikeh at 1:45 PM on March 18, 2012


wow.

(... re: Artw)

posted by Auden at 3:02 PM on March 18, 2012


charlie, you seem to be saying that Photoshop was created by or for ILM. That does not appear to be the case.

No, that's not what I'm saying. Tom Knoll started the development of the app "Display," but it would never have become Photoshop if John hadn't wanted it for his SFX work at ILM. The version John gave me (v0.93 I think) had only John's name and phone number in the About screen.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:28 PM on March 18, 2012


Sorry to be the cause for that rhyming slang derail - I'd just been watching a double feature of the Limey and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

As for the rape culture bit, I see that. I guess I was too dazzled by the pretty pictures and nostalgia to have noticed. That said, if you liked Moon you owe it to yourself to go through Rothery's Making of Moon Blog.
posted by ooga_booga at 10:29 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


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