Abrams Picks Chambliss as Production Designer for Star Trek XI

Studio sources have told TrekMovie.com that JJ Abrams has selected long-time collaborator Scott Chambliss to head up the design team for Star Trek XI. The award-winning designer has worked with Abrams on the TV shows Felicity and Alias as well as Abrams directorial debut film Mission – Impossible III. Although Chambliss has been repsonsible for defining the look on over a dozen TV and film projects, this will be his first time in science fiction (unless you count the few genre touches to Alias). For his work on Alias he received 4 Art Directors Guild ‘Excellence In Production Design’ nominations and 3 Emmy nominations (winning one of each). It is no surprise that Chambliss was chosen, and it highlights how Abrams is putting his mark onto Trek. This hire makes Star Trek XI the first Trek film without Herman Zimmerman as the Production Designer since Star Trek V in 1989. So far every single person associated with Star Trek XI is both new to the franchise and has worked with Abrams before (most on M:I:III).

A new look?
Chambliss was unavailable for comment, but sources indicate that he and Abrams are already working on some designs for Trek XI. Although it is known that the film will take place around the Original Series era, it is still unknown how close the film will mirror the look of the 1960s show. Abrams and the writers have indicated that the film will stick with Trek canon, but it is hard to believe that they will slavishly duplicate 40 year old TV budget designs in a big budget motion picture. Unlike the recent TNG films, the design of the 6 Original Series films had a very different look than the TV show they were based on (although being set after the show helped justify the changes as not being violations of continuity). One thing can be sure; Trekkies will be looking very closely at the work of Scott Chambliss.


Here is a brief clip featuring Scott Chambliss and JJ Abrams from the MI:3 DVD


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Well, Chambliss was given a large budget with Mission: Impossible III, and the sets were quite good. I suppose we should expect the same for Trek XI.

I love how these things are going forward without the official greenlight.

I wish they would stop beating around the bush and announce Shatner and Nimoy playing older versions of Kirk and Spock in the 24th century. The set designer doesn’t bring money. Shatner and Nimoy do.

Time to give Kirk a better ending. Anything else will be disappointing.

I’m happy to see Trek taking a new fresh perspective in terms of design and creativity, but I’m sad to see production staff that has done such a good job in the past shown the door.

It’d be interesting to see if trekMovie could get a comment by Herman Zimmerman.

If they annouce that, all the hype will be gone…it’ll just die out. Doing it this way is better for the hype, plus we don’t KNOW that they WILL be involved as actors. Heck, not to sound cruel, but at their age, it’s hard to be sure they’ll be around when filming starts.

Not having those two involved as actors would be a big blunder on Abrams’ part, however. Berman & Braga always shyed away from them and look where it got them!

“but it is hard to believe that they will slavishly duplicate 40 year old TV budget designs in a big budget motion picture.”

I have nothing to do with Hollywood, so I have no idea exactly what a Production Designer is charged with. I suspect from your comments it involves set design. If so, let’s hope that designing award winning sets for Felicity’s preppy college experience and 20th century scenery for MI-3 (a movie I enjoyed) translates to creating realistic 23rd Century Starship interiors. Like your comment suggests, I can’t imagine it will look at all similar.

I assume at least some of the movie will take place on a starship, though I admit I would at once be both more intrigued and more concerned if I found out that it did not. ST4-TVH was good despite having no Starship Enterprise (nearly), so I suppose it could be done.

It is good to see more names being linked to Trek 11. I don’t mind the idea of new people bing involved, it will hopefully add new life to Trek something it needs if it is going to attrack a new audiance. Live long and prosper.

It should be noted for the record that even a non-alarmist such as hitch1969© views this continued development of all the eggs in the Abrams basket as one of trepid concern.

However, in light of severance to the Berman and Braga era, we are optimistically concerned at hitchworld at this time.

Yellow Alert™.

Lettuce simply make note at this time and carefully babysit the project to successful fruition. Trek XI is going to be a great one!



