Caprica...So say we all
Just rented Caprica, the pilot/tv movie for a new prequel series to Syfy's Battlestar Galactica.
Just as BSG had some unique for television production values, so too does this piece.
While BSG had a lot of guerilla style handheld work, even when showing space battles and starship beauty shots, Caprica made good use of both locked shots and steadicam, dolly and crane shots during dialogue. Most of the picture and series is said to be dialogue, not sci fi action. But likewise the best parts of BSG were the politics, not the action. I like a director who is not afraid to move the camera behind objects, walls, railings, plants or other stationary objects during dialogue. Makes it much more interesting than the typical OTS setups.
Also the director spoke about shooting with 3 or more cameras, so master shots are also coverage. This is how I like to work too, although the Jimmy Jib hasn't seen the inside of a hospital for far too long.
Not sure if this was shot digitally or on film - the behind the scenes shots make it difficult to tell if those are film reels or digital backs. Regardless, I like the way they make the outdoor scenes highly saturated, as if the Caprica sun has different color properties than our own galaxy's star. Likewise in BSG when there were scenes on post-nuke Caprica, a bleach bypass type look was used to suggest perhaps a torched atmosphere. Indoors, they are not afraid to let grain show especially in the dark. Was this grain from the film speed vs illumination or a digital process? Perhaps Ron Moore got a good deal on Magic Bullet. Looks good to me.
On a long series like BSG, some of the stories got a bit tired. Since Caprica is a prequel, thus far, I am on the edge of my seat waiting for little pearls of prequelesque information. Since this takes 58 years before the invasion of the 12 colonies, it is nice to see what happened leading up to the end. This series focuses on kids and their parents who slowly make a lot of the wrong decisions, planting the seeds for future events. We also meet the child versions of some characters we saw glimpses of in the now completed BSG series. Thus far, it is slightly more compelling than Phantom Menace, the mother of all prequels. However there are similarities to other movies such as Surrogates and Total Recall and the much hated and loved AI.
Pretty good considering the subject matter. It is amazing how the quality of acting varies on SyFy from cheezeball to darn good.
As stated, this is not a sfi fi action series, it is a family drama. The effects shots are either establishing shots or set pieces built around real locations, or matte paintings. The filmmakers have found some great locations, presumably in Vancouver, that look like they could be on another planet. Lucky for us, architects are always thinking their designs are futuristic, until 15 years pass and we are left with a city of concrete and reflecting pools.
Overall I thought this show was done with very good taste and production values, separating it from the wealth of really bad tv movies that SyFy has produced over the years.