Thursday, December 17, 2009
A thread on the official movie forum first led me to their MySpace page (and its virtually identical twin on Trekspace) where I first saw their teaser trailer, which is in turn housed on Vimeo, and I can honestly say that if this is any indication of the quality of the work we can expect, this is going to be the one to watch next year!
The project has been around since at least March, when they announced that CutshawKane Reel Music out of Kings Mountain, NC will be providing additional music for our episodes. So far they have a principal cast and crew plus a guest cast for their first episode which is due to film in North Carolina in 2010
Pretty impressive, in fact you can see a trend here: they are all pro or semi-pro cast and crew, some with substantial backgrounds and demo reels. This is the work of an independent film-maker who is using a Star Trek fan film as a vehicle to practice his art. Its been done quite successfully in other fandoms, most noticeably the DC 'verse, and last year by D. R. Quintana's Star Trek: Beyond.
Ethically there is nothing wrong with it at all as long as they stick to the rules and don't divert any revenue from the copyright owners. This however is an example of how professionals can gain something that cannot be measured in dollars: public and professional visibility. We, the fans, win as does the copyright owner by the free fan prublicity. If they were to prosecute people for doing things for the glory that they might bring then I'd be behind bars right now!
Monday, December 14, 2009
'Gaming Radio Network', Creators of EVE Radio... are an amazingly professional group with many years of experience entertaining MMO audiences and were very receptive to my ideas on what I would do if I had a Star Trek Online Radio station.The first thing I have to say is, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Sport, you've got the talent and drive to do this. The work of all concerned with Hailing Frequencies, both as a podcast, an online fanzine and gaming news site and forum is an example to the fan production community of what can be done with imagination and drive.
So they gave me a fully developed station and all the creative control I will need to work with potential Role-Playing (and non- Role Playing ) DJ's who want to be the voices of the United Federation, Klingon Empire and all the realms in-between and beyond. As well as the freedom to work with the Fleets of Star Trek Online to provide them a way to promote themselves or spread empire news.
Cryptic Studios and Gaming Radio Network are to be congratulated for taking the so far unique stand of giving a fan production group the opportunity to show that they can cut it in the world of MMOG entertainment media!
Dude, I am so jealous! (^V^)
----------------- May your enemies run with fear -------------------
Saturday, December 5, 2009
- The idea was one I'd pondered before but it was brought to the fore by a valid comment by Professor Moriarty on the Trek BBS.
- A comment to an otherwise interesting interview with Clive Young caused me to expand on my thoughts with the aid one of Clive's descriptions.
- Made some suggestions to Barbreader for how she could improve on the functionality of her website, Star Trek Reviewed, that reminded me that I had never mentioned it here. It is an immensely useful resource for finding a vast array of Star Trek fan productions.
- Recently lost my beloved but aging iPaq and my capability for reading eBooks went with it! After looking at other PDA options, and because I am jealous of my son's iPod Touch, I decided to see what possibilities there were in the way of mobile phone aps for a Nokia N5730
- Posted to the Star Trek Paper Modeller's Yahoo Group that gamestockmassena has found a new home for the fan-made constructable card game, "Pirates of the Federation" and in the process updated the gaming material.
- Experimented with Playlists on my YouTube channel.
- Mooted the possibilities of audio dramas tying in to fan film fanchises.
- Looking for group!!! Fleet Captain James Cecil, CO of the USS Commonwealth, a Kentucky based Star Trek fan club, part of Starfleet International, is interested in starting a fan film. Voyages Of The Funakoshi will take place during the TNG era, more precisely right after the events of the movie STAR TREK: Generations and he has open positions right across the board: writers, actors, camera operators, sound recorders, Special Effects and makeup artists. Interested parties can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- December 19 - Officially started the 2009 Twelve Trek Days of Christmas
- Day 1: A simple to construct game board and playing pieces for Klin Zha, the Klingon equivalent to chess. Just cut, fold, glue and play. (I'm open to suggestions for new playing pieces!)
- Day 2: A hyperlinked guide to fan reporting in 2009 - from UseNet to social networking, from fanzines to podcasts
- Day 3: With the down-turn in the economy, this year I could only afford two wise men as the team from TWERPs podcasted about religion and politics in Star Trek in their third annual Trekcast.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
However this time around there's an even stronger reason for me to urge you to listen to this episode. It is one of the most striking speculative fiction episodes I've seen to date in a Star Trek fan production and because of that you will either love it or hate it.
I define good speculative fiction as something that makes us think about the world around us by drawing fictional parallels, such as the way that Tolkein was perceived to be commenting on English society in Lord of the Rings.
Trek fan productions rarely deal with the hot topics of our real life world, although there are notable exceptions of which Tough Decisions is one. As a paper-thin portrayal of the Iraqi conflict in a Star Trek context, I applaud Jim and Ken for their courage in putting it on the line for us. The allied involvement in Iraq is controversial because of its origins, its conduct and its outcomes and Jim and Ken have their own take on the moral and sociological aspects of it.
Did they get it right?
Define "right" for me.
They made me think, so - yeah, they got it right for me. Because making you think is what it is all about, not convincing you that their take is the right take.
I think it would be short-sighted to get caught up in arguments about this as a commentary on current affairs though, because the issues are much bigger than that. I can see this episode as opening up avenues of dialogue about a half dozen philosophical and ethical issues, not the least of which is the question of the universality of personal values which is so important to Star Trek.
Haven't you ever wondered about the paradox of how the Roddenberry dream can espouse IDIC - Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations - and yet the quadrant is ruled by a federation that must, for its very survival, have fixed, core values that all the members must respect? Doesn't this say: we love your diversity as long as you are not diverse in ways that we disagree with? What about the right of a member planet to constitutionally recognise canibalism? Ritual suicide? Could the Klingons ever be recognised because of their tradition of hegh'bat?
I urge you to listen to Tough Decisions, enjoy it as entertainment and then think about this... where do your rights end and mine begin? Are there some absolute values in ethics that should be enforced across all cultures? Is this showing strength of convictions or is this a conviction of strength?
