Cinefantastique (Vol. 6, No. 1, 1977): Behind the Scenes Visual Effects from Land of the Lost

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Read the article at Pop Apostle, where I got the images. The visual effects for Land of the Lost were supervised by Gene Warren, who won an academy award for his special effects on George Pal’s The Time Machine (1960). Land of the Lost story editor David Gerrold, a Hugo and Nebula award-winner who wrote Star Trek‘s “The Trouble with Tribbles,” was not happy with the network’s meddling with the scripts, and resigned after the first season.

While Gerrold speaks highly of many who were involved with Land of the Lost, his disappointment with the show was multileveled. From his own point of view, the uncontrolled rewriting which took place after “approved” scripts had left his desk was intolerable. NBC’s Program Practices had a shot at them (his favorite story there involves a rifle which was changed to a cannon with the reasoning that children are less likely to imitate action performed with the latter). Also, the show’s directors were granted total rewrite power, as is often the case in film and television production.

In addition, the pressures of low budget production took a toll. The live action production schedule of two dates per episode allowed for little more than a reading of the lines. The end product, in Gerrold’s words, was “uncomfortable to watch– embarrassing– and we deserved the bad reviews we got everywhere…

Unfortunately, the dinosaurs began to die out with the science fiction in Land of the Lost. This is unfortunate because, in the beginning, the animation sequences often outclassed the live action (sound familiar?). Considering the time required for animation, and for tricky composite work, the very idea of doing both on a weekly series is ambitious to say the least. Nevertheless, that is what the Kroffts had in mind, and they engaged Gene Warren and Wah Chang, well known veterans of dimensional animation in feature films and commercials, for the job…

More Land of the Lost here.

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