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Announcing an Artemis web series, Project Draco

posted Jul 08, 2013 15:59:29 by ThomRobertson
I've gathered an excellent local group of Artemis fans, and they've created Project Draco, an attempt to take Artemis videos to the next level. With support from me, they finished initial filming two weeks ago, and these two trailers are a taste of what we filmed and what will be coming shortly.

They would love your feedback, about 1) how the production could look even better, and 2) what sort of videos and plots you'd like to see this crew do in the future.

[Last edited Jul 08, 2013 16:00:19]
Creator of Artemis
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21 replies
kwadroke said Jul 08, 2013 17:08:03
That's awesome.
Love the set and the uniforms.
Captain said Jul 08, 2013 18:45:23
Very nice. Love what you guys are doing. My two recommendations are as follows. One is change the layout. Personally it feels all off to me and quite strange. That's my personal opinion if it works for you keep it. The second is the uniforms. I love them I just wish there were some more distinguishing features. Like rank insignias, medals, some type of distinguishing feature between stations. Otherwise this looks fantastic and I can't wait to watch it.

Ok now plots...

I would love to see them flesh out the history more. Maybe they are a crew in the Kralien war or in another major conflict. Either way I would lik to see missions rated to certain historical points rather than just random adventures. A storyline if you will. It's not very star trekky but that's my take.
To Mankind
And the hope that the war against folly may someday be won, after all

Isaac Asimov
MarkBell said Jul 09, 2013 12:08:33
What did you like about the trailers? Would you want more on-bridge action? or more space action?

@Captain - can you explain what you mean about the layout? It seemed to work pretty well for playing, but it may not translate as well for the camera. Here's what we had going on:

In the front (left in the above image) is Helm and Weapons, center mid is Science, Engineering and Comms flanking and Captain center back. There are some reasons we went that way in terms of communication flow. Do you think the overall layout should be changed? or was it maybe just a kind of weird camera angle?
[Last edited Jul 09, 2013 12:09:24]
Captain said Jul 09, 2013 12:47:26
Hey mark. For the layout it just felt weird for me. If it works for playing though keep it.

As for te action I feel that bridge action is more important. Any one of us can hook up artemis and play through some action but we don't get that story or bridge feel in our regular play.
To Mankind
And the hope that the war against folly may someday be won, after all

Isaac Asimov
Charlie said Jul 09, 2013 15:05:16
I am definitely intrigued! Nice job everyone!!!
erickrarick said Jul 09, 2013 19:04:17
I feel what he is saying about the layout.. it seems a little rigid.

This page has some great bridge layout pics:

Some of my faves:

Defiant Class
The captain sits in the middle with all stations being accessible to his view by turning, everything is setup in a circle around him. This is a war vessel where the captain is in control and has access to all information at all times, calls all the shots, everyone follows orders strictly.

Sovereign Class
This is another good one.. a bit more spread out, but inverted from the defiant.. your high level stations are positioned so that the people are facing the captain (excluding helm/ops) which promotes more of a collaborative feel - good for exploration, problem solving.

All in all, I would say play around with angles to make it visually interesting, don't have everything facing straight forward. If you were just playing the game, I wouldn't say anything, but since the goal here is to make a compelling video, I feel that the setup needs to be visually appealing, even if it isn't ideal for game play.

If you have room for it, maybe consider having the two main stations, Helm and Tactical pushed up against each other in the front with the captain centered behind. Then, have the support stations, Comm/Sci/Engineering facing the back wall in a bit of a curved arc. This lets these officers have some motion when reporting something, they have to turn and speak over their shoulder. This gives a fairly TOS feel.

Or, if you like the defiant style.. have a single helm station up front, all other stations facing the walls with the captain in the middle.

Another idea for some variety, is to turn Sci and Comm into XO positions, and have those two chairs centered with the captain, but slightly forward, a single helm in front again, and engineering and tactical angled on the sides.

Last idea is something that mirrors the Enterprise D Battle bridge a bit.. put tactical directly behind the captain's chair, helm and sci up front, then engineering and comm angled on the sides.

One final note... if there is any way to add more platforms on the ground to give some different heights... that would add a great deal of visual interest. Depending on the layout, the captain's chair could be the highest point (I see that this is done a little bit, but the effect could be even more so...), or if tactical is directly behind the captain, he should be raised up to see over him.. things like that. Adding a third dimension in the layout will really make it pop visually.
[Last edited Jul 09, 2013 21:52:27]
simplician said Jul 10, 2013 01:33:11
First off this is great! I'm looking forward to more! But since you're looking for feedback this is what I have to offer~

The layout of the bridge bugged me a bit, and in a nutshell my problem was that the captain was all the way in the back instead of in the center of the action. If all you did was switch the captain with the Science it would make a world of difference to me.

