Star Wars came out in 1977, when I was 17 years old, and it changed my life. I was already planning on becoming a photographer, but after seeing Star Wars ten times in the theater in 1977, I decided to get into the film industry. I was so enthralled at the special effects in Star Wars, that I thought I should go into SFX as a career, so I built a spaceship model. The model took over a year to complete, and it was around four feet wide by five feet long. It took two people to lift or move it!
I started making the model in the year off I took between my freshman and sophomore year in college, around 1979. That’s when I got my first job at a large commercial photography studio as well. The plan was to photograph the model, paint large backgrounds of space, planets, etc., and then print images of the model, hand-color them, and affix them to the painted backgrounds. That final composite would then be rephotographed along with some simple SFX, like laser beams and engine glow.
I managed to complete this project before I graduated from Bard, and they were displayed at a student show at Bard. The series was call The Flight of the Phoenix, since I named the spaceship model the Phoenix. After graduation, I had a job waiting for me at the studio, so I started my career, and moved on from this project. (I promise I will find those old transparencies, scan them, and post them here in the future. I just need to look for them….) In the following years, I cut to the chase and dropped my idea of working in SFX, and became an independent filmmaker, where I produced and directed a number of films and videos.
Recently, however, I remembered the Phoenix and realized that I could now scan the negatives and make much better composites in Photoshop than I ever could back in the day, so I dug up the negs and scanned a few. This is the result: the photo of the Phoenix placed into a digitally created background and decent digital effects. Someday, I’ll make a few more just for fun…..
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