Art Binninger's STAR TRIX: Of Clay And Cardboard

11. Lights! Camera! Stop-Action!
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

Getting Down To Business

Ship model mounted on it's power supply

   As work on the ship models and refinements to the sets continued, I typed up a script to be used by the people who were going to provide voices. The one thing I learned back in 1975 when doing a live action film with sound, was that dialogue that may read funny on the page doesn't always come out sounding funny. I knew that I couldn't be married to the lines as written if the people speaking them couldn't put them across. Sometimes when the cast got together and spoke to each other, a funnier line might pop out as a result. Martin Baumgarten, who provided Mr. Specks' voice, even came up with a funny line by connecting my line to a Lucky Charms cereal commercial. I'm not even sure that he planned to do it, his train of thought just jumped the tracks and it came out.

Gary Berleue records Klurk's new voice.

   In March and April of 1984, I assembled the performers at my apartment after work several nights a week. We recorded the dialogue on an audio cassette which was transferred to Super-8 magnetic sound stock. Dale McKenna, an instructor at the film department of Allen Hancock College in Santa Maria, supervised my access to their recording facility when I duped the cassette tape to full-coat stock for editing. Unlike the computer editing of sound today, I was physically cutting the voices and making the frame count of all the dialogue. The information was written onto exposure sheets that would guide us when animating the characters' mouth movements.



The photos below are some of Grant's enhancements and experiments for shooting the starship model.

A bulb built into the saucer illuminated the fiber optics that led to the portholes around the perimeter. The lower engineering section was lit with a fluorescent tube.
Visible from the back of the saucer are the two amber LEDs that represented the impulse engines. Their brightness was controlled by a rheostat.
Grant built a long track to make a time exposure of the lighted ship to achieve the jump into warp drive. Unfortunately, the track wasn't completely flat plus the ship wobbled as it was moved which caused the streaks to shimmy.


Another pass of the ship speeding away but the wiggly streaks continued to dog us.
A horizontal color shot displays straighter streaks.
Most of the Trek models were store-bought but occasionally we had to cobble a few of our own. Grant made the orbitting space office which contained parts from a Star Wars fighter model and Polaroid BW fixer containers.

   As we were closing in on a start date, Grant and I discovered a problem with the main camera we planned to use for the animation. We shot a test roll of Kodachrome and found that the focus didn't conform to our settings. We then shot a focus test and realized that there was a major problem with it. I contacted Canon to see if there were any repair facilities in California and luckily there was one near LA.

Grant and Art in the little room.

   After sending it off, I decided that my room with Reggie wouldn't hold the shooting of the project and found an apartment just up the street from where I lived with Dennis. For a one bedroom place it had plenty of room and shelf space to store the sets and other materials for the film. The kitchen counter was accessible from both sides allowing us to use it for our front/rear projection effects as well as the main animation. The other advantage to the kitchen was that there were a number of electrical outlets where we could plug in our lights and projectors without having to use too many extension cords. The wall just outside the bedroom was actually a sliding room divider, which came in handy when we needed to shoot a model or something from a longer than usual distance. There was also built-in shelving brackets so we had a ready-made space for storing the sets between shooting.

The sets in their G Street resting place.

   The G Street apartment was located near the center of town making it convenient for Grant and I to take a break from shooting to walk over a block and pick up a burger. The age of coin-operated videogames was in full swing and Grant would relax between filming at the nearby 7/11 by blasting his way through whatever machine they had.
   When the sets were almost complete, Grant and I posed early versions of the film's characters on them. Some figures were changed completely while others were cleaned up and remolded. A couple of sets that didn't photograph well were enhanced a bit, such as the corridor outside the engine room. The original Vulcan set was overhauled with bigger mountains using a substance called hydrocal. This was a favorite material for producing rocky landscapes for model railroad scenery.

The Klingon set fully lit. Slightly visible over the captain's shoulder is a "We Love Darth Vader" poster.
The Klingon set with mood lighting. Beneath the captain's seat would be an illuminated base of blue light.
The Klingon viewscreen, like it's counterpart on the Fulton's Folly, would have display space footage or whatever the scene required.
To save room, the Space Station K Mart set shared the same area as the Klingon bridge. The walls slid into the vertical grey supports behind the gent at the desk.
The boss gets a new desk. The other belonged to the Space Office transporter. View of another part of Space Station K Mart visible through the window.
As mentioned earlier, I wasn't too pleased with the Vulcan set and extended the size of the mountains and coated the surface with hydrocal for that rocky look.


Mr. Specks in front of the larger Vulcan mountains.
Mr. Specks and T'Lard on Vulcan. He almost earned his Logic T-Shirt.
Admiral Bullthrower's office contained artwork from Star Trek model boxes.
At left, a fragment of non-Star Trek artwork came from Paul McCartney's VENUS AND MARS album.
Klurk is visiting an Egyptian museum when he's summoned to Starfleet. A golden Darth Vader is on display.
An old style shuttle craft was used as transportation to Starfleet. A McDonald's ice cream cup served as a futuristic building in the background.
Kathy Baumgarten, Martin's wife, painted the watercolor background that provides the view of San Francisco Bay outside of Starfleet headquarters.
The shuttle has landed on the Starfleet set. A foreground balcony was added for Klurk to discuss his plans with Commander Sonar.
After his meeting with the admiral, Klurk beams up to the orbiting space office and meets Mr.Scotch.
The travel pod interior could be butted against any other set so when the doors opened it would appear to have docked with the ship or space office.
Klurk strolls around the corridor outside the transporter room.
More crew members stroll the corridor. The travel pod deck was docked to this when Klurk arrives on board.
The viewscreen half of the bridge also contained the security and weapons console.
The engineering section contained two consoles to monitor flow of power throughout the ship.
Since the tube was supposed to be several decks high, the set was elevated to allow this and to hide the wires powering the fluorescent bulbs.
We've got power! Grant's fluorescent tube does the trick. We expected it to flicker during the animation but it stayed steady. We hoped a flicker would to add an illusion of functioning energy.
This almost colorless corridor prompted me to make some changes to snaz it up.
The rear wall was redesigned with a backlit panel, darker blue on the upper panel and a sign. The metal grey door was painted orange.
The transporter in Star Trek: The Motion Picture was given a protective wall between the operator and the pads as protection from the device's radiation.
Thanks to Grant, the transporter pads could now light up. The "Watch Your Step" gag from the original films was carried over.
Klurk explains the mission on the rec deck. When it was fully manned, it required both Grant and I to animate all the characters.
The back wall to the rec deck. The 1970's bridge crew portrait is barely visible behind the characters on the lower level.