Dochterman Fires Proximity Phasers

Since the first airing of Trek Remastered many have raised the question of CBS possibly being ‘too faithful’ to the original effect shots. ST:TMP Director’s Edition Visual Effects Supervisor Daren Dochterman, who reviewed Balance of Terror Remastered for, takes a different view on ‘faithfulness’. Dochterman blogs today:

I don’t think it’s a bad idea to be slavishly copying the original 60s visual effects.  I just think it should be done more accurately.

To demonstrate this he has created what he considers a more accurate but still faithful version of the proximity phaser shot.

click to launch QT video of Dochterman’s Proximity Phaser Shot

(see below for CBS’s version and the original version)

Original version

Trek Remastered version from CBS Digital

The question of ‘over faithfulness’ is certainly debatable as Dochterman has demonstrated. But perhaps CBS needs a bit more practice before they get Trek Remastered just right, especially on those pesky nacelle domes.

Thanks to Daren for tipping us to his new vid and to Matt for the original and remastered vids for comparison. 

More Dochterman Reading:
Dochterman’s Full TrekEnhanced Blog Entry on ‘Slavish Copying’
Dochterman’s review of Balance of Terror
TrekMovie Interview with Dochterman

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I applaud Daren’s skill and abilities with CGI, I’m simply wondering if it is wise to present perhaps a rupture, or division in the fanbase regarding the Trek Re-mastered effort.
I think personally at the end of the day, as with any art, it comes down to style and the perciever.
The original Trek effects had a certain style and charm
Daren’s efforts have a certain style and charm.
If given the oppurtunity, I believe the CBS digital effort will find the charm of the style being used.
When closely examining the above three stills, one can’t help but notice only superficial differences – lighting color and value, style of phaser bolts, and specific angle of the Enterprise.
Daren’s Enterprise more closely matches the *lighting* of the original model, recreating the blue mood lights used in the studio.
The CBS digital Enterprise more accurately represents the true appearance of the physical model without ambiant light, a light camouflage grey hull.
Additionally, Daren’s Enterprise features a more detailed surface with the miniscule hull plating, but both the original studio model and the CBS digital Enterprise lack this more movie era representative paneling.
Again I believe it simply comes down to style and personal preference.
Regarding the nacelle dome caps, I still maintain all of the criticism is derived from years of Next Gen deep red/orange caps.
The lighting on the studio model for the nacelle caps never was a deep orange or red and is very muted in appearance which often times gave the gold appearance that we have watched on TV for 40 years.
I believe interpretation is paramount to any artistic endeavor, whether on the creative end or the viewing/admiring end.
Any 10 people could “interpret” the U.S.S. Enterprise and you would end up with 10 different subtle, yet “accurate” versions.
The studio model, Daren’s Enterprise, the CBS digital Enterprise, and the CGI “In a Mirror Darkly ” Defiant all represent the same thing, yet they are four different interpretations with four different subtle artistic styles, and depending on a persons personal tastes, one or the other will be preferred.
I honestly do not know why a select group seems surprised by the direction the Okuda’s took when they clearly pointed our their intentions before the episode aired.
Let’s save the barrel rolls, rear firing photon torpedo’s, ambiant lighting, massive fleet battles, or whatever it is people expected to see, for Star Trek XI and J.J. Abrams,
and let’s just all try to sit back and relish in the one TRUE Star Trek being beamed into out laps once again with a U.S.S. Enterprise that is a modelers dream, in which any given still would FINALLY serve as a damn good painting guide to building an accurately colored and detailed model.
Sighs, I miss the AMT classic Star Trek kits, if we are going to use the energy as a fanbase, instead of splitting hairs let’s lobby RC2 to release ALL of the 70’s Amt classic Trek models! Now would be the BEST time with the renewed interest in Trek!

Hmmm, well, I still haven’t seen any actual episodes… Comparison wise; I love the Dochterman’s presentation of the Enterprise, especially the way the light seems to flow from beneath the nacelle cap. Yet in comparing them “all”, I find that despite the smudgey orange of the nacelles, the Re-mastered Enterprise isn’t too bad. The difference in the energy bolts is mostly a matter of preference, I think.

Hmm, these are photon torpedos and not phasers!

The series hadn’t named photon torpedos at this point, iirc. The muddled depiction is original to the episode.

As I’ve posted before, Dochterman’s talent is not in dispute. The fact is he didn’t get the job, and since he clearly can deliver the product, it must be because CBS doesn’t want to pay him what would be required to ramp up and meet the schedule. If he wants to keep auditioning for the job in public, I say keep it up, I enjoy seeing the samples. CBS is planning to spend two years on this project and maybe during that time it will find itself wanting to allocate resources differently.

I agree the differences are subtle. I’d probably pick Dochterman’s if it was up to me but CBS’s is not objectionable.

I’ve noticed that the CBS folks have been very careful about duplicating the lens settings and distortion of the original shots — in this case and most often it’s evident in the rim of the saucer which can appear quite thick or narrow, depending.

I’m totally sure that phasers and photon torpedos had different sound effects and looked out different, even if there was no official naming of these weapons.

It is widely accepted that the production crew hadn’t very well established the weapons yet. The dialog clearly calls the effect “phasers” in the episode yet it behaves much more like what would become “photon torpedos”.

Because of the series early phaser/photon uncertainty, CBS Paramount decided to call the phasers shown in Balance of Terror “Proximity Phasers”.

The one thing that really stands out in the original shot is the star movement. It is obviously the stock star pattern used in many episodes and possibly the intro. The perspective shows the stars moving uniformly to the center of the shot while the Enterprise moves towards the upper right corner of the shot. Of course this a very unrealistic perspective and has always been very distracting to me. In both recreations this is corrected to show the star pattern flowing past the Enterprise with her direction of motion.

