Interview with Stephen La Riviere, who revived 'Thunderbird' with the atmosphere of the time, about 'Thunderbird 55 / GOGO'
The Japanese movie version of 'Thunderbird 55 / GOGO' will be screened in theaters in 1955, in line with the 55th anniversary of the landing of 'Thunderbird ', a 'Supermarionation' work that prevailed in the 1960s.
This work was produced by Stephen La Rivie , a big fan of Thunderbird, based on the sound source of the sound drama, and the puppet show part is composed of the bank scene at the time of broadcasting and the new work. However, even if I said 'adding a new cut', it was completely indistinguishable where it was newly made, so I asked him directly how he made it.
Mr. Larivier who responded to the interview remotely.
GIGAZINE (hereinafter, G):
In the first place, what made you become a fan of 'Thunderbirds'?
Stephen Larivier (hereinafter Larivier):
In the 1990s, my mother bought me a video of the 'Thunderbirds' series. Around that time, there was a rebroadcast of 'Thunderbirds' on national television, and it was a big hit among children aged 6 to 7 at that time. After that, there was a rebroadcast in the 2000s, and it was a hit at that time as well. Of course, I think that the 1960s, which was first broadcast, was a hit program, but I thought that the hits in the 1990s and 2000s were probably more than at the time of broadcasting, and various toys and books were released. I did. In particular, the 'Tracy Island' toys were difficult to obtain and were newsworthy. That's why I've been a Thunderbird fan since I was a kid.
Did you buy all the toys yourself?
I bought all the 'Matchbox' series. No. 1, No. 2 ... How many did you have? (Laughs) Right now, there are about 20 boxes of De Agostini kits lined up in front of me.
Mr. Larivier actually moved the camera and showed me the box.
Oh, it's lined up like that (laughs)
In terms of numbers, I may have more now (laughs)
The making video is distributed on YouTube, and I think it is natural for Thunderbird, but I was surprised that it was not really CG. As a producer, what was the pressure and fun part of this work?
The biggest pressure is, above all, to make it look like it was made in the 1960s. There was pressure not to ruin the work anyway. I felt that I had to make something equivalent to the original with respect.
Actually, there were some videos that remade the 'Thunderbirds' series before me, and I saw it, but it's terrible. Making dolls, painting, moving, shooting ... This makes the image of 'Thunderbirds' worse. I was angry at such things. I thought that what I made shouldn't be that way. In the case of remake, I think it is important to have a strong respect for the original. So, while I was actually making the movie, the pressure was greater than 'fun'.
What I enjoyed was that what I had seen since I was a child was right in front of me. Of course, each has a toy, and it looks the same as long as there is a model for shooting, but if you hang it with a thread and move it in front of you, it will be different from a toy and you will be fascinated. So if you can take a good shot, it's heaven, if it's a bad shot, it's hell (laughs)
Supermarionation is very difficult to 'take a good shot' anyway, so I can't recommend it to others. What you are doing is strange when you look at it from the outside. For example, Thunderbird 2 will be shot by swinging it around. However, if this goes well, the video will look really cool.
This time, director Hideaki Anno commented, 'I feel a complete respect for the original in the production concept that thoroughly sticks to the reproduction of the video at that time, and I am obediently numb.' What was the difficult part of this 'reproduction'?
(Director Anno praised me) I think it's also the work of the otaku world.
In reproducing 'Thunderbirds', the relationship between the doll and the lens is the most important thing, and if you make a mistake, you will not be able to take a good picture. I haven't met a person who knows the right way yet, and I've managed to reach it through trial and error in this work as well.
For example, I was told that I wanted to make Penelope appear in a commercial for a bank, but I didn't hear that the other party said, 'I will make it in my own country.' He said, 'Use this lens, use this light at this distance,' but he didn't even hear it, and they tried to do the same thing as shooting a normal human being. That's right. I have to illuminate the doll directly, but I try to shoot with the light that bounces off the ceiling. A lot of light is needed to get the doll to focus properly, but if it isn't done, the focus will not be on the doll and the image will be terrible. That is the difficulty of Supermarionation.
It was very difficult to make 'Thunderbird 55 / GOGO' look like the original one made in the 1960s. As it has been since that time, dolls are handmade, so even the same character cannot make exactly the same thing, and there are subtle differences. I paid attention to the details.
