Monday, April 14, 2014

Another depiction of space battle in the rebooted Battlestar Galatitca.

Ron Moore established clear guidelines for the cinematography on this show for battle scenes: Very cinema verité, hand-held look, like WWII battlefield footage.

Moore was deeply critical of the cinematography that had ruled sci fi since Star Wars. George Lucas told cinematographers Gilbert Taylor (Star Wars) and Peter Suschitzky (The Empire Strikes Back) that he wanted these vast master-shots of the battles and action. They're now called "hero shots", and involve unrealistic camera movement, panning, and zooming in on the action. Moore wanted the effects crew to assume that the camera was a physical one. Where was it mounted? Was it on a ship motionless in space? Was it on another fighter involved in the battle? Was it on the Galactica? He wanted the effects crew to assume that a real person was moving the lens, losing focus, regaining focus, and missing the action and having to zoom back out and find it again.

Moore was also a strong critic of the type of editing used by Paramount on the modern Star Trek television series. This followed a strict pattern of "master shot, two-shot, close-up, close-up, two-shot, back to master shot". Moore understood that such rules meant that editing was fast and inexpensive, but it also imposed immense constraints on the storytelling. He wanted his effects teams to consider split-screens (used in the mini-series but not thereafter) which showed the same action but from two or more separate viewpoints. He also wanted the shots to move from one point in the action (say, near the Galactica) to another (middle of the battle). He did not want master shots to open the action, no matter how cinema verité they were.

Moore's guidelines weren't followed as closely in the third and fourth seasons, which I thought lowered the quality of the show.

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