ILM To Provide Effects For ‘Star Trek’ – Enterprise To Appear In Film has confirmed two things that should not come as a surprise with regards to the new ‘Star Trek’ film in pre-production. Firstly we have learned from a number of sources that George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) has been selected to provide the special visual effects for Star Trek (2008). In keeping with the usual Star Trek secrecy neither Paramount nor ILM will officially confirm it, however sources say that some planning work on the effects has already started. Abrams has worked with ILM before and the choice is another example of Abrams sticking with his trusted Mission: Impossible III team. On the M:I:III DVD Abrams effuses about how excited he was to work with ILM and how happy he was with their work on the film. ILM also worked with the Star Trek writers/executive producers Orci & Kurtzman on Paramount/Dreamwork’s summer blockbuster Transformers. Although he wouldn’t confirm it, at the recent Transformers junket Orci told that he ‘certainly hoped’ that ILM would work on Star Trek. The choice of ILM shows that Paramount is giving Abrams and his team the budget and resources to achieve their goal to re-energizing the Trek franchise.

Trek and ILM have a long history going back to 1982 and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan which was only their 3rd non-Lucas production (ILM lists the CGI created Genesis effect in STII as one of their key technical achievements). ILM also went on to do the effects for STIII, STIV, STVI, Generations and First Contact. They also did the effects for the pilot of The Next Generation. Since the late 70s ILM has been the gold standard for visual effects racking up a number of Academy Awards. In addition to six Star Trek films (and of course all six Star Wars films), ILM has worked on most of the films of the last 25 years with space effects including Galaxy Quest, The Chronicles of Riddick, Space Coyboys, Deep Impact, Starship Troopers, E.T. and of course Spaceballs.

ILM packs the ships into this shot from Star Wars Episode III

We will see the Enterprise
The other non surprising but significant thing we can now confirm is that the Enterprise (NCC-1701) will appear in the film. In the world of Star Trek the ships and especially The Enterprise(s) are as beloved as the heroes themselves. Since Star Trek (2008) is a prequel it was unclear if the ship would make an appearance. Now we know that we will see Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise in Star Trek (2008). Some version of an Enterprise has appeared in every single Trek film (although the Enterprise A is only shown briefly at the end of STIV, but in Generations you even had two Enterprises: B & D). It is still unclear how big a role in the film the Enterprise has in the new film, but bear in mind that the writers describe the film as ‘a starship adventure.’

This will not be the first time ILM have worked on the NCC-1701 in a feature film. The ‘refit’ version of the Enterprise (built for Star Trek: The Motion Picture) appeared in the Star Trek II and Star Trek III (where ILM showed the ship get destroyed…see below). ILM also worked with the replacement Enterprise-A (Star Trek IV and Star Trek VI), and built the (Excelsior class reuse) Enterprise-B (Generations), the Enterprise D (TNG) and Enterprise E (First Contact). Of course almost all of ILM’s previous Trek work (and even some of their work on M:I:III) was model work, but a year ago they sold their model shop making ILM all digital (although they still work with their former model shop on some shots).

The end of the NCC 1701 (STII:TSFS)…will we see the beginning?

What will it look like?
The Original Series design for the Enterprise has never been seen in a feature film. When they made Star Trek: The Motion Picture the ship was ‘refit’ to make it look better on the big screen. That is explained away because the ship was literally put into spacedock to get an upgrade. The Enterprise for the new Star Trek will be from the time around or before the The Original Series. Of course, even the original model went through some minor changes throughout the three seasons…most notably the switch away from the pilot version’s pointy nacelle caps. The current ‘Star Trek Remastered’ project approaches creating a digital version of the Enterprise (pictured below) with the brief to make it match as closely as possible to the original. However, that project is literally replacing shots from within the original show whereas the film is a stand-alone piece. Therefore, Trekkies should probably expect some level of changes with regards to the new Enterprise. Regardless the new ILM Enterprise is sure to spark just as much debate as the CBS-Digital Enterprise for TOS-R. To date the film makers have not talked much about the look of the new movie, but this issue is something they are pondering. Unlike their approach to the story matching up with the canon, this section from an MTV interview with the writers (and exec. producers) shows that they may be more flexible on the look:

We’re not going to start totally from scratch. We want it to feel like it’s updated and of the now. That’s actually the discussions we’re having now: how to keep the look of the universe yet have it not look like nothing’s new. It’s tricky.

CBS-Digital Enteprise from Star Trek Remastered ("Mirror Mirror")

VOTE: How do you feel about change?
do you want to see the Big E exactly as it was, a new design…something in between. Vote in the new Enterprise poll (right column)

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oh yeah…Enterprise NCC 1701 no damn NX, A, B, C, D, or E….;-)
Majestetically moving out of the dock….*sigh*

Good news. I hope they use both a physical model and CGI, as they have dome with many Star Wars ships. Either way, what they do will be good.

Okay…I’m excited! It’ll be great having ILM back. Now if only James Horner was doing the score…

ILM without models? What has the world come to?

