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Would HV ships need an extreme makeover for a TV series?

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Would HV ships need an extreme makeover for a TV series?
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Sat Feb 27, 2021 3:08 pm

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I was watching the Spacedock YouTube channel and quite enjoyed how the narrators point out both stupid and well-done battle sequences. That led me to thinking that they'd really enjoy the HV battles, because (like The Expanse) they are well-designed military sci-fi.

But that in turn led me to ask: are the ships beautiful enough for TV? Don't get me wrong, the models I've seen posted here are beautiful, but the HV ships are functional. Any real-life military designer would favour function over aesthetics and that's how it should be. But are cylinders studded with missile launchers sufficient? Would a coat of paint and severe close-ups suffice?

Note we're up against ships especially from Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and The Expanse. ST and SW ships have no reason for their forms because they have too much Clarketech inside. The most realistic ones are the B5 (Earth Force ones, I mean) and Expanse ships and even then they are pretty well-designed. The easiest contender are the battlestars, blocky things that they are, they still look like what popular imagination thinks ships should look like, with big flaming engines in the back.

So, what makeover do HV ships need to capture the not-already-converted hearts and minds?
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Re: Would HV ships need an extreme makeover for a TV series?
Post by MaxxQ   » Sat Feb 27, 2021 4:11 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:I was watching the Spacedock YouTube channel and quite enjoyed how the narrators point out both stupid and well-done battle sequences. That led me to thinking that they'd really enjoy the HV battles, because (like The Expanse) they are well-designed military sci-fi.

But that in turn led me to ask: are the ships beautiful enough for TV? Don't get me wrong, the models I've seen posted here are beautiful, but the HV ships are functional. Any real-life military designer would favour function over aesthetics and that's how it should be. But are cylinders studded with missile launchers sufficient? Would a coat of paint and severe close-ups suffice?

Note we're up against ships especially from Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and The Expanse. ST and SW ships have no reason for their forms because they have too much Clarketech inside. The most realistic ones are the B5 (Earth Force ones, I mean) and Expanse ships and even then they are pretty well-designed. The easiest contender are the battlestars, blocky things that they are, they still look like what popular imagination thinks ships should look like, with big flaming engines in the back.

So, what makeover do HV ships need to capture the not-already-converted hearts and minds?


Considering most of the ships posted here are mine (with a shoutout to Thomas Marrone and Tom Pope for the original designs I worked from), I would be really irritated if they deviated from the canon designs. Especially after seeing the artwork for the movie-that-was-never-made, and the comics.

OTOH, I'm perfectly aware of the "rule of cool" mindset of the visual mediums of film and TV, and what general audiences expect. Thank you Star Trek, Star Wars, Space: 1999, 2001, Battlestar Galactica, etc. - read this with just a touch of sarcasm. I understand that any possible redesign won't look a lot like the canon stuff, but I would hope that they would at least make the designs similar enough that most of *us* would be able to resist the urge to toss a few MK-16's their way.

There's also the expectation that enemy ships would look vastly different than the protagonist's ships. Never mind that real-world warships, aircraft, and ground equipment, such as tanks, all have the same basic design features, and it can sometimes be difficult to discern one from another. General audiences would be too easily confused by having Manty ships and Peep ships look alike.

JUST NO ENGINE BELLS, DAMMIT!!

One way to keep the basic design similar between parties is maybe for Havenite ships, have the hammerheads look like what many people think of when one says "hammerhead" - but then Star Wars fans will scream about ripping off the Rebel Blockade Runner.

NO BRIDGE OUTSIDE THE ARMORED HULL, EITHER!! (says the guy who has to explain to a LOT of folks that that's NOT a bridge, but an observation deck/party room/bowling alley/VIP lounge/swimming pool/whatever the hell you want it to be - it's there to give a sense of up and down, and to break up the already boring - but FUNCTIONAL - lines of the ship)

Another option is to let the general audience in on the physics that require all Honorverse ships to look so similar. It's simple enough to do - have an hour-long exposition scene where cadet Sad Sack asks the question of why THEIR ships look so much like OURS. The instructor can then explain, in great detail, why.