A more dynamic layout like eric's diagrams, and some vertical interests would be great too. The current staggered line layout is a bit more like a classroom than starship bridge.

Also I'd like to see more camera work from the back of the bridge, so you can see what's going on on the main screen while the crew works. I'd love to see Captain Mark jump out of his chair and yell "FIRE" while an explosion lights up the view screen!
EricWethington said Jul 10, 2013 01:56:11
tagged to follow discussion.
"... ooops!"
Last words of Captain Phour Phazier Phred from Phremont
Eric said Jul 10, 2013 04:15:53
First of all, I think this is an exciting addition to Artemis!

I do agree with the layout comments made so far. The problem may not be simply the layout, but the room itself. It just feels too empty in my mind. It's kind of like a map in an RPG. Most maps (LOTR, Narnia, Dragonlance, etc) have lots of land and not a lot of water. We know there's way more water than land, but all the empty space (water) makes the map less exciting, so the map artists usually zoom in to see the more exciting bits. Maybe just making the stations a bit bigger with some buttons and such or adding some way for the crew to interact with the walls (view screen, exterior window of the ship, etc) would help? Just a thought that I hope makes sense.

Dammit, Jim, I'm a math teacher, not an interior designer!
BenEllery said Jul 10, 2013 05:48:01
Looks really good so far!

Just a couple of things:
- Is there anyway you can hide your power cables? It looks a bit messy when they're visible.
- The panels on the walls look good, but they are currently at the height where you would typically see additional control panels. My thinking is that Engineering Access Panels should be closer to the ground to make maintenance easier. Also, if you have the capability/budget, adding some "status monitor" screens to the walls would add heaps to the overall feel, and make the bridge feel busier.
- As for the physical bridge layout, I'm rather fond of the layout used on Stargate, which has Helm and Weapons to either side and slightly forward of the Captain, with additional control stations around the walls of the bridge (with two main ones at the front, to either side of the "screen"/window - probably Science and Engineering). Not sure about Communications, but could go behind the Captain (much like the Tactical station from Star Trek TNG).

Hope that some of this was useful. :)
MarkBell said Jul 10, 2013 11:58:48
Thanks for the feedback! I'll go ahead and throw out the fact that we kept our bridge deliberately smaller to keep down construction time/cost, so it's a bit cramped. Also, bridge module refits happened all the time so if it changes between episodes, hopefully it'll be for the better :) We also worked on the idea of "Let's get something done, we can improve on it later." We have big ideas about how it should look, including blinky lights, etc - we just wanted to get something done. Personally, it looked pretty slick on set; I also hope we can make it snazzier :)

@erickrarick - this: I like that layout a lot! Part of our goal was making sure everyone was visible to the main camera during shooting, and I think this is a great layout that could still allow for that. (My first suggestion had been to have Weapons standing behind the Captain the whole time, but for some reason Bill wasn't a big fan...) We realized (once we had put the bridge together) that a series of stepped platforms would have been a great addition for visual interest as well as allowing the camera to see everyone easier.

@simplican - We are probably going to be doing some pickup/second unit type shots, so hopefully we can :)

@Eric - I'm thinking if we end up with a different bridge layout and stepped platforms as mentioned above, that may alleviate some of the "empty room" feeling. My concern would be that having people getting up from their seats to mess with stuff would a) take them away from their station and b) get a bit distracting. If we had a number of extras who could wander on and off the set, doing interesting background stuff, that'd be one thing.

@BenEllery - I agree, check out the second trailer video - the still images were taken on the first day, and we hadn't realized some of the cables were still visible! We fixed it for the second day of shooting, which is where all the footage from the second trailer is from.

JanxJelantru said Jul 10, 2013 16:22:45
I think it looked pretty good. If I was running the circus:

lower the lighting, especially during combat. it looks grimmer. The default "bright" is too stark.

the trailer has some examples of the "darker" lighting level, but it also has some examples of too bright during a fight.

the darker lighting will reduce some of the cheeziness factor as well if any props are "lacking".

Definitely put the captain on a raised platform. If you can't do tiers, just raise him. Series 10 of Red Dwarf demonstrates this in an early episode where they board a fancy 'trek-like" ship and use it to rescue Rimmer's brother. I mention Red Dwarf because the behind the scenes has some excellent insight into shooting space ship interiors on the cheap.

If you do Eric's example of 2 stations behind the captain, put them and the captain on an upper tier and put a railing behind the captain's chair. tubular piping (PVC spray painted) may work fine. This will give a visual texture to the scene and guide actor movement on-set.

I like the station consoles. Very simple, modular and clean. Looks like you can re-arrange the bridge (which might be how you can create different ship bridges for "other" ships. Along that line, making your wall "art" be modular will help with that as well. Just shuffle the Consoles to new spots, re-arrange the wall art, and its a different ship.

