“May I be of Assistance"
"The Starlost" is an amazing show which many science fiction fans regard with cult like wonder. The year is 2790 A.D., and the giant Earth Starship called the Ark is drifting out in deep space, the crew is dead and the Starship Ark is out of control, the crew was all killed over five hundred years ago. The airlocks that connecting the ship's domes that housed millions of the last survivors of the dead planet, Earth, were all sealed when the accident that killed the crew occurred. Many communities simply forgot that they were on a spacecraft being so long cut off from the outside world. Many of the inhabitants became content with their lot in the biospheres and simply accepted that their world was only fifty miles in diameter and that the sky was a dome with a metallic gleam. But tragically the Starship Ark without the crew was on a collision course with a solar star.
The most awesome thing about this show is there are the most out of the world special effects: the models, and miniatures are superb. Of all the models used on this show, the most obvious was the ark. The Ark model was ten feet long and carried 37 biospheres. The main body was constructed out of solid wood overlaid with vacuum-formed plastic and model parts. Amazingly the detailed production drawing of the “Starship Ark” showed that the Ark should have been 1000 miles long, and would carry hundreds of the 50 mile in diameter biospheres!
Garth, Devon, and Rachel, on command bridge of the Ark
Each Biospheres was to be 50 Miles in Diameter
The biospheres which were to be 50 miles in diameter and hold different cultures from the dead Earth were actually made of three parts on the show. First, there was a 12-inch circular wood base with a hand colored photograph pasted on. Second, there was the vacuum-formed base in which three different styles base molds were used, with model parts then added for detail. Third, and finally, there was the dome; vacuum-formed out of a special diamond-shaped faced plastic. When assembled, the wood base was connected with metal tubing to other wood bases and the ark main body. Then the vacuum-form base was but over the wood base and fastened. Finally the dome was glued on. Then final “touch-ups” and painting was done to finished off the Ark.
The Ark Model was Ten feet long and carried 37 Biospheres
Voyage of Discovery, "The Starlost" Episode One
Devon had to teach Himself and learn things on his Qwn.
Devon was orphaned when his parents died in a fire in their home in the Cypress Corner biosphere dome, he is a dreamer and kind, but the lead Elder of Cypress Corner hated him and was very cruel to Devon. So Devon had to teach himself and learn things on his own. Unfortunately, his love for Rachel caused his banishment from Cypress Corners. I feel the evil old Elder in the Cypress Corn biosphere had something to do with the death of Devon’s parents. This was a very primitive community isolated for centuries in their agricultural farm based biosphere dome, and totally dependent on the laws and rules of the Elder.
Keir Dullea is the great actor who plays Devon on “The Starlost”
Rachel is the love of Devon’s life in the Starship Ark.
Rachel is the love of Devon’s life, and she is also very much in love with Devon. Because Devon had to leave the Cypress Corner biosphere or be stoned to death Rachel left with him into the darkness and depths of the unknown Starship Ark. In the Cypress Corner Biosphere women were raised to be nothing more than to be mothers, and the domestic servant of the man they are promised to at birth. So when Rachel is free of this oppressive environment she soon enjoys the new freedom she has over her destiny.
Gay Rowan who plays Rachel in “The Starlost”
Keir Dullea as Devon, and Gay Rowan as Rachel
Lazarus from the Mist , "The Starlost" Episode Two
Garth was a blacksmith in the Cypress Corner Biosphere
Garth was a blacksmith in the Cypress Corner biosphere, and Rachel was promised to Garth for marriage by the ruling Elder in that dome. But Garth does not love Rachel and wants her and his best friend Devon to be allowed to marry since they are both madly in love with each other. But the Elders will not give Devon their permission to marry Rachel and send him in exile for being a troublemaker, and not being in harmony with their believes and fake creator. Garth goes after Devon and Rachel to not cause shame on his family, but he really just wants to live in peace and be happy.
Robin Ward is the Canadian actor who plays Garth
The interiors for the Ark Biospheres were Redressed Landscapes
The interiors for the Ark biospheres were all redressed tabletop landscapes with the dome matted in photographically. At the start of production some of the sets, specially the Ark corridors and bridge, were miniatures. The corridor was about one and a half feet high and twelve feet-long. The corridor was divided down the middle and each side was devised into eight food and a half long sections. This set-up enabled technicians to shoot only one side of the corridor, if needed. Also, if a long tracking sot was needed, the opposite side could be used to lengthen the remaining side to the distance required. Each corridor section was construed out of vacuum-formed plastic panels glued to clear acrylic plastic walls, which in-turn were attached to a wooden base. Control panels, modules, and communication spheres were additions, placed randomly on each corridor section.
