GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Motion In Space: Series & BDM

POSTED BY: YT
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 3, 2004 16:34
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Sunday, August 1, 2004 7:40 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


I've been asleep @the switch. It's too damn late. I shoulda mentioned something earlier.

One of the things that grabbed me about Firefly was motion in space in the pilot, which was the first ep I saw. The ship rotated about its center of mass. It seemed to accelerate in reaction to mass ejection (or the stinger motor, which may have a different mechanism), and remain in motion with no further input. In short, motion followed Newtonian rules. It looked right. I was hooked.

In later episodes, this seemed to fall by the wayside. The ship maintained a constant speed while the side engines continued firing. The main engine failed & the ship stopped dead. Shuttles would leave in space, deploy wings & bank in space. A salvage ship pulls up around Serenity, fires a quick burst on what look like attitude jets, and immediately matches speed.

Every time the show went away from Newtonian mechanics, it was like a speed bump rattling my attention away from the story.

In the BDM, I hope Joss makes motion in space look like he did in the pilot.

Keep the Shiny Side Up

Wutzon: Leftover Salmon & Cracker, "Low", from "O Cracker, Where Art Thou?"

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Sunday, August 1, 2004 8:56 PM

BARCLAY


A lot has been made of how the show is the story of 9 characters, and their journies, not of the sophisticated technology (unlike some scifi shows we might mention... Star Trek). I think it's part of what gives the show its charm. The only "technological" episode was Out of Gas, which was really an episode about Mal and the formation of our BDHs. I remember in the commentary they mention how the scene where Mal and Wash are arguing over boosting the signal from the beacon, Tim made a point of putting the "technobabble" in such a way that it didn't need explanation, and was more a function of the argument. That was pretty standard for the series.

That being said...

There are dozens of threads around FFF.net that discuss the very things you're looking at. I might suggest taking a peak at them and offering up some thoughts.

That being said...

I don't think Joss has much to do with making the motion of the ship look like anything. Seems to me that'd all fall in the laps of the special effects department, or Zoic. Sure, something in the script might say "this scene has to look like this..." but other than that, he probably just reviews some work and fits it into the movie.

That being said...

The budget for Serenity is five times more than the last Serenity, for which you liked the effects so much. I'm sure a good portion of that is going into the special effects shots, and you just might see some of these issues resolved.

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Sunday, August 1, 2004 9:21 PM

HKCAVALIER


I'm with you YT. The movement and the silence were the very first things that caught my eye (ear). I remember telling my roommate who missed the first episode, "Well, it's gonna be my new favorite show if for no other reason than somebody has finally gotten rid of the swooshes in space." I think it is a major part of the shows underlying feeling of realism.

Believable physics and absurd technological gobble-de-gook are entirely different issues. I have no interest in technospeak, but wooshes and banked turns are the lame. Very distracting, unnecessary, and take away from the "atmosphere" and strangeness of space. Everytime they cut from the noisy interior to the utterly quiet exterior of the ship I can feel the panic and horror of the void. It's awesome.

Oh, and yes, rest assured this has been covered many times and I'm sure Joss is very well aware of the fans feelings on the subject.

HKCavalier

Hey, hey, hey, don't be mean. We don't have to be mean, because, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

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Sunday, August 1, 2004 9:44 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by Barclay:
A lot has been made of how the show is the story of 9 characters, and their journies, not of the sophisticated technology (unlike some scifi shows we might mention... Star Trek). I think it's part of what gives the show its charm.
[/B}


I agree. I wasn't talking about technology, but about high-school physics.

Quote:

The only "technological" episode was Out of Gas, which was really an episode about Mal and the formation of our BDHs. I remember in the commentary they mention how the scene where Mal and Wash are arguing over boosting the signal from the beacon, Tim made a point of putting the "technobabble" in such a way that it didn't need explanation, and was more a function of the argument. That was pretty standard for the series.


Ya, and along with the mumbo-jumbo, he wrote that it would make the signal "go farther". Didn't any of these guys take high-school physics?

If I had to chose, I'd say it was one of my two favorite eps.

Quote:

There are dozens of threads around FFF.net that discuss the very things you're looking at. I might suggest taking a peak at them and offering up some thoughts.


Haven't found anything yet, but I've only been reading the site since beginning of June 2004. Guess I'll have to go back further.

Quote:

I don't think Joss has much to do with making the motion of the ship look like anything. Seems to me that'd all fall in the laps of the special effects department, or Zoic. Sure, something in the script might say "this scene has to look like this..." but other than that, he probably just reviews some work and fits it into the movie.


Good point. Also helps to explain why the pilot got this right (when he had time to pay attention to such stuff), while later eps were incosistent.

