Saturday, 31 January 2015

Kubricks' 2001: One Mans Incredible Odyssey



Well friends, it's another new year and it's a hot 'n humid January in the part of the world where I live - which always gets folks  in the significantly reversed climes of the Northern Hemisphere scratching their heads.  It seems that the older I get the quicker these 'new' years tend to creep up on me and catch me unawares, like a thief in the night!
Anyway, I was completely blown away by the response to my last blog post, Magicians of the Miniature - with absolute record numbers of hits, comments and emailed correspondence, so it seems there are more than a few model movie magic fans out there.  I promise to do a follow up article in a few months as I have a great deal more material in my archives. 
Todays post was supposed to be my long awaited Ken Marschall/Bruce Block matte tribute, but once again the lengthy interview and considerable sized photo and film clip collection isn't quite ready yet, and as both Ken and Bruce want to do a full and complete career piece I'm happy not to jump in with a half finished article as the boys want to get it all together as complete as possible ... so hopefully next time we can celebrate their illustrious matte painted trick work.




With todays article I've decided to cover the truly outstanding visual effects and design work from one of the single most influential and remarkable pieces of cinema of the twentieth century - Stanley Kubricks' 2001-A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) - a film that just gets better and better with the passing years.  I'll admit to not always being a fully fledged, card carrying fan of the film.  I initially saw it around 1974 as part of a very lengthy double bill at the Capitol Cinema in a suburb on Auckland, paired up with the brilliant Michael Crichton penned sci-fi thriller THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (1970).  I'll admit the Kubrick film left me somewhat cold and utterly bewildered - being a mere teenager at the time I could more easily identify with the latter film and absolutely loved that Robert Wise helmed picture.  I recall my filmgoer mates on that fateful day - sci fi buffs one and all - being bemused at my obvious lack of 'involvement' in the Kubrick film, with one of them, a friend named Norman Burns saying to me: "What did you expect... a monster to rise up from behind those moon rocks at any given moment?"  Well, quite frankly, 'yes' I sort of did, having been raised on a diet of many bug eyed monster flicks and all the rest of it, as decreed by the Lord of all such entertainments, the great Forrest J.Ackerman, whose journal I read religiously.

A film with no much uniqueness, it's no wonder it still endures.
I did see 2001 several more times over the years in numerous formats - 70mm reissue, 16mm high school English class project, on tv (in screamingly poor pan & scan 4x3 ratio), videotape (likewise), DVD and BluRay.  Well, as things turn out, each time I saw the film I liked it a little more - probably as much to do with growing up and a pseudo maturity  on my own part.  In recent years I've found the film to be nothing less than astonishing and now regard same as a fully fledged masterpiece, without question!

Stanley Kubrick has always been one of the greatest film makers in my mind, with films such as the low budget Sterling Hayden heist flick THE KILLING (1956) being one of my favourites.  Likewise PATHS AND GLORY (1957) with a never better Kirk Douglas caught up in the insanity of war. The controversial LOLITA (1962) and the all time number one black comedic masterpiece DR STRANGELOVE - OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964) which just gets better and more timely as the decades pass and stands as a picture I can watch over and over.  Classics one and all.

In addition to the tightly nurtured screenplays of his work, I've always been fascinated with Stanley's visual sense and use of composition when staging a scene.  BARRY LYNDON (1976) ticked all of the boxes for me and remains one of the most elegant period films I've seen, with it's three hour running time simply dashing by in what seems like a third of the time.  This was a film I'd actually resisted seeing for 10 years as it didn't entice me, though when I finally did see it I found myself utterly enthralled from beginning to end. I feel much the same way now about 2001 where, as I see it, not a frame has been wasted in pulling together, what many might see as an unfilmable and certainly non-commercial folly with the end result being an astonishingly well crafted, intelligent and wholly original piece of cinema history.

