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Fan-Fiction, Fully Rendered.
November 30, 2010 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Anyone can write Star Trek fan-fiction, but few can render it in 3-D. Since 2006, Brandon Bridges has been writing, directing and producing a work of full-length Star Trek fan fiction entitled Star Trek: Specter of the Past. ST:SOTP "follows the crew of the USS Fitzgerald, an Entente-class starship commanded by newly promoted Captain Gaius Reyf." Last month, Bridges released his Director's Edition to the web. It should be noted that Bridges plans to re-release the film with a full voice cast. Parts 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. (Multi-link YouTube Post)

Additionally, Bridge's interest in 3-D extends to faithful recreations of classic game show sets, like Double Dare, The Price is Right and Jeopardy. For the technically curious, Bridges goes into some of his 3-D technique in this thread.
posted by grabbingsand (45 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Captain's Log, Stardate 4156.2. Our ship remains stuck in a space-time rift that has taken us deep into the Uncanny Valley...
posted by PlusDistance at 8:51 AM on November 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Captain Gaius Reyf and Dr. Braiyon Garr... really?

Hello, I am Admiral Griefus McDooglecutty.
posted by Babblesort at 8:52 AM on November 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


This looks exactly like Star Trek fan-fiction rendered in 3D.
posted by DU at 8:52 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, I see Daz-3D has hit upon the idea of using breasts to sell software.
posted by DU at 8:53 AM on November 30, 2010


Not my cup of tea, but hats off to him for doing something he seems to be really into doing.
posted by nomadicink at 8:57 AM on November 30, 2010


The voice acting is bush-league, but this is still a remarkable amount of work. I think it's a promising start, and it's nice to think that one day we might have computers powerful enough to render high quality movies without actors for very little money.
posted by reformedjerk at 8:57 AM on November 30, 2010


In the future, men and women will all wear colourful pajamas, and sound remarkably similar.
posted by modernnomad at 8:58 AM on November 30, 2010


But clearly a labour of love, which I admire.
posted by modernnomad at 8:59 AM on November 30, 2010


>>> The voice acting is bush-league ...

All of the voices are provided by Brandon Bridges alone. He seems to have auditioned some talent for vocal casting for a re-release, but the single-voiced Director's Edition is incredibly Malkovich-Malkovich.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:05 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which link has Reiker and Data getting it on?
posted by Theta States at 9:07 AM on November 30, 2010


Which link has Reiker and Data getting it on?

Mail me, I'll hook you up.
posted by nomadicink at 9:11 AM on November 30, 2010


Reiker? Reiker? You're gonna need to know how to spell the character's name if you're ever gonna be able to search for porny stories starring them; it is Riker.

But seriously, there's something about Trek fandom that seems to inspire overambitious shit like this. I have enormous respect for such endeavors; it takes mind-alteringly vast quantities of Nerdtronium Alloy to construct something like this, and that shit doesn't grow on trees.
posted by pts at 9:17 AM on November 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


The "review" under the "Director's Edition" link appears to consist of a detailed and rather bland retelling of the story. That's not what a review is.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:20 AM on November 30, 2010


Interesting, this sort of stuff is mainstream with Star Wars non-canon fiction. Of course, Star Trek has a lot more canon to offer.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:21 AM on November 30, 2010


So I've only watched a few minutes of this, but it's fantastic. One person, working alone, producing 3+ hours of animated video? That's amazing. The quality is pretty good, too, compare to NMA or Xtra Normal. There's some good direction and pacing of the shots. He's a pretty good voice actor, too, although it'd be nice to have some variety.
posted by Nelson at 9:23 AM on November 30, 2010


I know, I know, fan fiction is its own thing and blah blah blah, but it blows my mind that somebody has invested this much time and energy on somebody else's stuff.

There's obviously an initial gain in visibility, as fandom will guarantee him a decent audience from the get-go, but what's the endgame? At the end of the day, you've created something now owned by Paramount or whoever.

He could have made his own universe, with his own characters and concepts, and it might have been less popular, or more flawed, but it would have been his.

I guess I just fundamentally don't get fanfic in a lot of ways; it just seems like a hell of a lot of investment towards maintaining and building on somebody else's property. I mean, this is years of your life. Wouldn't you rather walk away from it with something that’s all yours -- even if it wears its influences proudly on its sleeve -- rather than something that can only exist as a fan-made subset of a corner of a section of a niche of somebody else’s IP?