Quote:

The budget for Serenity is five times more than the last Serenity, for which you liked the effects so much. I'm sure a good portion of that is going into the special effects shots, and you just might see some of these issues resolved.


I don't think money has much, if anything, to do with it. I can't see how it would cost more (can't see how Zoic could justify charging more) to make motion follow the rules of Newtonian mechanics. It just takes someone to write, or say, "nothing makes banked turns in space", etc.

OK, maybe it could cost more if Joss told Zoic to hire someone as a technical advisor on Newtonian motion, and listen to him.

But mostly, I'm encouraged that Joss will have the time to direct the special effects & review them before he has to wrap the BDM.

Keep the Shiny Side Up

Wutzon: Space Station Integration, "Mozingo Road", from "Live from Nowhere"

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Sunday, August 1, 2004 9:53 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
Believable physics and absurd technological gobble-de-gook are entirely different issues. I have no interest in technospeak, but wooshes and banked turns are the lame. Very distracting, unnecessary, and take away from the "atmosphere" and strangeness of space.


You have expressed my feelings exactly.

Quote:

Oh, and yes, rest assured this has been covered many times and I'm sure Joss is very well aware of the fans feelings on the subject.



Outstanding. I will rest, assured. Thanks,

Keep the Shiny Side Up

Wutzon: Lotus, "Caywood", from "Germination"

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Monday, August 2, 2004 2:13 AM

HOTPOINT


Whilst I've got to concur with the simple truth that plot and dialogue are more important than special effects bad physics does bother me.

However most of the "errors" can be explained away pretty easily when you consider the possibility of some kind of inertial suppression or elimination.

The Firefly 'Verse clearly has artificial gravity technology and seeing as how the ship and crew survived the rapid change of direction during the Crazy Ivan you could easily assume they have Inertial control as well. On the other hand they do also seem to coast to save fuel on occasion which means they still have inertia at that point or that wouldn't work.

Easy solution... they turn the damn thing on and off when they need it

If you want to go somewhere quickly you kill the ships inertia and burn hard all the way, you accelerate much faster and don't need to deaccelerate at the other end of the trip. If however you want to save fuel you accelerate more slowly with inertia then turn off the engines and coast.

If you're running without inertia and the engine fails you really would just stop dead. You haven't built up any momentum.

For that matter I think I know what those three switches that Wash is always playing with could be


...................................
Hurrah, hurrah, when things are at their worst
With cries of “Death or Glory” comes the mighty Twenty-First

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Monday, August 2, 2004 2:23 AM

BROWNCOAT1

May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.


I try not to allow myself to be distracted by the little scientific errors made in the series. Quite honestly being scientifically correct is not as important to me as a good story and good acting. Firefly has both of these in abundance.

"May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one."


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Monday, August 2, 2004 11:29 AM

MISGUIDED BY VOICES


Quote:

Originally posted by YT:
Good point. Also helps to explain why the pilot got this right (when he had time to pay attention to such stuff), while later eps were incosistent.

But mostly, I'm encouraged that Joss will have the time to direct the special effects & review them before he has to wrap the BDM.



Honestly, I suspect if Joss checked the effects on the level you are looking for, we would probably see Serenity perform a loop the loop in atmos...

Sure, realism is great, but the story should not be a slave to it. If something is so unrealistic that it sets the alarm bells ringing and you lose the moment, fair enough - but otherwise dramatic licence is the way to go.

B5 was famous for trying to keep a scientific basis - which led to some cool shots as well such as the Star Furies being flung out from the rotation of the station before lighting jets up - but when they needed to, they ignored it a little (the gap between the jump gate and the station for instance seemed to vary based on dramatic necessity).

"I threw up on your bed"

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Monday, August 2, 2004 11:40 AM

MISGUIDED BY VOICES


Quote:

Originally posted by HKCavalier:
but wooshes and banked turns are the lame. Very distracting, unnecessary, and take away from the "atmosphere" and strangeness of space.



The problem is that it is very difficult to make "realistic" battles in space look good for the general audience, without re-treading ground that Wrath of Khan for instance did so well; but essentially means you are filming a submarine film in space - kind of a waste really.

Besides, I'm with Wash:

"Sounds like something from science-fiction"
"We live on a space ship dear"

"I threw up on your bed"

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Monday, August 2, 2004 2:28 PM

JK


Well, you know, Joss knows everything about technology, and science, and those bzz things and with the tubes, and, well, he can't tie his shoes.

I'm with you that it's nice to have actual science but, having endured things like Star Trek and Star Wars and the myriad others that just never get mentioned, I'm happy enough that Joss is doing all these other wonderful things with his science fiction. There's enough good science about that I can happily ignore the bad stuff.