Frankly, new blood is what is needed, and to be blunt, if it’s based on TOS, he already has a template, he just needs to interpet in a new but acceptable way. Touchstoning others efforts is fine, if it’s applicable, but otherwise, let the ghosts of past Trek Films have their legacy and let’s start over: fresh!
I am curious how technological and design asthetics will be addressed… will TOS be relegated to some Holodeck Historical Recreation, that the ancient Kirk and Spock chuckle at over the inaccuracies? Just kidding. ;-) Perhaps, we will just be given a new vista to embrace without cumbersome explanation, and just go along for a glorious ride?

Remember, IF this film is about Kirk’s First Command of the Enterprise — it’s possible the color scheme of the Bridge may be that of the Captain Pike era. The bright Red may simply come later. Scott Chambliss may consider this …

“A new look?
Chambliss was unavailable for comment, but sources indicate that he and Abrams are already working on some designs for Trek XI. Although it is known that the film will take place around the Original Series era, it is still unknown how close the film will mirror the look of the 1960s show. Abrams and the writers have indicated that the film will stick with Trek canon, but it is hard to believe that they will slavishly duplicate 40 year old TV budget designs in a big budget motion picture.”

O.k., you know what? Don’t screw with what’s been done before. Maybe detail it a bit more, but unless you want all of hell’s flames unleashed, then don’t screw with established designs.

Don’t do to Trek what Bay is doing to Transformers.

I think they should rebuild the old sets exactly like the New Voyages™ folks are over there.

I think the uniforms, ships, everything… should be identical. AND I want to see present day shatner in his old uniform.

Nimoy as well. Then they should put Matt Damon in there and maybe Benny Affleck as Spock.

I want old school Klingons, too. Original school Klingons with the brown shoepolish makeup and NO forehead ridges.

And there better be a Captain PikeMobile™ somewhere in the movie. One beep for YES, two beeps for NO.

Kirk travels back in time to get the one that got away – Miramaneeeeee™!!!

going back before the asteroid was a problem and he got lost in the obelisk. Thats where Matt Damon comes in. And he walks up to Miramanee by the river and says, “I’m a free man, come on and dance with a PIMP!!!” And of course, she does.

Then Shat and Nimoy steal the enterprise and go back to the future part III. Find Khan… Ricardo Montalban in the PikeMobile™!!!

Thats what I want to see but I would still be happy with another kind of story and look because I realize that it’s not all about me.



I don’t think that the more conservative among TOS fans can quite unless hell’s fires. A bonfire in a trashcan, maybe.

Present Kirk in his old uniform and Khan in Pike’s electronic wheelchair? LOL

Hitch…I think maybe you did a little too much LDS in the sixties!

BTW, I dunno whether Zimmerman was the Production Designer on Star Trek V, but he certainly designed many of the sets. His version of the bridge of the Enterprise was the best-realized of any of the Trek films, IMAO. I know some folks prefer the ST 6 version of it, but as far as I’m concerned Meyer’s mandated changes to it just trashed the aesthetics of the thing.

“Thats what I want to see but I would still be happy with another kind of story and look because I realize that it’s not all about me.”

Sorry, but that sounds an awful lot like derision for the opposing viewpoint to me.

I say we just go ahead an redesign the bridge to look like a superstar destroyer from Star Wars. Kirk piloting an X-Wing fighter to blow up some people…YEAH!!! That would totally “rock”.

The Star Trek-5-Enterprise-A had the interior of the Enterprise-D. Her bridge had no buttons, so it was too modern for late 23th century in comparison to the 24th century. But the failure of Star Trek 6 was, that the ship’ s interior in this film was much less comfortable to the ship’s interior shown in Star Trek 1.

I’m surprised to hear that you two didn’t like the ST-6 bridge. I thought it was excellent.

They were filiming TNG at the time, so I didn’t really much care for the reuse of, say, the Ten Forward set for the President’s office (that was pretty obvious). I also didn’t like the observation room on STV-TFF – it looked like a room from TNG as well. But I thought the actual bridge was alright. I preferred that design to both Excelsior and the TNG Early 24th century designs (i.e. Stargazer, Enterprise-C, etc.)

