Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #10: LOGAN'S RUN

Here's a cool "Behind-The-Scenes" shot of technicians working on the huge cityscape "miniature" for the feature film Logan's Run. Before I saw this photo I had no idea that the "City of Domes" model was that large!

15 comments:

  1. I think they could've done better, even considering this was pre-STAR WARS. METROPOLIS and THINGS TO COME did magnificent futurescapes while LOGAN'S RUN always looked like it was either rinky-dinky or perhaps the greatest Hot Wheels track invented by man.

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  2. Metropolis and Things To Come both used composite shots (Sch├╝fftan process, matte paintings), while Logan's Run used a complete miniature with some forced perspective cyc. Logan's Run has the advantage of moving, three-dimensional shots, but also had to contend with depth-of-field. The two earlier films have "locked-off" (non-moving camera) shots, and it is also easier to control apparent depth-of-field in a composite shot.

    One of the things that really helped sell many of the shots in Star Wars was the gritty, lived-in detail—in other words, the dirt. Logan's Run was deliberately bright and shiny.

    Blade Runner was released only a handful of years after Logan's Run and Star Wars and has fantastic city shots. Of course, Blade Runner went whole hog on the dirt: heavy smoke to push the scale, and a forced perspective city of two-dimensional cut-outs with tiny pin-pricks of light on them. The Tyrell pyramids were finely detailed with photo-etched metal plating. The FX team also built a number of other miniature buildings which have the advantage of composite elements—such as Deckard's spinner descending towards the police headquarters. Logan's Run would have benefitted immensely from a few composite elements, like maybe a flock of birds—anything. But the filmmakers did not want flying cars, and the environment was too sterile for birds, or smog, etc.

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  3. Regarding Sir A1!s comment about it looking "rinky-dinky": Perhaps, but I think the water is what gave away the scale of the city. Water is very difficult to scale up and wind machines and slow-motion are often used. Of course no wind in the domed city...
    The above picture shows very little water and, if you take away the people, looks very impressive and convincing indeed.

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  4. I'd never quite realized just how BIG that 'miniature' was until I'd seen some behind-the-scenes pics (including the one above) a few years ago. It's really not a bad model, all things considered, but the water scale problem really does wreck the effect more than anything.

    By the way, there were a couple of composite shots of the City, or parts of it, showing people walking along sidewalks (and later running during the City's demise). Not much, I know, nor not as effective as, say, flying vehicles might have been, but then I almost think that flying vehicles might not have been pulled off convincingly enough to look real. (It's not that decent composite SFX didn't exist, but I think by that point in the production, the budget probably did not allow for such extravagence. I'm just guessing, of course.)
    At any rate, the movie is none the worse in my opinion for its miniature effects. It's still a good film and tells an intriguing story. (I admit I'm biased: it's one of the first SF films I saw on the big screen, and the last SF film I saw before Star Wars, so it's got a special place in my memory.)
    CR

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  5. @CR Logan's Run has some composites of the city as inter-scene shots, but they are all "locked off," like the composites in Metropolis and Things To Come. The "establishing" shots of the city during the opening titles of Logan's Run are all dynamic. Perhaps the speed of the Maze Cars visible in the tubes worked against the miniature. But then the people of the City of Domes are in a hurry and expect instant gratification. (The dating circuit matter transmitter was a mistake, in my opinion.)

    The city shots in Blade Runner were also dynamic. Although the smoke, the flying cars, and the flames all added to the scale and activity of the scene, the most effective scale detail was the plethora of tiny lights. The City of Domes might have looked better with some small lighting detail—but again, we run up against the production design. The City of Domes is very slick and futuristic; there are almost no direct light sources.

    The Black Hole is usually credited with the first dynamic matte paintings, although I suppose someone might have done such an effect without computer controlled camera mounts. I think several of the shots in 2001: A Space Odyssey were "latent" (in camera) composites on mechanically controlled camera mounts—but I'd have to check that.