Arthur C.Clarke (left) on the set with Stanley Kubrick
Working from Arthur C.Clarke's novella The Sentinel, Kubrick - ever the obsessive personality - could not rest until all aspects of pre-production, production and post-production met his razor sharp scrutiny.  No single facet of the vast and complex project would escape Stanley's oversight and supervision.  Noteworthy to the films amazing endurance were Production Designers Tony Masters, Harry Lange and Ernie Archer, whose work it was to interpret and visualise the Arthur Clarke printed word as one which Kubrick could work with as had no team of Art Directors before had.  I love great Art Direction in great movies and 2001 remains one of the all time greats in set design and construction, complemented superbly by the careful eye of both Lighting Cameramen Geoffrey Unsworth and John Alcott. 
35mm anamorphic frame from the Star Child sequence
2001 is one of those rare pictures where almost every shot is suitable for framing, and I've even gotten onto the VFX shots yet.  The interiors or space stations and shuttle craft are simply exquisite in both set design and cinematography.  The shots aren't flashy like most of today's over indulgent hyperactive camerawork.  The shots are beautifully framed and often held on screen for a long period of time without a cut, or uneccessary camera movement.  Perhaps it's my age catching up with me but I really enjoy a 'slow' and deliberate exercise in film making where time isn't of the essence.  In fact, I could go another 20 minutes of the film (which I believe Kubrick chopped after the initial premier).
Wally Veevers with an earlier, unused Discovery miniature
As this is a special effects blog I want to naturally concentrate on that facet of the production.  I've included many fine BluRay frames below from most every effects sequence and a few, hard to find behind the scenes photos that I've managed to come across from various sources, though I dearly wish I could find more!  *Much of the captioned text below I've borrowed from other mediums such as the 1968 American Cinematographer article by Doug Trumbull; Jerome Agel's 1970 book as well as interviews with folks like Wally Veevers from the detailed career article from the1969 Film & TV Technician special on British special effects.

Harry Lange(?) with Orion model
Much of the initial special photographic effects groundwork was carried out by Englishman Wally Gentleman - himself a veteran of the British special effects industry where as matte shot and effects cameraman at Rank Studios he worked on many films such as OLIVER TWIST (1948), BLACK NARCISSUS (1947) and THE RED SHOES (1948) among many others with people such as Les Bowie and Cliff Culley.  Gentleman went to Canada in 1957 to pursue a career at the National Film Board of Canada with the highly regarded short film UNIVERSE (1960) being something of a forerunner to 2001 in many ways.  Apparently Kubrick sought Gentleman based upon his appreciation of the technical effects work in UNIVERSE.


Actor William Sylvester and FX man Wally Veevers
Anyone who's familiar with this blog will know of my appreciation of one of the greats of UK visual effects work, Wally Veevers.  Veevers' career spanned as far back as THINGS TO COME (1936) and included several hundred films.  Wally was an all round effects expert, though primarily a special effects cameraman.  In addition to running the effects department at Shepperton for many years, Wally had a fully equipped workshop at his home where, to the melodies of his favourite Country & Western music, he would build or modify camera equipment and synchronised special effects rigs such as his 'sausage factory' repeatable pass effects machine which would prove vital for many of the 2001 shots and other shows such as THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN (1969).

Douglas Trumbull at Graphic Films in the US prior to 2001
Douglas Trumbull can be described in one word: Visionary.  Doug considerably made up in sheer technical ability what he perhaps lacked in industry experience.  Trumbull was one of a handful of the new breed of camera effects wizards employed at Graphic Films in the early 1960's where a landmark short film TO THE MOON AND BEYOND (1964) was produced for the New York's World's Fair expo as an experimental 70mm film exhibited onto a large dome.  As one might guess, this film caught Stanley's eye too and it's visual effects technicians signed onto the 2001 picture.  Of course Doug has produced a great many terrific visual effects films since then such as the influential BLADERUNNER (1982) and BRAINSTORM (1983) though it's his other developmental projects which have been truly noteworthy.  Showscan was an optically superior high frame rate super projection system along the lines of IMAX, though I believe even bigger.  I also believe Trumbull developed the OmniMax system (with Don Iwerks I think) which was a genuinely breathtaking interactive theme park ride on a massive curved 180 degree screen which Universal Studios had as their Back to the Future ride for some years.  Bloody amazing, and one I came out of and immediately got back in the line again for a repeat performance.

Tom Howard with 65mm camera movement
Con Pederson was another major photographic effects contractor on 2001, and, as with Trumbull had roots back at Graphic Films in the US on TO THE MOON AND BEYOND which I understand Con also wrote and directed.  Among the many contributions to 2001's visual effects was the then fresh idea of detailing model sets and spacecraft with hundreds of glued on parts from Airfix model kits, a great idea which would see wonderful application in 1977 with ILM's miniatures for George Lucas' STAR WARS.

Lastly, Tom Howard was a veteran of the British special effects industry for several decades, specialising largely in optical cinematography.  For 2001, Howard was tasked with developing an untried process of front screen reflex projection using large 8x10" static transparencies instead of the usual 35mm or 65mm motion picture film projected upon a 90 foot screen for an important and lengthy set piece depicting Africa for the Dawn of Man.  The sequence is astounding in it's authenticity and one is hard pressed to suspect it was entirely mocked up on a sound stage.


