Visual effects artist and puppeteer Justin T. Lee had a little problem. His wife Lindsay’s birthday was coming up and he didn’t know what to give her. Together, Justin and Lindsay run a studio in Toronto called Gazelle Automations that specializes in puppets, miniatures and animation. Then he had a unique idea. He would give her “Star Trek” – from an alternative universe.
“It’s a really geeky thing,” said Justin, who Heavy spoke to over Zoom. Justin explained that he and Lindsay started a “Star Trek athon” together.
“We started with ‘The Original Series’ and then just watched each episode in Stardate order,” Justin said. ‘And of course that went through’The cartoon.'”
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Animated Series
Star Trek: The Animated Series was produced by Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s during the Star Trek revival. Thanks to reruns and syndication, Trek found new life, and NBC ordered the animated series. Roddenberry collaborated with Filmationan American studio responsible for hundreds of animated films in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, including Superfriends, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Tarzan and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids .”
Movies had a style of their own, and in a time before computers changed animation, their style was recognizable from show to show. You counted on it Reuse clips to save on production costs and used the technique known as “rotoscopy‘ to better create lifelike movement and action.
Justin said they watched the entire ‘Animated Series’ together. While they both enjoyed TAS, the differences between Trek’s live-action version and the animated version got Justin thinking.
“There’s this combination that it’s very serious,” Justin said. “The stories are captured very linearly, but there’s obviously the hilarity of the animation style. It’s funny!”
“And to be perfectly honest, we both love the music, but they used the same ten cues — and we’ve heard they always use that one cue for action,” Justin said. “There’s an episode where they use it four times, and that really stuck with us.”
Justin said they also liked the detail in which the Filmation animators brought the Trek characters to life.
“As time went on, I kept thinking — wouldn’t it be so fun if you took something from Trek lore, another part of Trek, and gave it that treatment,” Justin said. So that’s what he did. Justin picked possibly one of the most important moments from Star Trek: The Next Generation and animated it as if it were made by Filmation in the 1970s.
The scene was when Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) was kidnapped by the Borg from The Best of Both Worlds, Part I. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Worf (Michael Dorn) are powerless to stop the Borg as they bring the Captain back into their cube for assimilation. Fans know this is when Picard became Locutus.
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“This idea has been floating around in my head for months,” Justin said. He wondered if this had been done before, so he searched Google and YouTube and found nothing.
“It took a little longer to finish than I might have expected,” Justin said. Part of the reason it took him longer than expected was to recreate the TAS-era Filmation look and not use modern abbreviations. Justin says he used animation software like toon boom and animate adobe for projects before, but these modern tools would not have been able to recreate the Filmation look.
Justin said he studied TAS on Netflix and Blu-ray to understand the nuances of the video style. He noticed that the cells sometimes wobbled a bit when a character moved. He also believes some of the artifacts seen on the shows must be cigarette ash from the animators while they were working.
He ended up creating the two-minute video using a drawing tablet and Adobe Photoshop. Justin said he wasn’t sure how well the video would be received when released. Still, Lindsay told him to look at his computer as Trek fan love gushed in everywhere.
Behind the scenes at Gazelle Automations
They appreciated the look and detail of the filmation, especially that one Kzinti crew memberwhich can be seen right at the beginning of the animation.
He said he needed to take a break from animated “Star Trek” for a while and focus his attention on the many ongoing projects at his company. Gazelle automations. Some of her projects include work for “Dr. who to”thunderbirds‘ and her new series entitled ‘Miikschi.”
Justin wouldn’t commit to another episode or scene from Star Trek, but he did mention that he has a soft spot for Deep Space Nine in his heart.
“Oh, I absolutely love ‘Deep Space Nine,'” Justin said. “I think everyone should love Deep Space Nine.”
READ MORE: Star Trek: Discovery Explains Why Harry Kim Was Never Promoted
https://heavy.com/entertainment/star-trek/the-next-generation-filmation-animation-style/ Making Star Trek: The Next Generation look like it was animated in the 1970s