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Old January 5th 07, 00:44   #481
RMcD
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Re: Actual B5:TLT News

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Moved on? Sure, we are watching other shows, but that doesn't mean that we will view "human actors wearing prosthetic makeup to play aliens" as quaint or old fashioned. Just because BSG 2003+ and Firefly didn't do that , doesn't mean that "human actors wearing prosthetic makeup to play aliens" is now passe.
I dunno, I'm struggling to think of any sci-fi film or television property originating in this century (eg. since 2000) that has done it.. In fact even to me, personally, it does seem a little bit 20th century now. It was always a constraint of television that aliens that had to act tended to look and sound amazingly like Earth's dominant primate but with lumpy extra bits added, and I think it tended to alienate Joe Public. The current trend in sci-fi seems to be much more anthropocentric and 90% character-driven to 10% concept-driven where it had been the opposite (B5 probably embodies the middle of that shift). Obviously B5 can't exist without humanoid aliens, but I'm wondering if there may be more than just the stated reason for JMS choosing to focus on human characters for the first installments of TLT.

And if TLT turns out to be more of the same old but with better effects.. Again I dunno, I want to see it be successful enough to keep it going, and I'm not sure that's going to be enough, without injecting some fresh mystery, spark or hook..
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Old January 5th 07, 03:03   #482
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Re: Actual B5:TLT News

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I dunno, I'm struggling to think of any sci-fi film or television property originating in this century (eg. since 2000) that has done it.. In fact even to me, personally, it does seem a little bit 20th century now. It was always a constraint of television that aliens that had to act tended to look and sound amazingly like Earth's dominant primate but with lumpy extra bits added,
That describes Trek (TNG thru ENT) more than it does B5. Just because nobody's done it in this century (B5-style prosthetics), doesn't mean that it's old fashioned, and that it'd be unpopular if done again. It just means that the current fad is not B5-style prosthetics, and that's emblematic of producers making something more for the mainstream than sci-fi fans.



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...and I think it tended to alienate Joe Public.
Maybe superficial Joe Public. Yeah, he looks at B5, sees Londo and G'Kar, sneers and flips the channel. His loss.



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The current trend in sci-fi seems to be much more anthropocentric and 90% character-driven to 10% concept-driven where it had been the opposite (B5 probably embodies the middle of that shift).
The current fad is to look down on "human actors wearing prosthetic makeup to play aliens." Doesn't mean that I'm going to do that. If the stories and character development are there, who cares?


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....but I'm wondering if there may be more than just the stated reason for JMS choosing to focus on human characters for the first installments of TLT.
I doubt it.



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And if TLT turns out to be more of the same old but with better effects.. Again I dunno, I want to see it be successful enough to keep it going, and I'm not sure that's going to be enough, without injecting some fresh mystery, spark or hook..
Fresh mystery, spark or hook is STORY, not prosthetics. Also, IIRC we are going to see a Centauri on this DVD, high hair and all.
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Old January 5th 07, 09:08   #483
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Re: Actual B5:TLT News

I want to see guys in Alien make-up again. I loved B5 and Farscape precisely because they did this in such an interesting way, no more Trek style silly noses / foreheads.

I agree its currently passe to have sci-fi that general only features human or human derived characters, but there is surely room for one show with rubber faced characters?


Plus, this is going down the direct to DVD route, so to a certian degree it does not have to cater for TV 'trends'. My only hope it that Interweb piracy by those curious who could buy does not eat into DVD sales too much ...
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Old January 5th 07, 10:07   #484
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Re: Actual B5:TLT News

I think the writers of, say, Firefly and BSG have realized that whenever there are aliens with bumpy heads or prosthetics, such costuming is really just an elaborate nametag.

After all, the Narns and the Centauri acted in extremely human ways -- quite intentionally, as JMS was holding a mirror up to humanity. Basically the only truly alien being on B5 was Kosh, and when his crazy dialogue and his encounter suit got stripped away, he was rather human himself.

Since all our aliens are essentially acting like humans, I think some writers have decided to take a shortcut and save some money by just having them be humans.
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Old January 5th 07, 11:00   #485
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Re: Actual B5:TLT News

There are basically two problems with aliens in TVSF as far as I can tell ... one related to production and one to audience.

From a production point of view, we are only now approaching the technology to create a completely convincing character that is totally alien (i.e. not a 5-6 foot tall biped with prosthetics) through the use of CGI. And I don't think anyone has yet tried to do it on a TV budget - except for small scenes here and there. Even Gollum was produced by motion-capturing Andy Serkis' very human movements.

From an audience point of view, would viewers have been able to so completely identify and sympathise with characters like Londo and G'Kar (generally considered B5's strongest characters) if they hadn't so closely resembled humans?

If all aliens in all TV shows were portrayed as truly alien in look, thought and behaviour how would the audience react?

I guess someone out there needs to give it a try ...
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Old January 5th 07, 13:04   #486
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Re: Actual B5:TLT News

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After all, the Narns and the Centauri acted in extremely human ways -- quite intentionally, as JMS was holding a mirror up to humanity. Basically the only truly alien being on B5 was Kosh, and when his crazy dialogue and his encounter suit got stripped away, he was rather human himself.
You consider a glowing squidlike creature rather human?