Your answer to the questions might tell you a lot about yourself and your own values.
------ One does not achieve honour while acting dishonourably ------
-------------------------- Kirok of L'Stok -------------------------
Friday, November 6, 2009
- Part of a great discussion about how fan-made audio dramas could increase their appeal to mainstream listeners on TrekBBS
- Started a thread on TrekUnited for Starmada, the GoAnimate animation series
- After Glenn Jupp posted the details of his first business card sized model suitable as a game piece on the StarTrekPaperModels Yahoo Group, I developed on the thread by asking other card designers if they wanted to do something in a similar vein.
- Discovered that the fan-made game mod, "Pirates of the Federation" did not disappear when its Geocities website went down. The creator also has a Yahoo Group called, strangely enough, piratesofthefederation.
- Found out that there was a third, or more correctly another version of the second pilot for The Original Series of Star Trek! My thanks to Igor of Sydney Trek for the heads-up.
- Got all didactic about the difference between an audio book and an audio drama.
- Listened to the new release from ST Eras and its such good speculative fiction that I'm posting about it on Trek United, Audio Drama Talk and the Hidden Frontier and ST Intrepid forums.
- LOOKING FOR GROUP! Star Trek: Valkyrie, a new family oriented Trek audio drama is looking for three male Voice Actors. Casting call, Intro post on FH forums & pilot/trailer.
Monday, August 17, 2009
With the end of Star Trek: Hidden Frontier in 2007, various groups actively lobbied to continue aspects of the series as spin-offs besides the sweeping story arcs of Odyssey and The Helena Chronicles. Several of the cast had gathered strong followings and two series were started to cover them: Federation One which features Matt McCabe, and Henglaar MD which continues the story of the medico of the USS Excelsior who was a regular on the show from the first episode in 2000.Henglaar is devastated after the events that formed the climax of season seven of ST HF and the premiere episode of this series, Recalled To Life, acts as a bridge between the two series, or if you've never seen the fan film an introduction. John Whiting has a distinctive gravelly voice that perfectly characterises his portrayal of the curmudgeonly Dr. Henglaar. He's supported in the opening episode by other ST HF characters including Silan, Henglaar's niece, played since ep. 7.04 by Heather Ashleigh and the star-crossed lovers, Traya Knapp, voiced by Sara Jo Elice and her Cardassian paramour, Pelas, which sees the return of Tim Foutch.
The strength of the production though lies in its new direction rather than its past. Henglaar is looking to quietly bury himself in his work and finds a niche for himself as the mentor of an unlikely trio of medical students, a human, a Vulcan and a Ferrengi played by Tim Fritts, Jeannie Lin and Mark Samarias. John's performance of Henglaar meets its match in a fiery delivery by Melodee M. Spevack as Cpt Dana Russell the master of the ship that the action takes place on. The interplay between these two characters was the highpoint of this production for me and I'll be bitterly disappointed if Melodee isn't a regular!Henglaar, MD is an interesting show that breaks new ground for Star Trek fan audio dramas. I'm not oblivious to the parallels between this and a certain TV series that features a similarly irascible doctor who uses a cane but I'm afraid if this was what it was trading on its lost on me since I've never watched it. Medical drama revolves around people, it is heavy with tension and dialog, and, refreshingly, does not have to involve militaristic conflict. I'll be interested to see how well this translates into a different media, audio drama, and an unusual setting, the Star Trek universe.
Released on July 29 (Running Time 40:23; 37mb) and featured in the HFP August newsletter, the script for the pilot, by director Eric Weaver, was finished by February as was the recording of the series theme by Mary Kouyoumdjian, another departure from the usual fare. It is available as a direct download from the episode webpage on the HFP website where you can also find a preview and an iTunes feed … but no RSS feed for those of us who have freed our mp3 players from the demon ahToonz!Altogether a good start to what could be a unique venture.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Playing catch-up with Starship Farragut: The Animated Adventures ...
- March 1, 2009 – "NEO f/x and Farragut Films today opened their new web site www.farragut-animated.com for the special, 2-episode release of Starship Farragut, The Animated Episodes ... The new web site complements the animated episodes with special downloads and biographies on the actors involved with this production,” explained Michael Struck, manager of the NEO f/x team. “In addition, when the episodes are released, the web site will act as a central location to download and watch the individual acts.” [Source: farragut-animated.com]
- 06 April, 2009 - "NEO f/x (in association with Farragut Films) has released a trailer for "Power Source", written by Thomas J. Scott. This is the first installment of a special, 2-episode release of Starship Farragut, The Animated Episodes. These new episodes are the first animated Star Trek to be produced since Filmation wrapped production of the original series in 1974. About the episode: Captain Carter and the USS Farragut (NCC-1647) are dispatched to search for the USS Azrael (NCC-517) under the command of Captain Glenn, only to find that they may be the ones being searched for. The trailer is available for viewing and/or download in the "extras" section of the farragut-animated.com web site. [Source: Starship Farragut]
- The Extras section of farragut-animated.com is updated most Mondays and includes some well designed images and DVD labels of the major characters ... DVD labels? According to the FAQ section, "the internet release will include ISO data files and DVD artwork for downloading so you may make your own DVDs". But will they still be computer files or will I be able to play them on my TVs DVD player?
NEO f/x and Farragut Films have just announced ...
The first act of "Power Source" will be released at 8:00 am PST on July 20th, 2009, to commemorate the first moon landing by Neil Armstrong in 1969. Acts 2 and 3 will follow in August, with the entire episode available to download by August 31, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
BEWARE - MOVIE SPOILERS IN THIS POST
Forty years of Star Trek canon has been thrown away!
No it's not. What we have to ask here is: does the universe in which all the other series were set in still "exist"? Spock and Nero are thrown back in time from 2387 to 2258 where Nero destroys the USS Kelvin, killing James T. Kirk's father and altering his life, and then destroys the planet Vulcan making a major change to the United Federation of Planets.
