Monday, April 14, 2014

Bridge of the Battlestar Galactica in the 2003 rebooted series.

Production designer Richard Hudolin and art director Doug McLean followed the precepts laid down by series executive producer Ronald D. Moore in an essay titled "Naturalistic Science Fiction or Taking the Opera Out of Space Opera". Although a few concessions were made to typical science fiction (such as faster-than-light travel), almost no other fanciful technology -- such as defensive shields, transporters, energy weapons, or faster-than-light communication -- was permitted. The rule was "form follows function", and sets were designed to utilize familiar, existing technology.

Subsequently, the reimagined Galactica's Combat Information Center (CIC) is set deep within the battlestar, akin to that of a modern aircraft carrier or destroyer. The room is circular, to permit the 17 operational stations that operate the ship to be visible to and easily communicate with the captain (Commander William Adama) and the chief executive officer (Colonel Saul Tigh). At the center of the room is a circular command-and-control desk around which the key officers are stationed. The DRADIS, a form of radar, consists of several screens that drop down out of the ceiling and which provide battle and navigational information. The 17 operational stations include aircraft maintenance, deck, "jump" officer, combat systems, battle air traffic control, electronic warfare, joint intelligence, and weapons (among many others). The typical sci fi trope of a "main viewscreen" was eliminated. Navigation was performed from data, not vision.

Battlestar Galactica was reimagined so that humanity purposefully avoided "deus ex machina" technology (like that seen in Star Wars or Star Trek) because the Cylons could too easily manipulate it or take it over. There were keyboards, monitors, joysticks, track-pads, and telephones with cords. There was no "central computer" running the ship. Paper and pen as well as oral communication were the normal modes of communcation. Depiction of computer programs was kept to a bare minimum, partly to reinforce the idea that humanity had avoided advanced computing and partly to adhere to Moore's "naturalistic science fiction" dictum.

Here's another shot of the CIC.

Here's a shot of CIC from the Core. The bridge had a mezzanine immediately to the left of the entry door. This area allowed for more private consultation between the captain and his officers, as well as a means of observing CIC operations from above.

A shot of the Weapons Control Room. The Weapons Control Room was only seen in the mini-series and the first few episodes, although it continued to exist (the set was not torn down or cannbalized).

The CIC for the Battlestar Pegasus was not built from scratch like the Galactica bridge. To save costs, the production team used a bridge set built in 2003 for a pilot for a revived Lost in Space television series (commissioned by The WB network but never aired or picked up). The Lost in Space sets, then in storage, were purchased for a pittance and redressed.

The glass panels to the left are doors, and will close when the ship is under attack.

Note how bare and spartan this room appears. Note, too, how the navigational screen takes up one whole wall at the end. The concept here was that -- after a century of no contact with the Cylons -- humanity had started relaxing its guard and was using more integrated, central computers to run its battlestars. This is explicitly stated in the show, and a major reason why the Cylons are able to destroy so many battlestars in the mini-series.

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