Do You Think Larry Niven's Ring World Series Would work Well as a TV Series ?

BAYLOR

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I would love to see theses books adapted to the small screen as an ongoing series Thoughts? :)
 

chrispenycate

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The Ringworld concept - and the fleet of worlds, earlier - is too big to fit into a TV screen. Even IMAX would have difficulty portraying a million Earth areas, the arch of the sky, shadow squares…

TV is a portrait medium, not landscape. The fuzz is there even in HD. So, even if they managed the animation of Puppeteers and Kzin the important part of the story would be carried by people explaining what they saw, rather than the immense vistas we see when reading it.

Actually, very little of Niven's 'Known space' books would work well on TV - Maybe the ARM stories? He tends to write in a scale that need gigantic pictures.
 

Ray McCarthy

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On the gripping hand, maybe the motie related ones would work?

You could have a post apocalyptic SF story soap/series set on and inspired by Ring world series. Aspects are nearly like urban fantasy. I have a vague memory of vampires?
 

Vince W

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The Man-Kzin wars would well for a television series I think. A few episodes to tell each story and not an ongoing story with the same characters week after week.

I agree that the immensity of Ringworld could never be captured on screen unless they developed an entire new system where the screen could fill your peripheral vision entirely.
 
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Vaz

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Agree with Vince, the Man Vs Kzin wars could possible work. Ringworld on the other hand is just to grand in scale to be fully realised on screen.
 

BAYLOR

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Agree with Vince, the Man Vs Kzin wars could possible work. Ringworld on the other hand is just to grand in scale to be fully realised on screen.
I thin with today special effect technology , they could do a good epic tv series. It's achievable.:)
 
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I read Ringworld and aspects of it reminded me of Red Dwarf, which is actually what put me off reading beyond that particular book (oh all right - Integral Trees and Rainbow Mars had their moments, and some of the short stories have been decent*), so in answer to the original question, probably yes. Unfortunately I say that as someone who doesn't really enjoy much television.

*: In my opinion etc. etc.
 

gdoc

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I disagree with the naysayers. I suspect the Ringworld concept would work best as a TV series than a film. It has endless possibilities because of the size of the rings. As for TV being too small, in a era of 4K I think this is not the case. With a suitable budget this is very doable.

My preference would be to use the world of Ringworld itself and perhaps not get hung up on Niven's own poorly conceived characters.
 

2DaveWixon

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I disagree with the naysayers. I suspect the Ringworld concept would work best as a TV series than a film. It has endless possibilities because of the size of the rings. As for TV being too small, in a era of 4K I think this is not the case. With a suitable budget this is very doable.

My preference would be to use the world of Ringworld itself and perhaps not get hung up on Niven's own poorly conceived characters.
I believe you are giving voice to an aspect, at least, of my own feeling on this subject: the Ringworld itself is the star of the concept and the book. In other words, it would make a great setting for an anthology series -- the place is so large, it makes "Naked City" look puny (remember "there are five million stories..." -- or whatever the number was...?); there could be umpteen stories featuring always, or nearly always, different characters... Once you invest in the CGI for the backgrounds, you can reuse bits of it over and over again. And you could have several stories being filmed at the same time, thus letting the stories be given more time to develop than is usually the case in television...

I think it's a great idea!
 

Vince W

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I believe you are giving voice to an aspect, at least, of my own feeling on this subject: the Ringworld itself is the star of the concept and the book. In other words, it would make a great setting for an anthology series -- the place is so large, it makes "Naked City" look puny (remember "there are five million stories..." -- or whatever the number was...?); there could be umpteen stories featuring always, or nearly always, different characters... Once you invest in the CGI for the backgrounds, you can reuse bits of it over and over again. And you could have several stories being filmed at the same time, thus letting the stories be given more time to develop than is usually the case in television...

I think it's a great idea!
The problem with that is you could end up with something like the old Spider-Man cartoon where the same backgrounds were recycled over and over again. And they were used in Rocket Robin Hood as well! :)
 

gdoc

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I believe you are giving voice to an aspect, at least, of my own feeling on this subject: the Ringworld itself is the star of the concept and the book. In other words, it would make a great setting for an anthology series -- the place is so large, it makes "Naked City" look puny (remember "there are five million stories..." -- or whatever the number was...?); there could be umpteen stories featuring always, or nearly always, different characters... Once you invest in the CGI for the backgrounds, you can reuse bits of it over and over again. And you could have several stories being filmed at the same time, thus letting the stories be given more time to develop than is usually the case in television...

I think it's a great idea!
Yes, you could easily use the ring itself as the basis for a great deal. No doubt Niven fans would be upset if the original characters were omitted, but you could use them for the opening episode. Then conveniently kill them perhaps.

