|Battlestar Galactica Cylon concept art by Andrew Probert.|
Check out Battlestar Galactica concept art by Andrew Probert!
Every Friday I feature artwork from a classic of science fiction cinema and television. This week's "Flashback Friday" post is on Battlestar Galactica (1978).
Back in the 1970s the premier science fiction show was Battlestar Galactica. Even though the show only lasted one season, it's legacy has lived on for decades. The villains, the murderous robot Cylons, have become an enduring part of American culture.
I found an old magazine article from 1980 that interviewed Andrew Probert, one of the main concept designers on the show, about the design of the Cylons.
Probert is a professional concept and storyboard artist who's worked on classics of movie and television like Back to the Future (1985), Star Trek: The Next Generation and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
Check out the rest of the images after the jump (click to enlarge).
|Andrew Probert designing Battlestar Galactica concept art|
"Andy Probert was a student of industrial design in Southern California when he first met Ralph McQuarrie. In the course of interviewing the Star Wars designer for an article for his school newspaper. Probert showed McQuarrie some of his own student work; not long after, McQuarrie hired Probert as part of the Battlestar Galactica design team. Currently. Probert is becoming one of the top names in film design, thanks to his vital contributions to the spacecraft designs in Star Trek - The Motion Picture (see STARLOG #32, now on sale, for details on Probert's Trek designs).
"One of Probert's chief contributions to Galactica was his development of the show's durable villains: the Cylon Centurians. He offers some surprising insights into the evolution of that now-familiar design:
"'Joe Johnston and I developed the Cylon helmets.' says Probert. 'we had one requirement given to us: the helmets had to have a built-in scanner, because at that time the CyIons were to be living creatures who were blind. Our first sketches were based on Ralph McQuarrie's preproduction art, in which he showed the helmets as smooth and dome-like, with a scanner slit about half way down.
|Original Cylon Alien Sculpt|
"'While we were working on the helmets, there was a rubber head of an earlier version of the Imperious Leader. His 'mouth' area had a stepped-down appendage. I saw in it a similarity to the cockpits of Cylon fighters, which had already been designed. I liked the idea of repeating that pattern.
"'Eventually, Glen Larson (the series' executive producer) said he wanted the helmets to take on the look of a human skull: so our designs began to take that direction. I wanted to make a skull-like helmet and integrate that feeling throughout. We had heavy ridges around the eyes which worked into heavy cheekbones which worked into an open, snarling mouth. Instead of vertical teeth, I went to the horizontal down-stepping pattern in previous designs. The shapes on either side of the cheekbones began to suggest the helmet of Greek or Roman warriors: so I added the top notch.
"'We understood the Colonial Warriors were to have an Egyptian motif: and Joe and I were suddenly taken with the idea of making the Cylon Centurians look more like ancient warriors. He went in the direction of Genghis Kahn, with heavy chain mail, and I went toward Greek or Roman warriors.
"'We were then asked to present designs for the entire Cylon uniform. We were told they should have a high-waisted look.
"'I produced a design which illustrated armor above the waist and semi-soft clothing below. I added boots which had pouches for tools and supplies. To complete the feeling of a Greek warrior. I added a waist skirt and a sword.
"'The one thing we were consciously trying to stay away from was any visual identification with the Stormtroopers of Star Wars. One thing that kept irritating me when I watched Star Wars was that the Stormtroopers had hand-held weapons which they were prone to drop. In hopes of eradicating the problem while further decreasing any comparison with the Stormtroopers, I designed a weapon for the CyIons that was built into their wristbands. It could be fired by nerve impulse or muscular contraction. Later, when the movie came out, I discovered that they had gone back to hand-held weapons - alas.
"'In one illustration. I made the armor of reflective material, to differentiate the armor from the soft clothing. Originally I hoped for a dark copper armor with olive green fabric. But in another of my illustrations the armor was silver; and that happened to be the one Glen Larson liked
"'Incidentally. I never worked on them as robots or androids. They were living creatures all the way through the making of the pilot movie. As I understand it, they were changed into evil machines for television because there's a limit to how many people you can kill in an episode, but you can bump off as many machines as you want to.'
"It was shortly after speaking to Probert that FANGORIA learned of the one-episode revival of Battlestar Galactica (tentatively scheduled for January airing at our press time).
"According to Glen Larson, who scripted the final chapter, the program will concern the events that follow the Galocbca's arrival in Earth orbit. Whether the program also includes the final solution to the CyIon problem is more than Larson is willing to reveal. But the metallic menace will continue —Cylons continue to be one of the most popular features of the Universal Studios tour; they will be supporting villains in The Nude Bomb, a Universal feature film based on the old Get Smart television series: and MCA Television (Universal's syndicated TV branch) is currently preparing a package of 12 two-hour Galactica movies for American TV syndication. These telefilms, compiled from the broadcast series, will also contain some footage never before seen! For millions of BG fans (and we don't mean the Brothers Gibb) a prospect worth waiting for!" - David Houston (FANGORIA #5, 1980)
By the way, the Galatica movies were eventually turned into a television series called Galactica 1980. Unfortunately for BG fans, the show was canceled after ten episodes. But, years later, the show was rebooted by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick in 2003 for a min-series. That mini-series spawned an award-winning television series in 2004 that ran for four years.
caption: Probert's initial designs for a flesh-and-blood Cylon. inspired by warriors of the classic ages. Compare these with the metallic malignants pictured at the top of this page.
See more of Andrew Probert's work on film and television at http://www.probertdesigns.com.
Click on the links if you want to see more of Andrew Probert's work and Battlestar Galactica on my blog.
Images via galactica.tv
What do you think of the concept art? If you've seen Battlestar Galactica what did you think?
Official Battlestar Galactica Summary
In the deepest reaches of space, the fight to save all human life from extinction has begun in this science fiction adventure that launched the Battlestar Galactica phenomenon! Hopeful for lasting peace following centuries of intense warfare, the Twelve Colonies gather to sign a treaty with their dreaded enemies, The Cylons. But after an act of treachery on the eve of the ceremony, the Cylons launch a devastating surprise attack, destroying the Colonies' home planets and most of their military strength. A lone flagship battlestar, the Galactica, remains to aid the surviving colonists on their epic journey for a new home to a far-off legendary planet--Earth. They must survive the pursuing Cylons in a series of epic battles that will determine the fate of the human race in this non-stop action-packed classic filled with cutting-edge special effects by John Dykstra ("Star Wars," "Spider-Man").
Created by Glen A. Larson
Starring: Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Lorne Greene, John Colicos, Maren Jensen, Noah Hathaway, Jane Seymour, Herb Jefferson, Jr., Jonathan Harris, Tony Swartz, Laurette Spang, Terry Carter, Ed Begley, Jr., Rick Springfield, Anne Lockhart, David Greenan, Sarah Rush
Air date: September 17, 1978
© Copyright 1978 Glen A. Larson Productions, MCA/Universal. All rights reserved