Can you say "tanked ratings"? :mrgreen:

Anyway, whatever a hypothetical film/TV designer comes up with, I'm sure there will be outrage from a very small group of people.
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Re: Would HV ships need an extreme makeover for a TV series?
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Sat Feb 27, 2021 5:07 pm

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MaxxQ wrote:Considering most of the ships posted here are mine (with a shoutout to Thomas Marrone and Tom Pope for the original designs I worked from), I would be really irritated if they deviated from the canon designs. Especially after seeing the artwork for the movie-that-was-never-made, and the comics.


And to preface, let me say that I appreciate all your (and their) work on this. My post is in no way intended to take away from your/their effort (looks like you got it, but saying so explicitly in case others didn't). The question is only whether a TV series a) would change; b) should make changes; and c) what changes are those.

OTOH, I'm perfectly aware of the "rule of cool" mindset of the visual mediums of film and TV, and what general audiences expect. Thank you Star Trek, Star Wars, Space: 1999, 2001, Battlestar Galactica, etc. - read this with just a touch of sarcasm. I understand that any possible redesign won't look a lot like the canon stuff, but I would hope that they would at least make the designs similar enough that most of *us* would be able to resist the urge to toss a few MK-16's their way.


How could they accomplish that? Can we still have cylinder ships that are planar symmetric on two axes, but not axially symmetric? Do we need guns sticking out instead of graser projectors flush to the hull? Do they need to make the nodes stick out and glow? I think I asked before in another thread what colour the wedge is...

There's also the expectation that enemy ships would look vastly different than the protagonist's ships. Never mind that real-world warships, aircraft, and ground equipment, such as tanks, all have the same basic design features, and it can sometimes be difficult to discern one from another. General audiences would be too easily confused by having Manty ships and Peep ships look alike.


Incidentally, that was the last episode I watched, just a few minutes ago, that alien ships are giant blobs of nonsense just for the sake of being alien.

In The Expanse, MCRN and UNN ships are still made up from the same basic blocks, with Martians with red highlights and Terran ones with blue highlights. That's something I could appreciate, even if of course you can't see the paint job on a ship a couple million km out (you can't see the ship in the first place). But even in The Expanse, the ships look distinctively different from one another, with UNN ships more rounded and MCRN ones with harder angles (and belter ones are hodgepodge of what they could cobble together, which makes sense).

In the HV, the navies haven't had a need to innovate at all before the introduction of the SD(P). They all follow the same design principles set by the Solarians centuries ago.

JUST NO ENGINE BELLS, DAMMIT!!


+100!

Another option is to let the general audience in on the physics that require all Honorverse ships to look so similar. It's simple enough to do - have an hour-long exposition scene where cadet Sad Sack asks the question of why THEIR ships look so much like OURS. The instructor can then explain, in great detail, why.


We will probably get some of that anyway, but not an hour-long. Any non-book reinterpretation of the Honorverse needs to find a way to inform us without 8-page infodumps we get from David when someone reminisces about how Adrienne Warshawski changed the universe between sentences. I wonder how.
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Re: Would HV ships need an extreme makeover for a TV series?
Post by SharkHunter   » Sun Feb 28, 2021 5:51 am

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I honestly don't think ship shapes are the "series problem" -- I think warship / other craft problem is less than the "fleet battles in space" have been mostly dominated by special effects and plot needs... vs rfc's mostly well thought out and consistent "tech universe".

Simply in "tech esthetics", RMN tech can look less bulky but somehow deadlier than Peep or RHN. Peep tech is said to be more massive and the layout of tubes etc. different enough. I picture the SLN to frankly look like overstuffed showpieces all spit and polish and worthless.

As we've often said here "space is big"... and there can only be so many similar space battles with ship on ship, group on group, fleet on fleet before we start to kind of go "yeah yeah, next". And there can only be so much battle damage shards killing folks, etc. for the same reasons.