Even something in the Star Trek mould would work; a set group exploring the world once their own ship is damaged. I believe the Star Trek producers found seven characters to be the ideal number to keep things interesting.
 

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I agree that the immensity of Ringworld could never be captured on screen unless they developed an entire new system where the screen could fill your peripheral vision entirely.
Agreed. But actually the new system is already here. There are hardware VR goggles that could handle this just fine. I think it would have to be done as VR, not with a preset POV as in film. I'm not sure if anybody has done anything but games and porn with this kind of hardware yet, but I think it's coming pretty quick. Creating a "film" like that would probably be a massive undertaking with today's tech though. But 5 or 10 years from now it will probably be common unless the gov starts choking off IT advancement.
 

gdoc

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Agreed. But actually the new system is already here. There are hardware VR goggles that could handle this just fine. I think it would have to be done as VR, not with a preset POV as in film. I'm not sure if anybody has done anything but games and porn with this kind of hardware yet, but I think it's coming pretty quick. Creating a "film" like that would probably be a massive undertaking with today's tech though. But 5 or 10 years from now it will probably be common unless the gov starts choking off IT advancement.
I don't really agree with this. Cinema does a decent job of capturing immensity. Think of the desert in Lawrence of Arabia. That used 65mm film which did a great job of conveying the scale. But professional video cameras are now 4K, with many films actually shooting in 6.5K. Combined with the likely growth of ultra-high resolution televisions and monitors, there seems to be a perfect storm brewing to do this kind of thing and capture the majesty you are implying.

Indeed, as Rockwell himself would emphasise, we often cannot predict these things since progress often relies on each successive wave of innovation building on the last, none of which is apparent when looking forward. (Especially for state planners ;)) One prediction I will make is that television will not survive the shift into 4K then 8K. With a new batch of players maybe one of them might be more likely to take the gamble on producing something like Ringworld since they are likely to be inherently less conservative than mainstream media outlets.
 

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One prediction I will make is that television will not survive the shift into 4K then 8K. With a new batch of players maybe one of them might be more likely to take the gamble on producing something like Ringworld since they are likely to be inherently less conservative than mainstream media outlets.
Would you mind expanding and clarifying that? How are you defining television?
 

Ursa major

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Cinema does a decent job of capturing immensity.
Sometimes it does; sometimes it doesn't.

In David Lynch's film of Dune, the worms didn't work for me: they were too large to convincingly show the scale... although not too large in terms of keeping true to the book(s). Even on a big cinema screen (which is where I first watched the film), people were little more than specks in the longer shots of them shown climbing** a worm. The earlier shot, of a worm eating a harvester (or whatever the vehicle was), didn't help much either: the vehicle look like a toy, which sort of emphasized the unreality of it (and so pulling this viewer, at least, out of the scene).


** - I've mislaid my DVD of the film (which came free, many years ago, with a Sunday newspaper :)), but my recollection of them steering the worm is of cuts between long shots of the worm (with specks on its top near the front) being intercut with close shots of the people. The jumps in scale between the two was simply too large to create a proper visual sense that they were linked (as opposed to me knowing that they were, based on the narrative).
 

gdoc

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Would you mind expanding and clarifying that? How are you defining television?
By television I mean many of the established players e.g. BBC and equivalents. The cost of infrastructure updates for them to deliver material is high, as witnessed when upgrading to HD. The internet has fewer of these problems. More specifically, the technical and financial costs are distributed more widely. When Youtube began supporting 4K several years ago they simply switched it on. It cost me nothing.

As 4K gains ground the push will soon be on for 8K. This is so expensive that the Japanese broadcasting corp are jumping straight to 8K and skipping 4K. The BBC for instance have no plan to roll out 4K leaving them susceptible to being overtaken.

So, I guess what I am saying is a decentralised, market-driven process trumps anything centralised.
 

gdoc

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Sometimes it does; sometimes it doesn't.

In David Lynch's film of Dune, the worms didn't work for me: they were too large to convincingly show the scale... although not too large in terms of keeping true to the book(s). Even on a big cinema screen (which is where I first watched the film), people were little more than specks in the longer shots of them shown climbing** a worm. The earlier shot, of a worm eating a harvester (or whatever the vehicle was), didn't help much either: the vehicle look like a toy, which sort of emphasized the unreality of it (and so pulling this viewer, at least, out of the scene).


** - I've mislaid my DVD of the film (which came free, many years ago, with a Sunday newspaper :)), but my recollection of them steering the worm is of cuts between long shots of the worm (with specks on its top near the front) being intercut with close shots of the people. The jumps in scale between the two was simply too large to create a proper visual sense that they were linked (as opposed to me knowing that they were, based on the narrative).
That was 1982. Conversely, the earlier film, 2001 made in 1968, did convey a real sense of majesty. I guess skill is a factor.
 

