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A History Of Star Trek Movie Titles

One of the new elements of the Star Trek trailer that premiered last week was a new logo, which was actually introduced by Paramount a week before (launching an big discussion). Today TrekMovie takes a look at the history of Star Trek title fonts from TOS through to the past movies to today.

 

Star Trek Titles – the movie

 

A short history of the Star Trek titles

STAR TREK – TOS (1966/1968)
After the white bold font with blue glow that appeared once at the beginning of "The Cage" TOS started with it’s iconic font in yellow for the first two seasons, that was changed to blue in the final year. The oblique Star Trek font was used for the title with actor credits shown in the regular version of the typeface.

THE MOTION PICTURE (1979)
The return of Trek for the big screen changed a lot, including the font. Star Trek was now set in the aptly named typeface Galaxy. The S and K got a special treatment. The original white was updated with a gold embossed look for the Director’s Edition DVD.

 

THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982)
A big change came with TWOK, not only the new uniforms, but a newly designed blue outline font which was used to emphasize the differences to TMP. The computer-style typeface with the rather clunky name "Urwtnor" reflects the big leap this film made into the world of CGI effects.

THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984)
For The Search For Spock it was back to Galaxy, in white with a small black shadow and the one and only title screen that did not open on a star field, but Spock’s photon coffin.

 

THE VOYAGE HOME (1986)
Again the Galaxy font in white, but a bit more reminiscent of the Motion Picture design.

 

 

THE FINAL FRONTIER (1989)
Apparently Shatner’s ego needed a bolder version of the Galaxy typeface, paired with bigger size for the films name. Compared to the rest of the TOS era movies somewhat out of proportion.

 

THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991)
For the sixth movie the Galaxy font is slimmed back, the movies name remains bigger and is for the first time not set in versal (all cap) letters. Plus there is a colored cast that has been added to the type.

 

GENERATIONS (1994)
A new typeface (Benguiat), for a new generation of movies  new era (not related to Serpentine, which was used on the TNG TV titles). The type is filled with a blue gradient, with a line separating ‘Star Trek’ from the film title also returns to the versal style.

FIRST CONTACT (1996)
First Contact comes with the same Benguiat font as Generations, but for the first time the film title is bigger than ‘Star Trek,’ which needs lines on both sides for optical stabilization. Plus, there is a pretty colorful filling.

 

INSURRECTION (1998)
With Insurrection, Trek titles are changed again, this time to the Elan font. ‘Star Trek’ is smaller than the title, which comes in a tall and narrow rather generic font.

 

NEMESIS (2002)
Nemesis’ theme of ‘mirror doubles’ (clones) is implied in it’s opening typography which mirrors the second E in ‘Nemesis.’ The font chosen here is called Exocet, designed by Jonathan Barnbrook in 1991 (named for the French missile). This typeface is also used for by Tazo Tea and the game Diablo.

STAR TREK (2009)
So in 2009 we are back to the roots, which is a good thing, because the original TOS font boldly carries a lot of positive energy and the original character over from the sixties that made us all fall in love with Star Trek in the first place.


Star Trek’s newest logo

 

Thorsten Wulff’s introduction to Star Trek came in form of a book when he was five, the German edition of “Mission to Horatius” in 1970. “Raumschiff Enterprise,” as Trek was called, brought the final frontier to German TV in may 1972. Because he failed the Kobayashi Maru test twice, Thorsten became a photojournalist and graphic designer. Typography is part of his job description, and he was able to drink the creator of the font used for “Star Trek: Nemesis” under the table once.

Sort by:   newest | oldest
The Galactic Battleburger
March 15, 2009 4:32 pm

I like the new one the best.

My first “first”!!!! Yeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaa!

JB
March 15, 2009 4:34 pm

Slow news day, eh, fellas?

Nick
March 15, 2009 4:37 pm

What’s the music?

March 15, 2009 4:38 pm

Would have been nice if the TOS logo design had been retained for all incarnations of Trek…

Geoffers
March 15, 2009 4:38 pm

Think I like the motion Picture, through to Undiscovered country, style the best… but hey ho.. if I have Trek, then I am happy, no matter the font..

March 15, 2009 4:38 pm

the best is the New Star Trek movie.

Shatner_Fan_Prime
March 15, 2009 4:40 pm

“Apparently Shatner’s ego needed a bolder version of the Galaxy typeface”

(rolls eyes)

Jack
March 15, 2009 4:41 pm

Good piece. Wasn’t the “colorful filling” in the First Contact font some sort of borgification? And the original font for TMP (pre the DVD re-release) was just white with no star field, wasn’t it? (trying to remember what it looked like on the taped TV version I watched 4,000 times as a kid… usually to put myself to sleep).