So the VFX we need to see will have to come from other elements. Treecats of course, but -- what does a grav lance beam look like vs. a laser vs a grazer? How do the different hyper bands look different? distortions around the wormholes.... "House" or CSI "go inside the body nanotech views", slightly bionic-woman ish wonder when HH does one of her Sphinxian cool things. Ceramcrete towers, etc.? Thandi Palane, Ginny, Zilwicki, etc.? bit harder to cast but doable.

Interestingly enough though... I wouldn't spend NEARLY as much on CGI as 3D printed miniatures of the cities, etc. We don't need much better than original Star Trek planets most of the time, right? Not sure about the various space stations, but a good matte background is WAY cheaper than 50-100 CGI geeks. As an example, I've watched a lot of STNG "making of" DVD segments, and somewhere along the way, I remember a moment where they said they only made about eight full Borg outfits. But they repurpose them so dang well we never caught on, right?

Save the CGI expense whenever possible for when an episode really needs it. And for Nimitz, of course!
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Re: Would HV ships need an extreme makeover for a TV series?
Post by kzt   » Sun Feb 28, 2021 6:03 am

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SLN ships look great, all spit and polish, as long as it’s where senior officers will see it. Otherwise, not so much.

And you can easily distinguish between the invisible instantaneous grav lance, the invisible instantaneous x-ray laser and the invisible instantaneous gamma ray laser because, umm...
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Re: Would HV ships need an extreme makeover for a TV series?
Post by Jonathan_S   » Sun Feb 28, 2021 10:58 am

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kzt wrote:SLN ships look great, all spit and polish, as long as it’s where senior officers will see it. Otherwise, not so much.

And you can easily distinguish between the invisible instantaneous grav lance, the invisible instantaneous x-ray laser and the invisible instantaneous gamma ray laser because, umm...

Although TV would probably add visual effects to them, I'd think that most of the time there's no need to distinguish between them - you're firing all weapons and it doesn't usually matter which is which or even if you've got a mix or not.

The few times it does mater (grav lance) you should be able to distinguish it for the viewers through dialog. (Since the combat scenes are presumably cutting back and forth between internal shots [bridge, CIC, maybe weapons mounts, damage control parties] and exterior views of the combat)
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Re: Would HV ships need an extreme makeover for a TV series?
Post by edgeworthy   » Sun Feb 28, 2021 12:46 pm

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Simply from the start make the comparison with Age of Sail Warfare?

All sailing ships look roughly similar, I said roughly!
Every Ship of the Line is built to the same principles.
(Even in something as wildly a-Historical as the Pirates of the Caribbean Movies)
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Re: Would HV ships need an extreme makeover for a TV series?
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Sun Feb 28, 2021 1:07 pm

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SharkHunter wrote:I honestly don't think ship shapes are the "series problem" -- I think warship / other craft problem is less than the "fleet battles in space" have been mostly dominated by special effects and plot needs... vs rfc's mostly well thought out and consistent "tech universe".


Indeed. And again that's a criticism from the YouTube channel: we're seeing lots of CGI effects showing a massive clutter of everything they could do. Looks like the VFX team was given time on a cloud and tried to apply "use it or lose it" mentality and they just had to add more elements to the scene rendering to pay off. I agree with the channel when they say that fewer ships and tension will captivate audience a lot more. I hope the issue is when script writers have to invent, instead of taking something well-researched and already hashed-out.

And they script writers won't need to invent almost anything to get either the battle from OBS or the Second Battle of Yeltsin from HotQ. Those are both 1:1 on HMS Fearless and both of them are teeth-rattling exercises on patience. Seeing both Fearlesses getting ground down due to battle damage and people carted off Honor's bridge should do that very well.

They'll have to do a lot more if they show First Yeltsin and with First Hancock. Those are fleet battles and especially First Hancock depends a lot on geometry. Can that be conveyed on-screen?

Simply in "tech esthetics", RMN tech can look less bulky but somehow deadlier than Peep or RHN. Peep tech is said to be more massive and the layout of tubes etc. different enough. I picture the SLN to frankly look like overstuffed showpieces all spit and polish and worthless.