I hope they re-design the 1701 to update it. It looked futuristic for 1967, but it looks like a 1960’s spaceship in 2007.

Take a look at this beauty…..that should be the new 1701

“ has confirmed two things that should not come as a surprise with regards to the new ‘Star Trek’ film in pre-production.”

Not come as a surprise? ILM (My favorite visual effects company) hasn’t worked with Star Trek in 11 years and it’s shown. Bringing them back for this next feature had me jumping for joy all over the place at work. This is like a dream come true!

Click on the picture again to get a better look at the detail

this guy needs a job…at CBS-D

It looks like a cartoon.


Paramount takes a good step forward with hiring JJ and now contracts with ILM.

Somehow someone here will find this to be a bad thing, but I think it’s another positive movement toward a good movie on Christmas ’08.

E is back in good hands again.

OK, here are my thoughts:

#1.) If ILM has any intention of using a physical model, they should ask the air and space museum for access to the original 18 foot shooting model from the series and use THAT one. Nothing has ever looked as good (my opinion anyway!) and that is the ship Kirk and Spock should be on.

#2.) If it’s going to be all digital, I sure hope they do a better job than CBSdigital did, especially with the nacelle caps! We will never hear the end of it if it looks like the first few remasters!! LOL!!
Until Next Time,

The guy who did it is named Gabe koerner. He was that kid in the first Trekkies movie…remember the one with the long blond hair with his dad in the truck that looked like a shuttle craft.

He actually realized his dream and he was on staff for the last Season of “Enterprise”. He has also done effects work on the new Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek Voyager.

Here is his website…

For the record: RICHARD TAYLOR and ANDY PROBERT redesigned the Enterprise used in STAR TREK:TMP – STAR TREK VI: TUC. Doug Trumbull only made some minor suggestion/additions to the model after Robert Abel and Associates was fired by Robert Wise. Trumbull added the extra detail around the lower saucer dome and the spotlights that appear on the hull of the ship.

Other than that, it was (largely) all TAYLOR and PROBERT!

My awesome prediction: any way ILM chooses to go, retro or revamped, all CGI or model–a number of folks here will be unhappy, with a subset ready to go on the warpath. But if anything intrigues me about this project more than the story or recasting, it will be how they choose to approach the conondrum of designing a retro-future, and if they have better luck at it than the designers on “Enterprise” did.

Prolly. Enterprise should be SMOOTH skinned as seen in TOS…not that junky plated look that we saw in Enterprise…


Before someone jumps all over the “no model” comments, please realize we are talking about ILM here, the “king”. This is not CBS-D.
While CBS-D has been doing a wonderful job, in my opinion ILM’s work will not disappoint when it comes to reviving Enterprise on the big screen.

re: 2 – “James Horner….score”

I read earlier that Michael Gianchinno was the favorite of Team Abrams. I hope this turns out to be the case. I had not bought a soundtrack in years, and then I gave a close listen to “the Incredibles”. His music has the right pacing, feel and versatility for Trek. He may be able to remain true to the original Courage themes, while give us something fresh.

The problem with Horner’s scores is they keep turning up. Give a re-listen to Cocoon, The Rocketeer, Aliens, Titanic, Apollo 13, Braveheart, and Katie’s CBS Evening News theme. You can hear the Enterprise leaving Regula 1 heading for Mutara over and over again. The Titanic version would make a nice soundtrack for “Steam Trek”!

Love the site.

Good to see ILM working on Trek. To me, they are the the epitomy of effects.

ILM probably hasn’t used models for any on-air use for a good ten years.

#10 – How about NO!

Some things you don’t mess with, and the Big E is one of them.

Acutally they have…

ILM did the crash sequence in Nemesis……and before you say I am wrong….find out yourself.

The crash sequence in nemesis was actually a model!!

Something that needs said.

Anthony, thanks to you and Trekmovie for keeping us informed. It’s not said often enough.


I want the original 1701!! That’s what should be there and it has proven to hold up even today with the re-mastered project. I think the original 1701 looks great when photographed with modern techniques.

What is wrong with this??
comment image

Great news regarding ILM doing the project!!!

The old ship on the big screen would appeal only to us fans. to the new crowd it would look boring and bland.

I say update the ship!!!!

If they stay true to Trek history, I wonder how they want to include the Enterprise. Kirk had as Captain two predecessors (Pike and April) and Memory Alpha says: “Pike’s half-Vulcan science officer, Spock, who served under him for over eleven years […]”

And going off the “old ship will look boring on screen” idea….can you imagine if they kept the original corridors from the original series……

Update the look like “Enterprise” did save the NX-01.


They wont have the interior, the customes and props look like the 60’s set right? I say keep the outside the same but maybe have the Enterprise A’ computer system. Would that be good?

I think the original exterior of the ship is too boring for the big screen. Heck, even the first movie knew that.

As much as I love the original 1701, it’s just too boring and bland for newbies to the franchise.

At this point they are more important then us…why? Because even if we all went to go see it, it still would not mean success for the movie.

We need new fans to make this movie a success.

And if that means altering canon, or the ships then go right ahead.