I think this work is a good fusion of puppet theater and live-action. In the starting scene, especially No. 2 and No. 4 were not inferior at all even when viewed in such a high image quality state. I thought it was okay because the original version was an old video and it wasn't so clear, but I felt that it wasn't. Is this possible because of the shooting technique?
I'm very happy to hear that. The reason is that the starting scenes of No. 2 and No. 4 mentioned above are not the ones I took newly, but the original ones from the 1960s. At that time, when making a TV series, I used to reuse the video I made once, but this time I used the same video as it was. It is the most compliment to us that you can see it together with the newly shot part and say that it looks exactly the same.
Actually, the comment I was most happy about when I released the video was, 'It was a well-made remake, but the launch of No. 1 was not good.' It wasn't the remake I made, it was the original (laughs).
It means that the original part and the remake part are indistinguishable, isn't it?
This time, when I saw the scene of moving the doll in making, I felt that Thunderbird was exactly this movement. Is there a movement or trick in the performance that 'this will make you a Thunderbird'?
Well ... I think there are some 'thunderbird' movements, but I think the big thing is making dolls. The balance between the position and weight of the joints is peculiar to 'Thunderbird', and by moving it, it may become a movement like 'Thunderbird'.
Of course, I think there is also a way of performing. People who operate puppets in other works often try to move Thunderbird puppets, but they don't do well. That's because Thunderbirds have to make big moves in small spaces. Compared to foreigners, Japanese people don't have a big gesture and move in a small way, but that's the image. I think Thunderbird has some parts that need to be moved with caution while being sophisticated.
In addition to the video, I felt that the way to match the music was 'really'Thunderbird''. What are the factors that create this atmosphere?
I grow up in Thunderbird, so I wear Thunderbird just as my child learns a language. In other words, it is a state where you can sensuously understand what it looks like and what kind of movement it is. Just as you can easily understand the correct English, you can instantly understand the 'correct Thunderbird'. I came up with the idea of how to reproduce it through trial and error, but the goal itself was clear.
For example, I'm not a fan of 'Star Wars' so much, so if I was in charge of remakes, I might fail (laughs), but as a film maker, I've learned various techniques, and what kind of people are there? I like to study and try out how I made it, so I can say that I am good at making the desired images by making full use of technology.
In the case of this work, the goal is to 'show the image that was made in the 1960s', so I also use digital equipment for editing, and I also use new cameras as well as vintage ones. As for captions, there was no technology like now, so I used optical printing to put letters on the film, so I can see the backlash of the film. If it's digital, the captions can be neatly inserted. In this work, in order to make it look like the image made in the 1960s, although it is a digital telop, it has an optical printing style blur. Of course, I know that this is the correct font, so I use it. By accumulating these things, I think that you could feel the same 'Thunderbird' feeling as at that time.
So that's it. Thank you for your detailed talk.
The Japanese movie version 'Thunderbird 55 / GOGO' will be screened in theaters from January 7, 2022 (Friday), and will be screened online from January 8, 2022 (Saturday).
Japanese movie version 'Thunderbird 55 / GOGO' notice lifted! 2022.1.7 released [STAR CHANNEL MOVIES] --YouTube
・ Work information
Producer: Stephen La Rivie
Directors: Stephen La Rivie, Justin T. Lee, David Elliott
Screenplay: Alan Fennell, David Graham, Desmond Sanders
Special effects directors: Justin T. Lee, Stephen La Riviere, Derek Meddings
Music: Barry Gray
Supervisor: David Elliott
Original production: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson
Original title: THUNDERBIRDS THE ANNIVERSARY EPISODES ('INTRODUCING THUNDERBIRDS' 'THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN' 'THE STATELY HOMES ROBBERIES')
Country of origin: English
Distribution: Tohokushinsha / STAR CHANNEL MOVIES
Copyright: Thunderbirds ™ and © ITC Entertainment Group Limited 1964, 1999 and 2021. Licensed by ITV Studios Limited. All rights reserved.
55th Anniversary Special Site: https://www.tbjapan.com/
Official SNS: https://twitter.com/thunderbirds_jp