Spock specifically says in the movie that Nero's changes to the timeline create an "alternate universe" which in Treknological terms (what the unkindly might call technobabble) is "a separate and self-contained universe existing as a consequence of different choices and outcomes than those that have led to our own [or prime] universe." The concept is a bit of a stple in sci fi, in one episode, "Parallels", there are Enterprises from 285,000 universes altogether at one point!
The definitive canon answer comes from the writer, Bob Orci, in a conversation he had with Anthony Pasquale in December last year on Trekmovie.com ...
Anthony: OK so let's call the timeline Nero left, as `the prime timeline', soOK, so where does that leave the destruction of Romulus?
that means that the USS Kelvin, as designed and seen in the trailer, that is
also in the prime timeline?
Anthony: So what happens with the destruction of the Kelvin is the creation of
an alternative timeline, but what happens to the prime timeline after Nero
leaves it? Does it continue or does it wink out of existence once he goes back
and creates this new timeline.
Bob: It continues. According to the most successful, most tested scientific
theory ever, quantum mechanics, it continues.
Anthony: So everyone in the prime timeline, like Picard and Riker, are still off
doing there thing, it is just that Nero is gone.
Bob: Yes, and you will notice that whenever the movie comes out, that whatever
DVDs you have purchased, will continue to exist.
That's canon in the "Prime Universe", it happens in 2387 and it is proving to be an a major stumbling block for some fans. There is a whole section of Trek fandom that specifically focuses on Romulus, with their own fanon lore and language resources, that is understandably upset about the idea that the central planet of the Star Empire has been summarily blown away from Star Trek canon!
The future must seem very uncertain for them however this could be seen as an opportunity for a more exciting future for their chosen section of fandom. If we take the oft given advice that good storytelling needs conflict to excel then this could as literally re-invigorating the Romulan sub-plot. Was Remus destroyed as well? Will the Remans and other subject races use this as an opportunity to throw off the reins of the empire? If relations with the Federation have been improving since the events of Nemesis will the Empire turn to the UFP for help? Or will they see the destruction as a failure of the Vulcans as Nero did and drop back into their old xenophobic ways? The Romulans could be in a lot better situation than the Vulcans are in the new continuity because, as with the ancient Roman empire, there would be survived by colonies, planets and whole star systems that would consider themselves ethnically and culturally Romulan even though they might not have set foot on Romulus itself.
The other vexing problem that the destruction of Romulus will cause, is that some fan productions, most noticably some fan fiction series, are supposed to take place after 2387 and do not (of course) mention the destruction of the Romulan homeworld. I truly sympathise because I know that they not only represent an objective investment of time, skill and commitment but there can also be a very personal attachment between a fan fiction author and their book. I'm sure professional authors feel a similar connection with their work but they are primarily professionals, what they do will put food on their table and send their children to college. A fan fiction author is telling a story that is a part of them, their baby.
The truth of the matter is that no fan production will ever be canon even though the majority of writers and producers try their best to make their productions mesh with established canon, researching the technology, locations and cultures so that their own work rings true to other fans who might be reading.
Fan fiction authors caught in this situation still have a few options. They could add a disclaimer to their story to the effect that their work follows Trek canon up to 2387, a prospective reader could think of them as an alternate reality that branches off at that date. Alternatively, if a large enough number of authors agreed they could cooperate on a continuity that specifically saw the 2387 destruction of Romulus as an event that happened in an alternate universe, making their own "fanon universe". Examples of such Fanon cooperatives are USS Liberty, United Trek and many of the Virtual Seasons like Star Trek: Reborn. Or they could "retcon" their previous works to whatever extent they wanted or felt was necessary to bring it into line with canon.
I would encourage new works to include the 'Romulan event', personally I can see how it could open up a lot of plot possibilities but the idea of multiple alternate universes needs to be handled delicately - at what point does more freedom from canon become anarchy? Would we be in danger of having a Japanese style attitude towards canon where Anime characters and plotlines can change from one season to the next?
It doesn't have to be of course.
Just as a widow remarrying doesn't mean that she loves her first husband any less, enjoying this new movie doesn't mean you love the Original Series any less. Its just that ... imagine if she'd remarried and her husband were brought back to life? I don't mean brought back as “the zombie husband from Hell”, I mean just as good, if not better than before? That's the problem facing the Star Trek fan production community right now because, to stretch the analogy to breaking point, some of the current productions are based on keeping that first love alive for fans!
James Cawley, executive producer and star of Star Trek: Phase II, was the first to voice this I think on their forum on March sixth, when he said, “The original continuity and time line are gone forever. With the release of this film projects like this one will soon fade away and become irrelevant.” I've interviewed Mr Cawley and his passion for his production is so obvious that Blind Freddy could see it! For him to say this stunned me!
You have to remember that James is an Original Series purist. His personal collection of costumes and memorabilia is legendary, not surprising considering that he worked under William Ware Theiss as a freelance costumer during the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He financed and built a replica of the bridge set of the Enterprise as seen on the Original Series that caused Walter Koenig to say, “Thank you. I have come home again,”
However most telling of all is his personal influence on the world of Star Trek fandom with his vision of a continuation of the “Five Year Mission” - the fan film series started in 2003 as Star Trek: New Voyages and now arguably the highest profile fan production series of any genre: Star Trek: Phase II.
Make no mistake, he's no “one-eyed fan” who cannot appreciate the work of another. During a visit to the Paramount studio lot in January last year, JJ Abrams recognised him, invited him onto the movie set to talk about his production and was so impressed with him that he asked him to take a casting call that led to a part in the film.
Nor is there any suggestion of him selling out - James has said all along that whilst he admires and supports JJ's work he still prefers the look and style of the Original Series and his commitment to his dream is unquestionable. Taking all this into account, is it any wonder that this new direction from the studio should cut so close to his heart?
How could fan productions based on the new movie be a problem? Well, Some see the Star Trek fan production community is a “closed set” of people who make and enjoy them and believe the new movie will be competition for the creative resources and fanbase of the established groups
The real question is, are there limits to the resources available? Is there, for example, only a finite number of fans with the talent and commitment to create Star Trek fan films or only so many fans who want to watch them?