There’s a measure of security in making something where you can just be a fanboy instead of taking chances on being a failed visionary, I suppose, but again... the work. So much time that could have been spent on making something new, instead of an echo of a 40-year-old franchise.
posted by Shepherd at 9:44 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which link has Reiker and Data getting it on?

Er, Usenet is your friend (NSFW).
posted by crapmatic at 9:47 AM on November 30, 2010


Shepherd: I can't comment on the videos themselves, but I kind of dig the idea of fan-work as an affirmation that no corporation or author actually owns anything; that ideas float into the minds of the audience, and the law is just a construct used to ensure that some people make money off those ideas.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:59 AM on November 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


For god's sake are we going to have the fanfic discussion again?

People dedicate their time to the creations of others all the time. Life in society is born of collaborative effort. Do you devalue a scientist working off of the theories and data of predecessors because she hasn't been inventing new forms of mathematics? Do you scoff at people preserving and refurbishing historical architecture? Do you think a rabbi, reinterpreting the same passage of the Torah for the umpteenth time on Yom Kippur, is doing something with questionable merit?

Fanfiction is just another expression of cultural creativity and involvement. Creating something "new" would be just as wrapped up in all of the same trappings, with less of a built-in audience, a shakier ground for clear communication, and less copyright entanglements. It's not inherently better or worse either way, when looked at from the angle of "this is a person wanting to tell a story."

The endgame is, you've made something, hopefully had an enriching time doing it, and if it all works out, you have the enviable achievement of making something that previously existed only in your brain show up in the outside world. If that thing happens to be based on someone else's ideas, so be it. No art is created in a vacuum.
posted by Mizu at 10:00 AM on November 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


I guess, to answer your question more directly on behalf of that guy:

Wouldn't you rather walk away from it with something that’s all yours -- even if it wears its influences proudly on its sleeve -- rather than something that can only exist as a fan-made subset of a corner of a section of a niche of somebody else’s IP?


NOPE
posted by Greg Nog at 10:03 AM on November 30, 2010


So much time that could have been spent on making something new, instead of an echo of a 40-year-old franchise.

I'm kind of in the same boat: fanfic has never really appealed to me on an a priori level. It isn't canon, and it tends to be awful.

But I think I can explain it.

Basically, if the person in question is good enough to make their own universe, they will. But, having tried it myself, the one thing I've learned is that writing good, original fiction is really, really hard. I've never managed it. Even writing derivative crap in a fictional universe different enough to avoid a copyright lawsuit is hard. Writing derivative crap in a fictional universe that is basically handed to you is that much easier.

Which kind of explains why so much fanfic is so awful. Those who can write good fiction write good fiction. Those who can't write good fiction but don't listen to their better judgment and aren't worried about embarrassing their parents write fanfic.

So yeah, I think the explanation is that fanfic is the last refuge of the author who isn't quite good enough to be a hack.

There's potentially a third category, the person who writes the odd fanfic as kind of a lark, in a knowing, ironic sort of way, but that person isn't likely to spend four years of his life meticulously rendering a 3D movie and doing all the voices himself. This kind of project, as impressive as it is, winds up being as much a testament to the creator's own limitations as to his creative vision and dedication.

Seriously, what's the difference between Star Trek fanfic and the next Star Trek novel? An editor and a publisher willing to put the thing out. Given the standards of genre publishing houses, that's saying something.
posted by valkyryn at 10:03 AM on November 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's too bad that he used vintage Poser models and very basic texturing and rendering techniques rather than those available today in Poser/DAZ/Bryce, but I guess that it would have been too much resource- and time-consuming. As it is, it's already an amazing amount of work for a single person.
posted by elgilito at 10:05 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


by the way Shepherd no offense y'know live long & prosper and all that
posted by Mizu at 10:07 AM on November 30, 2010


There’s a measure of security in making something where you can just be a fanboy instead of taking chances on being a failed visionary, I suppose, but again... the work.

It's a lot of work laying a framework for a story - the universe, the physics, and so on. When using a premade setting, all that comes for free and the author can concentrate on telling the story.

It's best when the good stuff gets incorporated back into canon. World of Warcraft is particularly good at this. The story "You Awaken in Razor Hill" has been incorporated as part of the lore. Sometimes, it's an even more direct collaboration.

Plus, people should do things they are passionate about. It's easier to get and be passionate about cultural touchstones than it is to create your own. That's not a statement about the worth of the effort - but not everyone wants to be Anne McCaffery or whatever.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:13 AM on November 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I found it unwatchable. All the "emoting" from the frozen models. Awful.

this movie was also done by a single person, the animation is much, much better. And, although it's quite stupid looking, it's at least an original story.
posted by delmoi at 10:22 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think part of what goes on in the author's head is that they're not going to get rich anyway, so it doesn't matter if it's their IP or not, so an existing universe offers a huge leg up in getting started and a pre-packaged audience, to some degree.
posted by fatbird at 10:24 AM on November 30, 2010


Fanfic is definitely providing a really handy framework for these guys.

