TNG’s Visual Effects: Behind the Scenes of “The Wounded”
Our article on Tuesday going behind-the-scenes of TNG's visual effects from the episode "The Child" met with a good response, so we're continuing the series with an analysis of another episode. Last month, we brought you an exclusive look at an early workprint copy of Season 4's "The Wounded", with additional scenes, missing music, and several unfinished visual effects shots. Today, we're digging into those missing visual effects with an exclusive before-and-after video comparison, along with a scene-by-scene breakdown of the technical processes used to complete each scene!
We have used two versions of "The Wounded" in this presentation: a production-era workprint VHS tape dated November 26, 1990, and final version of the episode from the 2002 DVD release.
ACT ONE, SCENE 11: The original 35mm background plate of Marc Alaimo as Gul Macet is used by itself in the workprint for the offline edit. In the completed video master and subsequent DVD release, the background element is properly composited with the foreground plate of the actors on the bridge filmed against bluescreen. The blue color is "keyed out," making the viewscreen area transparent to the footage behind it.
ACT ONE, SCENE 13: In the workprint, the original background plate of John Hancock as Admiral Haden is used alone when editing the sequence. In the finished shot, the footage is resized and skewed to fit the screen of the desktop monitor. In this case, it was not necessary to use a bluescreen because no objects in the foreground pass in front of the monitor screen.
ACT ONE, SCENE 16: The workprint uses a simple dissolve for the Cardassians beaming-in. In the finished shot, the standard transporter effect is used. An overall "shower" of streaks is wiped down over the actors, which then dissolves to a more confined version. A semi-transparent hold-out matte is created by an artist in the shape of the actors.
This matte "holds-out" the background to allow the familiar shimmering points of light of the transporter effect to be seen just inside the body. Then another dissolve and wipe reveals the final residual chest cavity layer which, in turn, is slowly dissolved away.
ACT TWO, SCENE 28A: In the workprint, the foreground plate is used of the actors on the bridge filmed against bluescreen. As with scene 11, in the finished shot the blue color is later "keyed out," making the viewscreen area transparent to the footage behind it - in this case, an animated sequence illustrating the relative positions of the Phoenix and her Cardassian target.
ACT THREE, SCENE 36: Another bluescreen shot used without VFX in the workprint. The warp effect outside the Ten Forward windows was accomplished using streak photography.
ACT FIVE, SCENE 46A: As in scenes 11 & 28A, the workprint uses the foreground plate of the actors on the bridge filmed against bluescreen. In the completed shot, the Phoenix miniature was filmed separately at Image G and later composited into the keyed viewscreeen area, along with its various lighting passes.
The ship is layered on top of a standard, "head on" warp effect that was first created by Industrial Light and Magic during the production of "Encounter at Farpoint".
ACT FIVE, SCENE 47: In the workprint, an over-the-shoulder shot of Patrick Stewart on the bridge with a chroma-key blue viewscreen quickly dissolves to the background plate of Bob Gunton as Benjamin Maxwell that will eventually be used as the composited element in the finished shot.
ACT FIVE, SCENES 47A & 48: The workprint begins with an over-the-shoulder shot of Bob Gunton looking out of Maxwell's ready room window, complete with his actual reflection on the glass. Next we see a shot of the outside corridor and Colm Meaney as O'Brien slowly dissolves in - a placeholder for a never completed transporter effect, eventually cut from the episode all together.As we return to the ready room, the finished shot is revealed: the 4-foot Enterprise miniature, filmed separately at Image G, is composited into the keyed window area along with its various lighting passes on top of background stars. Gunton's reflection is carefully maintained during the chroma-keying.
ACT FIVE, SCENE 50: Much like scene 36, we have another bluescreen shot used without VFX in the workprint. The warp effect outside the observation lounge windows was again accomplished using streak photography.
Stay tuned to TrekCore as we have several more workprint analyses to come, including a special look at the use of widescreen photography on The Next Generation! What do you think about the use of visual effects in "The Wounded"? Let us know in the comments below!
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