The four key special photographic effects supervisors from 2001:  Top- Wally Veevers & Douglas Trumbull.  Bottom- Con Pederson & Tom Howard

Some of the finely crafted miniatures on the effects stage.  Many others were built and ultimately not used.  Wally Veevers was primarily responsible for the miniatures and the mechanical components therein.

A number of the miniature craft were contracted out to Master Models Ltd, outside London where many of the Gerry Anderson TV spacecraft were built. As soon as the overall design was completed on each model, construction was begun to produce the basic form of that spacecraft, and this process often took several months. Then the arduous task of detailing and painting the model would begin. Massive crews of model detailers worked around the clock for several more months to produce the finished results. Basic construction was of wood, fiberglass, plexiglass, steel, brass, and aluminum. The fine detailing was made up of specially heat-formed plastic cladding, flexible metal foils of different textures and thicknesses, wire, tubing, and thousands of tiny parts carefully selected from hundreds of every conceivable kind of plastic model kit, from boxcars and battleships to airplanes and Gemini spacecraft. A delegation from the production was sent to an international model exhibition in Germany to select the best kits available. Shown above is Doug Trumbull at work on one of the Moonbus miniatures.
Discovery's pod miniature under final construction.  Only the Discovery spacecraft and the pod were on the same scale, since they had to work so closely together in several shots.

Top:  Two views of the smaller 11 foot Discovery model.  Below:  Con Pederson looks on as large scale command module is prepared for the pod sequence.  Lower right:  The Star Child on display at a Kubrick retrospective.  Note the calvaria  (skull cap) is open with servo mechanisms to control eye movement within.

My favourite model in the film, the Aries Space Shuttle.  Douglas Trumbull: " Every minute facet of each model had to be perfect, so that photography would not be restricted in any way, and during shooting the cameras came relentlessly close with no loss of detail or believability.  Each spacecraft was built to a scale which best suited that particular model, without any particular regard to scale relationship between models.  Very tricky calculating had to be done for the approach of the Orion spacecraft to the space station because both models couldn't be built to the same scale. Roughly, the Orion was three feet long, the space station eight feet in diameter, the Aries two feet in diameter, the Moon rocket-bus two feet long, and the Discovery fifty-four feet long with a thirteen-inch diameter pod. The main command module ball of Discovery was six feet in diameter, and for long shots another complete model of Discovery was built to a length of fifteen feet. All moving parts on the models were motor driven and extremely geared-down since most shooting was at a very show rate due to the necessity for stopping down to small lens apertures to obtain maximum depth-of-field."
Some of the behind the scenes pictorial from Jerome Agel's book The Making of 2001.  Note upper right Oxberry animation stand adapted for 65mm photography as a still photograph of the Aries is filmed for the Moon approach.
Kubrick was adamant that all photographic effects work - or as much as practicable - be shot as held takes on original negative for maximum resolution and control of 'blacks', which might otherwise become washed out using industry standard methods for composites.  Con Pederson wrote that his last job on the project (after more than two years) was to reshoot this opening optical composite more than a half dozen times, each with a different foreign language title card as Kubrick did not on any account want to cut to a different 'black' as the main title appeared as a dupe in post production.  I recall John Carpenter expressed the very same sentiment with THE THING, where Peter Kuran was asked to supply all of the main titles in addition to his wonderful, flaming 'The Thing' title card so that the 'black' of space remained constant throughout the prologue.
Doug Trumbull:  "Filming of the 'Dawn of Man' sequence took place entirely on only one stage at the studio. Distant backgrounds for all the action were front-projected eight-by-ten Ektachrome transparencies, using probably the largest front-projection device ever made, and constructed specially for 2001 by Tom Howard.  The projector consisted of a specially intensified arc source with water-cooled jaws to hold the oversized carbons, special heat-absorbing glass, giant condensing lenses which would occasionally shatter under the intense heat, special eight-by-ten glass plate holders and positioning mounts, an extremely delicate semi-silvered mirror, and a specially built nodal point head so that the camera could pan, tilt, and zoom without fringing of the image."

