captain power and the soldiers of the future
by Janette Hyem, from Starburst No. 118 June 1988
Reproduced without permission. No copyright infringement intended.
The year is 2147. The place is Earth. The Metal Wars with the machines are over. Mankind has lost and Earth is at the mercy of Lord Dread, evil ruler of the BioDread Empire, and Overmind, Dread’s mega-computer.
Mankind has some hope. Captain Jonathan Power, the son of one of the Metal Wars’ most brilliant scientists, leads the rebellion against Lord Dread. He and his “Soldiers of the Future” operate from their hidden Powerbase located underneath the Rocky Mountains.
Playing the role of Captain Jonathan Power is Tim Dunigan. Borm and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Dunigan graduated from Webster University with a degree in drama. He worked his way through musicals and waiting on tables!
Dunigan said, “Then a Manager saw me and I got a good agent who signed me. Two or three weeks later CBS signed me to come out to L.A. to do a Pilot. It all happened kind of fast and I didn’t know too much about film work. I guest-starred on a few shows like “Wizard and Warriors”, “The Fall Guy” and “Mr Smith”. I was also the original Faceman on “The ‘A’ Team”. You know in the “Fall Guy” I actually wrestled an alligator. Me, I actually volunteered for it. My nephew thinks I’m a hero or something”.
Moving to real heroes in Captain Power, Tim said, “Well they were the most interesting and hard filming days I’ve ever experienced. They were such long days and the difference between being on a series and the difference between the person and the series is named after, well that’s something else. It’s not the scenes you are in, it’s the lack of days off. The special effects, animation and inter-activity that makes the show work takes a long time to do. There were days when I really hurt. Although the costumes aren’t heavy, being made of bakelite, they were so hot. We had on cotton body suits, then over that we wore the power suit with apandex which makes it realy warm and them we strap on the armour. You know people eat and drink in the show but do you ever see them go to the bathroom? No never."
“One realy good thing to come from the show was that I got engaged to a real nice girl, Terri Leigh MacLean. She worked on the Captain Power production up there in Toronto and that’s where we met. No wedding dates set yet, but soon I hope. We had a real good time up there, we were all so close. We all lived together for the duraction of the series, the whole lot of us, all the cast.”
At 32 years of age Tim Dunigan is a very handsome man. He is tall with long dark hair and bright sparkling eyes. He laughs like a little boy as he reminisces about the kids who came to see the sets. “You’d see their faces when you were in the costumes, and you’d think well maybe I do look pretty good. They think Captain Power is a hero. Well he is a hero. He’s quiet, thoughtful. He’s loving and he would lay down his life for any one of this crew, and he was madly in love with Pat the Pilot.* He’s very moralistic and I admire that in him. He’s dedicated to what he believes in and I like that in the character. In fact that’s one of the first things that I liked about the guy. When I auditioned for the part, it’s the thing I hooked on to. I did a good audition and they put me on video and I was real pleased. In fact I came out onto the street and yelled ‘Yahoo’! But they called me an hour later and said the video tape had screwed up and I had to go back and do it again. Then I didn’t hear anything for a while until I gat a call to go back. When I got there I was the only guy there. It was good. It was kind of scarey [sic]. But it all worked out. So I had eight days to get to Toronto. I sold everything, my cars, my lease, and off I went. But it was good, all of it.”
His mood changed dramatically as he described more of the episodes. “Usually the episodes were about meeting other groups of freedom fighters, or fighting Lord Dread, but we had a lovely episode where “Scout” does a speech about Christmas trees. It was good. It was reality and that’s how it should be. I mean my parents were killed by Lord Dread and it seems kind of relevant to the world today.” But the mood soon passed and Tim was back to his humorous self. He openly admits he is nothing like the character he protrays and calls himself ‘goofy’.
Mr. Dunigan is anything but ‘goofy’. He is an intelligent man, and through his character of Captain Power likes to reach out to people. He believes that when he meets children he has to portray an image, the right one. The one they want to see - Captain Power. “They ask me all kinds of questions. Some of the time I can’t answer them, so I tell them it’s all a secret. And they believe it. Would you credit it! But it’s the look on their faces. I aim to please them all and if I can reach just one of them by doing shows like this I’m happy. I had some letters and Christmas cards from some little children in Tokyo. It was great. They had taken time to sit down and write to me. The least I could do was reply to them. It really made my Christmas. In fact I tried to answer most of my mail.” And plans for the future? “Well I’ll be married and I’ll be a stepdad to a lovely little boy. Hopefully there will be more work, maybe more Captain Powers. But whatever I do I hope to do it well and as Captain Power would say, ‘Be firm, we can do it’.”
(*I’m not sure whether this is actually what Dunigan called Jennifer, or if it was an error on the magazine’s part; nevertheless, that’s what it says in the article.)
Captain Jonathan Power
BACKGROUND TO SERIES
Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future started principal photography on June 8, 1987 in Toronto, Canada. An old bus depot, vacant for three years, was converted to the high-tech, science fiction, state-of-the-art stages of Captain Power. With 5.32 acres of spaces, three stages of approximately 35,000 square feet per stage were created exclusively for the show. Stage A houses the permanent sets - Lord Dread’s Throne Room, the Powerbase, the hero’s transportation vehicle, the Jumpship, the futuristic Cityscape and the flying ring set of Major Matthew “Hawk” Masterson. Stage B is used to design and create various sets for each episode. The remainder of space is used exclusively for motion control, special effects, construction and the prop house.
Working closely with the live-action and the other special effects groups, ARCCA’s groups prepares long before the 35mm footage is in their hands. They first built a computer model of the character. The character then had to be composited in with other live-action characters, live-action settings, miniature model settings and stock footage.
Robbins and the director of photography, Peter Bennison, carefully ran through each episode to make sure the timing of the scene matched the live-action to the computer-generated character.
Another crucial element to the highly intricate art of computer-generated animation is the lighting. The lighting must appear as if it took place in the same scene in the live-action sequences. In addition to the computer imagery, there I approximately a minute and a half of material each week that required compositing, creating the layering of elements for the other special effects for Captain Power.