JK

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Monday, August 2, 2004 2:48 PM

DANFAN


I'll grant that the storytelling in Firefly carried the day more than sufficiently to make up for (not too egregious) errors in the physics of Newtonian motion. Just so the errors aren't so bad that they yank you out of the story.

However, having said that, this thread is flirting with an idea that I've nursed for a long time. Won't someone, anyone (even if it isn't Firefly) film some real motion in space? I've actually visualized how a space battle could be filmed, and I think it could be done interestingly. No scenes of the spaceships in the same frame except if they pass each other in a blur. Maneuvers shown in extra long shot where the two spaceships are merely points of light cutting arcs against the background stars as they accelerate into curves at thousands of miles an hour. Then cut back to the bridge for a look at a CG tactical display and some character reactions, then back to an exterior of one of the ships as it positions for another acceleration. Pointing the engine along the axis you want to accelerate, NOT THE DIRECTION YOU ARE TRAVELLING! That's how you film a space battle that doesn't look like a totally inaccurate "submarine fight" in space.

I think it could be done well. How come no one has ever given it a real shot?

DANFAN

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Monday, August 2, 2004 5:36 PM

THEREALME


I'm with you Danfan. That would be great to watch.

BTW, some folks seem to be assuming that Serenity was motionless in Out of Gas. Not necessarily true. It could have been coasting through the vacuum at a good velocity. It is just that the camera operator outside was too!

The Real Me

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Monday, August 2, 2004 9:29 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by danfan:
this thread is flirting with an idea that I've nursed for a long time. Won't someone, anyone (even if it isn't Firefly) film some real motion in space? I've actually visualized how a space battle could be filmed, and I think it could be done interestingly.

... snip details ...

I think it could be done well. How come no one has ever given it a real shot?


Maybe they have, but 5% of a test audience didn't understand it, so the studio insisted that something be done to the space battle to make it easier to understand.

Sure hope this doesn't happen to Joss.

Keep the Shiny Side Up

Wutzon: Cold Blood, "Sisyphus"

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 7:58 AM

BRUISERSMOM


I remember Joss saying in one of the early commentaries on Buffy that he some crime solving shows go into depth on how you look up information and he wasn't very interested in that, so he just had everything on the computer. He also said that he liked having the hellmouth around because he could just explain things by pointing to the hellmouth, instead of coming up with an elaborate explanation. Perhaps, he's doing the same thing on Firefly. He's more interested in other aspects of the show like developing the characters and their world irrespective of the technology that they use.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 8:32 AM

CYBERSNARK


Quote:

Originally posted by danfan:
However, having said that, this thread is flirting with an idea that I've nursed for a long time. Won't someone, anyone (even if it isn't Firefly) film some real motion in space? I've actually visualized how a space battle could be filmed, and I think it could be done interestingly.

They used to do something similar in the first season of Andromeda. They had a very limited CGI budget, and wanted to get the most use out of the big viewscreen.

End result, the space battles were played out on command deck, with "paint" on the screen representing hostiles (and friendlies and neutrals, etc) well beyond visual range. Outgoing/incoming artillery, countermeasures, and Rommie's sensor drones were shown on the same screen. The perspective would shift and turn (to convey the 3D aspect of a space battle on a 2D screen) as Rommie switched between the best angles, and the only sound effects were beeps and computer tones, and the occasional crash'n'shake (of varying volume) when something slipped past the PDLs (Point Defense Lasers).

Rommie used to measure combat distances in light-seconds, and she could remote-control her artillery and her unmanned fighters (or seize control of manned fighters who were disobeying).

These days though, they've switched back to attempts at merging Star Wars and Star Trek. All part of the Sorbofication process.

-----
We applied the cortical electrodes but were unable to get a neural reaction from either patient.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 12:42 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by TheRealMe:
BTW, some folks seem to be assuming that Serenity was motionless in Out of Gas. Not necessarily true. It could have been coasting through the vacuum at a good velocity. It is just that the camera operator outside was too!



Would have looked the same, and I would have viewed it that way (as we all did in 2001, 'cause it was correct), but Kaylee said "Serenity's not movin'", and "We're dead in the water". Not an assumption.

Keep the Shiny Side Up

Wutzon: Nuthin' @the mo'

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 12:46 PM

YT

the movie is not the Series. Only the facts have been changed, to irritate the innocent; the names of the actors and characters remain the same


Quote:

Originally posted by Cybersnark:
All part of the Sorbofication process.



As in Ed Sorbo?

Keep the Shiny Side Up

Wutzon: Nuthin' @the mo'

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 4:34 PM

THEREALME


Serenity was "not movin" under her own power. And I think "Dead in the water" is a figure of speech. Both are.

Just my opinion, I won't try too hard to change yours.

The Real Me

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