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Old 28th February 2010, 12:28 AM
Conrad Lefkon Conrad Lefkon is online now
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Default Episode 10: Trap for a Rhino

10. TRAP FOR A RHINO


SCARLET: "The old lady isn't as innocent as she looks."

STORY
1. NCS HALL OF FAME

You can read a synopsis of this story at the following location: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...arlet_episodes

The highlighted main characters appear in ‘Trap for a Rhino'.


2. CAPTAIN BLACK’S REPORT

Our plan was simple - steal a Rhino, with its immense firepower, and use it to batter a way through the Power Station defences and then blow up the reactor. The problem was how to get hold of a Rhino in the first place.

We got Colonel White's attention by flooding the reactor complex with green lights which Mrs Mackenzie saw from her window on the hillside. She phoned the local police station who then contacted the security man at the Power Station to get corroboration.

The security man muttered about 'keeping off the whisky' but a report of a UFO was filed. What a strange man Colonel White is - he says he doesn't believe in UFOs and yet he is surely the one man who should!

Anyway, Harmony Angel was sent to investigate but only turned up in a Hummingbird helicopter. We therefore took her prisoner and encouraged her to send a distress message of 'A-OK' which resulted in Scarlet looking for her in the Rhino.


3. GUEST ARTISTS

Mrs Mackenzie is probably the best Mysteron replicant ever created. Just look at her dozing in front of the fire in her lovely home before the Mysterons decide to take her over.


I also really like Cadet Johnson who has a co-starring role and is beautifully voiced by Jeremy Hitchen. Johnson had some wonderful facial expressions and some great lines such as when he drops his coffee mug after being Mysteronised and tells Harmony: "Just call me banana fingers!"

Later, when he is plotting with Mrs Mackenzie to get Harmony to use her emergency code, he says: "Any moment now Scarlet will be here with the very thing we want!" (a Rhino) and, a little later: "So, where the hell's the Rhino?!"
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ZUCA: "I... I thought you were someone else."
SCARLET: "Someone else dressed in scarlet? You've gotta be kidding."

Last edited by Conrad Lefkon; 1st March 2010 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 28th February 2010, 12:31 AM
Conrad Lefkon Conrad Lefkon is online now
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CONTENT

4. CHARACTERISATION AND VOICE WORK

Comments have been made about Harmony’s curious red hair but I noticed that the hair of the grey-suited reactor boss was very well done. This seems strange as he is a relatively minor character compared to Harmony.

Incidentally, Cadet Johnson’s smug look of self-satisfaction as he climbed into the unlocked Rhino was priceless and photo realistic (see below).


Johnson looks like he's been invited to go salmon fishing on the River Spey when there is a good run of fish

5. VEHICLES AND TECHNOLOGY

This episode has the best extended action sequence in either series. I have no idea if ‘star shells’ are real defence weapons or not but they are used to great effect in NCS in this and a number of other episodes. The way that the Rhino keeps going, and the way Cadet Johnson becomes more maniacal by the minute, is just great. I liked the anti-missile missiles and the final head on crash was dramatic television.


Honourable mention should be made of Mrs Mackenzie's old banger of a car which is housed in the garage which can be seen in the picture below. The car, itself, is captured in the first screen grab accompanying this review. The way Mrs Mackenzie bursts through the garage doors and drives like a lunatic to entice Scarlet to follow in the Rhino is highly amusing. She then pretends to have crashed the car and lies in the road giving Johnson the chance to steal the Rhino while Scarlet is preoccupied.

6. MUSIC AND SOUND EFFECTS

I like the jangly, discordant music at the start of the episode when the Mysterons first appear and subsequently come down Mrs Mackenzie's chimney. I was also moved by the sentimental music which accompanies the scene where Scarlet is cradled in Destiny's arms.

7. LOCATIONS, SETS AND LIGHTING

I enjoyed the scenic countryside in Circles of Doom but in Trap For A Rhino I think Mrs Mackenzie’s cottage is delightful. I just love the brickwork fireplace and the way the fire burns merrily casting flickering shadows around the room.


I really appreciate the effort that must have gone in to creating the carpets, wallpaper, furniture and ornaments dotted around the house. It is this meticulous attention to detail that conveys the sort of authenticity that the tiny props used to do in the various Supermarionation series.


JOHNSON: "Oh, you'll find out what's going on." MRS MACKENZIE: "Yes! A few seconds 'afore you die!" Nice.

8. MOTION CAPTURE

There is some nice MoCap when Cadet Johnson attacks Harmony in the upstairs room and then Harmony overpowers him with some cool moves. If you check out the section for Dom Lavery's comments below you will see a question and answer session about MoCap vs Key Framing.
__________________
DUEL
ZUCA: "I... I thought you were someone else."
SCARLET: "Someone else dressed in scarlet? You've gotta be kidding."

