When Syfy brought back Battlestar Galactica in the 21st century, it needed a visual refresh. As charming as those classic ships might be, the new series demanded a more modern aesthetic. The team behind the series conceptually reimagined the Cylon Raiders that threatened the surviving human fleet. Instead of piloted ships, they became sentient artificial lifeforms like the other Cylons, setting a new tone for the series' space battles. But one, in particular, stood out from the other identical Cylon Raiders. Called Scar and appearing in the second season episode of the same name, this Cylon Raider proved difficult for Galactica's Viper pilots to defeat and the object of a rivalry between Starbuck and Kat. The new book Battlestar Galactica: Designing Spaceships from Hero Collector reveals what Scar meant for Battlestar Galactica behind-the-scenes.
To make the episode work, Battlestar Galactica's VFX team needed to create an altered version of the stock Cylon Raider asset to make Scar recognizable. That meant the effects would have to be produced entirely in-house instead of by an outside VFX company for the first time.
"The thing about 'Scar' was, Zoic had been doing the episodes in the first season, and then we started taking episodes at the beginning of the second," CG supervisor Doug Drexler says in the book. Drexler had been an Academy Award-winning makeup artist and a Star Trek veteran before moving into digital VFX and joining the Battlestar Galactica team. "At first it was maybe three or four shots, and then [VFX supervisor Gary Hutzel] came in with 'Scar,' and he says we're doing this whole show by ourselves. I wrote up a lot of notes about how I thought Scar would be approached."
He continues, "They have a scene in the show where they freeze a frame from the Viper gun cameras. I'm like, 'Oh my god, this is the monster out the window with the bolt of lightning!' This is that shot. I told Gary that I saw this episode as a monster movie. Scar is not unlike Frankenstein. A sympathetic character, really, a little crazy."
"Scar" represented what Hutzel had been building toward from the beginning of the show. 'Scar' was really our first full-blown, we're-doing-every shot show. It was scary. Gary was building towards that. Before, we would have done three or four shots – and then he came in with 'Scar' and said, 'We're doing the whole thing.' I was petrified!"
You can take a look at the preview spreads from Battlestar Galactica: Designing Spaceships above. The book goes on sale on November 16th and is available to pre-order now.