Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Computer Room (or 80's High Tech)

This was a set that Archie Bacon (Art Director) designed.  I don't think this one was drawn on a paper napkin!   It was pretty advanced for the time--high tech Robin Master's Estate in the 80's.I like the fact that it matches what a basement in that type of house might have been like.  That gray switching device on the wall above the printer I recognize as something that I think had been in every show I've done in Hawaii.  I know I used it on "Baywatch Hawaii" in the lifeguard station and probably used it on "LOST" at some point.  The TV monitor used a technique called a "burn in" which could make it look like something was on the screen when it was really added later.  It looked pretty good, but no one could walk in front of it.  Later came a 24 frame sync. box nd now we can do green screen and you can walk in front.  I know at some point they used a computer I bought (an Amiga!) which none of us could figure out.   I did figure out  "Crystal Hammer" which was sort of an advanced "Pong."

I don't think this set was complete when I took the photos.  I'm not sure what's happening with that entrance hall and stairs.  It looks like they are using some pre-existing walls but again, not complete.  It's kind of funny about this set.  It's like the last time I was asked to do a "surveillance van"  I said you mean like with reel to reel tape recorders?  I had to tell the producers that you can put everything you need in a briefcase (now probably an i-pod) so there goes the set--same with a computer room now.  You can buy that at Costco --but it was a great set back then in the for the 80's.  (Sorry, couldn't figure out how to get rid of a photo once it had been uploaded)



James J. Walters said...

Oh, neat! I love the computer room set. This set was used for one of my all-time favorite scenes, the "New Delhi is Lost" scene ("Oh my god, you've destroyed New Delhi!!").

You don't happen to have any info on the graphics that were used in the closeups of the computer, do you? Was it taken from an existing game? Or did your crew do a "mock-up animation" piece for it?

Magnum Decorator said...

Hi James,
I think I may have lost those gray cells along the way in the past 20+ years. Keep in mind computers were still very new (and primitive). I think I found someone here who managed to do something for us. Hawaii was more self-reliant in those pre-internet days. We even used to get the TV national news the next day because they had to fly the film over--weekly shows were the next week. So I'm pretty sure I found someone here to create things for my computer. However, if it was a "burn in" on the monitor, that would have been done in L.A. after we shipped them the raw footage for editing. Those old floppy disks are probably long gone!

Wow, takes me a long time to say "no" doesn't it?


Judy said...

Seeing these photos just goes to show how the camera can turn into something "little" that comes across as something much more complex on film.
Wow, 80's computer technology. How far we have come from a dark screen with bright flickering neon green type!

rubber chicken said...

Seldom seen rooms like this always made me wonder what other rooms might be in "Robin's Nest".

Do you know if plans for new room sets were ever cancelled because of space constraints or lack of time?

Magnum Decorator said...

Yes, it really is all about what the camera sees. I had a problem with that transitioning from theatre where the curtain opens and the audience sees or has the ability to look at everything. I used to say TV is like doing a stage show and only one half the curtain opens and the other half stays shut. You're lucky if they see half of what you do on a TV set.

I can't think of any sets we didn't do because of space--sometimes maybe because of time or money, but not space. I think having one of the resident writers on the lot helped keep them from getting too outlandish. I do have a photo of the basement of a Jewish synagog we did--THAT was different!

Dave from Perth, Australia said...

Hi Rick,

These photo's and descriptions are great! I remember the computer room scenes well - especially the one James mentioned (thanks for the link :).

One thing I have always wondered about a set like this is what you make the walls from - they look like real bricks of course but I assume they are made of something that is tacked on to the wall??


Magnum Decorator said...

Hi Dave,

I may have over-answered your question in my last post, but it was a good question and it doesn't take much to get me going! Thanks for posting.