Ursa major

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That was 1982. Conversely, the earlier film, 2001 made in 1968, did convey a real sense of majesty. I guess skill is a factor.
First of all, I'm not sure what the date has to do with anything, unless you think filmmakers' ability to convey differences in scale (which was what I was talking about) is actually decreasing over time.

Second, I don't recall unusual differences in scale having to be portrayed in 2001 in the way they had to be in Dune. By unusual, I mean situations where something truly unique is involved, so the viewer cannot rely on assumptions (such as that "obviously" a sandworm "ought" to be about 300m -- as opposed to 600m, 1000m or 2000m -- long). The size has to be shown**, using comparisons, but with a sandworm in a more-or-less featureless desert there is nothing with which to compare it other than the Fremen, and the disparity in size is simply too great to easily comprehend (i.e. "how big is that speck that's meant to be a man, anyway?"). With regard to 2001, people expect space stations to be bigger than spacecraft, and humans to be bigger than both. (There is, unlike that desert scene in Dune, a hierarchy of comparisons.)

Other hints can be in play. So if a structure has rows of windows (or lights representing windows), people will naturally assume that these reveal the presence of decks. Unless the decks are abnormally tall or unnaturally cramped, an estimate of the size of the structure can easily be made. In 2001, the space station has a hangar (it probably has two) that's built to accommodate craft from Earth (giving us another hierarchy of comparisons***: human to shuttle to space station). With a sandworm, there are no such visual clues: sandworms are of a completely different scale to any animal we know of (even the good old blue whale****) and there's nothing else on the screen other than an endless desert, an almost inconceivably huge sandworm and a group of people (little bigger than specks) to help us comprehend it's size.


** - It could be hammered home through telling, I suppose, but films (particularly big budget ones) should really be held to higher standards than books on the showing versus telling scale.

*** - We also see this sort of thing in Independence Day (e.g. ships compared to big cities) and various Star Wars films.

**** - And with blue whales, we know they're at the top end of a succession of ever larger species of whale, so there's another hierarchy of comparisons at play.
 

gdoc

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First of all, I'm not sure what the date has to do with anything, unless you think filmmakers' ability to convey differences in scale (which was what I was talking about) is actually decreasing over time.

Second, I don't recall unusual differences in scale having to be portrayed in 2001 in the way they had to be in Dune. By unusual, I mean situations where something truly unique is involved, so the viewer cannot rely on assumptions (such as that "obviously" a sandworm "ought" to be about 300m -- as opposed to 600m, 1000m or 2000m -- long). The size has to be shown**, using comparisons, but with a sandworm in a more-or-less featureless desert there is nothing with which to compare it other than the Fremen, and the disparity in size is simply too great to easily comprehend (i.e. "how big is that speck that's meant to be a man, anyway?"). With regard to 2001, people expect space stations to be bigger than spacecraft, and humans to be bigger than both. (There is, unlike that desert scene in Dune, a hierarchy of comparisons.)

Other hints can be in play. So if a structure has rows of windows (or lights representing windows), people will naturally assume that these reveal the presence of decks. Unless the decks are abnormally tall or unnaturally cramped, an estimate of the size of the structure can easily be made. In 2001, the space station has a hangar (it probably has two) that's built to accommodate craft from Earth (giving us another hierarchy of comparisons***: human to shuttle to space station). With a sandworm, there are no such visual clues: sandworms are of a completely different scale to any animal we know of (even the good old blue whale****) and there's nothing else on the screen other than an endless desert, an almost inconceivably huge sandworm and a group of people (little bigger than specks) to help us comprehend it's size.


** - It could be hammered home through telling, I suppose, but films (particularly big budget ones) should really be held to higher standards than books on the showing versus telling scale.

*** - We also see this sort of thing in Independence Day (e.g. ships compared to big cities) and various Star Wars films.

**** - And with blue whales, we know they're at the top end of a succession of ever larger species of whale, so there's another hierarchy of comparisons at play.
What I meant was in 1982 the techniques to convey organic life at scale were limited. No CGI. A good reference point is the monster in Return of the Jedi that Luke Skywalker fought in Jabba the Hut's palace. Even as a boy I thought it looked fake. Fast forward ten years and the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park looked pretty realistic and still do. That is, when it comes to conveying something organic technology has helped a great deal. The puppets they worked with on Dune looked terrible, and the sand crawlers looked like the little models they really were.

As for the second point, 2001 demonstrates for me cinema's ability to convey scope and grandeur, a grand vision if you will. The majesty of space, the stargate sequence and the opening sequence on the African plains being prime examples. Pure cinema.

So, to summarise, cinema can do a great job of this; and referencing Dune with its early 80s puppetry as an example of why they can't is a somewhat limited view. Hope that clears things up.
 
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