That said, I really liked the bridge of STII-TWOK and (obviously) prefer the movie bridges to the one from TOS. Mainframes in space!!! (Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it looked good in it’s time.)

The Star Trek 5 Enterprise A returned to the basic design signatures of the original television series, simply streamlined and amped up quite a bit.

The use of Okudagrams and lack of buttons for most instruments on the bridge – established in the final shot of “Star Trek IV” – would be carried through in both “Star Trek VI” and “Generations,” though a few switches were added for specific purposes in VI.

Didnt we learn about the second Vulcan eyelids when spock went blind in that episode with the IDIC?

Ben Affleck played DareDevil, who was also…. you guessed it, BLIND.


Captain Pike in the PikeMobile™. Ricardo Montalban is also totally paralyzed these days as well.

Lets mash up some SpyKids III cgi and take Khan back to Talos iV.

“now now mister scott… young minds, fresh ideas”

To those who think that the sets should look like they did originally and on New Voyages. I completely disagree. I think paramount is looking at this movie as a trek relaunch and they want completely fresh looks and ideas. I want them to have total creative license in the look of everything. If the orginal designers could have access to the resources and experience that we have today in production design, they would not look the way they did in the 60s.

Why pay for a production designer if all he’s going to do is create sets that a bunch of fans can do on their own (New Voyages)

One comment about the STV bridge– shag carpet? Looked like TNG. By the way, they only redid that because the TMP bridge became the D battle bridge.

Lets bring on the design changes! The first thing that shoud go is those stupid nacelles. And the skinny wings holding them up. And the cigar shaped secondary hull. Not to mention that skinny neck holding it to the saucer. Might as well toss that saucer as well.

It would be more logical to make the TOS Ent look more like the Galactica.

dear Country&Western™,

When you say bring on the design changes and then talk about getting rid of the basic concepts of the enterprise and say to make it look like Galactica…

That seems a little extreme. I’m just saying. Some of these ideas are just outright outlandish.

Where’s AdCo™ or DRuss BFlav® when common sensibility is needed for godsake? BIG DAWG A.P., come on man school the cattle.

This dude’s name is seriously Chambliss©? Come on man you made that up didnt you?



As far as I understood Mr. Abrams it`s not planned to re-invent the whole show like BSG. There will be new dramatic elements, perspectives and the relation to our present time.

@senya cartel
No, I liked the designs, but the one from ST5 was too progressive/ TNG-like while the one from ST6 went backwards relating to the corridors and other interiors in ST1, The ST6-bridge was ok.

I suspect you’re right, Anthony.

I’d expect the overall look to be similar to the original show, on the level of the broad strokes. The bridge will still look like the bridge, the Enterprise will still look like the Enterprise… But expecting an exact, button-by-button recreation of the bridge/engineering/etc. isn’t realistic, and I think on that level of detail it’ll be somewhat different-and probably much more visually dynamic.

The nice part is it’d be very easy to accomplish that without fundamentally changing the overall designs, due in large part to the genius of Matt Jefferies’ designs. :)


Dear Alex®,

I’ve copyrighted the best!! tagline for a reason, pallie. Let’s please refrain mmmmkay. I wouldnt want people to confuse you with me, or for you to get credit for my ideas.

I reckon that when Abrams reads this here at trekmovie.com, my ideas for the movie are going to happen. JJ respects my perspective and knows that it is for the gooder of the franchise. Anyone got Ricardo Montalban’s number? We’re going to need it. PikeMobile 2.0 will have rockets.



Well, like I said before, I wouldn’t mind more detail. I would mind a more extreme re-invention.


It has to look cool and futuristic, yet campy, colourful and 60s – good luck Mr Chambliss :)

AdCo is here, hitch baby!

What’s this talk about redesigning the big E? CW’s just kicking up dust. There will be no new exterior for the Enterprise. They may add a little texture to the model, maybe tweak a few details if any changes at all. As for the interiors, I could see that changing by filling out the design concepts already imagined. You don’t have to recreate all the details, you can take the concept and make it more realistic, with instruments and screens that make sense.