Doug Trumbull:  "To camouflage the varying light transmission rates between rolls of the front projection screen material on the giant 40- by 90-foot screen, the material was cut up into small, irregular pieces and pasted up at random so that slight variations in the transmission rates would merge with cloud shapes or be lost altogether in brilliant sunlight effects. Since the screen occupied an entire wall of the stage, and the front-projection rig was delicate and cumbersome, the sets were built on a giant rotating platform which covered most of the stage floor. Widely varying camera angles could then be obtained with no movement of the screen, and little movement of the projection rig."
Associate Director of Photography John Alcott shot all of the Dawn of Man scenes as the main DOP Geoff Unsworth had already departed to meet contractual obligations on another picture. The screen and front projector/65mm camera rig were somewhat permanent and couldn't be easily moved around so the entire set was constructed on a rotating rostrum so that different angles etc could be obtained by turning the set around rather than the process equipment.

Doug Trumbull:  "During the testing of this front-projection system, it was found that the intense light and heat being poured through the transparency would burn off layers of emulsion in a matter of minutes. Additional heat filters were installed but the only real solution was to expose the plate only during the critical moments that the camera was running. Duplicate plates were used for various line-ups, tests, and rehearsals. Even with such an intense light source, the long throw from projector to screen required lens apertures of around F/2."
The front projection is quite amazing, with unusually accurate matching of incandescent stage lighting to the natural light in Keith Hampshire's large format transparencies taken in Africa.
Chief Neanderthal character played by mime Daniel Richter takes a break between takes.  Astonishingly convincing make up and suit by Stuart Freeborn which was as good as it got until Rick Baker's various projects such as GREYSTOKE, GORILLAS IN THE MIST  and even that AIP Ray Milland laughfest THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (yeah, some good work there!)
Remarkable apes courtesy of Stuart Freeborn and skilled performers in the suits.
The monolith appears... it all sounds so easy on paper but Kubrick was pathologically obsessed with not only the design and look of the monolith but how to keep crew members fingerprints and dust off of the pristine, polished surface Great use of sound here too sells an already arresting image.

The moment of truth... beautifully played out and shot, with exemplary front projected backgrounds.
Nuclear armed satellite (not that we are ever actually informed of that fact).  A Harry Lange designed model, photographed as a large format still and manipulated with other elements on the animation stand.

The Oxberry animation stand equipped with a 65mm Mitchell camera was used for shooting backgrounds of stars, Earth, Jupiter, the Moon, as well as for rotoscoping and shooting high contrast mattes. All stars shot on the animation stand were spatter-airbrushed by Doug Trumbull onto glossy black paper backing and were shot at field sizes of from six to twenty-four inches wide. Extensive tests were made to find the optimum star speed for each shot and great care was taken to control the action so that the stars wouldn't strobe. In almost all shots it was necessary for the stars to be duped, but this became a simpler problem because they required only one record instead of the usual three YCM's.
Douglas Trumbull:  "Backgrounds of the Earth, Jupiter, Jupiter's moons, and others were back-lit Ektachrome transparencies ranging in size from 35mm to 8x10 inches, and these were shot from much larger painted artwork. The Moon was a series of actual astronomical glass plates produced by the Lick Observatory. These plates were used only after nearly a year of effort at the studio in England to build a moon model - several attempts, in fact, by different artists, and all were unsuccessful."
Wally Veevers wrote: "All movements of models - whether the camera or model itself -  had to be incredibly smooth.  The Space Station was a nine foot diameter bi-cycle model which could be angled into any position and had to turn in sync with the camera track at one revolution per minute for viewing, but at five eighths of an inch on the periphery for shooting without a shudder.  Multiple heavy slip rings in the hub were used to feed the lights and airlines through the hub and spokes to keep it cool".

A totally enchanting set piece as we glide inbound toward this impressive station.  Beautifully executed.