Only time will tell but personally I'm optimistic
The whole idea behind the new movie is that it is a new treatment, a new way of looking at an established fictional universe that is aimed a new audience. Considering the strength of some of the reactions of the established Star Trek fans, I doubt if there'll be a vast exodus from their first love. I think what you'll see will be the creation of a new fanbase in Star Trek fandom who will want to expand on their fan experience in just the same way as previous generations have.
Rather than seeing established groups go under, I reckon we are going to see new groups starting up. Will this mean competition for the same audience? I doubt if they'll compete: the style of each will be too different, besides fan productions are non commercial so download hit-counts are really irrelevant.
I can tell you that if, as I expect, the new movie lives up to expectations, I for one will encourage and watch, read or listen to any fan productions based on it. Like the Vulcan said, “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations”
Hey! You didn't think you'd get away without at least one Trekkie quote didya?
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The idea of a holonovel is interesting. It is actually close to what a lot of people in the publishing industry see as the future of the book with its possibilities for intertextuality and who can blame them? The best books are those that we "sink in to", that, through the author's art, let us experience the story through the eyes of the characters.
Many thought that you could not go past the movies for an immersive entertainment experience but where it fails is that it is one-way and the buzz-word of the last decade has been interactive entertainment. Clive Thompson said it best in a Wired article entitled "Forget Film, Games Do Sci-Fi Best" where he mused ...
Look at "reality TV". Much as cynics would have us consign them to the rubbish-heap of popular culture, there is no denying that they are here to stay and represent a shift in society's ideas of entertainment. No longer are we content to live vicariously through the actions of some stylised hero played by a professional actor, many now want to live vicariously through the experiences of someone who they identify with more closely, the everyday person who beats all the odds to prove himself a hero, a winner - a David Cook, Paul Potts or Susan Boyle.games have an inherent affinity with sci-fi and fantasy. Those genres are based on what-if premises; they're the literary version of the Sim, the author as world-builder. Part of the fun of watching a sci-fi movie is mentally inhabiting a new world and imagining what it feels like to be inside. But now there's a medium that actually puts you in.
You like the idea of a holonovel? Well, the 23rd century isn't as far away as you thought!
Laz Rojas, the incredibly talented Star Trek: Elite Force 2 game modder who brought us the mind-bogglingly complex Starbase 11 and its orbiting dreadnought on Space Station K7 has recently announced that he is currently developing "The Captain Proton Mod", an episodic, multi-map, single-player mod for Raven's Star Trek Voyager Elite Force and the Elite Force Expansion Pack which, in his own words ...
... if you think this is too good to be true and will never come to anything, check out Laz's screenshots of his Work-In-Progress on his website at ...... is based on the metafictional holonovel "The Adventures of Captain Proton" that was featured on various episodes of Star Trek Voyager, including "Night", "Thirty Days", "Bride of Chaotica", and "Shattered". The mod assumes that after Voyager returned to Earth, Tom Paris wrote various Captain Proton holonovels which were published by Broht & Forrester, the same company which published the EMH's opus "Photons Be Free" in the episode "Author, Author".
The Captain Proton Mod includes several episodes that span multiple maps, each of them a separate chapter in the Captain Proton saga. Familiar characters seen on Star Trek Voyager appear, such as Dr. Chaotica, Queen Arachnia, Buster Kincaid, Constance Goodheart, Satan's Robot, Lonzak, and the President of Earth. There are many new characters as well, some friendly, some not so friendly. And there are lots of new models too, including rocket ships and weapons. Among the new weapons are the ray gun brandished by Lonzak and Chaotica's guards in "Bride of Chaotica", as well as a more accurate Proton gun than the one included in the Expansion Pack.
The full mod will be released in the summer of 2009 and will include at least five episodes. Additional episodes will be released later on from time to time as add-ons.
My thanks to Tryjo Sebo on Hailing Frequency, which is my primary source for all Trek gaming news.
The simple answer is, yes, you can do it as a home publishing job, no problems. You can download a copy as a pdf from the Issuu Website - there's a link to it on the Twelve Days webpage which will take you to a page like this one - where you choose 'Download'. Please note though, you will need membership of Issuu to use the download facility. The pages are designed to be printed on folio A4 or US Letter paper (ie printed in landscape and folded in half vertically) without any adjustments so that you can print them as a 12 page "booklet", sew them and bind them.
No, I'm serious, it can be done by amateurs! It's not easy, probably on a par with skilled woodwork or needlework, but it can be done.
But could I get it professionally printed, I hear you say.
Well, before I go on we need to be perfectly clear here, we are NOT talking about printing for commercial purposes. I know, you're groaning, you've heard it a thousand times, well one more time won't kill you! ;) We don't own the concept of Star Trek, the universe, any of the canon characters or races, in fact fan fiction authors can lay claim only to the characters, plots and concepts they create ourselves. This means you can't sell your fan fiction, in fact you can't even legally give it away ... if you follow the letter of the law rather than it's intent.
It would be easy to get bogged down in debate about the legal and ethical fine points of copyright but the status quo with regards to Star Trek fan productions is that CBS / Paramount are actually pretty enlightened. Basically it boils down to "if you don't divert any money away from the copyright owners, we won't exercise our rights under law". In a way it is like a 'Mexican stand-off' where both sides, fans and studio, stand to potentially lose everything if one or the other pulls the trigger!
So back to the subject on hand: could (or should) a fan fiction writer or one of their fans be able to have a copy of one of their books printed by a professional printer?
Theoretically, there's no reason why you can't take the downloaded pdf file of one of those eBooks to a "Print-On-Demand" (POD) printer who could use it without any further work to make a hardback book, since I folio A4/US Letter is a common paper size for hardback novels. They'd even have a front and back cover!
Current policy though for most POD printers, for example Lulu which is arguably the highest profile POD outfit on the internet, won't print fan fiction because they say that we don't own the copyright. Well, give 'em an award for stating the bleedin' obvious! Every fan production, not just fan fiction, has some permutation of the standard rider saying, "we don't own it, we're just playing with it!"
I believe that for the publisher the copyright could be a moot point.