A Corridor from a Biosphere on the Starlost Set.
The Ark Bridge, Miniatures to later to full-size Sets
The Ark bridge was one and a half feet high and six feet long. It was composed of three walls, one operating door, and a lower control window support section divided into five removable sections. The walls were constructed of vacuum-formed plastic panels and consoles overlay-ed in wood. The star map on one wall was a Kodalith film transparency of a regular constellation map covered with colored transparent plastic and back-lit. Both the corridor and the bridge had their own functioning doors. The corridor door was a three-way opening type; and it, along with its supporting structure, was made of acrylic sheet plastic. The bridge door was a two-section opening door and also made of acrylic plastic. The movement of both doors was a combination wire cable and 12 volt D.C. motor system. The motor wound the cable on a drum and pulled the reversed and the doors were forced to close by either springs (three-way door), or rubber bands (two-way Door). Both doors were built on their on bases and were removable. Later on in the course of production, all set miniatures were replaced with full-size versions. The full-size sets, as with their smaller counterparts, were painted a matte gray. This color when videotaped appears to be white and allows technicians to give a set any color needed without repainting by altering the video image.
"The Goddess Calabra" with one of its Remarkable Scenes.
Actors to walk through Miniature sets with Magicam
The system that was used to allow the actors to walk through miniature sets, is called Magicam. Magicam is an electronic matting system that combines miniature sets with live action. It can be used to achieve fantastically realistic effects and production value at a very low cost. The system works through the use of two cameras, the foreground camera (live action) and the background camera (miniature). The movements of the cameras are divided into five parts. Back and forth is one, upward movements is two, special movement is three, pan is four, and tilt is five. When a scene is to be taped, the miniature is built and place on a mobile table. Then it is positioned under the background camera, which hangs overhead and peers into the miniature through a periscope lens system. The background camera is then linked with the foreground camera, which is on a blue matte stage, through video and electronic servo control units. The actors then go on stage and preform. The movements that the foreground camera makes are transmitted to the electronic servo control. Signals are then sent to the background camera and the movements are mechanically duplicated.
The Goddess Calabra, The Starlost 103
Edonna and the Alien Oro Played by Walter Koenig
Oro the Alien from the Planet Xar played by Walter Koenig
Devon, Rachel, and Garth come to an uninhabited dome where they find an alien played by Walter Koenig is sent on a reconnaissance mission to the Star Lost and his ship crashed into the Star Lost Ark and the alien know as Oro. The humanoid Oro is from the planet Xar and he has been living a Robinson Crusoe existence with a human woman from an advance Star Lost Ark dome. The two of them are now stealing parts from the ark to repair Oro ship to return to his home world; and tragically Garth falls for in love with the human woman who is helping Oro and she must leave with Oro to go to his planet in order to survive her radiation illness.
The Alien Oro Episode Ten, "The Starlost"
In "Starlost", Images from both Cameras are brought Together
But, because the model is smaller the movements in the background camera are scaled down. So, if the foreground camera moves five feet to the left, the background camera, peering into a model one-fifth normal size, will move one-fifth the same distance to the left. Simultaneously the images from both cameras are being matted together in the video control unit. So that where there is blue background on the image from the foreground camera, the image from the background camera is electronically superimposed. And when the scene is played back, it looks as thought the actors are moving through a full-size set. This is how the Starlost was shot, unfortunately the technicians did not properly adjust the images in some scenes. This resulted in having what was called matte lines (halos) around the actors.
Keir Dullea takes you on an Amazing Adventure as Devon
Station CFTO-9 in Toronto, Where "The Starlost" was Made
As additional background on the subject, Paramount Studios has has a Magicam system since 1973 and the largest set-up for this system in the world. Station CFTO-9 in Toronto, where the Starlost was produced, previously had this distinction. Even the late Gene Roddenberry has said that he would use Magicam on the Star Trek movie because it would allow them to create very exotic settings at relatively low cost.
Oro's Ship taking off from the Starlost Ark.
