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Friday, March 11, 2011

Ajax - Second Pilot Variant...

'Second Pilot Variant?' - I can hear some of you ask. Time for a little Star Trek history. The original pilot for Star Trek was called 'The Cage', it starred Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike. The network rejected it as 'too cerebral'. The second pilot -'Where No Man Has Gone Before', starred William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk. This version met with network approval and the show went in to full production.
For 'The Cage', most of the effects work was accomplished with a 3 foot 'study' model of the Enterprise - the more substantial 11 foot model was not delivered until late in the production, and hence only used for a couple of shots. Extra detail was added to the 11 foot model for its use in 'Where No Man..', and yet more changes were made when the show went in to full production.
The previous version of the Ajax reflects the 'Production Version', used throughout the three season run of the series. This version has been modified to match the look of the 11 footer as it appeared in the second pilot. Why? you may ask. All will be revealed...




Ajax Update...

With the main version of the Ajax almost completed I thought it was time to turn my hand to some animation. I took some reference footage of TOS Trek VFX and ran it through my aging copy of MatchMover to get a feel for how the shot was originally filmed. Interestingly, it seems that the original studio only had a very short dolly track and some of the apparent motion was generated by varying the FOV of the camera.
I took this information over in to Cinema 4D and set up an automated camera rig and a model rig using C4D's scripting tool, Xpresso. I also have Xpresso controlling the blinking lights and bussard animation as well.
The aim is to replicate the look of the original 60's footage so a fair amount of post work has been done in After Effects - including, paradoxically, trying to replicate the dark matte outline around the ship. The processed version is below, along with the 'clean' version for comparison.


Ajax - Orbit - 60's style from Henry Gibbens on Vimeo.


Ajax - Orbit - Original Clean Footage from Henry Gibbens on Vimeo.

Still needs some tweaking, but as a proof of concept, I am happy so far...