Monday, April 16, 2007

The Black Hole - Robert T. McCall concept art

Robert T. McCall worked on an early version of Disney's The Black Hole back in 1975 when it was called Space Probe 1, Mc Call a superb Space Artist helped NASA design the Space Shuttle. When he signed up to work on the film they had no director, later British director John Hough who directed the films The Legend of Hell House and Escape to Witch Mountain joined the production. McCall did the initial concepts for the 'Cygnus' Spaceship, then called the 'Centaurus', as you can see from the top illustration his design is pretty much the finished film ship, except Peter Ellenshaw made the ships surface from girder work. McCall wasn't happy with the changes to his work it was reported. His other concepts for the 'Palomino' Spaceship and 'Vincent' the films main droid were changed a lot from his original concept work. The final film of The Black Hole was directed by Gary Nelson, and contained over 550 visual effects shots, including over 150 matte paintings.Peter Ellenshaw came out of a 10 year retirement to work on the film because Disney thought the Special FX to be so crucial to the success of the movie. Also at the time of its release, the movie featured the longest computer graphics sequence in a movie.

The above picture is the bridge of the 'Cygnus' very similar to the final film in that it has a central elevator shaft and a spacious layout, but a bit less stylized than the final set.

This original design for the 'Palomino' has a lot of the elements of the 'Rebel Blockade Runner' from Star Wars about it, especially the rear engine area. I like this design a lot better that the final ship in the movie which looks a bit cramped for such a long voyage

The final 'Vincent' robot in the movie wasn't bad but a lot of people disliked those cartoon style eyes that he had, originally he was due to have electronic looking eyes but they failed to work on set so they were replaced early inproduction, again McCall's concept show a much bigger and different design for the robot.
Visit Robert T. McCall's site here http://mccallstudios.com/

17 comments:

Nik said...

Great post as always Andy.
I was aching to see the Black Hole as a child, the bad guy robots were just so slick and cool, especially Maximilian
I always remember my brother was sent into Romer Parish to fetch me a figure, I was too young to go in on my own and had to wait outside with Mother.

I so wanted a vincent or bob, knowing for a fact I had no chance of a Maximilian. Who did I get?

Ernest Bloody Borgnine! Complete with pot belly. To a six year old Star Wars fan to whom Escape from New York was yet to happen, I was very, very disappointed. Still think my brother did it on purpose.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

I had the Charlie Pizer figure,the joints went all slack after a few months so he was like a rag doll,later on the joints went rusty. Not a patch on the Star Wars toys, mind you I did have 10 Stormtroopers who all ended up with yellowed arms.

paulhd said...

Still love The Black Hole (pretty decent novelization from Alan Dean Foster too). I'm pretty sure I had a Maximilian figure, but it might've been another character - I did have a Kirk figure from ST the Motion, I used to cover him in plasticene to try and turn him into Judge Dredd only for to come off round his joints. Dumb kid:)
Great artice, know nothing about the making of BH.

Nik said...

Ha, I had the Pizer figure for about a week before I swapped it with a kid at school for two copies of (Tra-la-laa-la-laa)Look-In, one with Harrison Ford on the back, one with Mark Hamill. Don't know if anyone remembers, but they were fact-files, with a signature at the bottom. Was convinced for some reason it was the real signatures of Messrs Ford and Hamill, and was really smug at what a good deal I was getting! I remember the other boys Mother overseeing the 'exchange', like some Mob Heavy, which further giddied me up as to what I was receiving. I was diddled!

Hey Paul, I too had a Kirk figure which I'm pretty sure was from The Motion Picture. His uniform was really smooth, and even the figures hair looked 'suspicious' shall we say. Always wanted the Klingon figure from Wrath of Khan, as you got a dog creature with it!

Andrew Glazebrook said...

You mean Search for Spock there Nik !

I think the toys back then were more fun, now the whole collectibles side of things is rammed down your throat,with limited edition red Darth Vader at Christmas etc... it's all bull !!!

Jim said...

Sweet!!

allen said...

Me and the boys love "Black Hole". Great movie with a really bizarre, un Disney ending. The shot of the Hell world at the end still haunts me.

Nik said...

Yes! Search for Spock of course, good man Andy! Wrath of Khan, duh, clues in the title really.

Michael G Clark said...

I had Vincent, old bob, 3 droids and the captain. You are right about the joints, figures were floppy as hell but fun to shoot with an airgun for that rag doll effect.

My stormtroopers arms were yellow too, until I lost him playing in the snow in 1978. Poor thing.

allen said...

I had a Darth Vader who's head kept coming off. My dad glued it a few times but after Empire Strikes Back, I just left it off. I still have the first Storm Trooper I ever bought down in my studio. Lost the gun years ago.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

I bought a Stormtrooper first, I got it from Anderson's Nrwsagent/Toy Store in Whitby, it was 99p. I remember it had that line up of the other Star Wars figures you could get as a painting. I made a Tie - Fighter for my figure from cardboard that I based on the picture on the back of the Box. Later a friend from New Zealand came to the UK with Star Wars toys he'd bought in the US, he had a Landspeeder with opening front and an X Fighter with sound FX, the initial UK versions had none of these, only Darth Vaders Tie Fighter had a naff sound effect !

allen said...

The original sound of the Tie Fighter shooting was made from a small electric motor that had a gear on the shaft that would spin against a small piece of plastic.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

I remember the 'Shredded Wheat' advert with a Black Hole in it, It started with a Spaceship being dragged into the Black Hole along with some other stuff then the 3 Shredded Wheat go in then the Black Hole seems to have trouble digesting them and it flashes inside and they come tumbling back if I remember right then it says 'Not even a Black Hole cane eat 3 Shredded Wheat' I've looked for it on You Tube etc... but can't find it, mind you it's a very old advert now.

paulhd said...

Do you remember the Black Hole ice lolly?

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Yeah I'm pretty sure I used to buy them !!

paulhd said...

Not wanting to totally hijack this from The Black Hole, but what about those lollies where you took the wrapper off Frankenstein's face appeared! Mmmmm, nostalgia lolly:)

Andrew Glazebrook said...

paul if you're after Nostalgia you should buy The 1970s Scrapbook by Robert Opie, it's full of great pics of all sorts of food,sweets,magazines,toys etc...