SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched the second half of the Battlestar Galactica’s 4th (and final) season, you may want to stop reading now.
After discovering the depressing wasteland that turned out to be Earth, the crew of the Galactica did some digging as part of their search for answers about the burnt-out planet’s past. One key find was an excavated, centuries-old Cylon head (as seen below in a scene from the episode). This “ancient Cylon” was only on screen for a few seconds so viewers never really a very good a look at it… until now!
The script simply called for an ancient Cylon, so the production turned to the visual effects department for some ideas about what the grandaddy of all Centurions might look like. VFX supervisor Gary Hutzel worked with chief model maker and Cylon builder Pierre Drolet to hash out a concept that the prop department could build. “Gary and I talk about every design, tossing around some ideas to come up with something cool,” remembers Drolet (who was also responsible for building the updated original series Cylon as seen in Razor).
“It was supposed to be a 2000-years-old, ancient Cylon,” he continued. “A different model, but still recognizable as Cylon. We both liked the idea of what a samurai Cylon would look like, so, from there, I start to build and design it.”
The first model I presented had to much of the feel of Darth Vader, so I took off two layers of the helmet band:
This was the only real change made to the model. Pierre created several "study renders" (seen here for the first time) which were handed off to the prop builders to guide their creation of the physical model used in the episode. Even though the CG model was never intended for use on-air, Drolet enjoyed the process nonetheless. "I actually had a lot of fun doing it. Robots are always fun to build," he said. "But it's too bad I never had the chance to build the body for it... Maybe I will do it for fun one of these days!"
Fun, indeed. Here are a few more of the images used to make the prop:
[If you have any questions for Pierre, leave them in the comments section and I'll be sure he gets 'em. I hope this satisfies everyone until we get inside the anatomy of yet another Cylon. Stay tuned and have a great weekend - Mojo]