Last edited by Conrad Lefkon; 1st March 2010 at 11:10 PM.
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Old 28th February 2010, 12:32 AM
Conrad Lefkon Conrad Lefkon is online now
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SUMMARY

9. OVERALL COMMENTS

This is by no means a perfect episode, unlike Rat Trap, but it is still my favourite from Series 1. I am not Scottish but I love the highland scenery and the Scottish characters.


“Are you sure you didn’t fall asleep by the fire and dream it all, Mrs Mackenzie?” Enchanting.

According to the Complete Gerry Anderson Guide this episode was originally entitled 'Trap for a Cheetah'. In this early version, the Mysterons were going to blow up the reactor using the Cheetah and, more interestingly, Cadet Johnson was replaced by a robot replica of himself. Apparently, there was a scene where 2 vehicles collide (maybe equivalent to when the Hummingbird hits the Rhino) which ends with the (now headless) robot Johnson trying to strangle Scarlet with his bare hands.

10. EPISODE RATING


Rating 5 out of 5

TRIVIA

11. “I GUESSTIMATE THE PYRENEES” (Plot Accelerators)

There are no plot accelerators that I can think of. Cadet Johnson gets a lift to the theatre of action in the Hummingbird but that doesn't really count. It does seem a little strange that Harmony Angel is chauffeuring a Mysteron without knowing it.

12. “WHAT ABOUT SCARLET?” (Other Captains do some work)

Harmony Angel plays a significant role in this episode but, by being kidnapped, doesn't really help matters.

13. “THEY NOT ONLY FIGHT IN THE SHADOWS BUT MARSHALL THOSE SHADOWS AGAINST US” (The latest Mysteron powers)

There are two Mysteronisations here. Firstly, Mrs Mackenzie is taken over by the Mysteron rings when green lights come down her chimney. Secondly, Cadet Johnson is taken over by green rings which appear behind him at the Spectrum Flight Training School.

This method is different from the original Captain Scarlet approach where it was more usual for a person to be killed first and then recreated by the Mysterons a little later. In NCS both Mrs Mackenzie and Johnson were killed and recreated as part of the same process.


14. “MY INDESTRUCTIBLE BUTT” (Scarlet defies death)

I thought that the last scene with Scarlet and Destiny was terrific! The way that a very battered, burned and torn Scarlet dragged himself along was emotive and heroic - there was nothing like it in any other episode. The mournful, funeral dirge-like sound of the air raid sirens casts a suitably melancholy shadow over the proceedings.

I disagree with all those who found the final exchange with Destiny sickly. In my opinion Scarlet's reply was sheer poetry and the sentimental music fitted perfectly too.


"Destiny? Am I in heaven?" "No, Paul. You're here, in my arms." "That's what I mean."

15. “GO OUT THERE AND GET IT BACK!” (Damage and destruction of Spectrum property)

Both the Rhino stolen by Johnson and the Hummingbird flown by Scarlet are completely destroyed so there goes the No Claims Bonus.

16. “WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY” (Nods to other films and shows)

I don't think there are any film cross references for this story.

17. MONKEY MAN AND FRIENDS (NCS Repertory Company)

The pilot of the Albatross which takes Scarlet and the Rhino to Scotland looks like a member of the Repertory Company but I am not quite sure. He seems very generic indeed, almost like one of those wooden heads that people keep their wigs on!

18. RUBBERY LEGS AND FACELIFTS (Dodgy key-framing and other anomalies)

There is a well-known glitch (to anoraks like me) in the scene where the Rhino being driven by Cadet Johnson is racing along the highland road. As you look out of the window you can see a small anomalie suddenly rise up out of the hillside on the left hand side and then disappear again. If you read Dom Lavery's comments below you will realise that this was the least of their problems!

I have also just noticed that when the Albatross lands and unloads the Rhino the shadows don't seem to be quite right. It is as if the unloading cage has a fixed shadow that lowers to the ground at the same time - anyway, something is not quite right!

19. LOOSE ENDS

Both Mysteron agents were killed so they were not left behind to continue their work. Mrs Mackenzie was a very feisty old lady and has clearly been in the gym judging by the powerful way that she threw Harmony Angel across the room!

Mrs Mackenzie eventually came to a sticky end after her fight with Scarlet (see top screenshot). After Johnson headed off with the Rhino she took a swipe at Scarlet with her walking stick, losing her balance and falling over a cliff. Hill walking can be very invigorating.