All I know is that I want a PikeMobile 2.0 for X-mas. I’ve been a good boy, ‘Ol St. Hitch.

The TMP Bridge was damaged from water while in storage and thus is why an almost entire new bridge was built for STV, only the 2 turbo lift sections where used and later used on the Enterprise-E Bridge.

I’m so glad its time to start with fresh team. I would love a retro look. I just hope they never use those crap red/brown uniforms from Star Trek 2-6.

I imagine, we’ll get a more expensive, detailed, realistic version of the original designs. What was once grey-painted plywood wiil now be metal. All materials on the ship will have greater texture and the lighting will be enhanced. Screens on the bridge will all function, rather than be static paintings and maybe we’ll see what Spock and Sulu see in the scanner devices they peer into.

I’m really looking forward to seeing 60s low-budget sets re-worked on a big 2000s film budget!

shoulda stuck with Z

I hope the ship, the sets and the costumes look absolutely nothing like anything we’ve ever seen before. The hilarity value of the outrage will be worth the price of admission alone :D

My advice to Trek’s new production designer… be careful not to be influenced by post 1977 Star Wars( New Hope) sci-fi for inspiration.That movie has crept into most all sci-fi films since it’s sucess.Star Trek should be a seamless optimistic vision of the future,not a dirty ,dim, nuts and bolts type looking film.Let’s see how great things could be.

I want to see all those wonderful golden age sci-fi images that influenced so much of TOS brought to 3D life. Look how wonderful some of those mattes are in TOS Remastered. Imagine what they’d look like in 2.35:1!!!

The exterior of enterprise needs to be re-imagined keeping the current saucer with 3 pods look but updating it for more cinematic scale.Igo to the movie just to see THAT.

It seems sad that Herman Zimmerman will not be involved in this one, he has certainly been instrumental in creating a wonderful look for Star Trek for a long time.
Still, I’m keeping an open mind and certainly won’t criticise anything I haven’t seen yet. It’ll be exciting to see what this guy comes up with.


Agree, I want the 60’s look with a cleaned up sleek look of the 2000’s.

The old 60’s stuff can be made to look good. I really think this is what Abrams is going to do IMO.

Nothing at all is dated about the Constitution class bridge set. Only the materials used.

An entirely accurate reproduction of the classic bridge is entirely feasible, especially given the advancements in set construction and materials in the past 40 years. Gone are the plywood and cork painted frames in favor of all manner of molder plastics.

If the original Enterprise set was recreated to a tee, with only enhancements to the monitors lining the duty stations, and button appearances , that set would fit in just as ell as any modern incarnation of Trek.

I see no fundamental problem here.

For an example, consider the appearance of the D bridge set in the series, versus Generations. Ambiant light source, construction materials, and paint hues make all the difference in the world.

An exact photo replica reconstructed bridge set could look pretty damn sharp if they wanted it to.

At a Creation Convention a few years ago, I was able to speak to Mr. Zimmerman at his table in the dealer’s room. I asked him why there was such a difference between the sleeker Star Trek V bridge set and the more pushbutton-like Star Trek VI set. After pausing for a moment, he admitted to me that he had more money to spend on the Star Trek VI bridge set and thus was able to add more bits.

Robert Bernardo

#24: “One comment about the STV bridge– shag carpet? ”

Nope, just carpet. The TOS bridge had carpet.

On topic… I’ve not see this guys work, I’ll have to rent MI… I pray he’s good.

On the brewing design arguments…

None of you will be completely satisfied…
Anthony will be proven correct…. no wholesale changes and no slavery to old exact duplicates. Somewhere in between…

I can’t wait until 2008…. a new movie and a whole universe of fanboys crying..

Since Chambliss has a template to follow in Matt Jeffries set designs for TOS, all I really think he needs to do is ramp up the detail. I think the TOS designs are simple and elegant but to low-tech for today’s audiences. Once again, here are my thoughts.