Jack
March 15, 2009 4:45 pm

ps.
a) dig the Shatner comment
b) the music is from TMP (the Decker-Ilia theme), and is lovely.
c) re: #2, have to say I’m a font geek, always have been. I was very upset as a kid when the Next Generation font came out and it wasn’t Galaxy or the original font.

March 15, 2009 4:45 pm

@7…

don’t worry, SFP.
Just last night I made something just for you!

John Ozdundar
March 15, 2009 4:48 pm

This is actually interesting for us graphic desinger’s and film ppl!

Any idea on what font was used for “Star Trek” on the posters and trailers for the Next Gen films after they switched away from Galaxy to the new typeface?

They kept that consistant, even though the version in the opening credits continued to have it’s typeface changed.

John Ozdundar
March 15, 2009 4:52 pm

#3 The music is Ilia’s theme from ST: TMP. Also used during the opening pre-show segment before that film’s opening credits.

#8 The opening credits of TMP was a white typeface, but with not starfield whatsoever actually. They didn’t even fade between individual credits in the original version.

My guess is they were running out of time (they were behind schedule when the original was made) or they didn’t have the money to bother with the optical disolves between credits. Cause you could do all this on a computer back then. Even making credits was hard and tenious work.

March 15, 2009 4:54 pm

@11…

That is Serpentine Bold, John…

http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/linotype/serpentine/bold/

Devon
March 15, 2009 4:57 pm

I’m always interested in things like this, very good article John!

Lancelot Narayan
March 15, 2009 4:57 pm

Good piece. More like this please!

March 15, 2009 5:01 pm

Interesting story. What a great way to look at the movies over time — through the fonts!

will
March 15, 2009 5:01 pm

The Nemesis font actually got chuckles from the audience I was in. It was a poor choice.

old
March 15, 2009 5:03 pm

gut gemacht thorsten :)

Shatner_Fan_Prime
March 15, 2009 5:07 pm

#17 … LOL. When the audience is already laughing as the font appears, that’s never a good sign!

Kirkunit
March 15, 2009 5:10 pm

Agree with #12. For TMP what’s shown is the DVD title, NOT the film title. The title IIRC looks pretty much like TSFS title (no big “S” & big “K”). Also, on the TVH & TFF posters, the font was modified slightly to soften the “E”s. This variation was also used on DS9.

March 15, 2009 5:16 pm

$20-$25 bucks for a font? What a rip off!

oztrek
March 15, 2009 5:23 pm

Nemesis animated the font rather than using a simple dissolve and I thought it was a pretty cool & original opening… unfortunately things went downhill after that.. Worf being scared when a robotic arm grabs his foot… yeah right!

saint-antoine
March 15, 2009 5:24 pm

Since the movie coming out in may looks nothing like Star Trek TOS from what I have seen so far, JJ and his little friends might as well have designed a new title-font for this one… and a title bearing nothing to do with TREK would have been most appropriate: Space Academy or something…

Using the TOS fonts doesn’t make you little movie Star Trek Mr. Abrams…

Anyhoo… WATCHMEN, now that’s a movie!

Oregon Trek Geek
March 15, 2009 5:25 pm

Good Cripey. Forty (give or take) years of watching Trek and I never noticed it went to blue in season three. Huh.

Brett Campbell
March 15, 2009 5:26 pm

#7 – I had the same reaction when I read it — as if the font size, etc. was Shatner’s choice. Yeeesh.

AJ
March 15, 2009 5:32 pm

The montage is missing the STAR TREK logo from “The Cage.” The first one ever!

Hat Rick
March 15, 2009 5:33 pm

It would might be interesting to consider whether the fonts for all the films could be revised to one uniform standard, the way that the font for the Star Wars films has always been the same. (Lucas, for his part, has done his own retconning, subtitling the first SW movie “Episode IV.”)

As for whether this is a slow news day, this article on fonts is interesting in itself, even thoug there IS other news — e.g., Harlan Ellison is suing CBS Paramount over his work on “City on the Edge of Forever.” ( http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118001255.html?categoryId=13&cs=1 )

AJ
March 15, 2009 5:35 pm

The poster/VHS/DVD logos for the films differed in many cases from what showed up on screen in the opening titles.

March 15, 2009 5:37 pm

Cool idea!

March 15, 2009 5:39 pm

#21 – Typefaces run a whole lot more than that sometimes, especially for the popular professional ones. i.e. Gotham, Meta, Din etc.

You should look up typography.com or myfonts.com

Typographers and Type Foundrys have to make a living somehow and it’s a means by which we designers can contribute to our fellow designers livelihood.

Sci-Fi Bri
March 15, 2009 5:42 pm

“…and [Thorsten Wulff] was able to drink the creator of the font used for “Star Trek: Nemesis” under the table once.”

lolz

AJ
March 15, 2009 5:43 pm

Fun exercise, Thorsten.