Doug Trumbull:  "All special effects work involves the standard problems of film steadiness, colour correction, and matting, and 2001 was no exception. Since every effects shot necessitated the combining of multiple separate images onto one negative, absolute film steadiness was essential. After trying for months to find some rhyme or reason as to why some shots were steady and some weren't, we began the tedious task of comprehensive steady-tests on every roll of raw stock, every set of YCM's, and every roll of 35mm print-downs."
One of the Veevers Sausage Factory composite shots as executed by photographic effects team member Dave Osbourne.  No blue screen or yellow backing composites were used on 2001, with all spaceship, planet and star comps carried out by laborious hand inked cels and rotoscoped to prevent degradation of elements.  The team of rotoscope artists were known as 'The Blobbers' and spent a year in a darkened room equipped with photographic enlargers and a special 70mm film carriage assembly, hand tracing countless shots infinitum.  Cinefex's article on the film mentioned the joy felt by all of The Blobbers when they finally finished with 2001 and moved on to The Beatles' animated YELLOW SUBMARINE where daylight and colour were much akin to having cataracts removed after 12 months!
Love that simplicity in set design, costume and camera placement as stewardess plucks 'floating pen' out of zero gravity.  Pen was lightly glued to a large eight foot diameter glass and gently moved off camera.
Multi element shot with miniature station and star field matted into windows, and numerous RP screen readouts.
Coming in to dock at Space Station.  Doug Trumbull: "One of our first serious special effects problems presented itself during the live action shooting. The interior set of the Orion spacecraft (which flew from the earth to the space station) and the interior set of the Aries spacecraft (which flew from the space station to the moon) were both equipped with pinhole star backgrounds outside the windows. These backgrounds were made of thin sheet metal with each star individually drilled, and were mounted on tracks to produce an apparent motion from inside. As shooting began it became apparent that when the stars had the correct intensity in the 35mm print-down, they were much too bright in a 70mm print. And, when the stars looked correct in the 70mm version, they would disappear altogether in 35mm. So star brightness became a compromise, and after all the problems encountered in trying to accurately control star intensity on the set, almost all stars shot subsequent to those interiors were photographed on the animation stand."

Wally Veevers:  "All of the effects shots in the picture were multiple exposure shots. For the model shooting, very exacting camera tracks and motorised trollies were used.  With only a single key light source and everything needing to be pin sharp, continuous camera speeds of 4 seconds per frame were usually called for, with the scenes taking from four to six hours to shoot. The mattes shots took upwards of eleven hours to shoot and complete."


Wally Veevers:  "To start my career as an apprentice on THINGS TO COME (1936) and to be offered a trick picture of this magnitude was indeed an honour and a challenge.  I started my two years of work on the picture by building the very exacting equipment required for the effects shooting in the engineering department at MGM-Elstree.  Every shot had to be perfect in every way before Kubrick would accept it as I'd discovered when I worked for him on his previous picture, DR STRANGELOVE (1964)".
Doug Trumbull:  "It may be noted that in only a few effects shots in space does one object overlap another. The reason for this is that normal matting techniques were either difficult or impossible to use. The rigging to suspend the models was so bulky and complex that the use of the blue screen technique would have been very awkward. Also, the blue screen would have tended to reflect fill light into the subtle shadow side of the white models. It became a monumental task merely to matte the spacecraft over the stars, and the final solution to this was meticulously rotoscoped, hand-painted mattes."
Doug Trumbull:  "Since we couldn't afford to tie up the animation stand or any camera, for very laborious and time-consuming rotoscope jobs on so many shots, a unique rotoscoping system was devised. Using ordinary darkroom enlargers, equipped with carriers for rolls of 70mm film, each frame-by-frame image was projected onto specially marked animation peg boards, to which the projected image of the perforations had to be visually aligned."
That still remarkable mechanical effects shot that got everybody talking back in the day.  The actress simply walks on a treadmill whilst the entire cylindrical set (and locked off, bolted down 65mm camera) rotate 180 degrees.
Various sources state that the many shots with people moving around inside the spaceship were made by front projection as a separate pass onto white card  in the window area, though the American Cinematographer article described them as RP shots.  Doug Trumbull:  "All moving images in the windows of the various spacecraft were rear projected either at the time of photography of the model, although as a separate exposure, or later after the model image had been duped using Technicolor Yellow-Cyan-Magenta masters, or YCM's.''

Wally Veevers:  "Live action was inserted in the models by miniature projection, the majority of which were combined in the two 'Sausage Factory' machines that I designed and built for this picture and involved repeatable glass movement and camera tilting and tracking."
Optical cinematographer on numerous British films, Martin Body described the Wally Veevers 'Sausage Factory' as it was employed successfully on THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN the following year:  "For a shot in Battle of Britain, stills of WWII aircraft were stuck on a large sheet of glass with the first pass Wally would have had the aircraft stills front lit against black with just the raw negative stock in the camera (Kodak 5251).  Passes two, three and four would have the aircraft stills backlit against white with the raw negative and RGB separation masters bi-packed in the camera.  Camera moves had to be repeated exactly for each pass on a camera dolly and head fitted with Selsyn motors operated from a central controller.  It was, if you like, the forerunner of the Motion Control rigs commonly used today."

