Lost in Translation 416: A Quick Look at Fan Works

After a couple of weeks of being in flux, Lost In Translation is back with a look at some fan works. A number of fan works have been reviewed before. Fans have a sense for a work that studios sometimes miss; fans tend to think more about a work than even the creators at times. Couple fan creativity with a work that has a setting greater than just what the main characters and a fount of imagination is created. Works that imply or state outright that there’s more than what’s shown include Star Trek, where the USS Enterprise is just one starship among a fleet exploring the unknown, and Star Wars, where the Rebel Alliance are fighting the Empire on a number of fronts.

Let’s start with three Star Wars fanfilms. While the core nine films are focused on the Skywalker family saga, there is a larger galaxy beyond that. The Rebel Alliance with its rag-tag fleet needs to hide from Imperial patrol while still gathering supplies and making strategic raids to bloody the Empire’s nose. First up, “My Enemy – A Star Wars Story” by Loacher Films. Filmed with Unity, the fanfilm documents a Rebel strike on an Imperial supply base. Unity is still hitting the Uncanny Valley when it comes to expressions, but some addons, like Faceware and Rokoko help avoid the worst of it. The stormtroopers move like anyone would expect, and with their helmets on, facial expressions aren’t needed. The fanfilm takes advantage of the stormtrooper helmet’s dehumanizing factor by having the lead trooper remove his to give him depth. The final conflict in the fanfilm is for more than just the base; it’s for the heart and mind of the trooper.

Next up, “TIE Fighter Remastered“, an animated Star Wars fanfilm animated in an anime style by Paul Johnson. Based on the TIE FIghter video game from LucasArts, the fanfilm features the discovery and ambush of a Rebel fleet by Imperial forces from the Empire’s point of view, as hinted at by the title. Three pilots are featured, a young pilot in a standard TIE fighter, a veteran in a TIE Interceptor, and a young woman in a TIE Bomber, the first three types of TIEs players of the video game got to fly. The animation is fluid, thanks in part to the anime style, and the action keeps up through the seven-minute runtime.

Finally, a little bit of humour with “E-11: Standard Issues – A Star Wars Fan Film” from Robert Hranitzky. With the Clone Wars over and the clone troopers being replaced by stormtroopers, new gear is being issued, and TK-421 has an unboxing video for the E-11 blaster carbine. The fanfilm plays with the infamous stormtrooper accuracy and the foibles of modern, real-life technologies and online culture.

Switching over to Star Trek, “The Tholian Gambit” by Power543 Fan Films shows a standoff between the USS Horizon under Captain Anna Keeley and several Tholian vessels. The mystery of why the Tholians are deep in Federation space grows when the Borg request to join the Federation. It’s a short film, but keeps the mood tense. The bridge of the Horizon and Captain Keeley’s ready room show an eye to detail, reflecting an update to what has been seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager.

To round out the look into fan works, a quick dive over in the BattleTech setting. Much like Star Trek and Star Wars, the BattleTech universe is vast, covering the Milky Way, along with four centuries of history to use for ideas. There is no nation completely heroic or completely villainous, no matter how hard certain factions try. Adding to the mix are mercenary units, those who fight for pay and the highest bidder. War is a constant. BattleTech is seeing a resurgence, thanks in part to Catalyst Game Labs releasing an new edition of the game along with new 3-D printed miniatures and thanks in part to a move by Games Workshop, publisher of Warhammer and Warhammer 40K, that angered fans.

The first fanfilm being examined is Hired Steel: A Mech Machinima by TMC. There are three episodes, including the pilot, on TMC’s YouTube channel. The plot so far has a mercenary lance, Equus, dropping in to secure an old cache only to discover that pirates are already there. The BattleMech combat flows well, with the units recognizable. This is a series that I am waiting to be completed to do a proper deep dive on, but for now, the work is top notch and introduces the setting to a new audience in a way that doesn’t overload the viewer. The eye to detail helps build the series, little things like the birds fleeing before Equus Lance and the clutter on desks in the pirate base.

Wrapping up this quick tour of fan works is BattleTech: Star Raiders by Spacer. The series is a webcomic, not a fanfilm, but still explores the BattleTech setting. Star Raiders follows Roy, mercenary MechWarrior piloting a Jenner for the Star Raiders. Roy had to evacuate his homeworld with his mother as a youngster because of an invasion. The webcomic looks like it will portray the life of a mercenary in the 31st Century, the highs and lows, dealing with employers, fellow mercs, and civilians.

Fan works can give creators an insight into how a work is perceived by its audience. Fans will spend time over minutiae, and these details will make their way into a fan work. A studio interested in adapting may want to peek at a few to see if a remake/reboot project is on track. There’s no need to mirror the fan works lavishly, but getting an idea of why the original has fans is a key step in succeeding.


This article was originally published at THE REMAKE ZONE.

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