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SPACE 1999 DIORAMAS GALLERY #01

Updated: August 13, 2023

The show's vehicles, including the Eagle space shuttle and the Moon Buggy, were represented with a mixture of full-sized props, photographic blow-ups, and detailed scale models. Dozens of models for the various alien spaceships and the Mark IX Hawk from the "War Games" episode were built by model maker Martin Bower, often at several different sizes to account for the intended use.

Rather than relying on the expensive and time consuming blue screen process, as for Star Trek, Johnson's team often employed a technique that went back to the earliest days of visual effects spacecraft and planets would be filmed against black backgrounds, with the camera being rewound for each successive element. As long as the various elements did not overlap, this produced convincing results. In technical terms, the advantage was that all of the elements were recorded on the original negative, as opposed to blue screen, which would have involved several generations of duplication. Another plus was that the camera's exposed negative contained completed effects once this film was lab processed thereby avoiding the costly, in time and money, blue screen optical technique. The disadvantage was that the number of possible angles was more limited for instance, a spaceship could be seen approaching a planet from the side, but could not move in front of it without the elements overlapping.

Special effects director Brian Johnson and most of his team went on to work on Ridley Scott's Alien, followed by The Empire Strikes Back.


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