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Sci-Fi Flyby

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How does your standard sci-fi Space Opera tell you that your Cool Ship is really a cool ship BEFORE you introduce it? How does it show off the Cool Ship after proceeding to do everything that made it cool? In both instances, with a Sci-Fi Flyby!

Flybys can happen at any time, and for any reason, but they most notably occur at the opening theme, and the end of a Space Opera but the rules are basically the same


Opening: The opening bars of the theme come up. In the pause of the intro phrase, an establishing fly-by of the Cool Ship. The main theme starts playing and various scenery or character establishing shots display. In the final or reprise phrase, focus is on the Cool Ship moving through the camera frame.The camera will settle into a three-quarters view from astern, typically on the starboard side, and as the theme plays through its last iteration, the FTL drive spools up with its appropriate sound effect and with an equally awesome visual effect, the ship jumps to warp.

Closing: A long drawn out plot has come to its conclusion. The hero ship has been battered (or destroyed) and is getting ready to head out to its next adventure after lengthy repairs (or having been rebuilt). The Captain, Colonel Badass, or another suitably ranked leader figure makes a few remarks to the crew, reaffirming their continuing mission, as the music stirs, then as the reprise theme beings to play, the ship breaks orbit (or leaves spacedock). On the last phrase, which generally is either a Triumphant Reprise, Theme Music Power-Up or Awesome Music, the ship powers up its FTL drive, and makes the jump. If it's not FTL capable, the speed of the flyby is determined by its size with fighter/escort sized ships getting the high speed treatment and larger, statelier, or more kickass battlecruisers get a low and slow fly-by. If there's a handy astronomical phenomena, like a wormhole, the ship will likely fly into or through it. If a substantial refit or rebuild has taken place, the awesome visual effect will be updated.


There are a few other common special instances:

Then there's The Laws of Flyby Motion:

  • If the ship is at relative rest, it will accelerate and roll, showing the camera its belly, then jump to FTL at the top of its arc

  • If in motion and moving faster-than-light (or in afterburner in atmosphere), the camera will track the ship as it closes on the camera, pull to the side, and then trail it as it moves out of range

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  • If the ship is FTL, the camera will sit at 3/4 fore in normal space. Once the ship drops out, the camera will pan with it as it leaves the frame

  • If entering atmosphere, the shot will generally go from the underside of the ship to the top, banking so that it ends above the ship so that one can see the hull start to heat, or shields start to crackle. The next shot is generally a flyby from range so the fiery streak can be seen


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Mobile Suit Gundam
    • Gundam SEED. Vivian or Kazuma's "Moment" (2nd OP) ends with a kind of 360 flyby as the Archangel cruises first in the water, and then rising out of the water (as the camera rotates behind and to the right). You then get a flyby of the X05-Aile Strike as it launches from the Archangel
    • Gundam Seed Destiny. T.M. Revolution's "Ignite" (1st OP) ends with a fly-by of the Minerva as it's skirting the bottom of one of the PLAN Ts, then it sharply going into a vertical climb, accompanied by the four mobiles suits assigned to it, all leaving engine streaks.
    • Gundam 00. The last shot of the Ptolemaios in the 1st OP is a high speed flyby away from the camera.
    • "Mobile Suit Gundam AGE": The opening of the last phrase has a lovely ventral flyby of the "Diva", which transitions into Flit Asuno running
  • Outlaw Star: The opening of the anime Outlaw Star has a good portion of the intro with various shoots of the spaceship Outlaw Star, baptized by Gene Starwind and the reason of the name of this anime. Also the ship has good part of the protagonism in the series, included the ship's AI (self-called as "Gilliam") that also count as another character in the series.

