Phoenix Reborn


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!

Raw photo of the model, taken in 1979 on 35mm film. You can see a transformer below the model. Yes, it was wired with lights in the cockpit and engines!

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 took over my parents’ living room for a week!

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.

I photographed the model hundreds of times, from all possible angles. From above, below, left, right, all at various elevations.

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…..

Categories: In The Studio, Science FictionTags: , , , , , ,

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