What has been copyrighted and protected by CBS / Paramount though? The book? The words on the page? Those funny-looking squiggly things that, in our heads, we turn into the author's words? What if I turned it into an audio book? That's not a book, its not even printed! Or a serial in a fanzine? These are just different media, if I took someone else's work and published it in another media of course I would be stealing it!
What is protected by copyright is the fictional Star Trek universe that CBS/Paramount owns ... and Pocket Books licenses. To my way of thinking the media is of secondary importance.
What are we asking the printer to do? Sell us a book? No, we are providing them with a computer file to print and bind for our own private purposes, we are not giving them the file to print out for anyone else. They do not own the intellectual property of the story in the book, even we as the author only lay claim to our own creations in it, the rest belongs to Paramount! All they are doing is providing us with a service - to print and bind the file.
If you were asking the printer to do 2000 copies, so that it was obvious that you were planning on selling them, then they'd have a duty of care to not only NOT do the job but to warn the copyright owner. However if you are asking him to print a single copy (or up to a dozen if you were rich enough and wanted to give them away) then obviously you are not trying to make a profit, nor could the numbers be deemed in any way to be commercial quantities.
In these terms I believe it would be virtually impossible to show that there was any diversion of money from Paramount. Has Pocket Books lost the potential sale of that book to the person who is having it printed? No, because the fan fiction author would never get it printed by S&S in a pink fit! Have they lost the potential sale of a comparable book to that person? I doubt it. Either they are a fan of the Pocket Books offerings or they are not. On the one hand a fanfic author might be a massive consumer of Trek books to learn from the professionals. On the other hand - and I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings to S&S - many fan fic authors write their own books precisely because they are dissatisfied with the professional offerings and their chances of a sale to them are slim at the best of times.
What's the difference between us providing an eBook for a fan to read or providing them with a file that they could turn into a book if they prefer hard-copy? I think the difference is one of perception. The book is a very visible and well-known icon of the publishing industry - to create one's own books is to set oneself up against a commercial giant and, perhaps more importantly in these hard economic times, a major employer.
Where the media is of objective importance is in the profit margin that could be lost by the copyright owner or licensee. The difference in profit between a hardback or paperback book and an eBook downloaded over the internet is massive! The profit margin for an eBook is actually larger because there are no printing, transport, storage, distribution and retail costs at all!
If the printers and publishers wanted to truly make more money they should embrace fan fiction rather than marginalising it! A printer who does a single copy of a fan fiction novel for personal use is making a profit on the printing NOT the story. They are selling us a service NOT a product. Refusing to do so will not put one penny more into the pocket of the copyright or license owner.
If Pocket Books are serious about wanting to make a profit from their Star Trek license, they could start by releasing all their catalogue of classic Trek novels as eBooks at zero cost to themselves for printing, distribution and warehousing and, after a minuscule management cost realise a profit from their massive back-catalogue that is currently being wasted!
I'd be interested in others thoughts on this. Should authors be able to have copies printed for their own use by professional printers, bearing in mind that this would represent no discernible loss of revenue for the copyright owner or their licensee? Or could this be seen as a dangerous precedent that the unscrupulous might take advantage of? Perhaps it is best for the fan fiction community and those such as myself who are trying to distribute it to fans in a handsome format/media to err on the side of safety bearing in mind the aggressiveness of corporate lawyers?
Friday, February 6, 2009
The idea behind rotoscoping is that you use a photographed (or filmed) image as the basis for a hand-drawn image or animation. This is a series of images to show a test I made to create an image of "Admiral Black" for the Dispatches From The Romulan War" when there is only one canon image on the internet of him. Luckily the actor who played Admiral Black in the episode "In a Mirror Darkly", Gregory Itzen, has also starred as President Logan in the hit series, "24" and there are a number of excellent publicity images of him such as this one ...
I made it monochrome and increased the contrast in my graphics editing application (I use Ulead Photoimpact)
I then used the "find edge" tool (it's name might vary in different software packages) to emphasise the edges and used "Invert" to form a negative image
Now, if I had a graphics tablet, I could trace those edges (with experience I might even skip some of the steps) and keep this entirely digital. However I can't afford one so I have to do it the old-fashioned way with a home-made light-box, made out of an old asparagus crate, a desk lamp and some scrap opaque perspex ...
I can now trace the graphic using a pencil to give me an accurate sketch.
Up 'til now there is virtually no skill or talent involved and if, say for example, you just wanted a rough outline for a storyboard this might suffice. However in my case I wanted to see if i had any of the old sketching talent left and turned it into a pen and pencil graphic of Admiral Black by substituting an admiral's uniform for Gregory's presidential suit.
Not bad. I tried different methods of getting different depths of black for the deep blue admirals jacket. By the way I tried to colour one of these and totally stuffed it up! There are some things you just can't take shortcuts with!
What about the ethics and legality of rotoscoping though?
I read an interesting Blog post today that gave me an interesting insight into the artist's viewpoint on this entitled, "Copying, tracing, reference and plagiarism" by xaqBazit who does the cover art for the audio drama Star Trek: Defiant - you can see his covers HERE and HERE.
It adds a new depth to the discussion about copyright. Certainly I am technically in breach of copyright by creating an unauthorised derivative work of Gregory Itzen's publicity photo from 24 but as long as it is used in a fan production and follows all the accepted rules, this is no different from using Star Trek theme music in an audio drama or fan film or Star Trek trademark names in a fan fiction. If the copyright owner asked me to take down my derived work I would - although I would almost certainly not do so quietly since I believe they would be doing themselves a disservice.
But plagiarism? Hmmm. Only if I tried to pass the sketch off as an original work of my own and even then ... what if I labeled the work as "Pen sketch photo-referenced from publicity photograph of Gregory Itzen in '24'"? Surely if I make the point that I'm not laying claim to the composition but merely my pen sketch then ethically I would be in the right.
