In The Edit II

Attack of the Cuts - by Andrew Ellard

17 June, 2005

Yeah, yeah - ignore the lame title for this piece. It sees us at the end of an editing schedule that began on March 7th. As all the GNP-created extras approach the online - where low-res edits become top-quality, bluescreens get filled in, and captions and titles crawl over the screen - we're pretty much drained. Think of your own title and just pretend that it's up there.

In The Edit II

As the online proceeds, right up until the end of June, it's good to see what we've done from the 'outside' for the first time. Documentaries become finished works in themselves, rather than collections of the pieces you started with. You stop remembering what Robert said just before or after the cut. You gain just a little more context.

The online is also the place where some of our more intriguing clips come into use. For a start, we have two extracts from The 10%ers, one from each of the two series. For those not familiar with ITV's award-winning comedy, it's the only other TV sitcom to be created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (indeed, it was between the pilot and production on the first series that the two writers went their separate ways).

In The Edit II

It was based in part on a world the writers knew a little too well - that of agents and their clients - and... well, it was bloody funny, with a standout performance by Clive Francis. We also have a snippet from I-Camcorder, another Grant Naylor production that starred Robert Llewellyn, doing his best to show people how not to make bad home movies. Both help to fill the gap that came after Series VI.

Then we have a section of the CGI short that brought FX creator Chris Veale to the attention of the show - a film which, to be honest, had more production time for it than the poor man was given at the end of Series VII! There's also an extract from Lovett at Large, a 1993 Radio 5 show where our Norman ventured out as a roving reporter. His first assignment? Dimension Jump '93 - and his first meeting with Rob and Doug in years...

In The Edit II

But there I go again, waffling about the documentaries when Series VII and VIII's DVDs have so much more to offer. Aside from some of the biggies still to come, we also have the by-now-traditional music featurettes ('Burning Rubber', about vehicles and travel, and 'Fight!', which you can pretty much figure out for yourselves); storyboard sequences, playing boards for key Series VIII scenes alongside the scenes themselves, and raw FX footage.

In The Edit II

This last one is worth a special mention because of what it includes. Obviously, both series have some model work - Series VIII's by Special FX GB, Series VII's by BBC Visual Effects. The stuff for VII becomes fascinating when you remember that much of it didn't make the cut - we have examples of every shot filmed for you.

Also, much of the CGI created for Series VII - Ace Rimmer's casket and planetary rings, the Ouroboros linkway - was the work of BBC Video Effects (a separate department from the model guys). We have the raw footage for inclusion - including a first attempt of the Rimmer/coffin ring sequence, a series of wide shots showing the Ouroboros linkway joining Starbug in one dimension and Red Dwarf in the other, and BBC Visual Effects' initial CG trial run - a crumbling Gemini 12 floating in space.

For Series VII Chris Veale's hurried contribution amounted to some Starbug shots in front of 'bluescreen', plus a stack of planets and starscapes, which were delivered to be combined in whatever way the editors chose... and then sent off to have a 'motion blur' effect added. The few shots he delivered 'in total' were the 'Bug's interaction with the comet in Blue (which we again have some deleted shots from), a couple of 'Bug fly-bys (including the one that begins the title sequence) and the same ship heading into Beyond a Joke's asteroid field.

In The Edit II

Series VIII, on the other hand, saw the CGI created in total - unlike even the remastered episodes, shots weren't done for bluescreen compositing, but were instead lit from within their environments, be that in space, under water or within a duct headed up a rat's backside. Once again, there's unseen footage here that's very much worth a gander.

Okay, enough of the models and effects. Just trust me when I say that seeing this stuff in the raw really gives you an idea of how the series is put together... and how productions sometimes need to be rescued from disaster. It's an inside story the documentaries explain, and this footage illustrates.

More DVD Details will follow soon...

Series VII is due out in the UK in November 2005. Series VIII is expected in February 2006.

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