There a rare and dedicated breed those Battlestar Galactica fans. When the reimagined version of the ‘70s series hit the air in 2004, they were instantly hooked. And when it went away four seasons later, they were devastated. They’ve watched a movie spinoff, a prequel called Caprica and some web featurettes. And they just won’t let BSG die.
Now they’re all tuning into a web series called Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome on a site called Machinima.com. The short episodes will be assembled into a TV movie, which will air on Syfy in early 2013. And all is right in their futuristic universe once again. In a recent conference call interview, BSG Executive Producer David Eick talked about how the latest installment came to be.
Eick explained the genesis of the new web series, saying, “There’s a certain record to set straight, which was a little bit frustrating to me a few months ago when I saw the headlines that the Blood & Chrome project had somehow been rejected or was a failed pilot or wasn't going to make it on the air. It was never intended to be a traditional pilot, so to speak, such that Syfy not picking it up in a traditional manner to an episodic series was some kind of a rejection or failure.”
Instead he noted, this was always meant to run on the Internet. He clarified, “It was always developed, at least from my point of view, as a project for an online environment. And there's something that we would develop and structurally, narratively build as a ten-part sort of a series.”
He likened it to a more nostalgic style of serialization. He recalled, “Kind of like the Raiders of the Lost Ark style, adapted to the 1930s style movie serials where you have ten minutes of story and a cliffhanger followed by ten minutes of story and the cliffhanger. And then after ten of these episodes, it would all resolve itself in a pre-act structure as a whole movie. And so when I set out to develop this, my thinking was to design a mission, so to speak.”
But Galactica fans will be happy to hear that just because the series is being distributed online, it’s not going to disappoint. Eick acknowledged, “We did nothing differently because it was geared for online versus broadcast. Absolutely nothing was decided or complicated or managed to accommodate that difference. The only choices that were made aesthetically, creatively, and narratively that were different from Battlestar were purely driven by a desire to reinvent once again this franchise and this title for a new audience.”
But Eick conceded that there was one major change in style, “What we decided to do differently to make it fresh and accessible and evocative, but not duplicative of the last Battlestar, was to make this a green screen composite universe.”
He described the process, “You literally had a green screen stage with a massive lighting configuration that was something you'd see at a Rolling Stones rock show that could accommodate a variety of different looks and environments. And then using a painstakingly built creative army put together by Gary Hutzel and Mike Gibson, our visual effects guys from the earliest in the Battlestar days, we were able to achieve a look and a level of 3D immersive compositing detail that you would compare much more easily to what you see in cutting edge feature films than to anything you would see on television.”
He added, “We were able to create digital environments that are completely arresting, totally real and tactile and immersive and yet never require us to leave that green screen stage. And when I say old-fashioned techniques, I mean diffusion, darkness, shadow, snowstorms and things that Eisenstein would've done 100 years ago. That doesn't cost anything except your ingenuity.”