20. BLINK AND YOU’LL MISS IT! (In-jokes)

There are a couple of little moments that I particularly like including the way the light bulb sparks and hisses for a few moments after it breaks. The way that Scarlet inclines his head and gently asks “Why?” when Mrs Mackenzie says he can’t go into her untidy bedroom is delicately observed.

21. SPECTRUM GOODIE BAG (Colour coordinated bling!)

I can't think of any bling to report.

22. EPISODE DIRECTOR DOM LAVERY'S COMMENTS (Replies to my posts on the excellent Spectrum Headquarters Forum)

DOM'S INITIAL COMMENTS

Hi Guys

Kinda pleased some of you liked Trap for a Rhino as it was a REAL pig to do.

Also, on a sad note, John Brown who wrote this episode passed away recently, so please spare a thought and a moment for him.

As with Rat trap, any questions you have about the episode, do please ask.

Cheers for now
Dom


MY QUESTIONS

I am also very sorry to hear about John Brown's passing but will think of him fondly because of his fine work on NCS. R.I.P.

Dom, As far as Trap For A Rhino is concerned, it would be nice to know what bugs were fixed and what got through the net because of time and financial constraints. Why exactly was this episode such a pig to make?

On a more general note, I would like to understand more about the techniques and challenges of making NCS and Key Framing vs Motion Capture seems a good place to start. I have just read the following Wikepedia article about computer animation key framing so that I have a basic understanding.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_frame

You may be amused to see my efforts at guessing which scenes in Trap For A Rhino used key framing and which used motion capture. Overall, there appeared to be quite a lot more MoCap than Key Framing but I have attempted to list 5 examples of each!

KEY FRAME SCENES?
1. Cadet Johnson is killed by Mysteron rings and falls to floor.
2. Reactor boss walking and talking to Scarlet.
3. Mrs Mackenzie shrinks away and sits down when she sees Scarlet through the window.
4. Johnson in the cellar points gun at Harmony.
5. Scarlet is thrown from the crashed Hummingbird.

MOTION CAPTURE SCENES?
1. Mrs Mackenzie gets up from the chair and goes to the window when the Mysteron lightshow begins.
2. The fight between Harmony and Cadet Johnson.
3. Johnson sneaks over to the Rhino while Mrs Mackenzie and Scarlet are grappling on the road.
4. The badly injured Scarlet crawls away from the crash scene.
5. Destiny cradles Scarlet in her arms.


I may be right (or hopelessly wrong) but I would be interested to hear any comments you may have on this subject. I guess that 95% of the time you would go for motion capture if you could but that maybe the MoCap studio is a scarce and expensive resource.

To the untrained eye (mine) it would seem that MoCap successfully conveys a feeling that a person has a physical weight whereas Key Framing is just not sophisticated enough to be able to do this convincingly.

DOM'S REPLY

Hi.

Have to go away for a few days. Will answer your questions when I return.

Trap for a Rhino was an episodes that had a number of technical issues. One being the whole valley landscape was not built untill the last moment. Some how it had slipped through the building net. And as for Mrs Mackenzie's hair, mo cap jitters, matt lines, lip synch!!! I shall explain more in a few days.

Till then
Bye



Hi again

Right, here are a few answers for you.

Trap for a Rhino had more than its fare share of problems. It was quite a while ago now and my mind may have erased a few. The one big one was that the landscape, whole valley, some how had been missed from the modeling schedule. There was allot of confused faces when I asked the question, ‘so where is it then?’

We had no roads, hills, trees, nothing to place the cottage, or PowerStation in. All the cameras for the motion captured scenes and the driving sequences had nowhere to go in the real world. Confused? I was!! Basically it was a big problem. Even when the landscape and road was built, it did not match up with many of the camera shots. For example, in the sequence when the rhino is driving down the road we would suddenly have the rhino driving in mid air or through the ground because the animation and the landscape did not match. We had little time and resources to put it right. However, the guys and girls worked hard to put it right. Someone who did a blinding job was Andy, or as you know him, Aegis. He took what landscape had been built and worked hard to populate it with trees. He had to take it scene by scene to see if he could get the trees in there. There are still some scenes where it jumps from no trees to forest, but he did succeed in saving allot of the shots. Cheers mate! Also Nick Lee who sat with Andy was a bit of a hero.

Other problems with the episode were, the power station, although beautifully built, it had problems rendering. Very large polygon count. Also I wanted the PowerStation to be populated with workers. This did not happen because of render and animation time. Looking back at the series as a whole, I do think that it was very ambitious for the time. Given another 6 months to a year, I wonder how it would have looked? Hay, I do feel that we all achieved allot with the show all things considered.