    Film — Animation 
  • Titan A.E.: Since there is no theme, the movie hits the ground running by establishing the characters. The Drejj attack starts and everyone flees. The *last* ship to leave the planet is the Titan, and does so in anime style. It starts as a twinkle as it comes up, then banks offside to the right of the camera as it pans to catch a full on side flyby, complete with camera shaking as the engines pass. With a young Cale watching, the Titan powers up its FTL and jumps away. Shortly after, Earth explodes, breaking the moon and sending debris towards Cale's ship, whits hits its thrusters and evades moon chunks, the last shot a ventral up and out fly by. As the scene clears, and we see the tumbling halves of the moon, Earth's debris starts floating, then rapidly flies by left to right, finally rotating to go forward past the camera. The debris then 'explodes' into the main title, which itself does a slow head-on passing flyby. The next scene (to Electrasy's 'Cosmic Castaway') ends with adult Cale jumping on his space bike and flies at high speed through a debris field, which ends with him corkscrewing through a hull, then peeling off to revel the Tau-14 station in a halfway flyby.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Co-Trope Codifier with Star Trek: Generations for end theme reprise flybys. At the end, Kirk makes a rousing speech about getting back underway to discover the unknown, tells Sulu to go "that-a-way" with a wave of his hand and the rousing reprise starts. Visually it's the EXACT ventral side camera shot from earlier in the movies as the Enterprise leaves spacedock, but instead of cruising at impulse after the camera settles (3/4, but from PORT aft!), Enterprise jumps to warp.
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: There's two instances. The first is a brief one, but played straight as Kirk orders Sulu to go to Regula at warp five. You hear the main theme fanfare quickly play, and the camera moves out to the same shot as the end of TMP, but without the rainbow streaks. The second is deconstructed as Spock's voice narrates after his apparent death to a starfield moving through at least 4 of 6 faces on a cube as the Enterprise (which you CANNOT see, the perspective is as if the viewer WAS the ship) sets a course and jumps to warp.
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: The crew saves the day and gets punished by being assigned to the rebuilt Enterprise. Fly-by one is a slow one (3/4 moving from lower left to upper right). Kirk says "Let's see what she's got" followed by a rousing fanfare where we see (from starboard aft 3/4) Enterprise's nacelles glow blue and the ship streaks off, starting the main theme.
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: Slow fly-by (shown from above with the camera settling into 3/4 port aft) at the end with pieces of the major themes being played as the Enterprise rides off into the sunset, getting the main theme into as she enters the white light.
    • Star Trek: Generations: Slow fly-by of the B as the Enterprise leaves spacedock with a modified version of the theme. The end one is the co-Trope Codifier with Star Trek: The Motion Picture where Picard and Riker wax philosophical about future Enterprises and call for a beam-out. Cue a beautiful string fanfare showing the Nebula-class USS Farragut, an unnamed Miranda-class and an unnamed Oberth-class "rising" out of orbit from lower left to upper right, and then as the camera settles in to the starboard aft 3/4 position, ALL THREE SHIPS (with a bright flash from the Farragut's nacelles) jump to warp to the main theme.
    • Star Trek: Insurrection: After saving the Baku and Picard calling for a beam-out, the main theme starts playing, and we get a fly-by (port aft 3/4) of the -E making for the exit to the Briar Patch at high impulse.
    • Star Trek: Nemesis: Inverted (?) with the end fanfare showing a flyby of the Enterprise in drydock Getting the leading edge of the saucer being replaced after earlier being torn off by the Scimitar and then the camera leaving Earth orbit.
    • Star Trek (2009): At the end, we get Kirk (for the first time in the franchise) doing the TOS monologue as the camera slowly pans around the ship, where we can see details like the deflector opening up as the ship prepares for warp, which it does at the end of the monologue in standard fashion.
    • Star Trek Into Darkness: Same as 2009, except everyone says a line and the camera lingers through the warp streak particles left by the nacelles after the ship leaves.
    • Star Trek Beyond: Basically combines Nemesis with the 2009 film/Into Darkness. After a shot of Kirk and Spock, and then McCoy waxing philosophical, we get a wide shot of the crew looking through the window at the Enterprise-A being built, which turns into a time-lapse 360 of the ship being built to the MOVIE'S main theme reprise. It then launches from drydock, the camera does another 360 so that it now shoes us a starboard FORE view of the ship as we see the warp bubble form and jump. We get another as the end movie theme itself comes to an end with the ship coming through at high impulse from the lower left corner, does some crazy looping turns then comes head on to the camera, "dragging" the main title with it.
  • Galaxy Quest: Affectionately parodies it by proxy WHILE deconstructing it with the opening to Galaxy Quest The Saga Continues being the end to the movie, which means that the fly-by happens at end of the series' theme, which also doubles as the reprise for the MOVIE'S theme, and occurs with the camera (3/4 starboard aft, but from above) showing the Protector jumping to turbo.
  • Star Wars: All Star Wars films start with a shot of a starship flying past in deep space.