I think keeping the stations away from the walls will make shooting easier. if you were to dock the Science station against a wall, it would be hard to shoot Spock using the scanner to detect life forms (because the fixed wall is in the way of where you want to put the camera). There is room all around the station and the actor to shoot that station and actor at their station.

It sounds like you fixed the cable problem, but if it becomes overly complicated to hide cables, go the reverse and incorporate cable bundles into the set. Add cable bundles on a wall truss, or over head, etc. Old power cords, network cables etc discarded from an IT shop that's replaced parts are a good source. PVC piping is cheap and could be used to make struts and stuff.

In any event, keep it all modular like it looks like you have done, and you can rearrange to make corridors, engineering rooms, different bridges, etc.

One thing I thought was wierd was the lights shooting at the wall from the rear station. I assumed it was some DMX effect projected from the station, or the PC involved had some goofy lights on it. I don't think that made sense.

It would be better to project light down from above (like red alert flashes) or from a light source on the wall (like a red alert flashing doohickey). That stuff doesn't have to be DMX, it can be powered from behind the wall (or by batteries) and activated by an FX handler off camera, or even wired to a station to one of the many potential knobs and switches a station could have on a side console.

Also, if you need to shoot an alien ship, consider hanging "drapes" on the edges of the stations. Basically, build plates that mount on the front and sides of the console (what the camera sees), to change the look of the station, without actually building a new station.

I'm not sure how far y'all will take this off the bridge, but keeping an eye to re-use by re-arranging will get you extra sets in the same room.

Also look into blue screen technology. There's an app for that on iPhone, so I suspect it can be done freely on a PC. Paint the front of the room blue (or green). Since we never see the front (yet), you can make it look like the typical front view screen of the Enterprise, or by removing all the stations and making that be the "rear" of the scene, shoot the engine room with warp core. or alien planet. or extended background of a hallway

It looks like fun. Good luck!

JanxJelantru said Jul 10, 2013 16:31:23
on costuming:

Tuck those shirts in! This is a TSN vessel, not some slovenly freighter.

I'd like to see differentiation among the crew by job function and rank.

So rank insignia (patch on the shoulder like the military) and job function (patch on the chest where the star fleet emblem would be) would work.

If possible, velcro would work (star gate uniforms seemm to have this, though they are always empty). With velcro on the shirts at the right spot, you could swap out what rank/position on the shirt, in case you need to have an extra wear it because you've only got 5 shirts.

For non-officers, you could consider puting them in simpler shirts. Maybe those brittish commander shirts with the shoulder fabric.

JanxJelantru said Jul 10, 2013 16:48:07
On Plots:

Show us the crew going through a few popular missions, in character. So they need to play the game WHILE acting like their role, not a player on a computer. We don't need dramatic acting, just don't break character.

For extra drama/longer term stuff:
pass the Bechdel test. None of the women will ever talk about men or relationships or have a crush on any of the bridge crew.

the woman in the back row will be aiming for the captain's chair. this brings a woman in as a strong female role. So make her second guess the captain and have her be right. that'll stir up some drama to write with.

the guy with a pony tail is hiding a kitten he picked up at Jupiter station. It is against regulations to bring an unquarrantined animal on board.

The front guy with glasses has a gambling problem and needs to raise funds to pay back a debt before the collector catches up with him at a station. He does not like to leave the ship on shore leave because of that.

the other guy in front is built too handsomely. He is actually a spy who has been surgically altered to look human (the surgeons used stock photos, instead of more common samples). When he gets information, he leaves his post to secretly relay the data to his superiors over a hidden communicator he hides in a maintenance duct.

the girl with glasses looks smart. Unfortunately, she has been Peter Principal-ed into her current role and is struggling to keep up. her story will show the initial challenges and eventual growth as she matures into her position.

The Captain secretly struggles with PTSD. He lost his previous ship during a large engagement (think Wolf 359 in TSN terms or the Battle of the Line ala B5). His mentor, an Admiral saved his career and got him assigned to this smaller ship. Otherwise, his mentor's rival was pushing to crush his career. He longs to regain his reputation and worries about losing his current crew.

Anyway, there's some material to work with. Your mileage may vary.
MarkBell said Jul 10, 2013 20:37:34
Great suggestions - it is starting to sound like our email chains about it :) I'm really happy so many people are excited about this, since I know we all are.

I can't speak to any definite plot threads, but we've got quite a few in mind. As far as Bechdel goes, the two women on the bridge after the engineer and the science officer - I'm sure they've got plenty to talk about aides from menfolk! To be fair, we haven't finished hashing out everyone's characterization quite yet; romance angles are not, as far as I know, ruled out.

None of us are professional actors, and our goal is to succeed without overreaching. At the same time, better to set the bar higher, right?

A lot of these suggestions are great, and we'll probably do some upgrades for the second episode. In the meantime, I suppose we need to finish up the first one :)

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