By the way, I believe that my use of the "24" graphics in this post are covered by the dictates of "fair use" as a technical and artistic example of the technique of Rotoscoping. However, as with all my fan work, no copyright infringement is intended and (yes, you're going to hear it one more time!) it is made available for free, so if you ever see them for sale you are being ripped-off and are encouraged to report the retailer to the copyright owners.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
The reports of my death have been grossly exaggerated!I never say that a series is dead or canceled. Some are simply so slow moving as to be indistinguishable from the dead >cough!DeathAndHonour!cough< Starfleet Renegades is a case in point.
On March 6, Starfleet Renegades premiered their first episode, Court Martial. Written, produced and directed by James DeRuvo it was a sequel to Piracy of the Noble, episode 2 in season 4 of the iconic fan film series, Star Trek: Hidden Frontier which he co-wrote and co-directed. On this production he was partnered by R. Scott Bolton as Producer and Story Editor.
Captain Nicolas Roberts, played with just the right amount of confident command by Gregory Crafts, is definitely a “bad-boy with a past” and in the first episode has to pay the price of his crimes ... or does he? His co-star, Chris Hanel makes a good foil for him as Cmdr Jack Cochran and Wendy Gough as Cmdr Kate Marshall was also good although not given enough opportunity to do much with her part.
The incidental music, listed on the website credits as by heavy metal, Trek tribute band WARP 11, was atmospheric and well chosen but at points there was some disconcerting mike noise and the sound levels were variable. I liked it though - it showed great promise. Just about ever VA had an interesting voice but their Ferrengi was outstanding!
The storyline was understandable to me because I had a passing knowledge of the background but I wonder if a new listener would get as much out of it because of the opening scene being a Court Martial of unexplained crimes? Of course this could work to their advantage as a teaser - giving the character "a past" - and the curious listener who wanted to know the captain's background can go watch the Hidden Frontier episode. easily enough.
The only other major nitpick was the firefight – they are hard to visualise in audio at the best of times and the hand-phasers in the bar fight sounded much the same as the ship phasers in orbit.
All-in-all it was a reasonable introduction as "not-your-Daddy's-Star-Trek" and at the time they had a new website with a teaser trailer and the full episode for download as well as a forum. However after this promising start things just seemed to fall apart, nothing more being heard from them for months and their website & forum being down from at least July.
The intimation that “the reports of their death were exaggerated” came in November when the Hidden Frontier.Com newsletter said of their latest spin-off series, Federation One, “The first audio episode will be an exciting crossover with the Starfleet Renegades audio series, also set in the HF universe.”
This was followed by a message from the producer on their resurrected forum on December 9 ...
I know, I know, Renegades has been down for quite a while. Think of it as the Columbia engaging the cloaking device. Well now, we're back. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our tech man, Jonathan Connor Foertch (aka, the new Lt. Simpson), and thanks to the gracious hosting of Wozniak, Renegades lives to fight on.This crossover is actually going to be episode 2.01 of Federation One but whatever happens, listeners will be the winners as the Hidden Frontier creativity machine lends a helping hand to a fellow fan production group.
And just in time, too as we're set to announce pre-production on our second episode, a crossover with Hidden Frontier productions Federation One. Recording is scheduled to begin shortly so stay tuned for more thrilling adventures with the crew of the good ship Columbia.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
On February 16, 2008 James Cawley, Executive Producer of Star Trek: New Voyages announced that they were changing the name of the 'nets premiere Star Trek fan film group to Star Trek: Phase IIStar Trek: Phase II is the result of a canon purist's dream, it's express purpose to recreate the original series as closely as possible, so it is not surprising that Executive Producer, James Cawley has in the past voiced reservations about the new Trek movie helmed by J.J.Abrams. A chance meeting on the Paramount lot, when Mr Cawley was invited to visit the filming by J.J.Abrams, has however given Mr Cawley the opportunity to really see first-hand what is going on. He was able to check out the look they are going for, talk to the actors & evaluate their performances and discuss, producer-to-producer (albeit professional-to-fan!), his vision of Star Trek. Check out the interview that James gave TrekMovie's Anthony Pasquale for details, but it is fair to say that he has walked away, if not a convert to the new movie's camp, a firm supporter of what J.J.Abrams is trying to do. This could have something to do with the fact that, to quote New Voyages, "J.J. Abrams ... told Cawley that he would have costumers fit Cawley for a new uniform and that he would include him in the film. Cawley’s casting call was set for 7:00AM, Wednesday, January 23."
Stunt casting? I don't believe so. Although there is no denying the diplomacy of winning across someone with as much fan credibility as James Cawley, neither can there be any doubt of Mr Cawley's acting ability and on-screen charisma. There was a casting call and if he wasn't up to the professional role, I doubt he would have got any part. Personally, I see this as a tip of the hat from J.J.Abrams to New Voyages and the Star Trek fan community to say that he knows what we've done, what we want and he's not going to ride, rough-shod over our dreams! The House of L'Stok supports what could be a bold new look to the Star Trek franchise, adapting the best of the past to keep the Roddenberry message fresh for future generations.00 Come What May
Stepping through Star Trek: New Voyages past and present episodes, we need to start off in January, 2004 when "Come What May" (CWM), now classified as their "pilot" episode, was released. Although it’s no longer featured on their download page, it still continues to get hits, especially with its new European subtitles and it can still be accessed through various New Voyages Mirror sites, such as: STNV.net, New Voyages Torrent Tracker (including the DVD version), (in Spanish, click on Escargas), The Fan Films Foundation (In Italian, click on Episodi or Sottotitoli) and on the FTP of the Academic Computer Club, Umeå. One interesting side-note that has been finally made public in the New Voyages eMagazine 4 is that Max Rem, the credited co-producer of New Voyages and CGI guru is really Doug Drexler! GASP! There is also an interview with John Winston, the veteran actor who played Lt Kyle in the Original series and Captain Matt Jeffries in CWM. The eMags are an amazing resource with beautifully published graphics, interviews and fan contributions! They regularly have interviews with recurring characters and guests, as in eMag 2, which featured Kurt Carley, Cpt Pike from CWM.01 In Harm’s Way
October 2004, saw the release of "In Harm’s Way" (IHW) and again is still popular with subtitles in Spanish , Italian and German . By the way, if you get a "missing Codec error", check this out, and if all the time travel makes your head spin, you can settle details with the official, unofficial IHW timeline. The new eMagazine 4 has excerpts from the original storyboards created for IHW by Doug Drexler02 To Serve All My Days
On March 29, the Cawley Entertainment Company will premiere "To Serve All My Days: A Night in 1969" at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA.This will be a gala red carpet evening event to celebrate a special upgraded and enhanced re-release of their popular second episode, "To Serve All My Days", which premiered in November 2006. Featuring updated visual effects by Daren Dochterman and Joël Bellucci, original series music, consistent title sequences, and vintage commercials, making it appear as it might have if aired on a night in 1969. Executive Producer James Cawley promises an added surprise at the end for fans as well ... one wonders if it might have something to do with the controversial ending that seemed to defy canon? Walter Koenig, who stars in this episode, is the only remaining original series cast member not to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and this premiere event is meant to highlight his life and career. "To Serve All My Days: A Night in 1969" will be released as a free download after the premiere at a date to be announced, but a new teaser trailer for it should be forthcoming shortly.July 14 it was released on the Internet minus the 1960's and 1970's era commercials (for copyright reasons) but with the original series soundtrack and the special surprise at the very end.