    • Star Wars: A New Hope: The opening shot of features the Tantive IV flying over the camera... followed and dwarfed by the massive bulk of the Star Destroyer that it is hopelessly fighting back against.
    • The Empire Strikes Back: The first shot is of a Star Destroyer cruising as it fires probe droids. The final shot is of Luke (after getting his new hand) and Leia in the hospital ship. The camera pulls back and you get a flyby of the entire Rebel fleet to the reprise of Leia's Theme.
    • Return of the Jedi: A Star Destroyer approaching the Death Star II at Endor shot from below.
    • The Phantom Menace: The corvette carrying Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, in standard front to back, on approach to the Trade Federation blockade.
    • Attackofthe Clones: Senator Amidala's transport on approach to Coruscant.
    • Revengeofthe Sith: The movie opens in the middle of a chaotic Standard Starship Scuffle above Coruscant, focusing on Obi-Wan's and Anankin's starfighters dodging through the battle as massive warships and swarms of fighters clash in the background, with almost every type of combat starship canonically sued at the time being represented.
  • Spaceballs: Parodied, which becomes an overly long gag mocking the famous Star Wars opening scene. Mel Brooks has been on the record that had it been up to him, the entire movie would be about that ship passing by.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek: The Original Series opening: The Enterprise enters via fly-by (slow for season one and at warp for two and three) the first phrase of the opening theme, and a warp fly-by for each main credits star.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Much like TOS, theme with stars and planets, then the camera finds the D and follows in an arc around to starboard where it them makes the jump for the main theme. Three warp fly-bys for Starring and first Also Starring, and then for the last phrases, the camera follows a dorsal shot, settling into the 3/4 from starboard aft and makes the jump for the reprise fanfare.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Played with, since it's a station by using a runabout (seasons 1 & 2) to "blind" the camera at impulse with its warp nacelles at the end of the intro phrase. The triumphant end phrase features a runabout exiting the wormhole at high impulse. From season 3, the start of the reprise fanfare begins with the Defiant undocking from the station, moving slowly from darkness into the light, and then making a high impulse run (also 3/4 from starboard aft) up and into the wormhole
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Three notes into the intro, Voyager makes a high impulse flyby under the arc of a solar flare. The theme then moves through several glamour shots of the ship. The reprise phrase starts with Voyager coming out of eclipse with a planet behind it. With the camera stationary, it makes a bank to port, revealing the ventral side to the camera, setting itself up for the 3/4 aft starboard view, the nacelles rise into position and the ship jump to warp.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: No flybys up front, but the reprise phrase has the launch flyby of the Phoenix from Star Trek: First Contact (ascending from left to right, then settles into the 3/4 starboard aft view) followed immediately by a high impulse flyby from the ventral side of an unknown ship, and then finally we get "Enterprise" moving through from lower left to upper right, with it settling in the 3/4s view for the last guitar chords as the nacelles blossom blue and make the jump.
  • Andromeda: Justifiably inverted in some cases because of the use of slipstream. It's basically the ship getting pulled into a hole, and doesn't really look all that cool, so most flybys are high-speed flybys, even though Andromeda's a heavy cruiser (read: battlecruiser). After the quote that starts every episode, in this case set to the backdrop of horns playing the opening of the High Guard's leitmotif, the very first shot of the show, is of a drone, which the camera follows back to the Andromeda Ascendant which does a slow flyby, head on, with the camera turning with it so that we can see the aft. From season two on, the last three shots of the opener are, in order, a high speed flyby in a tight arc to the left, a shot of Dylan extending his force lance, and the title card which has the Andromeda lazily rotating behind the text.
  • Earth: Final Conflict: The opening shot of the credits is a first person perspective of coming out of interdimensional, followed by a ventral flyby of the Taelon Mothership. The very last episode "Final Conflict" has Liam encouraging Renee to come with him on his trip of exploration with Howlyn on the Mothership. She reluctantly agrees, cuing a reprise of the theme and a lovely side (almost 3/4) view of the Mothership going interdimensional out of Earth orbit for the last time.
  • seaQuest DSV: After a quick pic of "seaQuest" in dock at the beginning of the opening sequence (season 1 & 2), the last shot in the opening sequence is of "seaQuest" and its WSKRS moving (somewhat rapidly) away from the camera (3/4 port aft)
  • Babylon 5: Season 3's main theme music starts, right before Ivanova gives the year and place, to a blatant flyby—as in there is no background. No stars, no planets, NOTHING—of the White Star. Season 4's intro ends with a Starfury doing a high speed flyby of the length of the station. Once clear, a second Starfury does a flyby, depositing JMS's credit as the theme finishes.
  • Crusade: The series opens to the title card on a sword. Yes, a silver sword. After the sword is drawn horizontally (Really!) the first shot is a high-speed flyby of the Excalibur. The shot is a 3/4 fore shot from port. The last shot of the intro as Galen finishes the narration is a slow fly-by of the Excalibur. The camera is in the same position, but slightly under.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate Atlantis:
      • In the opening titles for seasons 3 and 4, there are no less than thirteen flybys. Each. It begins somewhat subverted with a series of three shots of Atlantis rising through and on top of the water, which works since Atlantis is also a ship. From there, each actor is surrounded by MULTIPLE flybys from-in no particular order- a puddle jumper, Wraith darts, U.S.S. Daedalus, X-302s, and a myriad of ships in the battle from "Be All My Sins Remember'd"
      • The last two shots of the 4th season episode "Midway" are of Colonel Badass Sheppard telling Ronan that he knew that the IOA would like him, followed by a shot of the Daedalus at relative rest. With a swell of the episode's leitmotif Triumphant Reprise, it then accelerates and rolls left, showing its belly to the camera, then jumps into its hyperspace window. Cue end titles.
    • Stargate Universe: The very first shot of the series is a nearly minute-long, very slow flyby of Destiny as we see it exit FTL in the background, then close on and flyby head on to the camera. The very first shot of the regular opening is part of the same flyby, jumped ahead about thirty seconds. Episode 5 ("Light") has a flyby of Destiny, complete with a Triumphant Reprise of the episode's leitmotif as Destiny emerges from within a star after its first stellar refuelling
  • Firefly: The first scene featuring the titular ship ends with the ship turning on her engines and "rabbiting" away from an alliance patrol. Makes space real shiny.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Seventh Doctor has the first flyby. After a particularly '80s sequence of a galaxy coalescing, a blue ball flies into the camera, which materializes the rotating (CG!) TARDIS
    • Eighth Doctor is the prototype for all of the ones after. After displaying the main title card like a ship, it accelerates into the time vortex. Actors titles come through, and the very last sequence is the TARDIS closing on the camera head on. When it gets there, it hovers a moment, banks, and then accelerates away
    • Ninth and Tenth Doctors start with the camera moving forward in the blue colored time vortex. The TARDIS flies past from behind, disappearing forward into the vortex. The camera then zooms in on it, as if stopped (or dropped out of warp) as the perspective shifts 180 degrees and the vortex goes from blue to red and the TARDIS shoots ahead to make room for the actors titles and the Doctor Who card. Once clear, the TARDIS bobs around in the foreground like a dolphin.
    • Eleventh Doctor has one for each set of companions. For the Ponds, the TARDIS literally flips past the camera through a stormy time vortex. It gets hit with a bolt of lightening and then corkscrews behind the camera for the credits and title card, which has a stylized capital DW that literally turns (clockwise) into the TARDIS, which then accelerates away. For Clara, it opens with the TARDIS flying by and past from behind through a lava lamp cosmos. Actors credits and the title card come up, which then "disintegrates" and "explodes", opening the vortex, from which the TARDIS emerges, and closes into the camera, its doors opening to display the episode.
    • The Twelfth Doctor starts out with a clockwork vortex, which turns into a Roman numeral spiral. The TARDIS is "spit" out from the spiral, banks around slightly, the accelerates into the vortex. After the title card, the TARDIS is once again spit out of the vortex, but this time does a true flyby past the camera after a quick holding bob
  • Farscape has Moya doing a fly-by and going into Starburst at the end of the opening credits.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: The "Pigs in Space" skits begin with a shot of the Swinetrek flying past the camera, a direct parody of the Star Trek opening.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect: The last shot of the game is an overhead camera showing the Normandy moving from lower right to upper left. In the background, you can see it bank and power up its FTL drive.
    • Mass Effect 3: Assuming you make a choice where the Normandy SR-2 survives its crash, the last shot before the credits is the repaired Normandy SR-2 lifting off of the planet (camera level to PORT) and moving away in normal space-time.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda: After the epilogue mission, you get a shot of the Tempest breaking Meridian orbit. The camera settles into its familiar position (this time more above and to the center) as the Tempest fires up its Remnant Drive core and jumps to FTL.
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War: The game opens to Genette's narration. After his last sentence, with an establishing background shot of Sand Island, Captain Jack Heartbreak One Bartlett's F-4 Phantom II does a high speed flyby, displaying the main title with him.

    Western Animation 
  • Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles: The opening shot is a follow shot of the Zephyr approaching the Valley Forge. The Zephyr peels off while the camera keeps going forward, "through" the bridge windows and onto the deck.
  • Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot: Played straight, then played with a little in concert with the theme song. As the theme starts with "Watch the sky, it's coming at you", a series of jets start flying by overhead, followed by the BGY-11 (the Big Guy) in full Superman pose. The next shot for the lyrics "he locks horns with disaster for the red and white and blue" is paired with the camera following the Big Guy as he "drives by" in a parade, carrying a futuristic American flag


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