Anniversary Meeting Via Special Effects

By Spelling, Ian | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 13, 1996 | Go to article overview

Anniversary Meeting Via Special Effects


Spelling, Ian, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


It promises to be one of the most intriguing "Deep Space Nine" episodes ever. It is "Trials and Tribble-ations," and it features not only the "DS9" cast, but most of the "Trek"-classic cast and even those playful, Klingon-hating fur balls, the tribbles.

Though there's a rather crafty plot driving "Trials," which airs the week of Nov. 3, the episode essentially represents "DS9's" contribution to the festivities celebrating the 30th anniversary of "Star Trek."

Trekkers will get to see the almost surreal sights of Sisko (Avery Brooks) dressed as a 23rd-century Starfleet lieutenant, O'Brien (Colm Meaney), lying to Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Dax (Terry Farrell) contemplating a conversation with the 23rd-century Koloth (William Campbell).

Gary Hutzel, the special-effects supervisor of "DS9," and director Jonathan West are two of the driving forces behind "Trials."

Busy as he is at Image G, a Hollywood motion-control house where "Trek" miniatures and model shots are filmed, Mr. Hutzel takes a few moments to discuss the "Forrest Gump"-ization of "DS9."

"The trick was going through [the 1967 `Trek'-classic episode] `The Trouble With Tribbles' [and `Mirror, Mirror'] and finding little bits and pieces we could use - looks Kirk or Spock [Leonard Nimoy] gave," Mr. Hutzel says. "Then we have to match those shots - right now we have 19 shots from the original series - with our `DS9' characters by having our actors do some very specific moves and dialogue readings.

"Another big element has been re-creating scenes with the original Enterprise and the K-7 space station where the tribbles were. We've got a new K-7 set, and we've built a new Enterprise-1701 for the first time in 30 years.

"Both models are totally authentic to the original show, which is very exciting for us."

Mr. Hutzel explains that the technology necessary to fashion an episode such as "Trials" has become available only in the past three or four years.

The process of actually placing Kirk in the same frame as Sisko is very complex, but suffice it to say it involves matte shots, computers, blue and green screens, 2-D and 3-D tracking, a lot of time (nine weeks for "Trials") and patience and something in the ballpark of $3 million.

"I think it'll all be well worth it," Mr. Hutzel says enthusiastically. "The script is terrific, and the images you'll see of the old show are better than they've ever been. The episode should be really entertaining. …

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