Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fiction/"Science:" Series 2, Episode 8.0 - The Buckfire Chronicles

Nurse Barbara (Anne Ford Galiana) ready to kick butt - Love American Style.

Yesterday, we released episode 8.0, “The Buckfire Chronicles,” which you can watch on YouTube or in Koldcast’s high definition player.

Previously on Space Hospital, Nurse Barbara laid an enormous egg. She worries her offspring might be a murderous lizard/human hybrid like his father, but Omacron reveals that Nurse Ratknee is the one carrying a dracomorph (not the first time she’s been an incubator for something not entirely human). Sister Hilly charms her way aboard Space Hospital and steals the egg, believing it contains the dracomorph queen. Meanwhile, Yeoman Long ponders the microchip found in zombie Snead as strange half-memories of her death and resurrection bubble up.

In “The Buckfire Chronicles,” Space Hospital finally emerges from the dark nebula just as Sister Hilly’s minions launch an attack. Nurse Barbara hatches a daring plan to rescue her egg and enlists the help of Nurse Ratknee's dashing shuttle pilot Joe Buckfire, who eludes the cyborg assault with a jump into hyper space. Meanwhile, Yeoman Long infiltrates Space Hospital’s inner sanctum to confront C.R.O.N.O.S. face to face.

Babs with dashing and punctual Joe Buckfire (Blaine Vedros)


Enormous distances, long travel times (it takes over a year to get to Mars and back, and that's our closest neighbor) and the ability to carry adequate fuel supplies are some of the biggest obstacles standing between humans and deep space travel. Science fiction’s ubiquitous solution is hyperdrive – a means of traveling to faraway places rapidly, usually to elude bad guys.

Solo and Chewy evade some street toughs. 

Though common in sci-fi, hyperdrive theories hover on the fringe of the scientific mainstream. From 1996 to 2002, however, NASA provided funding to the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Program to support "exotic" propulsion theories not supported in university research or the private sector. And in 2005, the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics gave Jochem Häuser and Walter Dröscher an award for their paper, “"Guidelines For a Space Propulsion Device Based on Heim's Quantum Theory.” They proposed a practical means to test the theories of German scientist Burkhard Heim who, in the 1950s, proposed a new form of propulsion that expanded Einstein’s four dimensions into six, which theoretically allowed for the conversion of electromagnetic energy into gravitational energy (and vice versa). Häuser and Dröscher suggested that current pumped through superconducting coil around a spaceship would create a “repulsive anti-gravity” force capable of propelling the ship faster than light.

How many years away are we from hyperdrives and deep space travel? Well, here in Calfornia, we're still trying to figure out if we can afford to invest in high-speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco (a project now expected to take about 20 years and $100 billion dollars to complete). At these prices and in this global economy, getting between here and the stars is going to remain the stuff of fiction for some time.

"So long, suckers! We've got an egg to save!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fiction/"Science:" Series 2, Log 5.0 – The Return of Omacron

Designed by Brett Snodgrass
Last week, we released episode 5.0, “The Return of Omacron,” which you can watch on YouTube or in Koldcast’s high-definition player.

Previously on Space Hospital, the crew squashed a zombie uprising, regaining control of the ship, and the discovery of an Executive Microchip in Zombie Snead clarified that he was the one who ordered the destruction of Lyndsay Long’s escape pod – and that the new Snead is a clone.

In “The Return of Omacron,” Space Hospital encounters The Supreme Inquisitor at the center of the dark nebula. Unable to respond to the space slug’s telepathic communications, the hospital is condemned to be swallowed. As the crew await complete digestion, Snead and Ratknee lament the loss of super-genius Omacron, the parasitic alien symbiote with whom Ratknee had a whirlwind romance and who became the target of an assassination attempt. Nurse Ratknee reveals that only the human host died, and the alien symbiote has been kept on ice - in a state of suspended animation - in her lunchbox. Ratknee, Snead and Lyndsay defrost the symbiote in the microwave and agree that whomever walks through the door next will become the "new" Omacron. So who will it be?


Science fiction takes poetic license in imagining alien life (tentacled creatures and well-polished androids with free will figure prominently), but the discovery of truly alien life is bound to be less overtly shattering but no less profound in its paradigm shift. Case in point is the discovery of the first organism to substiute one of the six crucial elements - carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur and phosphorus - with another. A paper published in the December 2010 issu of Science  revealed the discovery of a bacterium in salty Mono Lake, California that has replaced phosphorus with arsenic - a typically toxic element - and incorporated it into its DNA. Questions remain as to whether this is an "evolutionary adaptation" or a new life form (a.k.a. "second genesis"), but either way it suggests how life on other planets - and even here on Earth - may function in profoundly different ways while looking very familiar on the surface. (Sources: BBC News, 12/2/10 and Science News 1/1/11)

 The scene-stealing guest star of this week’s episode is The Supreme Inquisitor, created by Gordon Lee. Gordon graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.S. in Graphic Design. While working his day job, he continues his studies in filmmaking, Industrial Design, 3D modeling and acting while also creating his own science fiction web series. Check out his website for samples of his work and visit his YouTube channel, DrawingWithGordon, for drawing tutorials. We asked Gordon to talk about his experience working on this episode.
“Susan Stoebner, producer of Space Hospital, asked if I was interested in building a physical model/puppet of a giant space slug for their web series. I immediately said yes because I love the science fiction genre and I always wanted to make a space creature.

Susan introduced me to Robert Poe, the writer and co-creator of the show. He described his vision of the creature and the basic premise of the episode. Robert liked the idea of having the creature resemble a lotus plant. It would come out of a nebula and then open its petals to reveal a giant mouth. He also wanted the skin to be somewhat transparent. At this point, I realized this would be very difficult to build and articulate. So we decided to go the CGI route.

I began researching the lotus plant and all types of slugs, which then lead me to parasitic worms. The shapes and structure of the parasitic worms interested me and that became the inspiration for the creature’s body.

I started drawing some rough concepts combining the lotus plant and a parasitic worm together. After sending my concept drawings to Robert he did the most amazing thing with them. He took all the elements he liked and put them all together in After Effects and then animated the sequence. After watching the animation, I really understood the direction Robert wanted and created a final version of this concept. He gave me the thumbs up and I start building the space creature “The Supreme Inquisitor” in 3D.

I really enjoyed building the creature, but I did face a few challenges on the way. I didn’t have a lot of experience building organic models so it took longer than expected. The rigging of the mouth and teeth were very tedious and difficult but I was lucky to have my friend Eric Rosenthal help me through it. In the end, it all worked out and I’m very happy with the results.”