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2010 Portal Award Nominee: ‘Trek Through Time’

Two Strips Of Latinum: The first part of an interview with one of the creators of the acclaimed mashup video

A couple of years ago, I was exploring on YouTube, checking out some of the different videos that one can find there when I made a discovery. While searching Star Trek or Doctor Who for some fan films, I came across a video that totally blew me away. In this video, one gets to see a mashup episode of “Doctor Who” where he and Donna Noble travel to meet the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the 1960s Star Trek show.

I watched the first part and was hooked. When you look at it, the thought that this video was created with computers from existing footage simply leaves your mind and, as any good film should, you get totally caught up in the story. After seeing Part 1, which was released Christmas 2008, I was one of many who could not wait till the rest of the parts were released. Easter 2009 saw the second part’s release with the final part coming at Christmas of that year, along with a new version, uniting the three parts into one spectacular episode.

Doctor Who: Trek Through Time, a 2010 Portal Award nominee for Best Web Production, is the creation of Rick Kelvington and Paul Sibbald. They had worked together on creating mashup videos for some time when one day, Rick got very frustrated with both Paramount and the BBC.

Frustration that Paramount was going to give us a new ‘Star Trek’ movie on Christmas Day 2008, then for no real reason, they pushed it back to May 2009 … Its not like they need more time to work on the effects, or re-shoot it, like so many films today do, it was about making money,” Kelvington said.
Pure and simple, they wanted more money, and more money was going be had by making this a tent-pole film in the Summer of 09 instead of Christmas 08.

Then David Tennant quit ‘Doctor Who,’ and instead of doing a proper fifth [season], he was going to do a series of a few specials in 2009 … so I thought, screw them, Im going to give both ‘Who’ fans and Trek fans something cool this Christmas (2008) and I started writing a story based on the scripts of ‘Who’ and Trek. Then I did the original concept trailer in late September 2008.

Paul Sibbald and I had often batted around the idea of doing a crossover, because the few ‘Doctor Who’ meets Star Trek videos out there : were : less than professional looking. I think we thought if it was going to be done at all it had to look great. And the one thing with Paul, is everything he does looks great. So I wrote the script for the first part of ‘Trek Through Time,’ and started to rough cut it together. And thats how it was born.

Mashups are not the easiest type of film to make, due to the time-consuming process of merging the shows, the careful work required to put a character from one show on the set of another, and making sure the outfits matched. When I asked Paul how tough the film was to make, he answered, On a scale from one to 10, where one is, ‘Hey look all this footage just falls perfectly together’ and 10 is, ‘Were never going to be able to save this rubbish,’ its about an eight.

Unlike many mashups, this film is not a parody, but an actual story.

Its written out in script form, and thats the framework for it, except unlike a real movie, where a writer writes the words the actors says, in this case the words were all from other people, and pulled from other peoples scripts,” Kelvington said. “In the 30 minutes ‘Trek Through Time’ runs, I only actually created about 10 lines of dialogue. This was done either with Paul doing a perfect William Shatner, or me re-working existing audio clips into new lines.

Rick also told me that voice of the Daleks was done by them, as there are no lines of a Dalek screaming, Kirk!

Rick shared further about the creation process that Trek Through Time requires. So once you have the script done, and you know roughly whats going to happen, you start looking at the clips where the dialog or action shot will come from and you evaluate them based on usability.

Often in the case of ‘Doctor Who’ there was background music behind every freaking line The Doctor says, so I have to painstakingly take out the background music so I can use that line. Then you have to go in and make sure the Star Trek characters are wearing the same uniforms all the time, so I cant use any scene where say, Kirk is wearing his green wrap around uniform. And I have to stay away from shots from ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’ because everything there looked so different.

One of Rick’s greatest assets is his partner in the production, Paul Sibbald. Fortunately, Paul knows every shot of ‘Star Trek’ like I know every shot of ‘Doctor Who,’ and between the two of us can find the shots we need.

After that you have to decide from a lighting point of view how closely can you match these shots up, you have to pay attention to eye-lines (which Im terrible at) and try to make the modern ‘Who’ footage at least resemble the original ‘Trek’ footage, which in this case meant, turning the ‘Trek’ footage into 16:9 when it was originally shot in 4:3 to match ‘Doctor Whos’ 16:9 format.

Then this is where Paul and I do things differently, he cuts things pretty much one perfect second at a time, very Charlie Chaplin like, and I do sort of a more traditional rough cutting of footage and seeing how it plays and times out. Then I go back and refine my stuff to get to a final product. Paul did the first 90 seconds of ‘Trek Through Time’ virtually on his own, and then showed it to me and I thought, Ill never make my stuff look that good. But he helped me along every step of the way. The one thing Paul was not fond of doing was the Rotoscoping which I did a majority of and then he took my rotos and blended them into the existing scenes.

You can check out the film by clicking this link. Monday, I’ll continue with my interview with Rick as we talk more about Trek Through Time and some of the other mashup projects he has created.

Voting for the 2010 Portal Awards continues through July 25 right here.

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