03 World Enough and TimeMade available on August 24 last year and starring the incomparable George Takei this was written by Michael Reaves and Marc Scott Zicree who also directed. It is probably the impact of this production more than anything else that has started talk of Star Trek: New Voyages, being nominated for a Hugo award - always on the cards since it is a fan nominated award. This would go nicely with the TV Guide Online Video Award for 2007 for best Sci-fi Webisode that NV won on Nov 26 last year against some stiff opposition, such as the SciFi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica", the USA Network's "The 4400" and "Afterworld" from MySpace.com.
On Aug 10 "World Enough and Time"was nominated for a Hugo in the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short From) category, it finished 3rd on the first cut but 5th on overall voting.The Nebula award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is a peer award rather than a popularity award, so it was an incredible honour for authors Reaves and Zicree to be announced last week as nominees for a Nebula Award for "Best Script". Although its eligibility as an entrant on the ballot was hotly challenged by some members of the SFWA, most notably Keith R.A. DeCandido a writer of great Trek fiction himself. After due deliberation it was passed by their Board of Directors as Michael Capobianco the SFWA President explained on the SFWA Live Journal.
"Thrilling Wonder Stories" announced on Nov 11 that an article on "World Enough and Time" would appear in their January edition.Dec 17 a DVD/ISO file was released with a cover & label art file, trailers, behind the scenes video, Dr. Chandris & Alana Sulu auditions, extended Scenes 1 & 2, interim & deleted scene plus Blood and Fire trailer
04-05 Blood and Fire"Blood and Fire" (BAF), the next scheduled episode, written by David Gerrold and featuring Denise Crosby, turned out to be movie length and is now split into a double episode (IV & V) which is in post-production with no official release date posted. TrekMovie quotes James Cawley as saying "Part 1 should be available in April with part 2 likely to come out in May". The last filming of pick-up shots was finished on the first weekend of Dec.
Checkout the eMagazine for interviews with Bobby and co-star Evan Fowler plus emag 2 which has interviews with Ben Tolpin, who replaced Jeff Quinn as Spock, and Kim Stinger who replaced Julienne Irons as Uhura. This is in addition to a feature interview with Denise Crosby who headlines this episode.There was an advance screening at the Shore Leave 30 convention on Jul 7.
Jul 16 Brian Kelley was announced as Star Trek: Phase II Editor even though he had ... on Sep 13 an interview with Kelley was released on the Phase II website.Aug 28 An opening Teaser was released followed by a new one on Nov 20 by Brian Kelley released on YouTube.
On Nov 18 a release date of December 20 was announced on the forum and on the 30th David Gerrold showed "Blood and Fire" at LOSCON. (Reviewed on DoorQ.com)06 Enemy: Starfleet
May 3 BarBara Luna and Kevin Pereira announced as guest castJun 15 Ten days of principle photography starts at Retro Film Studios in upstate New York.
Aug 27 Photos released of Ship cgi (Phase II refit) to be used from "Enemy: Starfleet" onwardsSep 13 Behind the scenes article of filming released on website
Oct 20 Brandon Stacy (double for Zachary Quinto in new movie) announced as replacement for Ben Tolpin as Spock from "Enemy: Starfleet" onwards07 The Child
Kirk and crew battle a barrage of inexplicable, deadly attacks after the birth of a strange child. "This episode marks the first production of a script originally penned for the aborted 1970's Paramount Phase II series.” ... The teleplay for "The Child" had been adapted for The Next Generation, but was restored by Jon Povill for production by Phase II... A pickup shoot for one scene is scheduled for December, and the VFX for the episode are slated to be done by the D.A.V.E. school, located in Florida.Jul 22 Jon Povill announced as director for the upcoming episode "The Child"
Oct 5 Thirteen days of principle photography starts at Retro Film Studios in upstate New York.Oct 14 First photos released on forum of recent filming of "The Child"
Dec 10 Behind the scenes video of filming released on website08-09 Kitumba
On Nov 16 The original Paramount Phase II script "Kitumba", written by John Meredyth Lucas, was announced as the eighth and ninth episodes with Kirk and the Enterprise on a secret mission to the Klingon homeworld.Principle photography for part one is scheduled to take place at Retro Film Studios and nearby locations in upstate New York from June 1-14, 2009. Part two is tentatively scheduled to film in the fall. It will feature the return of John Carrigan as Captain Kargh and JG Hertzler will play the former tutor, K’Sia.