Magicam and Chroma-keying used in "The Starlost"
The system used to put the models in an outer space setting was a parallel system to Magicam. This system was called Chroma-keying and works the same way as Magicam except that the background camera does not move and usually neither does the image. The best example of this type of special effects is to be seen on either the local or national news shows. When different pictures appear behind the newscaster, Chorma-keying is probably what is producing it. When Chroma-keying was used with the Starlost models, only the Ark had a blue matte colored mount. All other models were hung from wires attached to screw-eyes and stabilized by tying down the power cord to the interior lights. Another hindrance to this setup was that the lamps had a tendency to start to melt, or burn the models.
"Gallery of Fear" on The Starlost
Gallery of Fear "The Starlost" Episode Eight.
The Ark, Bridge and Corridor models were Saved.
When the show was eventually cancelled, all full-size sets were torn down and either stored away or destroyed. The models were spared a similar fate when they were acquired by Mr. Kevin Atkins when he lived in Rochester, New York and worked at the Strasenburgh Planetarium. Mr. Atkins who later resided in Denver, Colorado. Of all the models, he now still owns only the Ark, and he rebuilt the Ark. The corridor and bridge miniatures he gave to Allie C. Peed and the corridors and bridge were rebuilt by Allie.
"The Starlost" Coming to TV was big News in the year 1973
Station CFTO-9 in Toronto, Where "The Starlost" was made.
Oro's Flying Saucer Used in "The Alien Oro"
Oro's Model Ship had a full-size Counterpart.
During the entire run of the show there was only one model ship that had a full-size counterpart. That ship was Oro's flying saucer used in the episodes, "The Alien Oro" and "Return of Oro." both of which guest-starred Walter Koenig as Oro. The miniature was two feet in diameter, while the full-size model was sixteen feet in diameter and eight and a half feet high. It was also constructed in four sections so that it could be opened up for interior shots. Both models were constructed of wood overlay-ed with plastic sheeting.
Children of Methuselah "The Starlost" Episode Five
The Pisces spacecraft in "The Starlost"
The Space Craft or Shuttle, Pisces 777
The space craft or shuttle, Pisces 777, was actually about four feet long and constructed entirely out of wood and body putty, with model parts added for detail. Since this shuttle was one of many used on the Ark, the model was a repainted a number of times to represent, in turn, a police ship, a medical ship, and a deep space explorer. In one episode there was an alien space station used. A fine idea except that it was quite noticeable constructed out of a Pilgrim Observer Space Station model attached to a repainted live preserver.
The Ark biospheres were all Redressed Tabletop Landscapes
The Ark at first was to be 1000 miles long with 100s of Domes.
John Colicos & Barry Morse in Starlost "The Goddess Calabra"
Oro an Alien played by Walter Koenig on The Star Lost
The Return of Oro, The Starlost Episode 13
Act one, Camera moves in Smoothly on a Grey Metallic Surface
In act one the camera moves in smoothly on a grey blue metallic surface, joined as plating with hairline seals that may be riveted ... the the camera as thought it h as just come thru the bulkhead. We are high above the land below, under the arching vault of the curving metal dome that serves as sky. An artificial sun burns in the sky. Far below we see a landscape as placid and contemporary as any rural area in the late 1800's. Camera comes down without moving forward, at a height of four of five hundred feet above the ground. As it moves it picks up seed until we get the impression of shooting over treetops, lending the feel of many miles of land-surface. Speed forward and then gradually slow as camera descends to the outskirts of a small, rustic, rural village. This is Cypress Corners.
Garth, Devon and Rachel are the Inseparable Trio on the Ark
Garth, Devon and Rachel, come from an Amish-like Community
The main characters Garth, Devon and Rachel, come from an Amish-like community called Cypress Corners. Severe, austere and technologically 19th century, it’s a stifling society that the main protagonist, Devon, longs to break free from. It was a dome made of a small farm town nestled among hills (essential there to be hills, even if only low foothills), tiny lakes, rich and flourishing farmlands. Houses arranged in a circle around the Place of Worship. Everything is very orderly, almost an anal retentive Judeo-Christian version of a rigorously laid-out Zen garden.
Forgotten before one Man finds the Truth, The Star Lost
There are no bright Colors. No Pinks, no reds, no bright Blues
Ruff draft for act one ... "All the structures are made of metalwork scavenged from the environment, we as creators, know this is all material taken from the body of the ark, we should not tip this initially. There are no bright colors. No pinks, no reds, no bright blues. This is clearly a town where frivolous is discouraged. This is brought home to us forcefully as a small boy goes laughing through the center of the town circle, rolling a metal stave hoop with a metal rod, and the serious adult, walking to the Place of Worship turn on him" ...