'Life Line' Details

By Christian
May 8, 2000 - 10:02 PM

Michelle Erica Green at AnotherUniverse's Mania Magazine has put up an interview with Robert Picardo, who stars on 'Voyager' as the Holodoc. This Wednesday, he'll also be guest starring as Dr. Zimmerman on the new episode 'Life Line', which he also co-wrote. In the interview, Picardo mentions the special effects for this episode will really be, well, special:

Picardo has seen the rough cut for "Life Line" and is "delighted with it. Once I see the finished opticals, that may be my favorite one. The visual effects guys are submitting this as their Emmy show, so the buzz on it inside the company is excellent. It really combines what's great about our show when it is great, which is state of the art movie quality visual effects with a good story. It's the most sophisticated use of motion-control photography and digital split-screen and blue screen to support a double casting, ever. I walk around myself, I back myself into a corner, I take something out of my hand. We do really cool tricks."

Of course, such effects required a great deal of technical work from the actor as well as the director. "We rehearsed with my stand-in, J.R. Quinonez, who was unbelievable," Picardo explains. "He came to the set knowing every line of both parts even before I did. He could slip back and forth and rehearse either character with me. We had to rehearse both sides before we made critical decisions, and then he would play off-camera in the over the shoulder shots."

"When I acted in the motion-control shots, I would do the first character, and then when I'd go to do the second character, walking around a blank set in front of a blue screen, acting with virtual actors and virtual props. It's very challenging. You have to act from memory with what you did, and try to remember when and how and at what moments to make eye contact. They can give you an off-camera mark. For example, if I'm in profile to the camera talking to the other character for a long period of time, somebody can stand off-camera in a line with where he would be. But still, as soon as the character starts to move around, I have to remember at what point in the line he was at what point in the room."

In the full interview, Picardo talks about writing the episode and the process involved in creating it. In addition, he reveals he is currently working on the script of a feature film for him to star in, together with his writing partner John Bruno, who would direct. The interview is rounded off by some humourous Series V suggestions by Picardo, and his serious support for a time travel premise for the new series.

Also new is an interview at Fandom, written by Anna L. Kaplan. In this interview, a bit more is revealed about the episode's plot, and the way in which the Holodoc is actually transported back to the Alpha Quadrant:

Just how does the Doctor get e-mailed? Says Picardo, "The micro-wormhole, the project that Barclay has been working on, we use that. There is, every thirty days, or thirty-two days, a phenomenon happening with a particular star where we can utilize some phase that it's in to enhance our ability to transmit data. It's some kind of a pulsar. We are basically establishing that there is an opportunity every thirty or thirty-two days to send or receive data, during a particular window of time."

During "Life Line" that phenomenon is used to transmit the Doctor. But it is expected that it will be used for more later on. Braga won't say exactly, but has indicated that this technology could play a role in the ship's return to the Alpha Quadrant. Speculates Picardo, "What that will mean is, next season, I think, as we get closer, and we can get information back from Starfleet, and perhaps even technological data, we'll have that opportunity on a regular basis. I think it's going to help guide us home."

Again, follow this link to read the full interview.

Finally, StarTrek.com has been updated with the official press release for 'Life Line', containing the guest cast & crew list.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.