Doing everything from scratch conceptually would have led to a bunch of borrowed concepts, horribly mixed together.

Instead they get matching uniforms done subtly and well, non-awkward spacecraft, well thought-out interiors, and a standard for music and sound effects that isn't exactly horrible.

So the stuff that actually is pretty bad, like the voice work, isn't as obvious as it would have been in an original work.
posted by circular at 11:12 AM on November 30, 2010


I randomly clicked a link and saw a computer-rendered The Price Is Right set. The virtual camera lingered lovingly on this very complex model which obviously took an enormous amount of effort to construct (animated blinking lights and everything). I think I can safely say WTF.
posted by kindall at 11:21 AM on November 30, 2010


Seems to me that there's a fundamental difference between

1. "I've got a great story idea -- I could use this with Star Trek characters or with original characters of my own, so I'll weigh the advantages of established characters/audience vs. owning the story myself and then decide which is the best way to tell my story."

2 "I've got a great story about Picard, Riker, Data, and the Enterprise crew that I really want to tell."
posted by straight at 11:27 AM on November 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


As someone who has never so much as read a piece of fan fiction I think I get it, especially in the context of something like Star Trek that has so many legitimate derivative series. ToS existed but someone still decided to come along and make TNG and then Enterprise and Voyager etc. so there is a lot of precedence for people taking that universe and adding to it. It doesn't surprise me that someone would feel that they have an interesting story to tell and want to share it.
Furthermore, I have experienced falling in love with a story and wanting more than the authors have given or feeling that they botched an ending. For instance, when discussing the ending of BSG with friends I have often offered up my "preferred" ending for the series. If I was inclined to write fiction I can understand how that could turn into a more fleshed out story.
posted by lucasks at 11:49 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


So yeah, I think the explanation is that fanfic is the last refuge of the author who isn't quite good enough to be a hack.

That's pretty insulting.

You may not "get" the appeal of fanfiction, but that doesn't mean that it's not there. People like me read and write fanfiction because we love the original story and want more of it. We take a more active approach to our entertainment media; instead of passively digesting it, we spit parts of it back out, all scrambled up with our brain juices.

You're discounting that many fanfiction writers are very talented. You wouldn't know it, just by clicking at random, but that's because there are no quality controls on most sites. If you go to a site where people are allowed to post their original fiction without checks, you'll find that most of it there is crap too. Fanfiction readers have ways to deal with this--social networking makes finding the good stuff easier to find than it is for an outsider.

You're also discounting that "people who write fanfiction" and "people who write original fiction" aren't separate groups. Fanfiction authors have gone on to be successful published authors. Even more publish their original work online--and it can be just as good, if not better, than stuff by published hacks. Sometimes it is actually amazing.

You're also discounting that people have different goals than you do. Personally, I don't want to be published because I don't have the time or energy; I have something else I want to do, and it leaves little room for a second job. I also enjoy writing whatever I like without worrying about whether or not it will sell, which means I can send my time on things that are only of interest to me, or to a limited group of others. I am pretty damn sure that I could be a hack if I wanted, but I don't.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:12 PM on November 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Fanfic why? Oh, that's easy. Many reasons, but first and foremost, because some people never want to leave Middle Earth.

Oh, wait. Star Trek? Easy! 1) Federation 2) Prime Directive.

Star Wars? Um. Err, uh, oh! Jedi Wookies!
posted by Goofyy at 12:24 PM on November 30, 2010


Metafilter: although it's quite stupid looking, it's at least an original story.
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:15 PM on November 30, 2010


Thanks for the considerate replies above -- and no offense taken, Mizu. I disagree with some of the points raised, but it's definitely offered some insight.

I generally don't weigh in on the fanfic versus original work issue, and don't mean to disparage the talent or motivation of people that choose to invest their time and creative energy this way. If you want to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon weaving what-if-Buffy-met-Sabrina-and-they-fought-No-Heart stories, you’re certainly not hurting anybody. MeFi’s own mightygodking writes regular (kinda sorta) fanfic about Doctor Strange, and I love the shit out of how he thinks about the character.

This? In this one instance, the scale of it is what bugs me.