ILM’s involvement is good news.

Gabe Koerner does a nice job as a CG artist. But I don’t care for his view of the Enterprise. In my opinion, and I am a designer, his design is too busy and over worked. I am speaking from a designers point of view, and not from a view point of being slavish to TOS.

As much as I would love to see a CGI Enterprise 1701 as it appears in TOS, I’m sure this will not be the case as they have to modify it as it was done for Star Trek The Motion Picture in order to have the level of detail that today’s audiences demand. But I think it can be done very, very minimally. Matt Jeffries’ design is a classic and it doesn’t have to be tarted up.

Anthony’s article is right, the new 1701 design will be a very active subject of discussion in the near future.

What have you designed Nelson?

What have you designed Nelson?

From a designers point of view doesn’t the original ship scream 1960’s sci fi tv show…cause it will to everyone else who is not a Trek fan.


I do not like the look of the clips you linked us to. Not that they were not well-done, they just don’t have the right look.

And I really have no interest in “the new crowd.” I know there are those who say without the new crowd, Star Trek will die. Well, if they fiddle with it too much it is already dead for me.

Sorry for the double post. dont take it as me being a jerk…


How about a cross between the 1701 and the 1701 E? I

I knew the post I did before was a stupid question. With the budget being huge and using ILM their is no way they would do Trek like the 60’s version.

You have no interest in the new crowd?

So you don’t care about the franchise continuing on then huh?

If you did, you would realize attracting more fans is much more important then keeping things exactly as they have been for the last 40 years.

Good news, good news.

As for the ship, I hope they keep the original contours but give it the shiny aircraft aluminum-type skin like Gabriel Koerner’s model.

Nerding out at work, what?

I think there’s a lot that can be done to subtly enhance the lines and texture of the original Matt Jeffries design without having it look like something that’s been assimilated by the Borg. But we know engineers — they LOVE to change things…

Poster: Gsmarty

I could go for that. It just needs a fresh appearance. Something that will look like the future we envision today, not the future they envisioned 40 years ago.

Assuming ILM tries to remain relatively faithful to the original 1701, the challenge — and, I think, the approach most likely to satisfy most moviegoers — is to create an Enterprise that basically looks like what the original would ‘look’ like if it were a real starship previously projected on a small TV screen now projected on a hi-def movie screen. In other words, we should be looking at it and saying, “Oh yeah, THAT’S what it really looks like, I just never saw it that close/big/resolved before.” That’s a tough order. Good luck to ILM!

Well, the look of the ship they HAVE to keep exactly the same as the 1960’s version. There’s no way a spiffy updated E is going to draw anyone in, so keep the ship looking the same for the fans sake.

If they are sitting in production meetings and saying, “you know what would really draw fans in?” “An updated ship design, just like in BSG!” They would be very, very wrong. While I don’t mind making it look better for the big screen, I don’t think they should touch a thing. In fact they should get the original model, PAINT IT PROPERLY, not like the rubbish it looks like now. Thank you very much whatever dumbass who ruined it with that stupid flipping paint job! Then make scan it or GOD FORBID shoot the model for the big screen.

Make it look like this –

Ultimately, the classic 60’s E has become the most recognisable, charismatic, famous and beautiful of fictional spacecraft ever realised on film. They would have to be very brave to alter her or reimagine her for the film. They would also have to be very brave to leave her looking identical, with perhaps some extra extreme fine detailing on close up. I wouldn’t expect to see any changes to the extent of Gabriels excellent rendition, nor would I want to.

You guys just don’t get it……

Keeping that ship the same will make you guys happy, but it won’t translate into anything that the new audience can relate too.

The original design looks dated….it even looked dated in 1978-1979 as well.

For the fans sake….you mean the fans who will watch anything with Star Trek on it, the fans that only like TOS, the fans who only like DS9….

We can’t speak about the fans as if we are one group who want to see exactly the same thing!!!

Rick, I would tend to agree with what you said. At least it’s an answer that could live with.
Here’s where I become a dickhead:

DO NOT fancy up the Enterprise exterior design with modern visions of what it SHOULD HAVE looked like. It’s an icon. My prediction would be that you would be shooting yourself in the foot if you did. Cripes, even people who don’t know Trek from shinola know the E. I respect the skill that Gabe Koerner has. I just don’t happen to like his re-imagining of a starship that I personally regard as an old friend. I like the ship more than many characters in the show for heavens sake.
And Stanky, they get my vote for red bridge railings!


ILM is the best!

I am 100% certain the 60s look will be updated to an extent. Personally I hope they go for a semi-refit kind of look. Aztec patterns, spotlights, photon torp tubes, movie-era fonts/decals, movie era window patterns – but have it look visibly inferior to the refit, perhaps with older nacelles & a different deflector dish.

I do think they will end up going the Gabe Koerner route though and making something completley new, but my idea would preserve canon to a degree and make it look appealing to todays ipod generation.

ipod generation….whats that supposed to mean

Looks like you are getting old Flake…..

So I guess you were called the 8-Track generation?