The Crucible of Transmutationanecdotes about the creative process

Spaceship Junkyard

Wrecked spaceship in futuristic junkyard

In 1986, visual effects company Introvision International was developing a movie project - an outer space version of the classic novel Treasure Island, entitled Treasure Planet. The company filmed a test sequence, most of which took place in a spaceship junkyard, to help attract financial backing for the project. The sequence utilized the "Introvision" process, a unique variation of the front-projection technique which allowed actors to be composited in-camera; accordingly, they were seamlessly integrated into an imaginary background without the need for post-processing.

I was part of a small crew of model makers who, under the direction of production designer Anton Tremblay, created the junkyard in miniature. We had a fun time in the model shop, making spaceships out of various plastics and working toward making them ultimately appear damaged and weathered. After the model work had been completed, I stayed on for a few additional weeks to help Anton and cinematographer David Stump set up the junkyard scenes on stage. Later, after I left, the actors were composited into our junkyard scenes via the Introvision process but I never was able to see the final result. Despite all of their efforts, Introvision International never made Treasure Planet . Such is Hollywood! Oddly enough, however, Disney Feature Animation made another movie with the same basic concept and title 16 years later!

Throughout the course of production on this little-known project, I photographed many setups on stage as well as several behind-the-scenes events in the model shop. Here are some of them…

Entrance to spaceship junkyard
Space hopper in scrap yard
aerial view of spaceship junkyard
Piles of wrecked space ships
Model makers building space ships
Production designer Anton Tremblay fitting a vacuform piece. Michael Eschger in the BG.
Woman building a space ship model
Frederique Gallen detailing a space ship in the model shop.
Man holds a spacecraft model
Bruce Courtois displays his Space Hopper after giving it a primer coat.
Artist Joel Fletcher on movie set
Self portrait on the set.
Story © 2015
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