Representations of 'The Phantom Zone' (in the original Superman films)
June 3, 2013 8:24 AM   Subscribe

In the original Superman films General Zod and his accomplices are trapped in The Phantom Zone, which in the films is represented as a 2D 'crystal' prison sent spinning through space. I am looking for any writings/insights into how the visual effects for this were created, and exactly by whom. Any other insights, from comic book lore, about how the Phantom Zone was represented - especially visually - would also be appreciated.

I know about the Richard Donner controversy (Superman was directed by Richard Donner in 1978, and after he was 'fired' from the project Superman II was taken over by Richard Lester, 1980). That's for another discussion.
posted by 0bvious to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have an answer for you, but I can think where you might be able to locate it: I posted an FPP two months back to a fairly complete archive of Starlog magazine. I know they did one issue that was pretty much entirely Superman: The Movie (and also another that was substantially focused on the sequel). This is where I would start looking.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:27 AM on June 3, 2013

Best answer: Starlog #20 was the Superman premiere issue. There's a quote from director Donner on the effects team that may give some leads. This is from Pages 42-43:

"My head of special effects, Colin Chilvers [creative supervisor & director of special effects], will come out of this picture a new special-effects star .... Dennys Coop [creative director of process photography], who deserves the most credit for solving the flying problems, will come out a big, big hero. Roy Field's [creative supervisor of optical visual effects] work with, and application of, mattes was just phenomenal. And I couldn't believe Derek Meddings' [model effects director & creator] miniatures ..."
posted by zippy at 11:29 AM on June 4, 2013

Best answer: The Superman DVD apparently has an effects extra, The Magic Behind the Cape (2001, presently in three parts on Youtube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

The third part, 4:12 - 4:57, describes the creation of the Phantom Zone effect.

"This is a test for the Phantom Zone. We tried to look for different distorted effects. We eventually settled for cramming them into a little rectangle which came down, and collected the villains, and took them away .... The camera was in a spinning mount which would rotate in 360 degrees, and the actors were also turning. This created a multitude of movements."
posted by zippy at 12:38 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

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