It’s the little details like that which makes these new shots look so much better even if its subtle. As I recall, the 3rd season shots (the new ones at least) had this right too.

Trivia Alert – regarding phasers and photon torpedoes…

  • The Cage: Hand phasers called lasers and used the right sound effect. The phaser cannon was never referred to by name but was referred to as being powered by remote from the Enterprise and it used the standard sound effect.
  • WNHGB: First use of the word phaser referring to the phaser rifle – sound effect is the same. The hand phasers are still the same as the hand lasers used in the Cage.
  • The Corbomite Maneuver: Ship’s phasers are called phasers and used the red beam effect with a slightly different sound effect.
  • The Enemy Within: Hand phasers used. Sound is normal but they emitted a multi beam – never used again.
  • The Man Trap: Phaser used on stun for the 1st time. The burst hits Crater with a splatter effect (please fix this). Crater has a Cage era hand laser.
  • Balance of Terror: Proximity phasers used – both visual and sound effect used would become photon torpedoes.
  • What are Little Girls Made of?: Brown uses a hand phaser from the Cage era.
  • Galileo Seven: Hand phasers used. Normal sound and visual effect. Color is blue for the 1st time.
    Phaser usage is very minimal for the next several episodes.
  • Arena: Kirk uses a grenade launcher against the Gorn forces in the nearby hills. Visual and sound effect is photon torpedoes. Sulu fires phasers against the Gorn ship. The shot is the same as BoT except red phaser beams are used. Sound is again slightly different. Sulu also fires photon torpedoes – by name – at the Gorn. The sound effect is right but the visual effect is a red blob similar to a small burst of the phasers.
  • The Alternative Factor: Single beam phaser shot used to destroy the time ship. Interesting note is the unique view from astern.
    Another long run with minimal phaser usage.
  • A Taste of Armageddon: The Eminian’s use hand disrupters that would become standard issue for the Klingons.
  • The Devil in the Dark: Type 1 and type 2 hand phasers referred to as such for the 1st time.
  • Errand of Mercy: The Enterprise is hit by several blasts from the Klingons of an unnamed weapon type. The effect is like photon torpedoes except they are slow moving, almost like mines. Phasers are returned by name but the BoT stock shot of proximity phasers is used. I really hope this is all fixed and they splurge a bit on extra effects.
  • Operation Annihilate!: Type 1 phasers used by landing party for the 1st time although they had been seen in the background in other episodes.
    After the 1st season the effects and names are consistently used with the possible exception of the color of the phaser beam.
  • Elaan of Troyius: The 1st time the Klingon battle cruiser is seen and the last time photon torpedoes are used.
  • The Enterprise Incident: It seems that the Romulans not only use Klingon battle cruisers but also Klingon hand disrupters. And speaking of prop reuse, it looks like the cloaking devise is a combination of Nomad and Sargon’s globe.
  • The Lights of Zetar: The last time the ship fires phasers.

Would anyone like to expand on this list or offer up corretions?

That’s about right, great list of oddities and growing pains for the series effects!

We do see the sterotypical ship phaser effects in Who Morns for Adonias, and The Apple in the 2nd season.

The hand phaser effect still varied somewhat: in Season 3 the phaser was often less of a beam and more of a circular burst that eminated out from the tip. And good lord yes they could never make up their mind what color to use. Green was prevalent in season 3.

Something else that was an inconsitancy due to the early nature of the show was the fact that the use of shuttlecraft hadn’t been established in The Enemy Within and thus when the transporter went screwy the landing party was stranded. They should have been able to send a shuttle down for them, but the production crew hadn’t worked that out yet.

I really like Dochterman’s version of the Proximity Phaser Shot. I prefer his “film” look over the plasticy, digital, clean look of the remaster.

I would like to SEE an ion storm as referred to in “mirror mirror” that caused the transporter malfunction. Instead of the “flash effect” of the ship going from right to left, right to left, something more dramatic. Also. What would a new galatic barrier look like, for “Where no man has gone before”? Would it resemble what we saw in ST5 movie? or a little toned down? I hope you could work on this.

I would love to see what improvements will be done with “The Cage” there is so much to change. For example when the Talosians probed the ships computers and checked earth history, the events showed shots of Kennedy, Johnson etc, since Star trek is our future, would’nt it be more powerful to give a quick glimpse of 9/11? The war in Iraq?.Adding more weight to the keepers words to pike’ the customs and history of your race show a unique hatred of captivity. this makes you too violent and dangerous of species for our needs. When the landing party tried to rescue Pike, creating a more realistic mountain landscape on Talos IV. The laser blasts and crumbling rocks would be fantastic even more so with the laser cannon involved? Perhaps showing a piece of the Columbia that Tyler picked up on the view screen? Revising the enterprises approach to the planet, instead of the planets approach to enterprise? Maybe for once, showing the enterprise in orbit? PLEASE WORK ON THIS, I know you could do it!!

In Errand of Mercy, the opening battle between the 2 ships would evidently be effective with the new proximity phasers. However, I think the ending were Ayelborne tells Kirk & Kor that he is standing on the homebase of the Federation & the klingon empire at the same time, would it not be great if we saw in one of each of his eyes, each planet with a little activity and his image looking at both. I cant wait to see it!!

When ever they get to “Who mourns for Adonais?” in the end when Apollo is shooting his own lightning I think it would be great to create the illusion of distance between his shots and the enterprise firing phasers. Maybe a lightning bursts flying from the ground then through clouds hitting the ship. Maybe showing the ship from Apollo’s point of view would be great!