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Since all our aliens are essentially acting like humans, I think some writers have decided to take a shortcut and save some money by just having them be humans.
I think they are afraid of looking "too sci-fi."
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Old January 5th 07, 15:17   #487
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Re: Actual B5:TLT News

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I dunno, I'm struggling to think of any sci-fi film or television property originating in this century (eg. since 2000) that has done it.
That doesn't mean that it's any more a thing-of-the-past than it ever was.

The SciFi Network (US) made a conscious decision to move away from space and aliens sorts of shows. That only reflects one small group of "suits". (Farscape started in 1999, and so *barely* misses your cut off.)

The US syndication market (where such things as B5 and Andromeda got going) basically completely disappeared as an option as all of those independent stations that used to fill programming schedules with syndicated shows joined the newer baby networks. (BTW: Andromeda started in 2000.)

The broadcast (in the sense of aiming at broader audiances, as opposed to niche "narrowcasters) networks never did create new space/aliens franchises more often than one every couple decades or so.

And, apart from a couple relatively short fad periods (like all of the copycats for a few years or so after Star Wars), movies have never been anything like a prolific source of SF with aliens in prostetics either. Besides, in the early years of this decade, the niche of movies-with-non-human-characters was filled by LotR. (The pockets of market resistance are the same for both space-SF and that kind of fantasy.) Nobody wanted to risk anything big going head-to-head with those; and now we're in the copycat fad period of fantasy ..... such as Eragon.)

So I don't think that the new millenium has seen any particular shift in how SF is to be done. It's a continuation the long standing trends of the business. It's just that the disappearance of the one piece of the market where prosthetic alien shows did a get a bit more of a chance (syndication) roughly coincided with this time frame.



I will say this, though:

I think that one of the reasons why there haven't been more space-alien movies over the decades is budgetary: it costs a lot to do the makeup for a whole universe of passers-by in alien settings up to the quality required to not look *really* bad in a movie. You could just see the detail so much better in a movie than you could on TV. For example, when ST:TNG went directly from shooting their last TV season into shooting their first movie the first thing that they had to do was destroy all of their sets from the show and rebuild the same sets better and more detailed for the movie to make up for the difference in how well they would be seen.

With the advent of HDTV, you can see everything much better on TV. That means that things like prosthetic makeups for alien characters (or extras in places like B5's Zocalo) will have to be done that much better going forward. Space based SF already tends to be relatively expensive to produce because of the need for FX budgets that other shows don't need. Having to cover that *and* higher makeup budgets may make space based SF with lots of aliens prohibitively expensive to produce for while ...... until the makeup people figure out how to make things look better without spending so much more money, or until the technology allows the FX budgets to come down more, or something.

But agian, that's a business and financial trend, not anything directly in the form of what people will accept as legitimate SF.

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Old January 5th 07, 15:43   #488
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Re: Actual B5:TLT News

It's a question with many compromises.

If you desire diversity, you can now create it. Past is the time of physically building models/puppets/muppets, you can go CGI and convincingly animate anything which human eyes can see.

In some way, this permits increased realism.

A quite likely form of life in the interstellar void... is a machine, artificial intellect, with complete freedom to choose any form it wants (including antiquated forms for sentimental reasons) or no properly visible form.

But in other ways, full realism hurts story-telling.

As long as we remain bipedal humanoid air-breathers, best equipped to understand creatures who share our external form and mimics, there's going to exist a story-telling penalty everytime you have to skip actors (or limit their help to voice acting).

There's also a predictable loss in smooth transfer of story, everytime you cannot use humanoid form.

And the cause is us - precisely as static or dynamic as our ability and mind will be. But currently and in near future too, I suspect we read a story smoother is it somehow resembles our enviroment, and links up with our experience.
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Old January 5th 07, 16:16   #489
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Re: Actual B5:TLT News

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If you desire diversity, you can now create it. Past is the time of physically building models/puppets/muppets, you can go CGI and convincingly animate anything which human eyes can see.
However, it's not clear to me whether it can be done convincingly *yet* on a TV series budget and turn around schedule. That becomes a particular issue if your CGI characters need to directly interact with your live human actors.

I mean, even with the time and budget that they had for Fellowship of the Ring there were still some things that immediately jumped out at me as being "wrong" or "fake". They improved in the later two movies, though it was a bit unclear to me how much that was due to improved animation and how much was due to PJ & Co learning which sorts of things to avoid letting the audiance get too good of a look at. (I think that it was some of each.)
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Old January 5th 07, 17:37   #490
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Re: Actual B5:TLT News

You're probably right, and I quite likely over-emphasized the possibilities of CGI. Animating a non-humanoid character in a credible manner, it seems quite challenging and time-consuming, yes. Even an expert would have little intuition to draw from, to determine how that kind of a creature should behave.

Even animating a humanoid character is difficult, if the result must withstand close scrutiny. For distant or less detailed footage, good enough and probably helps quite a lot.
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