Doug Drexler Bringing His USS Enterprise To Star Trek Continues – Exclusive First Look

Later this month the new fan series Star Trek Continues will debut its premiere episode at Phoenix Comicon, and today TrekMovie has exclusively learned that Emmy-winning visual effects artist (and Star Trek vet) Doug Drexler is providing all the shots of the USS Enterprise for the show. More details below, plus the first look at Doug’s Enterprise for Star Trek Continues.


Doug Drexler’s Enterprise To Fly In Star Trek Continues

Star Trek Continues is a new fan series which aims to continue the mission of the original Star Trek series as if it had a fourth season (and beyond). As TrekMovie reported in April, the new show starring (and produced by) Vic Mignogna will launch its inaugural episode, “Pilgrim of Eternity” at Phoenix Comicon on May 24th, 2013 (6PM), followed by a release online.

And today TrekMovie multiple award-winning visual effects veteran Doug Drexler will be providing the effects shots featuring the USS Enterprise. As a makeup artist, scenic artist, graphic designer, illustrator, and visual effects artist, designing for such shows as  Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and four Star Trek feature films, Drexler knows his Star Trek, including designing the last TV ship, the NX-01 for Star Trek: Enterprise. And he has a brand new digital model of the Enterprise which is debuting with Star Trek Continues. Drexler and Mignogna have shared with TrekMovie the first look at the ship (below) in a couple of shots made to replicate original series publicity images.

Publicity shot of Doug Drexler’s Starship Enterprise for "Star Trek Continues" fan series (click to enlarge)

Drexler also happens to have a cameo appearance in the premiere episode of Star Trek Continues, and in fact that was originally going to be the extent of his involvement with the show. Since Enterprise Doug has remained very busy including work on Battlestar Galactica and the new Syfy series Defiance, so to date he hasn’t had much time for other projects, especially fan projects. However, according to Drexler, there was something different about Star Trek Continues. The artist and life-long Star Trek fan tells TrekMovie.

Truth be told, I haven’t seen anything since the original series that felt as much like TOS as this does. Vic makes an awesome Captain Kirk, and manages to evoke Shatner without feeling slavish. If you squint just a little, there are times you would swear it was Shatner. 

But even that wasn’t enough alone to convince Drexler to join the series. What put him over the top was the inclusion of actor Michael Forest, reprising his role as Apollo. Drexler tells TrekMovie that after he viewed a scene on the bridge he was "hooked like a big-mouthed bass….I knew I had to do this show.

The return of Michael Forest helped push Drexler into joining "Star Trek Continues"

However, Drexler did have some conditions. Doug was determined to have the effects work match that which could be done in 1970. That mean "no motion control-style shots, no wild maneuvers, no enhancing the ship with surface detail (aztec’ing) that was never there, no raking light, lots of fill, grain, and etc." So Drexler has done his digital work as if it were being done on stage half a century ago, down to duplicating the lenses and lighting setups of the era. Drexler even made his CG model of the Enterprise 11.5 feet long. The artist explains "Everybody builds their ship at 947′. At that gigantor size it’s never going to behave like it did when we first fell in love with it. The difference in the lens distortion alone makes it a non-starter."

Drexler went to great lengths to make sure his digital model and shots fit with a notional 4th season for the show airing in 1969/1970 (click to enlarge)

While Drexler is providing all the shots of the Enterprise, a number of other digital artists are also involved in Star Trek Continues, providing the remainder of visual effects, including Gabriel Koerner (from Trekkies and artist for Star Trek Enterprise) and Matt Boardman (who has worked with Drexler on Battlestar and Defiance). 

Star Trek Continues Debuts at PHXCC

Many of Star Trek Continues cast and crew will be attending Phoenix Comicon 2013 on May 24th, including Michael Forest and Doug Drexler.
An autograph session will be held after the premiere screening and panel.

Following the screening the debut episode “Pilgrim of Eternity” will be made available online. For more details on the show visit

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I miss that ship.

Good. I’m happy Doug is still out there doing stuff. I, like many, feared the worst when he took his blog down.

I miss the Enterprise-D. That’s my favourite Enterprise, and is always the first ship I think of when I hear the words “U.S.S. Enterprise”.

I can’t believe Doug Drexler has deleted his DrexFiles website! :-(

How does this affect James Cawley and the Phase II gang? Are they ever going to release any more episodes?

Why did he delete his blog?

That looks BADASS. Awesome work, Mr. Drexler. Can’t wait to see it!