Con Pederson:  "The days were long, ten to twelve hours - the weeks were long, six or seven days - and the months were long... on and on with no respite.  The routine was very intense."
Doug Trumbull:  "A few scenes show a miniature rear-projected image in the window of a spacecraft as the spacecraft is matted over an image of the moon. For this effect the foreground spacecraft was a still photograph mounted on glass and, using a bi-pack camera, the masters of the background image could be printed with a white backing behind the still photo - the photo silhouette producing its own matte. Then the photo and the rear-projected image could be shot as separate exposures onto the same negative. To produce exactly the same movement on each successive exposure, all movement drives and film advances were Selsyn synchronized. The mammoth device designed to produce this effect we nicknamed 'The Sausage Factory' because we expected the machine to crank out shots at a very fast rate. This turned out to be wishful thinking, however, and shooting became very painstaking and laborious work. Another drawback to printing masters in this way was the fact that lens flaring caused by the white backing would partially print the image within the silhouette. Therefore only very dark backgrounds could be used for these shots."
Aries cockpit with matted in miniature moonscape and landing platform.
One of the more complex effects shots.  Astronauts perform as multi part fx footage is front projected seamlessly.  Moons' surface is a heavily compressed model set built by Joy Seddon and Bob Cuff.  Earth, stars and descending Aries ship are separate elements.
Stunning model engineering as ten foot diameter Astrodome miniature opens up
Doug Trumbull:  "Early in production we began to realize that storyboards were useful only to suggest the basic scene idea, and as soon as a particular model or effect would come before the camera, something new would suggest itself and the scene would be changed. This change would often influence subsequent scenes. As each element of a shot was completed, a frame clip of the Scope 35mm rush print would be unsqueezed and blown up to storyboard size with prints distributed to all of the people concerned. It was necessary to keep such an accurate record so that work could begin on other elements of the same shot. For example, each scene of the Discovery spacecraft required a different angle and speed of star movement, and a different positioning and action of the miniature rear-projected image in the cockpit."

Subtleties such as dust disturbance was created with tiny air nozzles within the Aries landing gear.  Beautiful miniaturised shock absorbers at play here too.
No doubt the most awe inspiring miniature set in the picture - or of the decade perhaps - is this wonderful 15 foot deep, fully mechanised set with a two foot high Aries descending. Wally Veevers called this his toughest shot in the picture.  A beautifully designed and photographed sequence with perfect live action multiple inserts composited as held takes with the Lin Dunn 65mm matte camera.
Wally Veevers:  "Everything was motorised in those scenes.  As the moonship is being lowered on the landing platform there was a projector being lowered parallel to it at exactly the same speed, projecting the scenes of the people who appeared to be looking out."

Even with extreme forced perspective moon terrain miniature sets depth of field proved problematic.  Trumbull and Pederson would take large format separate still photographs on B&W film of foreground, midground and background, blow these up, cut and paste back together as one view, touched up with subtle hand coloured highlights or alterations to blend as one.  These collages would then be combined with star fields and space craft on the animation stand.
As with a great many such shots in 2001, the moon surface is a model set photograph and the shuttle craft a still photo shot on the animation stand.

The moonbus with projected in people.  Doug Trumbull: "With a half-dozen cameras shooting simultaneously, some on 24-hour shifts, and different aspects of many sequences being executed at once, the problem of keeping up to date on each shot's progress was difficult at best. For the purpose of being able to discuss a shot without referring to a storyboard picture, each scene had a name as well as a number. For example, all scenes in the Jupiter sequence were named after football plays - 'deep pass,' 'kickoff,' 'punt return,' etc. Each of these terms called to mind a certain scene which related in some way to the name."
Doug Trumbull:  "The Moon terrain models required considerable depth-of-field also, and in order to keep the distance from foreground to infinity within a focusable range, they were built with extremely forced perspective. Detail was graduated from very large foreground rocks and rubble to tiny mountain peaks and plains on the horizon in a total actual depth of about five feet. To reproduce in model form exactly what a drawing required, the drawing would be photographed as a 70mm-size transparency and projected onto the work area from the exact point at which the Super Panavision camera would be shooting, and with the same focal-length lens. In some cases we still couldn't hold the depth-of-field even with forced perspective, so the model would be shot as two four-by-five black-and-white stills, one focused on the foreground and one focused on the background. Large prints were made of each, cut out, retouched, pasted together, and then shot on the animation stand."
Doug Trumbull:  "Another problem that gave us many headaches was the loss of black density due to multiple duped images being exposed onto one negative, and in a space film like 2001 the retention of blacks was very important. Part of this problem could be solved by ordering very dense sets of YCM masters to retain maximum contrast. Most original negatives were shot slightly over-exposed so that a higher printer light would be required to reproduce the image. This helped a little, but if carried too far would take the brilliance out of the whites. These precautions were only partially helpful and any shot involving more than two or three sets of masters would suffer a noticeable greying of the blacks".