One other problem to mention was Mrs. Mackenzie’s hair. After the first renders came through, Gerry decided he did not like it. All the shots and model had to be re done. He is the boss though!

As for what is key frame and what is not?


KEY FRAME SCENES?
1. Cadet Johnson is killed by Mysteron rings and falls to floor. NO
2. Reactor boss walking and talking to Scarlet. NO
3. Mrs Mackenzie shrinks away and sits down when she sees Scarlet through the window. NO
4. Johnson in the cellar points gun at Harmony. YES
5. Scarlet is thrown from the crashed Hummingbird. YES

MOTION CAPTURE SCENES?
1. Mrs Mackenzie gets up from the chair and goes to the window when the Mysteron lightshow begins. YES
2. The fight between Harmony and Cadet Johnson. YES
3. Johnson sneaks over to the Rhino while Mrs Mackenzie and Scarlet are grappling on the road. YES
4. The badly injured Scarlet crawls away from the crash scene. YES
5. Destiny cradles Scarlet in her arms. YES

Can I say, but keep it to yourselves; I wanted to ditch the lines in the last scene. I felt that no words, just the fact that Destiny holding the near fatally wounded scarlet was enough.

AS the series went on, we used more and more mo cap. However, sometimes the mocap did not quite work. Jitters and funny walks appeared. That had to be cleaned up or replaced with Key Frame.
For me, Mo cap it the best way to convey realism for movement in animation. Facial expressions, hand and finger movements are still key framed. You can mocap facial expression very well now. Try looking up Face Robot Facial capture.

Hope this helps you understand the show a little better.
Must go, Dog is looking at me as though I am its dinner. And she is big!

All the best
Dom
__________________
DUEL
ZUCA: "I... I thought you were someone else."
SCARLET: "Someone else dressed in scarlet? You've gotta be kidding."

Last edited by Conrad Lefkon; 1st March 2010 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 28th February 2010, 10:01 AM
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Mark42 Mark42 is offline
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Yes this is one of my favourite episodes and the ending was brilliant - but I thought the brightly lite valley shots were poor and cartoon looking - rather like Circles of Doom. I thought the series always looked best at dusk, nightime, Mars etc rather than broad daylight.
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Old 28th February 2010, 06:49 PM
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Really sorry to hear about the writer passing away.

The rhino did look a bit out of place going along all those country lanes but this was a really fun episode and probably my favorite out of series 1

I thought Johnston was a tad too Sleazy as a villain though but thats just all those years of mysteron replicants talking in monotones.
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Old 20th March 2010, 03:54 PM
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Derek Eaton Derek Eaton is offline
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Under nods to other shows I might be tempted to include:-

1. UFO - A Question of Priorities - due to the old lady and the Alien

2. A tradition of Scottish episodes in other Anderson shows such as Stingray and Captain Scarlet

Great episode, great review.
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Old 21st March 2010, 09:25 AM
Conrad Lefkon Conrad Lefkon is online now
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Thanks for your comments, Derek.

Strangely, I did post a reply yesterday but it disappeared overnight. I was just saying that I really liked the Scottish episodes and particularly 'Loch Ness Monster' from Stingray.

The scenes where Troy, Atlanta and Phones are searching through the rooms and passages of the old castle at night are terrific. The flickering candles and scary portraits create a wonderful atmosphere as the crew try to locate the source of the mysterious mechanical sounds. The plotting of Andy and Jamie McGregor adds yet another interesting dimension.
__________________
DUEL
ZUCA: "I... I thought you were someone else."
SCARLET: "Someone else dressed in scarlet? You've gotta be kidding."

Last edited by Conrad Lefkon; 21st March 2010 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 21st March 2010, 02:20 PM
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Conrad Lefkon , thank you for posting these great images and information on NEW CAPTAIN SCARLET.
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Old 24th November 2010, 11:04 AM
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You know, a thought occurs about the two forms of Mysteronisation.

It seems that evn though they can destroy and replicate, they don't tend to when they can take somebody over. Indeed, it seems that only when they need somebody longterm, or can actually kill the person involved, do they bother to completely replace a person. Otherwise, they simply take them over for as long as needed before having them die and reclaiming the 'essence' inside them.

Last edited by Kern; 13th February 2011 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 12th February 2011, 06:00 PM
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Symphony gets a bit more of the action for a change.

The old lady is my favourite Mysteron yet.

An awful lot of collateral damage just because Scarlet couldn't be bothered to take his keys out of the ignition !


Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Gerard View Post
Conrad Lefkon , thank you for posting these great images and information on NEW CAPTAIN SCARLET.
Yes, the comments about the making of the episode are very interesting.
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