One company that vied for the CGI effects work on the new HDTV Trek project was EdenFX. The L.A.-based digital effects house has a long relationship Paramount and Star Trek dating back to the 90s. The team has racked up a couple dozen Emmy’s for their Trek work, most recently in 2004 for Star Trek: Enterprise. Last year when Eden created a digital version of a ship from Kirk’s era for the ‘In A Mirror Darkly’ arc, fans got a taste of what the classic Trek might look like with state-of-the-art visual effects on HDTV . When word of a new HD Star Trek: The Original Series project started going around town, EdenFX was on the scene immediately. The company quickly put together a bid including test footage (see below). In the end CBS decided to do the initial CGI work in-house. However, EdenFX owner John Gross is still optimistic they can be part of HDTV Trek as the project goes along. CBS Paramount has committed to deliver ‘new’ episodes on a weekly basis, so it sounds like there is a lot of work to do over the next two years.
Eden Knows Trek.
Although founded in 2000, the EdenFX team is made up of people who have worked on Trek over the last decade, including many who worked on Trek while with Digital Muse, Foundation Imaging and Amblin Imaging. The artists working at EdenFX were providing Paramount with digital visual effects starting with Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and then went on to both Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. As time progressed over the last decade more and more digital effects were used until Enterprise went fully digital and HD. "Over the years we have all truly become serious Star Trek fans," says Gross. The team has actually immortalized themselves into Star Trek by digitally engraving their names onto some of the ships, "My name is on Voyager’s tail", said Gross. The Eden team also seem to be on the same page as CBS with regards to making any changes. "Viewers shouldn’t notice any changes from the original show," said Gross "Mike (Okuda) and CBS are taking the right approach towards maintaining the integrity of the show, it should just look better not be different." Although they haven’t yet been called on to work on the new HDTV Original Series, they are ready to go and have fully researched the project identifying all the required new shots and opportunities for reusing shots. They have also looked into how to solve issues like mixing the exterior shots with shots on the view screen. Integrating new effects and transforming to HD ratio will be tricky for certain stock shots like the often reused ‘over Sulu’s shoulder’ or ‘view screen close up’ shots.
Turning these often used shots into HD w/CGI is challenging
..And Abrams’ Lost too
Even if Eden does not work on the new HD TOS project they still want to be part of Star Trek’s future. Although it is early for Trek XI producer J.J. Abrams to start picking effects companies, he does have a relationship with EdenFX. Eden has done work for both Alias and Lost, including creating the Wild Boars, the Polar Bear and the infamous ‘smoke monster’ (aka ‘Lostzilla’). "We would love to work with JJ again, he and his team are very creative and fun to work with," says Gross. Acknowledging that Paramount may look to a bigger company like ILM for all their visual effects, Gross does note that EdenFX have done quite a lot of feature work including many shots for the recent Superman Returns. But perhaps Gross’ most compelling argument is this: "we know Star Trek, it is part of us."
Some of the EdenFX team in 2004 with their Emmys for ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’