Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Designing the Bat'leth

In an interview with Crushable, Star Trek Visual Effects Producer and Supervisor (now on Chuck) Dan Curry, discusses his career including his hand in designing the now iconic Klingon weapon the Bat'leth. Below are a few questions, the full interview can be found here. (via TrekMovie, which also discusses weapons latest pop culture appearances on Big Bang Theory and Chuck)
So you do Visual Effects? Are you the dude who makes people blue and blows thing up?
The general public confuses public confuses special effects and visual effects. Visual Effects is combining elements photographed or created separately digitally into a new cinematic reality. This may involve the use of blue or green screen, miniatures, matte paintings, or computer-generated images. Compositing may be done in camera, on an optical printer, or on a computer using various compositing softwares. Special Effects, also known as Mechanical Effects and Practical Effects, refers to work done live on set and includes, but is not limited to pyro (fire and explosions), wire work (actors hanging on wires), special doors and moving set parts, water effects, smoke, etc. Frequently visual effects and special effects work together when their combined skills are needed to create an illusion.

And of course you designed bat’leth (pictured) for the “Rightful Heir” episode of Star Trek: TNG. I don’t think there’s a person alive who doesn’t remember that episode.
I had been imagining this weapon for a long time. I made a foam core version bat’leth. I went to Rick Baker [Star Trek's makeup artist] and said we need something unique, fresh. I showed him this thingI wanted to design something ergonomically appropriate. Dennis Madalone, our stunt coordinator, at first wasn’t cool with the idea. Then he became an evangelist convert after showed him what I had in mind.

It was modeled after a Chinese fighting crescent. Now it’s become one of the iconic images associated with the show. Even last week i got an email from some guy showing video of him demonstrating it.

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