This shot comprises a cutout large format photo of the Moonbus, with rear projected action shown in the windows

Often, Trumbull and Pederson would trial prospective fx shots by projecting two or more overlapping individual elements from a pair of 35mm projectors at the same time just to see how things lined up and to check speed of movement of craft against other criteria in the desired shot, all of which proved useful, if low tech.

Along with the visual effects supervisors already mentioned several other up and coming effects men would join the merry band such as Brian Johnson, Bruce Logan, Bryan Loftus, Richard Yuricich and Zoran Perisec.
Look Ma.... no wires!  No really, it's all photo cutouts photographed either on Wally Veevers' Sausage Factory or produced on the Oxberry animation stand to excellent effect.


Approaching the excavation pit
The excavation pit on the Moon prior to matte addition.
The pit with matted in miniature moonscape.  Long time Veevers colleague, matte cameraman John Mackey, shot these mattes.  Kubrick didn't want any painted mattes and would only settle for miniature elements to fill out a shot.
Reverse angle matte with miniature moonscape flawlessly combined over a year later as a held take.
18 Months Later.... The Jupiter Project
The mammoth deep space vessel Discovery  - in itself a mammoth model some 50 odd feet in length.  A team of design students were engaged to paste on Airfix kit detail to this and other models, with all members of the team getting their hand in at some stage or other.
The motion of The Discovery took some four and a half hours to move along a track, and this had to be repeated at exactly the same speed more than once for matting purposes.
The interior of the centrifuge set
The giant centrifuge set resembles a fairground Ferris Wheel.  The rotating rig was equipped with a dozen 16mm projectors for RP screen readouts and such.

For some shots a smaller eleven foot model Discovery was used for long shots as it wasn't possible to get far enough back from the big 54 foot model to get a suitable shot.
Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea on the remarkable centrifuge set. 
I found that Kubrick's choice of cast was also vital to the success of the film.  Keir Dullea beautifully underplayed the lead character Bowman, as did the support cast in their roles.  

As already stated, superb sets and technology that's still plausible.  Doug Trumbull:  "Several versions of the full-sized pod were used during the Discovery sequence. Three dummy pods were used in the pod-bay, two of which had operational doors, but only roughly mocked-up interiors. A separate interior pod set was built which included all the instrumentation, controls, and readout displays. Finally, a full-sized pod was built with completely motorized, articulated arms. It took ten or twelve men at long control consoles to simultaneously control the finger, wrist, forearm, elbow, and shoulder actions of the two pod arms, and the interior of that pod was a maze of servos, actuators, and cables."


Possibly my favourite non effects shot in the film.  Kubrick never really embraced the CinemaScope or Super Panavision format aside than this film and SPARTACUS, with all of his other work being either flat 1.33:1 or at best 1.66:1.  I used to work for the New Zealand distribution offices of Warner Bros from the late 70's who handled several of Stanley's latter films and I recall the lengths that had to be gone to to accommodate Kubrick whenever one of his films were being shown.  Kubrick would personally approve the theatre capacity, screen size, projection apparatus, city demographic and all of it, and could veto anything he didn't like!  I know that accuracy of projection masking and quality of luminance from the carbons or xenons were of grave concern to the Kubrick people.
Possibly one of the most unusual aspects of the live action photography on the interior sets of this picture is that almost all of the lighting was an actual integral part of the set itself, and additional lighting was used only for critical close-ups.

I just love the meticulous engineering of the moving parts in these models.
A lot of hand rotoscoped mattes here around the pod, plus projected figure in the window.
That 'faulty' AE35 Communications Unit that proves more trouble than what it's worth. All motorised miniature.
Another angle of that fantastic set mentioned earlier.  To me, it's all still believable.
Our other major character in the picture, the quietly menacing HAL 9000 Unit.  Wonderfully composed shot too!
Production Designers.... ya' gotta love 'em.
A pivotal plot point.