The basic starship interiors should use the same design motif seen in TOS, but the level of detail should be increased substantially. Make the walls look like they are made of metal, not plasterboard. Give the floor deck plates and the walls access hatches. Deepen the shadows and use hard light for accentuation, but only white, green, red, and blue lights. No purple, pink, or lime. Base the hallways on modern hospitals (many of which look like starships these days anyway). They should be pleasing to the eye, but still functional and sensible.

As for the bridge, the established design is damn near perfect, so again only details need to be added. Two sets of doors in the turbolift (the outer bridge doors and the turbolift car doors). More buttons at the stations and labels for what they do. The small screens surrounding the work stations and the larger screens above should have constantly changing information on them (no static photos or repeating designs). The helm and navigation stations need to be redesigned to appear more functional. It was always hard for me to believe Sulu and Chekov flew that ship with so few controls and no clear indication of what they did. The lighting on the bridge should be darker, almost like its lit only by the myriad controls all around it.

Finally, there’s one element that needs to be there for the new sets to work; cielings in the hallways and on the bridge. That simple addition will go a long way to making the interior sets look and feel real.

Here’s hoping they don’t just toss out the established designs we know so well. Thos designs are as much a part of Star Trek as the characters. If they screw with them too much, they’ll lose the aesthetic they are supposedly trying to achieve.

“Although it is known that the film will take place around the Original Series era, it is still unknown how close the film will mirror the look of the 1960s show.”

This “revisioning” idea grows more absurd by the hour.

Why not bring the honeymooners back with new actors playing the Kramden and Norton roles? That’ll work.

How about the Dukes of Hazzard. Bo and Luke and Daisy. Yeah. Now that’s a fine idea.

Maybe we could bring Our Gang up to date? Kids are kids. No one will notice.

I’ve got it! The Beverly Crusher Hillbilliies!

No no! Lost in Space. But we we have to re-imagine the robot.

Face facts people. You cannot recast “iconic” characters. It doesn’t work. (Unless it’s a parody which is what this show is starting to sound like.)

Greetings one and all,
I am a little disapointed that they have decided to go retro on ST XI, but I realy must say I am very intrested on how all this new blood is going to bring this new movie out. I will go see it when it comes out. I think this is a new begining for Star Trek. New blood brings on new ideas. J.J. Abrams has said he will do his best to stick to the mythos of Star Trek. What more can you ask for. He has been in contact with both Shatner and Nimoy, I am sure he has even talked with who ever is left of the original series. I don’t mean just the actors, but the production staff, and writters. As well as the Star Trek New Voyages gose, and Of Gods and Men, I really think that these maybe his insperation for doing a Original series movies. I see little faith in the fans out there. More negativity generates even more negativity. Lighten up give it a chance. I have enjoyed every Star Trek series since its beginings. A half empty cup leads to a empty cup!
Happy Holidays everyone.

Honestly I think that going back to the TOS days might cause more havoc and upsets than expected. While yes some fan attempts (i.e. Starship Exeter) have proven to be quite good, I really don’t think a “prequel” or whatever they are planning will do much good. I mean look at Enterprise…their intention was well, but ugh so many flaws and bad writing. While I don’t hate Enterprise 100% and it did attempt at bringing some notion of TOS back to television, overall it failed.

I also think going forward is stupid as well. I mean how many stories can they do until we actually get the actors to wearthe uniforms in AGT, the Visitor, and Endgame? I think instead, the focus should be on the “in-between” era. Why can’t the story take place after ST:VI? Or perhaps during the time of the Enterprise-C? Or pre-TNG with those amazing crewneck jumpsuits (and ludicrous male skirt uniforms! …just kidding). Star Trek needs a new approach, yes…but looking to old characters? Meh.

Why not introduce us to new faces…new stories…MORE SCIENCE FICTION! Personally, I’m sick of the movies focusing on just action or space battles. While yes, Nemesis did offer amazing special effects for that space battle, did they really have to fight in a nebula/briar patch again?! And God if I ever have to see a Star Trek movie with a dune buggy chase again, I’ll shoot myself…well perhaps only to stun.

I apologize for this rant, but ugh, I really do hope they make Star Trek spectacular again…great dialogue, exciting visions of the future, something mysterious…I dunno.

And I’m spent…