Why the “smudge effects” on the Enterprise’s surface? It looks like graphite shavings have been rubbed into the ship? TOS Enterprise was that is was much brighter than this. This looks dark and worn down. Weird?

#3 — In my opinion, the Enterprise D was the ugliest starship in Trek history. That is the last ship I want to think of when I hear the words “U.S.S. Enterprise”.


“In my opinion, the Enterprise D was the ugliest starship in Trek history. That is the last ship I want to think of when I hear the words “U.S.S. Enterprise”.”


autograph session? why? Is someone famous going to be there? Shatner crashing the premiere?

6 – I was curious myself so I googled around. DrexFiles was one of my favorite sites. :(

Apparently he posted this to facebook about it:

“You know how I brand all the images I post with Drex Files. Several of my VFX colleagues took exception to that. They felt I was claiming credit for it all by doing that. I received a couple of angry notes that were upsetting. I felt the best thing was to off-line it for now. My intention was never to steal credit, in fact I felt like I was promoting everyone’s work. Drex Files regulars know that I note credits for work whenever I have the info, and if I don’t, I appeal to the audience to speak up if they know something about it.

So for now, the Drex Files is dark, at least until I have a chance to think about it and review it.”

Yes…the D was horrible. The original and the A had tactical elements to her design. They felt right. Nothing looks better than the A.

I hope Crawley and team continue. They helped save trek. There are a lot o fan elements these days because of them.

Funny how he claims he doesn’t want the shop zooming around, when it was Drexler (under the name Max Rem) who initially did that for the New Voyages episode “In Harm’s Way” nearly ten years ago….

Now thats taking the FX loyalty a LITTLE too far……even for ME. LOL.

Nah, go for it Doug. You’re talented and a good guy.

I’d take this E over that “other” thing passing off as the great Connie 1701!

Does that mean the show will be produced in 4:3 as in keeping in line with television back then?

WOW! That is what I call The Enterprise! The TOS E and the TMP E Refit are my favorite starships, period.

I like what I’m seeing so far and I wish Star Trek Continues is very successful. I hope that Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II also continues. Especially now with the new (Phase II) Enterprise they also have!

Drex Files was a great site for Star Trek fans and it must return. Well at least there will be a new Ships of the Line calendar for 2014.

Actually the ugliest (and most insulting) Enterprise was the B.

The Enterprise-JJ ain’t so hot either (and yet, the first movie, at least, was awesome).

The Connie/Connie-Refit was(are? were? is?) the best.


Sounds like you got a beef. I’m not Doug Drexler but maybe a reason he wants to change the style of “camera” work is because he didn’t like what he did on Cawley’s project. Why should he keep doing the same thing without improving on what he did in the past? You wouldn’t happen to be associated with New Voyages/Phase II would you? I know there is a lot of bad blood between the productions but you can’t live in the past. Star Trek Continues looks like it’s going to be fun. And when we get some more from The James Gang I’m sure it will be fun as well.

I like the idea of keeping the CG model to the same size as the 11 footer, but I’d also try to keep it the same *light grayish-green color* as well.

This to my eyes just looks far too dark and gray.

And I happen to like the D as well. I’d be glad to debate it’s merits with anyone here.

No offense to these guys as I’m sure their heart is in the right place, but they should take that money/talent and make something original. Without Gene Roddenberry creating something fresh we would’ve never gotten Star Trek in the first place.

Closing in on 50 years, and she is still incredibly gorgeous! A deeply felt thanks to the late Matt Jeffries for designing her, and to Doug Drexler and ALL the talented artists down through the years who have kept her alive and glowing.

(Admiral Morrow, you were SO wrong!)

Yeah, early New Voyages had some really wonky ship animation in terms of the ship acting more like a jet or a cartoon character. There’s a shot in “In Harm’s Way” That literally has the ship revving up before going forward. It’s hilarious.

It was such a stand out goofy style that some of the TOS-R people even made subtle reference to it by saying “We aren’t going to make the Enterprise do barrel rolls.”

I don’t blame Doug if he didn’t enjoy animating ships in that style.

I have mixed feelings about Star Trek Continues. Some things are really stand out, and great replications, others seem a little off… But, as McCoy said “Nobody’s perfect.”

Some day, when we are but a memory, there will be real starships, real star explorers, and real star fleets.

But in all the future — in the vast expanse of time as yet untold — there has been and yet will be only one Starship Enterprise — a fine ship with a fine crew — doing what only heroes can do, and what the rest of us can only hope to do.

If ever a starship had soul, it was our good ship Enterprise.

As it was, my friends, it ever shall be, in the hearts of us all, and for posterity.