DS9 went on to co-opt ‘Galaxy,’ as did Voyager. ENT went its own way…

sean
March 15, 2009 5:45 pm

#23

Hopefully Trek will not be the compromised mess that Watchmen is. Let’s cross our fingers, at any rate.

Hat Rick
March 15, 2009 5:46 pm

Since w’ere talking about various adjuncts and incidentals to the movies, any idea when we’ll get a sense of what the music for the new movie will be like? So far, the music for the trailers is not, as far as I know, drawn from the movie itself.

Story suggestion: A similar article about music in Trek movies through the years. (Goldsmith’s, Horner’s, et al.).

Re: The new movie, one of the earlier trailers had a more percussive sound, which I noted as such, whereas the current trailer has a completely different sound. This leaves me in anticipation as to what the music from the actual movie will be, and whether it will incorporate Goldsmith’s theme, pay homage to it, and/or come up with a similarly rousing signature phrase original to itself.

sean
March 15, 2009 5:46 pm

Funny that the best of the best (TWOK) has the worst font.

Praetor Tal
March 15, 2009 5:51 pm

To a typographer, this was an unexpected treat!

AJ
March 15, 2009 5:57 pm

34:

Hat Rick:

The trailer music for Trek was produced by an outfit which specializes in trailer music. It is NOT music from the film.

Your suggestion of a column on the music of Trek films would be welcome. Trekmovie has a qualified person to do it. The composers are some of the legends of Hollywood, Cliff Eidelmann and Dennis McCarthy being exceptions who exceeded expectations.

Jack
March 15, 2009 6:00 pm

#7, #25… I actually wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Shatner did indeed choose the font — the man micromanaged every aspect of that movie. I remember reading about a designer struggling to figure out how to get the communicator to light up, brightly, when open as Shatner wanted it to. His daughter wrote a book — “Captain’s Log” about Shatner’s vision directing the thing, which explained how he used up the budget so quickly — and still wanted more.

sean
March 15, 2009 6:01 pm

#7 & 25

Even William Shatner makes fun of William Shatner’s ego. Nothing to get too worked up about.

March 15, 2009 6:02 pm

Just one note to add: that the “blue shift” was undone (returning to yellow) for the animated series, IIRC.

OneBuckFilms
March 15, 2009 6:09 pm

34 – A part of the score is used on the Official Web Site, and in the background of the eSurance and MTV behind the scenes videos (along with the first Full Trailer music by Two Steps From Hell).

They probably won’t use the TMP theme (Goldsmith’s), but the TOS Fanfare has been confirmed to be in use.

This is a nice little article. :-)

There's no enough scots in starfleet!
March 15, 2009 6:10 pm

I like the new logo, but then i also liked Nemesis’s one too lol!

bad me! :P

Hat Rick
March 15, 2009 6:11 pm

37 (AJ), glad to confirm that the trailer music isn’t from the movie. Nice, also, to know that I have a second on my suggestion about a news article on the music of Trek.

One of my regrets is not knowing where my LP record — yes, VINYL — of the music from Star Trek III is. It may be in storage, it may be lost forever. Anyone, the “B” side had an electro-synthesized disco-ey version of the ST III theme that even today resides securely in my memory banks. I can even “play” it in my mind and dance to it, if I had the urge. And, I realize, it may be on Youtube as well, though I haven’t searched for it.

I’m pretty sure Trek soundtracks have been consistently published over the years, by Crescendo and others.

I recall reading an article on TrekMovie that discussed the music of Trek, and another one would be welcome.

Hat Rick
March 15, 2009 6:14 pm

41, didn’t realize that the official site had the part of the music from the movie. I’ll have to check it out again.

OneBuckFilms
March 15, 2009 6:15 pm

A good column on the music for the Trek films would be great.

Star Trek has a rich and diverse history of great music, by some of the finest composers in Hollywood.

The music, right from Sandy Courage’s bondo’d theme and fanfare, is absolutely iconic.

I don’t envy Michael Giacchino’s task with this score.

There's no enough scots in starfleet!
March 15, 2009 6:16 pm

The theme on the vid is from the soundtrack to TMP, its called ‘
Illia’s theme’

its braw :D

There's no enough scots in starfleet!
March 15, 2009 6:18 pm

oops
make that *Ilia’s*

AdmNaismith
March 15, 2009 6:20 pm

The original titles for TMP were white letters on black (in the same font, I believe), and were just flashed up in the manner of a TV title.
The gold lettering described above was made specifically for the DVD release of ‘The Director’s Cut’.

The commentary nay explain what the deal was.

Justin Olson
March 15, 2009 6:21 pm

This is the actual TMP title as it appeared in 1979:

March 15, 2009 6:22 pm

To echo what others have said, the “galaxy” typeface did not appear as “golden and embossed” on ST:TMP. It was plain white against a black background. The embossing and gold color, as well as the modern “streaming stars” background, was added for the TMP Director’s Edition released on DVD only a few years ago.

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