Mr. Bridges pursued this for his own pleasure, which is obviously what he wanted to do, and good for him. But -- and this is where a lot of us will agree to disagree -- it bothers me that the end result of four years of labour, and many, many hours of work to come, is a fanfic footnote that echoes some middling work in an old franchise.

Part of this is from a mercenary standpoint: the man's invested four years of his life, and he's got nothing he can show for it except for something that by law belongs to somebody else.

Part of this is from an abstracted use-of-resources perspective: I can't help but think about what could have been. What if, not confident in his own authorial powers, Mr. Bridges had taken an initial three months to sign up for Critters, vet a bunch of stories, find one that had some awesome ideas and new vision to it, and strike up a conversation with the author? What if the next Charles Stross or China Miéville could have had a four-hour movie made out of their work, instead of this monumental dedication of effort resulting in... just more kinda meh Star Trek stuff?

Am I a fan of Mr. Bridges? I'm certainly a fan of his work ethic.
Am I writing fiction about what he might have done? Why yes, yes I am. The irony isn't lost on me.

Hey, I understand that sometimes it's fun to play in somebody else's sandbox instead of going through all the time and labour required to build your own. Sometimes you can build some really excellent castles when you don't have to mess around with lumber and sand and construction materials.

And I recognize that I have no right to tell people which sandboxes they should and shouldn't be playing in.

But I reserve the right to watch somebody spend four years playing in somebody else's sandbox, building huge and elaborate castles that he has no absolute right to keep, share or profit from, and feel a bit sad for the sandboxes that he could have built instead.
posted by Shepherd at 2:07 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, amazingly, it looks like Day Job Orchestra has never been on the blue, and as far as Star Trek anything, show me something funnier or more creative- go ahead, I dare ya.
posted by dbiedny at 2:12 PM on November 30, 2010


Oh, and that's all NSFW, BTW.
posted by dbiedny at 2:12 PM on November 30, 2010


Shepherd, I share your bemusement that someone would devote this much energy to something he couldn't make money from. But then again, people play music for fun all the time, and I am equally bemused by that--to me, it would be like scooping ice cream for fun or something. But then again, there are probably people who scoop ice cream for fun.

Pretty much every human activity is viewed by some people as a job and other people as a recreation. I really hope this gentleman enjoyed every minute he put into this project.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:23 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Part of this is from a mercenary standpoint: the man's invested four years of his life, and he's got nothing he can show for it except for something that by law belongs to somebody else.
[...]
But I reserve the right to watch somebody spend four years playing in somebody else's sandbox, building huge and elaborate castles that he has no absolute right to keep, share or profit from, and feel a bit sad for the sandboxes that he could have built instead.


There's no legal precedent which says that fanfiction and the like "belongs to somebody else", nor any precedent which says that you can't keep or share fan works. There's a long, long period of silence from the lawyers of folks like Paramount and Lucasfilm which suggests that they believe non-profit fanfiction/fanfilms are fair use, and thus legal; in fact, nobody in the industry seems interested in touching this stuff with a ten-foot pole, much less owning it or suing over it.

The only thing you can't do with fan works is sell them for a profit... and chances are that Mr. Bridges has little interest in that.

Personally, I find the differing reactions to Specter of the Past and this replica of Bag End very interesting. Nobody in that thread went on about what a waste it was to spend years building a scale model of something that wasn't "yours"; for that matter, no one ever goes on about what a waste it is to film spoofs, or parody pieces, or pastiches (or "the next Charles Stross or China Miéville", for that matter). I have yet to see a convincing argument as to why "originality" and "building your own" is the be-all and end-all of art, and why "what you could have built instead" is always a more important consideration than what you want to build... but only when it comes to certain fan works.

Hell, being deep into something like D&D or Warhammer 40K results in a far greater use-of-resources, for even less of a concrete payoff, right smack in the middle of someone else's world, but you don't see people howling about how uncreative and empty the "end result" of years of roleplaying and wargaming is.

Have you ever considered that the "end result" is not always the primary point of human creativity... and that it's generally much more important to the artist than to everyone else, anyway? The thought of someone slaving away at a Star Trek fanfilm out of love of Star Trek bothers me much less than the thought of someone slaving away at the-next-Charles-Stross movie, simply because the story he really wants to film isn't Original Enough™.
posted by grey_sw at 3:25 PM on November 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


the-next-Charles-Stross movie

Are you a time traveler? Because there hasn't been a first Charles Stross movie, has there?
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:01 PM on November 30, 2010


Are you a time traveler? Because there hasn't been a first Charles Stross movie, has there?

