DeSanto/Singer: Global Effects

Global Effects, Inc. of Hollywood, California, specialists in the production of armor and props for motion pictures and television, was commissioned to create the Cylon body armor and Viper Pilot helmets for Bryan Singer and Tom DeSanto’s ill-fated revival of Battlestar Galactica.  Global Effects took over from Special Make-Up Effects Designer Vincent Guastini, who was initially hired to come up with some test concepts for DeSanto/Singer BSG project, after Bryan Singer had an intensive script meeting.  After that event, the DeSanto/Singer team opted to move onward with Global Effects to create the concepts for their new show.  Had it come to completion, the new series would have aired on the Fox network.

Chris Gilman, President of Global Effects, Inc. says the Viper Helmet designs were the sole creation of Global Effects, while the Cylon Design came from the art department of DeSanto’s production offices. Chris Gilman, President of Global Effects, Inc. confirmed that his firm also designed new leather flight suits for the Viper Pilots. He describes the new pilot costume as “a three pice suit with a body/seat harness.” Sadly, Gilman says there are no pictures of the new flight suits, noting that the design “changed about 50 times.”

Tom DeSanto directly contact Global Effects a few weeks before a public announcement by DeSanto that described the company’s involvement.  The Global Effects website was swamped with inquiries for two weeks.

The staff completed several sculptures and were in the process of producing a few prototype pieces before production on the series was halted. “We were finished with all the sculptures and made one pull from the Cylon mold and “POP” the plug was pulled.”  None of the Global Effects designs were used in the SciFi Channel miniseries.

“That’s too bad,” says Gilman, “It was pretty cool stuff.”

Like the core of the Galactica fanbase, Gilman was saddened that the Singer/DeSanto series never made it to air. “Tom DeSanto and Bryan Singer were great to work with, and I’m sorry the project fell apart,” says Gilman. “I think the people that where on board where very talented and the look of the show was very cool.”

Gilman says that he hopes DeSanto will consider Global Effects should he team up with series creator Glen A. Larson on a big-screen continuation of Battlestar Galactica after the miniseries airs. “All of us at Global wanted to finish the suits,” says Gilman. “We hope he comes back to us!”

Global Effects also began work on developing the Cylon pilot armor.  Based on the concept sketch below, these Cylons were likely to be the most common designs shown throughout the DeSanto/Singer pilot. 

Cylon Pilot Design

Global Effects created a statuette of the Cylon pilot design to serve as a guild for the full armor suit.  The workmanship shows that it was to be a very accurate translation of the concept painting.

One key improvement in the Global Effects armor lies in the gearing mechanisms they intended to work into the armor.  Although still a “man in the suit” look, this design amplified the mechanical nature of the Cylons.

Certain small elements, like the underlying hoses, remained from the Vincent Guastini designs.  These became secondary influences, reduced to ensure they didn’t override the traditional concepts of the original series Cylons.

Global Effects, Inc., most recent work (as of publication) were the suits of armor shown in Disney’s “Haunted Mansion”.