Heh, good point. But we won't have to worry about SLN until much later. I just hope they reserve the lens flares to those SLN ships!

My worry is less about interior shots but about exterior ones. Interior has never been an issue in any show I can think of. Aside from painting Peep ships in shades of green and yellow to contrast with Manty ships' red and the big manticore next to the ship's hull number, what can they do?

As we've often said here "space is big"... and there can only be so many similar space battles with ship on ship, group on group, fleet on fleet before we start to kind of go "yeah yeah, next". And there can only be so much battle damage shards killing folks, etc. for the same reasons.


Indeed and there's no shortage of political dialogue to be had and character building. But I do hope we see some really, really well-rendered battles based on what was well-thought-out in the books. And we'll have to see what they come up with for First Manticore.
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Re: Would HV ships need an extreme makeover for a TV series?
Post by Michael Everett   » Sun Feb 28, 2021 1:21 pm

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I believe that the most important part will be the tactical displays on the Bridge, in the CIC etc. The makers will have to plan out the battles to Expanse+ levels, but much of the actual rendering will not be needed as long as the displays show what is happening in clear graphics (so not Star Trek Picard-type stuff) that can be easily understood even by those with no military experience.

For the space battles, following the missiles may work somewhat, but with the ranges involved, more focus should be placed on the weapon activation (Missiles launches, counter-missile launches, laser clusters firing) with the camera then jumping to the tac-displays to show the results. How the people involved act/react is more interesting than simply following a dozen hunks of energized metal through space.

If it actually happens, it will need a lot of behind-the-scenes work to pull off. The Expanse has shown how it's possible to do good space battles that are coherent and believable, although the tech there is incredibly short-range compared to the Honorverse battles (stealthed micro-meteorites notwithstanding).
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Re: Would HV ships need an extreme makeover for a TV series?
Post by Brigade XO   » Sun Feb 28, 2021 7:57 pm

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Most SiFi series do a lot of differentiation with clothing, language (more later) and styles.

The most blatant differences would be between Star Nations sort of like the differing clothing between Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Adnorian etc military- and the Borg which is "just the Borg stuff". Clearly styles most seen in things like ST are the normal (non-combat) clothing worn abroad ship although when you are looking at Klingons they are seemingly ready to fight vs Federation Security which are the whole Red Shirt look and if armed it is usualy with "pistols"

Civilians for most human ST wear "business" clothes or some sort of work coverall/garment . Aliens wear "alien stuff"

Language has been treated somewhat differently. In ST it was mostly dialogue in English (I live in the US so that would be normal) but there were key words scattered among the non-human characters (even the fully Terran looking but evolved elsewhere) with species/race specific works not translated even though there is a human equivalent. Qukla (kah plah)or Success! is one thing plus units of measurement. Then stuff like the Romulan "sub-commander" rather than Lt. Commander.

But, in the Honorverse, these are humans spread over thousands of worlds and over hundreds and thousands of worlds. One real kicker in here is that the base language for everybody is "Standard English" even if many planets are using (to greater or lesser extent) the human regional or national language of where the original colonists came from on Earth. Like French for Haven or Polish or German for the Andermani. If we ever see that part of the verse-the Judaean League, we will probably find that the local language is to a large part Hebrew. And so it goes. Various languages from Hindi to Hawaiian to any number of African tribal or --pick a group. So other than Treecats -who aren't going to be speaking- what is going to be shown is variation (regional etc) of human languages with various "local" slang tossed in. Same with phrases like "can't seal her boots by herself"

Take a look at the stuff being use for Dr. Who, even a lot of the non-human stuff from the classic series is certainly dated and somewhat tacky now it was creative and worked.

I agree with the general idea of the RMN stuff being relatively smaller and "smoother" than the Peep stuff based on the tech differences but mostly that will be on the inside of things. And perhaps not so much if you are dealing with the early years of the series since the miniaturization progressed as well as the tech. Why do I have an image of the SLN looking like some variation of a Banana Republic military with lots of braid and ornamentation. :)


It will be intersting to see.
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