Nah, I meant "the movie of the next Charles Stross", not "the next movie of the current Charles Stross".
posted by grey_sw at 4:04 PM on November 30, 2010


As a writer, I consider that writing original fiction is like making a napoleon from scratch, starting with hand-rolling the phyllo, then on through macerating the pistachios for a coulis, melting the chocolate ganache, making the custard, whipping the cream, carefully putting it together, and washing the dishes afterward . . . Whereas fanfiction is like making an Oreo cream pie in a bought crust with a tin pie pan. One will astound and impress; the other is just going to make everybody at dinner mighty happy, including you. As an aspiring pastry chef novelist, I do both as best I can.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:28 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Part of this is from a mercenary standpoint: the man's invested four years of his life, and he's got nothing he can show for it except for something that by law belongs to somebody else.

Leaving aside that his work doesn't actually belong to someone else--

A lot of people simply do not care. Again, your values are not my values. I would rather write about what catches my fancy than what is commercially viable. You're putting a lot of emphasis on ownership and monetary reward; do you realize you're doing it?

Hey, I understand that sometimes it's fun to play in somebody else's sandbox instead of going through all the time and labour required to build your own.

That's pretty condescending. Here you're assuming that, first of all, fanfiction is easier for everyone, and second, that people write it because it's easier.

Let me tell you, it's not easier for me. It is much harder for me to color within someone else's lines than it is to create my own. Fanfiction has its own challenges, and whether or not it's easier for a writer depends on their particular strengths.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:16 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not a great reader/viewer of fanfic, so my thoughts are based on a very small sample of experiences.

Point #1... As far as I know, the average published novelist would have made more money if they'd spent the time working in Starbucks rather than on writing their novel. That doesn't therefore mean they wasted their time on writing, and should have been a barista instead. And of course, most people who write novels don't actually get published anyway.

So making money is not the be all and end all of matters.

Point #2... As far as I can tell, the average fanfic creator has no aspirations to being a published writer or filmmaker at all. They're writing for the pleasure of it, and to entertain their friends.

Point #3... There's a heck of a lot more chance of something like Born of Hope being watched by a very large number of people than if the people that worked on that project had chosen to do something entirely original. In fact it's unlikely they'd even have been able to mobilize that number of people or raise the money required to work on anything other than a story in some well-loved fandom.

And, for what it's worth, people like that do get to use the work as a calling card for their skills.

Point #4... Writing fanfic or making fanvids is creatively no different really than J J Abrams rebooting Star Trek, Peter Jackson deciding to adapt LOTR and remake King Kong, or Guy Ritchie and Steven Moffat deciding to do Sherlock Holmes stories. Yep... ready made worlds, ready made characters, ready made audience etc. And at least some of those guys are at heart just fanboys who got the chance to do what they love professionally.

It is different financially of course, but not creatively.

Yes, there is potentially a dilemma for those people that actually want to make living from writing fiction. Like this guy I came across the other day, who is in the strange position of having had his works downloaded a million times and still be struggling to make a living.

But not everyone is even interested in that. For a lot of people doing anything creative is just their hobby.


All that notwithstanding, I'm not going to watch this particular fan movie. I checked out a little bit, and it didn't grab me. But if it hadn't been set in a context I already know and love, I probably wouldn't have given it even those few minutes that I did.
posted by philipy at 6:59 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


the man's invested four years of his life, and he's got nothing he can show for it except for something that by law belongs to somebody else.

I think the ideas behind this sentence are deeply confused.

Like most people's hobbies, this was never intended to be a money-making venture. You say he's got nothing to show for it when he's got exactly what he wanted from this hobby -- completed movies and an audience to watch them.

Barring some sort of unprecedentedly draconian lawsuit, Paramount can never take the movies away from him (Has anyone ever been forced to surrender their own personal copies of a copyright-infringing work? How could you possibly prove you'd surrendered or destroyed every copy?), and while they might be able to limit access to them on the internet, then can never completely stamp them out and take away his audience.

The only sense in which these movies "belong to somebody else" is that he can't make any money off of them, which he never intended to do in the first place. Don't you have any hobbies that aren't a source of income?
posted by straight at 12:56 PM on December 1, 2010


Entente class?

[adjusts glasses]

Preposterous! Starfleet would not invent a new class designation for Galaxy Class ships just because they attached a supergun to the saucer section and a couple of racing fins to the pylons.

At least it isn't the abominable three-nacelled ship from All Good Things . . . but still, nobody with any sense would want to add doohickeys to such an elegant shape.
posted by General Tonic at 2:00 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


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