    Come to think of it, Forbidden Planet has one dynamic matte shot in the Krell underground machine, and one dynamic model shot. In the model shot, the camera stops moving just a frame before the touring humans step into view on the walkway. The figures are so small that I'm not sure if they're live-action, or hand-drawn animation. Either way, the shots are superb.

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  6. Most of the really detailed models in previous eras of cinema were writ large. The original Discovery model was huge! Good on 'em, love it all.

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  7. Good point, Metryq, about those Logan's Run composites being locked off... I'd missed the point about dynamic composites versus static or locked off composites when I first read the earlier posts and made my reply. (And by the way, the opening 'flight' over the City is one of my favorite shots of the miniature in the whole film.)
    CR

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  8. I recall something about the lighting on the miniature that gave it away very early in the film, but otherwise thought the set was very well done. Need any radio spots for the movie? I'd email 'em to you if you have an email address to offer.

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  9. "I might miss the dome.
    It's the only home I've known.
    I love the inside when it feels like it's outside,
    But it isn't real.
    Stick with me an we'll bust this ceiling down."

    From "Logan's Run" by Henning Ohlenbusch.
    Listen: http://henningohlenbusch.bandcamp.com/track/logans-run

    or a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-1FYh_JGpg

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  10. Being a huge fan of conventional modeling making in films, i always loved the Logans Run domed city, and tried on NUMEROUS occasions to create some kind of model city myself as a kid, upside down plastic bottles, styrofoam containers, model kit parts....... man, it never came close to how cool Logans city was.


    UPDATE... just found this cool site with a bunch of fantastic behind the scenes shots of the Domed city and it's construction........

    http://www.snowcrest.net/fox/loganmovie/city/index.htm

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  11. dusty abell, thanks for that link. That's the place I mentioned I'd seen the behind-the-scenes pics.
    CR

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  12. Speaking of LOGAN'S RUN models, got a link to this via io9.com: Logan's world in detail... in LEGOs!


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/61671941@N00/4944501372/in/set-72157624846320310/

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  13. Here's a piece of related trivia:

    in "Star Trek V-The Final Frontier" a still of this "Logan's Run" domed city is used as a backdrop outside of the window "Admiral Bob" ( played by Harve Bennett ) is standing in front of. It can be seen when he calls the Enterprise with orders for them to ship out on a hostage rescue mission

    Dep1701

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  14. I have just recently received a dvd of Logan's Run - the tv series with Gregory Harrison, & very much enjoyed reliving this series I first watched as a young teenager. I think the sfx stand up quite well. The City of Domes minature set was quite convincing tho, as discussed, the surrounding water & im my opinion the static tree forests let the illusion down somewhat & these elements are very hard to scale - recently saw Skyfall (Bond) & there were some obvious minature shots in this movie & that's 38 years later! Bravo for any minature fxs vs CGI tho, I'm so thoroughly sick of computer animation. Another consideration is that 'Logan's Run' movie & tv series was produced by MGM, the once megga powerhouse of Hollywood was by the mid to late 70s a declining, decimated shell of its former glory due to owner Kirk Kerkorian's corporate destruction of the studio; MGM quite simply didn't have the resources of the other big 5 studios such as Fox, Universal or Paramount, so comparing Logan's Run to Star Wars - produced a year or so after the Logan's Run Movie needs to take this into acoount. MGM made 'Forbidden Planet' & the revered '2001 A Space Odyssey' 20 years and 9 years respecively before Logan's Rung & the difference in quality minature & optical fxs was marked. Science fiction,from the 60's, 70's & beginning of the 80's was more story driven & in my opinion far more enjoyable than the bloated virtual world renderings of today - Logan's Run Tv Series was imaginitive & thought provoking

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  15. Awesome miniature, but improperly photographed. The techniques of deep-focus photography were not employed in the opening shots and immediately ruin the sense of scale the modelmakers strove for when foreground objects fall out of focus.

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