Paul’s Meditation

Here’s a really interesting science fiction short film that was created for the Sci-Fi London 48hr Film Challenge in 2011. It’s called “Paul’s Meditation,” and it was posted on Vimeo by a guy named Leo Burton. Check it out.

Sci-Fi London 48hr Film Challenge 2011 from Leo Burton on Vimeo.

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Film Review: Virtuality

Virtuality - A Television PilotI got a copy of a DVD called “Virtuality” for my birthday earlier this year. It was originally the pilot for a TV series that wasn’t picked up. It’s about the 12-member crew of the starship Phaeton as they begin a 10-year journey to Epsilon Eridani.

It was designed as a serial, so nothing is really resolved in the pilot except that they pass the Go/No-Go decision point at Neptune and decide to continue the journey — sling-shotting around Neptune on a course that will see them exiting the solar system.

The pilot really just sets up the overall situation for the series. It doesn’t provide a pay-off for anything that it sets up. With 12 characters, there’s also not enough time to really get to understand and identify with any of the crew members. The result is enjoyable, but strangely unsatisfying as well — like being served a microwave dinner when you were hoping for a gourmet dining experience.

It’s called “Virtuality” because the crew members have access to exceedingly realistic virtual worlds where they can interact privately with other crew members, play games or exercise their various interests. It’s supposed to be a vital component of the ship, helping to ensure the stability of the crew during their long journey.

However, as the pilot reveals, there may be a glitch in the system. And one of the crew members may be a murderer.

Generally, I liked what I saw. I thought they tried to do a decent SciFi story. Some of the technology was a little wonky, like having the starship use the Orion drive when there are probably more suitable, and arguably more technically feasible, alternatives.

The special effects were pretty good. They didn’t invent artificial gravity. Instead they went out of their way to show that the main living areas of the ship simulated gravity via rotation, which was frankly amazing for a television show. All in all, a decent effort at a series that had some potential.

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David Keener on the Enterprise Bridge

This is me, on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. I’m the science officer in the back.

How did this magic occur?

Well, the wax figures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov came from the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park, California. After residing there for 32 years, the figures were sold to an entrepreneur for 10K apiece when the museum closed.

He tried to sell them as an attraction to various theme parks, but there were no takers. Not letting that stop him, he commissioned some carpenters to build a mock-up of the Enterprise bridge (designed so it could broken down into pieces and easily transported). He started bringing the whole package, including the wax figures and the bridge mock-up, to science fiction conventions where he sold photo opportunities.

This was featured at the 2006 World Con in Anaheim, CA. For $20, I got to put on a Star Fleet uniform and have my photo taken on the bridge of the Enterprise. I thought it was well worth the money.

The entrepreneur’s goal was to demonstrate to potential buyers that the wax figures in combination with the bridge could actually make money if presented properly. I never did find out the name of the entrepreneur or whether he was ever successful in his effort to resell his Star Trek memorabilia for a profit.

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