IN PRE PRODUCTIONOur Own Devices
A bottle show written by Carlos Pedraza and featuring no stunt casting. Previously titled "Pomp and Circumstance."Bandi
An episode written by David Gerrold similar in tone to The Trouble With Tribbles. The story has previously been adapted into Star Trek: The Manga.Kilkenny Cats
Also in pre-production is an episode called "Killkenny Cats" to be directed by Jimmy Diggs and adapted from a story written by him for Star Trek Enterprise which will feature a cat-like warrior race called the Kytheri, created entirely with CGI. Originally they planned to re-introduce the Kzinti invented by Larry Niven and featured in the animated series but due to copyright conflicts a new race has been introduced.On Jan 6 a teaser poster by artist Court Jones was released and Cawley has told TrekMovie.com that Jimmy Diggs' work will be fully rendered CGI, however the director/writer says that ...
we plan to incorporate animatronics, state of the art prosthetic make-up, and the abundant dramatic skills of actor Hawthorne James ("Speed", " Boss'n Up", see IMDB).Phase II eMagazine #5 will feature an article with writer Jimmy Diggs
The Sky Above, The Mudd BelowMeant to feature J. G. Hertzler as Harry Mudd but was put on the backburner when Mr Hertzler's commitments changed. James Cawley recently said, "That episode is extremely complex and is on the radar and We are looking to another character actor to fill Harry's Shoes
Rock-A-Bye Baby -- Or Die!An alien entity enters and grows up inside the Enterprise’s computer.
Rest and RetaliationWritten by Dave Galanter and Greg Brodeur, from a concept by Howard Weinstein, TrekMovie says that it "begins location shooting at Vasquez Rocks in late March ... and hopes are to have that episode out some time in 2008." The new film "returns the crew of the Enterprise to the 'Shore Leave' planet, but not everything is found as expected." Bobby Quinn Rice, star of Star Trek: Hidden Frontier and, for one episode, of Star Trek: Odyssey will be reprising his role from BAF as Peter Kirk, becoming in James Cawley's words a series regular
... The addition of Bobby as Peter Kirk, allows me to bring a new dimension to the Captain as he learns to cope with Family.It was suggested it might be directed by Kevin Rubio, the director of the Star Wars fan film Troops, but it has been shelved due to issues with the script.
First VoyagesIt was mentioned in Dec last year that there could be a crew and casting call for First Voyages, the "below decks" spin-off from New Voyages, soon. For the best introduction to this series, read the four page interview with writer, Carlos Pedraza, in eMag 2, whilst eMag 3 has an interview with Joel Bellucci who, besides being the New Voyages SPX supervisor also appears in the cast of First Voyages.
The VignettesIn September 2005, it was announced that extra footage would be shot during the filming of "To Serve All My days" to make ten minute 'Vignettes'. It was planned that they would be released beginning in late October of that year, and every 4 to 6 weeks after that. They were all directed by Erik "Gooch" Goodrich, at the time the 2nd Unit Director who shot all the Barbara Luna and Malachi Throne scenes for "In Harm’s Way".
The first vignette "Center Seat" was intended to be done quickly using stock visual effects from "Come What May" and "In Harm's Way". However when the visual effects producer, Max Rem saw the rough cut of Center Seat, "he insisted we give him the time to create all new effects shots to match the quality of the performances". "Center Seat", was finally released on March 17, 2006 but all the rest are currently on hold.The second, "Change of Command", written by Erik Korngold, was hinted at in Nov last year to be a changeover between two captains. "Auld Lang " was to be next, followed by "No Win Scenario", which is mentioned by regular John Carrigan as showing "a lot about Kargh's background, and especially why he and Kirk have this ongoing thing between them". Checkout eMag 2 for a photo clip from this vignette. In September, Erik 'Gooch' Goodrich, the director of the vignettes said ...
Yes we are indeed working on two [sic] vignettes that were filmed prior to WEaT and expect to see at least one of them BEFORE a release of Blood and Fire. Farther than that... I cannot see. Always in motion is the future. Most of the Post team is working on BaF but I've managed to gather some of the cream of the crop to continue helping me bring these stores to the fans. These two shorts are near and dear to me and I hope not to work on anything else (NV related) until they are finished and being downloaded, or streamed...or whatever!For news, downloads and background information about Star Trek: New Voyages go to their website, www.startreknewvoyages.com, and to discuss their work with the cast, crew and fellow fans go to their forum at http://www.startreknewvoyages.com/forum
Star Trek: Of Gods and Men brought together the best of the amateur, fan production talent and a wealth of professional talent and experience and created a movie that was critically well received. It must surely have opened a few eyes in the entertainment industry for the way that it showed that popular entertainment need not necessarily cost millions of dollars per episode.
James Cawley's, Star Trek: Phase II is another show that has raising eyebrows with it's Nebula and Hugo nominations and it would be easy to say that is due to it's use of professionals who voluntarily want to be involved. They have however remained true to their roots by ensuring a strong contingent of fans in their cast and crew with a regular call for volunteers.
Rob Caves is also branching out into original work with his latest proposal, Frontier Guard, whilst maintaining his commitment to fan film-making by mentoring a number of spin-off series from his recently completed, seven season epic, Star Trek: Hidden Frontier: Star Trek: Odyssey, The Helena Chronicles and Federation One!
A trend that is growing is the concept of joint productions. Star Trek: Intrepid and Areakt Films have proven this with two excellent examples of what can be accomplished by combining their resources of equipment, manpower and talent with the films, Orphans of War and Operation: Beta Shield. Another trend that this Scottish fan production group is perfecting is the vignette, short films that add depth to the plot and characters.
Starship Farragut is following both these by developing on it's strategic partnerships with other fan groups, such as Star Trek: Phase II, and NEO/fx (who are independently creating an animated series based on the Farragut fictional universe) as well as producing vignettes of their own in between the filming of their full sized episodes.
These are just the stars of the Star Trek fan film community, though, they represent the tip of an iceberg that encompasses a vast range of fictional styles and media. For the fifth present in The Twelve Trek Days of Christmas, Acrux fanzine is producing what will become an annual Star Trek fan film review, starting as posts on our Blogsite that will grow into a twenty page fanzine which will be published at the conclusion of the serial posting.
[Those who can read between the lines will guess that I don't have the fanzine finished but I don't want to keep you waiting any longer. This will allow me time to compile a better 'zine whilst giving you, O Hypothetical Reader, your present in installments]