Surfing The Lightwave…

The SQV is overjoyed to be once again bringing you both exclusive material and first-hand accounts from those who actually worked on the show.

SeaQuest was pioneering in its use of CGI for most all of its Special Effects work.  Though the technology and software used was primitive by today’s standards, Sci-Fi themed TV shows like Babylon 5, Star Trek, Voyager and Space, Above and Beyond had nonetheless moved beyond traditional model work for vehicles and environments generated entirely by computer by the 1990’s, setting the standard for what was to come.

One of the upcoming young visionaries responsible was Fred Tepper – a VFX artist who managed to put his stamp on SeaQuest from the very beginning, working on the pilot under director Irvin Kershner.  Fred recalls his experiences developing experimental CGI and the pressure of meeting deadlines for a big-budget Primetime Sci-Fi TV show at length here.

Fred has also exclusively uploaded two of his showreels from his personal archive featuring his work on SeaQuest and other projects. The first is  an Amblin Imaging VFX Reel –

Followed by an Amblin Reel of Playback Screens, showcasing Computer OS type displays as seen on the SeaQuest bridge and beyond…

My sincere thanks to Fred for sharing this content with the SQV and SeaQuest fans across the globe..!



3 Replies to “Surfing The Lightwave…”

  1. A story that has not been told is that I and my friend Aaron Avery single handedly saved Seaquest DSV from cancelation before the first episode aired.

    I was President and Co-Founder of ASDG later Elastic Reality, Inc. Our products provided the path to get the renderings off the Amigas on onto Abekas video disks (for laying off into the broadcast workflow). The product, Art Department Professional of ADPro, controlled film recorders, did image processing and most importantly read in the Lightwave renders and wrote them to Exabyte digital tape drives in the Abekas format.

    Just prior to airing the first episode, the underwater renderings were viewed on regular televisions and looked HORRIBLE. Prior to this, the underwater sequences were viewed on RGB monitors. NTSC has very little bandwidth available for blues and essentially no bandwidth available for dark blues… like Seaquest!!! On a television, all underwater shots were filled with giant blotches because smooth degradations were not possible. Network executives told Amblin if the couldn’t fix this right away, the show would be canceled. What could possibly be done? The shots took months to render, they couldn’t be re-rendered in time for airing.

    I got a phone call on a Friday afternoon. For the life of me I can’t recall who was on the other end. They described the problem to me. Before the phone call ended I thought of a solution. I explained it to Aaron Avery and he coded the altered algorithm and we supplied new software to Amblin on Monday morning. They simply had to transfer the original 24 bit renderings over again through our new encoding software and – poof – the blotches were gone.

    I immediately recognized that a print technique known as dithering could eliminate blotches by mixing in the “wrong color” gradually until it was the “right color”. Dithering had not been employed in video encoding prior to our innovation.

  2. Ah, Post Group – it must have been Peter Moyer on the other end of the phone.

    Our involvement in confirmed in the second to last and last paragraphs of Mr. Tepper’s article. And, getting onto film, it was also ADPRO from ASDG that ran the film recorders.

    1. Perry –

      Wonderful to hear from you – and with such superb information!! Thank you so much.

      Please get in touch – at your earliest convenience – I’d love to hear more.


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