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Art Binninger's STAR TRIX: Of Clay And Cardboard

3. A Starship Is Born

Home | 1. Pre-Trix: Getting from There to Here | 1a. Tom Vs. Joe La Rita Filmography 1970-1972 | Tom Vs. Joe La Rita Episodes 9 - 16 | Tom Vs. Joe La Rita 17 - 24 | 2. Airman Art | 3. A Starship Is Born | 4. The Changing Scene | 5.The Second Time Around: STAR TRIX II | 6. Up In Smoke: STAR TRIX III | 7. Out of Uniform, Into the World | 8. The New Trek Begins | 9. Sidetracked and SMEGed | 10. Building Sets And Momentum | 10a Sliding Into Space | 11. Lights! Camera! Stop-Action! | 12. Kitchen Counter Cinema | 13. STAR TRIX: THE FLICK | 14. STAR TRIX: THE FLICK Reel 2 | 15. Silly Art, TRIX Are For Lawyers | 16. Moving On | 17. ESCAPE FROM VEGAPINTO | About Me | Favorite Links | Contact Me

Putting The Tricks In STAR TRIX

Art Binninger and his craft (1974)
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   Unlike most of my previous films, STAR TRIX had a lot of test footage shot and still photo documentation. I inherited some of the 16mm test footage before the Doc Photo people left for civilian life. One handy length of film was the moving star field that the ship footage was projected against. One segment of 16mm test footage that got away was taken by Steve Zorc who shot a time-lapse scene of myself assembling a clay character.
   I purchased a length of black velvet that I strung up in my barracks room to serve as a backing for photographing the starship model. Using the Yashica power zoom, I shot a series of approaches and pans of the ship that would be composited with the stars and planet slides.
   The storyline involved the starship Fulton's Folly accidentally timewarping back to 1974. When Captain Klurk and Mr. Specks beam down to earth, Junior Spritzer photographs them with his movie camera. When the two officers discover their mistake, they must catch Junior and his camera to avoid their presence being discovered. And the chase begins.

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Steve Zorc prior to his departure from Vandenberg.

Motion picture cameraman Steve Zorc was one of the people involved in the attempt to do STAR TRIX  as a pro 16mm film. During my visits to Doc Photo he gave me instruction on various aspects of filming and editing as well as asking me to be in some of his demo reel projects. I made a short parody of the film JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL called JONATHAN LIVINGSTON KITE in January 1974. Steve got such a charge out of it he tried to remake it in 16mm, even using Jim Ereaux as the unfortunate kiteman again. In spite of the improved clarity of the images, Steve wasn't completely satisfied that he captured the rough-edged charm of the original.

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   Without the input of the seasoned Doc Photo personnel, I resorted to non-professional methods to get the film done. We were originally going to record the dialogue first, break it down to exposure sheets and film the characters' mouth movements to synchronize with the track. My amateur equipment didn't allow for this so I had to guess-timate how many frames to shoot for the speech (not that I had written much for the characters to say anyway). The Eumig sound projector I had was capable of recording and mixing sound directly on the magnetic soundtrack on the side of the film. When the camera original was edited, it was sent to Newsfilm Laboratory in Los Angeles where a print was made. The print had a magnetic sound on it which the projector could record on.
   First I would record the music for the entire film. For the Spritzer Family scenes I used Scott Joplin ragtime ("The Sting" soundtrack featuring Scott Joplin rags adapted by Marvin Hamlish was a huge hit at the time). The scenes involving the Star Trix characters were accompanied by orchestra pieces from Neil Diamond's  instrumentals from the album "Tap Root Manuscript" and his "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" score, another huge hit of the period.

Jim Ereaux departs the STAR TRIX universe
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The mixing control on the Eumig projection allowed me to insert sound effects, then voices over the prerecorded music track. Some sounds were off of records but some were created live. A slide whistle, jaw harp and bicycle horn found their way onto the tracks. Recording the voices required the person doing the talking to watch the film where their line would be a few times. Then they would record it onto the track. There was always the danger of a flubbed line, necessitating re-recording that section of music, sound effects and the line again. Since this was done in the barracks room, I had to minimize the projector noise by keeping it in the one side of the closet while the performer and microphone were isolated across the room. In some takes, the low chattering of the projector can still be heard in the background.

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Capt. Klurk barks out a command. Captain's voice by Richard Firth.
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Mr. Cowalski gets flustered and hits the Time Warp button.
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The U.S.S. Fulton's Folly passes itself in the time warp.
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The Captain tries to restore order.
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The ship ends up in the vicinity of Earth.
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Junior Spritzer and his movie camera prowl the local park. Larry Binninger provides the voice of Junior Spritzer.
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Mr. Specks and the Captain break in on Mr.Scotch engaging in his favorite passtime. Voice of Mr. Specks provided by Chris Christoplolus. Voice of Mr. Scotch by Tom Binninger.
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The beam out effect involved an in-camera lap-dissolve and the characters' image progressively scratched off the film with bleach on a pen tip.
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Mr. Specks and the Captain realize that they're not at the starbase.
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Junior requests that the Captain and Mr. Specks "Smile, please".

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Junior on board.
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June and Old Lobster find Junior's camera.
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Mr. Scotch beams Junior's camera aboard and gets June and Old Lobster along with it. Junior tells them that these strangers are trying to steal his camera.
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The Spritzers hold onto the movie camera and escape from the transporter room.
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Security guard Mr. Chek takes it on the chin while trying to capture the Old Lobster.
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Capt. Klurk intercepts the camera after the Spritzers try to keep it from the crew. He takes the film of his accidental visit to the 20th century to be processed.
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Mr. Specks bids farewell to Junior, Old Lobster and Mrs. Spritzer.
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"Live long and make a lot of money."
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The ship flips for its return trip to the 23rd century.
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Giving credit where its due. This acknowledgement would appear in the subsequent STAR TRIX films as well.

Click to view "The Spritzer Family Play Star Trix"