The Discovery en route to Jupiter
Each spacecraft was built to a scale which best suited that particular model, without any particular regard to scale relationship between models. Only the Discovery spacecraft and the pod were on the same scale, since they had to work so closely together.  The main command module ball of Discovery was six feet in diameter, and for long shots another complete model of Discovery was built to a length of fifteen feet. All moving parts on the models were motor driven and extremely geared-down since most shooting was at a very show rate due to the necessity for stopping down to small lens apertures to obtain maximum depth-of-field.

Something is definitely amiss!
I wish there had been more scenes with HAL 9000.  Each of those interfaces between Dullea and Lockwood with HAL are compelling.  Voice of HAL was provided by Canadian actor Douglas Rain to perfection.  Said Rain in an interview at the time:  "I wrapped up my work in nine and a half hours.  Kubrick is a charming man and most courteous to work with.  He was very secretive about the film.  I never saw the finished script and I never saw a foot of the shooting".


"Open the pod bay doors please HAL"   ...   "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that".
Composite shots such as this were usually planned out well in advance using Wally Veevers' grid cards with matching camera ground glasses whereby individual objects and their movement therein could be 'mapped out' precisely as each element was being shot.  Wally would use this on many of his projects and other effects specialists such as Brian Johnson would also use the method for his original negative model comps SPACE 1999 and Roy Field on SUPERMAN.
...Oh shit!
"Daisy Daisy, give me your answer do...".
And so begins the final act of the film... the monolith reappears.

The stunning sunrise over Jupiter with it's inner moons visible as the mysterious monolith looms overhead.  Entirely shot and composited as animation transparencies with the stars added in later.

The six foot long miniature monolith rotates in space.
The much talked about slit scan time gate sequence which definitely blew a few minds back in the day and still stands up as something special now.
Doug Trumbull:  "As the black monolith vanishes into a strangely symmetrical alignment of Jupiter and its moons, the camera pans up and the 'Stargate' engulfs the screen. For this infinite corridor of lights, shapes, and enormous speed and scale, I designed what I called the Slit-Scan machine. Using a technique of image scanning as used in scientific and industrial photography, this device could produce two seemingly infinite planes of exposure while holding depth-of-field from a distance of fifteen feet to one and one-half inches from the lens at an aperture of F/1.8 with exposures of approximately one minute per frame using a standard 65mm Mitchell camera."
Artist Roy Naisbitt was assigned the task of preparing a maze of abstract artwork as high contrast transparencies for Douglas Trumbull to photograph on his Slit-Scan rig.
To sum it up, Trumbull's Slit-Scan device is a form of streak photography whereby the camera shutter is left open for quite long periods of time while the 65mm camera mechanically trucks in onto a mechanised twelve foot long glass plate containing the incrementally sliding backlit artwork all for a single frame exposure, maintaining pin sharp focus the whole time - then the process is automatically repeated over and over.


Although hard to appreciate here as a still frame, this star burst shot looks sensational in the sequence and according to the Jerome Agel book was filmed quite secretly in an abandoned corset factory (!) on the corner of Broadway and 72nd street in New York.  Kubrick called it 'The Manhatten Project'.

Incredible vistas of supernovas and steller phenomenom were achieved by mixing chemicals together under high magnification.  This shot I believe was made by dripping tiny specks of white paint into a tin of black ink mixed with banana oil all shot in reverse at 96 fps under intense light.  Speaking of great Doug Trumbull effects, his work on Terrence Mallick's TREE OF LIFE is quite extraordinary in it's own right.

The so called 'mind bender' effect where slit-scan material was projected onto each side of multi-faceted  screens mounted on a three foot high rotating rig, with this procedure being repeated some seven times to produce the seven diamond like artifacts.
More phantasmagorical frames from the same sequence.  Slit-Scan, chemical interaction, solarization and YCM separation colour manipulation.
A frame from a Scope 35mm release print, presumably a Magnetic stereo print judging by the edges of the clip.

Bowman's moment of bewilderment soon becomes his moment of truth.  Tremendous set, lighting and cutting.


Subtle Stuart Freeborn make up...

...and the Star Child is born.
Production Designer with the Star Child model as sculpted by Liz Moore, though I do wonder if this is an earlier incarnation as the film version looks more finished in appearance.

A more haunting or ethereal conclusion to any film you will never see.  Hypnotic.

Credit roll for the rightly proud special effects crew.  The sting in the tail being that the film took the Oscar for best Special Visual Effects that year, but Stanley Kubrick decided that he alone would take the actual award and bring home the little golden statuette, which I've heard was a sore point among the SFX community for some time.  The film only had a couple of nominations and only won the effects award.  At least BAFTA honoured the Cinematographer and Production Designers as well they should.