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"Battlestar" Effects Take Lead From "Firefly"

Shannon Nolley

Tuesday 10 January 2006, by Webmaster

According to the SciFi Channel, Loni Peristere, visual-effects supervisor on the sci-fi movie "Serenity," said that the movie’s computer-generated visual effects - which mimic hand-held camera moves and realistic lens effects - directly influenced the F/X on Sci Fi Channel’s original series "Battlestar Galactica." (I knew I liked "Battlestar" for a reason!... well, at least one.)

Apparently, when "Galactica" producer Ronald D. Moore and visual-effects supervisor Gary Hutzel were shopping for a visual style for their show, they liked what they saw in Joss Whedon and "Serenity"’s predecessor TV show, "Firefly." Peristere had pioneered the visual effects for Whedon, so naturally they went to him.

Peristere’s Zoic Studios team created the jerky handheld-like digital style in "Firefly" and "Serenity." Giving the audience the sense that the scenes were shot by people instead of computers, this "realistic" effect differs from the static style of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the more fluid F/X of the "Star Wars" films. "It seemed sort of silly to not apply the cinematic language to digital photography as well," Peristere said.

For example, in the climactic battle scene of "Serenity," visual-effects designers worked as if they had three camera operators following the title ship. "Our job from an animation standpoint was to create an action that moves through the battle, rather than participating in the battle," Peristere said. "Our pilot is chasing Serenity and has to keep Serenity in frame, even though large chunks of debris and fire is coming toward him."

The "Serenity" DVD, released last month, includes features on the creation of the movie’s visual effects. It’s also a brilliant movie so you should buy a few copies.