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Saturday, September 2, 2006

What Is Real?

Fans of The Matrix will probably have a bit of cognitive dissonance over this entry’s title, so I should say this has nothing to do with that movie.

It does, however, involve another movie. I was feeling nostalgic this evening and popped in the DVD for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. About midway through the flick, during one of the more beautiful effects passes of the ship, it occurred to me that no other visual representation of any Enterprise incarnation has looked better or more realistic than from Star Trek II. In spite of the unrealistic lighting on the model that technically has no source, it’s the only time that the ship looked just plain big, detailed, and real.

The TV show version was unquestionably model-like. The first movie was far too clean and evenly lit with few shadows, as well in the remaining Kirk and crew movies and TNG. The Enterprise D did look much better lit in its first (and only) movie appearance, but it was about this time that Paramount started toying with computer graphic (CG) ship renderings. Yes, the movie used a combination of CG and practical models for all its scenes, but the additional technology of far superior cameras—like the CG models—just made everything too crisp. It continued for the Enterprise E, Voyager, and the early Enterprise from the most recent TV series—all of which, I’m fairly sure, were entirely CG.

Only in the second movie—grainy film and all—have I ever felt like the filmmakers somehow managed to get a camera rig into space and actually film this enormous starship. Then again, the undeniable fact that this film was the best Trek movie of all time (First Contact may be an extremely close second, but still second) suggests that a viewer may be so caught up in the excellent story, it overshadows any realization that they’re looking at a model.

» Posted by ALBj at 11:33 PM (ET)
Category: Musings

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