Now that’s a PERFECT CGI Enterprise!!! Why couldn’t we have seen that quality of work on TOS-R?

Awesome work, Doug Drexler!!!

It was Mr. Drexler who insisted that the ships could move like fighter jets, and he was given a free hand to animate all his shots for “In Harm’s Way”.

She’s a beautiful lady and we all love her. :)

He did a great job for us then and we wish him well.

I’ll be there at Phoenix ComicCon!

^^^ You’re a class act, James. (Now get back to work on the next Phase II episode!)

#8 — the original shooting mode of the NCC-1701 had weathering on it. Doug did NOT overdo the weathering on the GCI model. Overdone is what they did to the restoration of the original shooting model that is on display at the Air and Space Museum in DC.

This isn’t. This is just right.

20 -And I happen to like the D as well. I’d be glad to debate it’s merits with anyone here.

Sorry, i absoluetely love Probert’s contributions to the motion picture, but the D was an aesthetic mess, with its crazy angled sides and stubby nacelles paired with that ridiculously oversized saucer. The oblong windows looked like patches …granted, due to the horrible lighting. The ship managed to NOT look awkward in maybe 3 different angles, angles that werent used NEAR enough. sorry, but the D stands for duckling…as in UGLY!! And sadly, the E was no swan!

And if you squint and plug your ears with your fingers, his voice doesn’t sound as overly high pitched, further selling the effect that he’s Kirk.

But that Enterprise is awesome, good on you for making it more model work and less “reality”- that’s gonna really help the sell.

#16 — MUCH agreed!! I didn’t hate the D though. I didn’t care for anything that came after. I believe Federation ships should be MOSTLY smooth skinned. When they started adding in all that detail and took away the connecting dorsal that’s when I started to dislike the starship designs.

Having said that, I DESPISE the Excelsior class ship….even thought it has a kind of connecting dorsal. The Excelsior class ships make the Galaxy class look like fine art by comparison!!

I love all the fan films… I wish they all would focus on finishing a project before they move onto the next one… they all show so much promise… but we never see very much!!…

James Cawley, if you are still reading… please know that I think your show is fantastic@!.. and I just want you to finish an episode before you move on.

It’s exceptionally well done. Drexler is the man.
Unfortunately, the protrusion from the sensor dish is silver, not bronze.

I know, what a geek I am!

Why did JJ have to mess with such a perfect design?! Matt Jefferies knew what he was doing.

Whoops, took a second look.
Let me correct.

What an “idiot” I am.


Drex: EXCELLENT work. But- “fan blade” pattern should NOT come all the way to the center of the nacelle caps (OMG!! Not again;) And- what about the “reddish ring” on the secondary hull? (Oh yes. I’m an old-timer…)
AND- you guys at Continues: NARROW DOWN those damn blue frames- like in the Apollo shot- those are so wrong! Otherwise… great work!
PS- The E color is DEAD ON. Thing of beauty… shame about the Smithsonian job. (Ed, WHAT were you thinking???)

I love this design. I have loved it since I first saw it as a child. To me, there is something positive, ascendant, and futuristic about this ship.

#5, 12, 16…why would this affect Phase II? Except, maybe, people won’t be as desperate waiting for our releases because they have other Star Trek to enjoy in the meantime. The more TOS the better for everyone! And it’s good to hear that Drex is doing VFX for a fanfilm again – nothing can take you out of one faster than crappy effects. Congrats!

Phase II is scheduled to release two episodes this year. One of them shot on a RED ONE camera in Cinema 4K. We can show it in an IMAX theatre!

35…because of James’ insistence on quality and not letting continuity errors or crap sneaking in, we always have to “move on” and have another film shoot to pick up shots in order to finish older episodes. So you get both by us “moving on”. A new episode almost finished and an old episode completed.

#32 Spock’s Bangs

I consider the nacelles to be the right size when you consider that the D was built 80 years after the original Connies. The warp nacelles are actually about the same size as an entire Constitution class starship. They wouldn’t necessarily have to grow in proportion to the size of the primary and secondary hull since they are not “engines” per se but nacelles that generate the warp field that envelopes the ship. As for the size of the saucer section the concept for the D was that whole family units would be traveling through space exploring with the family member who was a part of Starfleet. The saucer section was where the crew and their families quarters and facilities would be, so naturally they would need more space. So there was a logical reason behind the design. I will offer my own critique of the windows in that there is no way that they are in scale with what we saw of the interiors. But aesthetically I think the windows were there to break up the smooth surface and to help define the radical design shape.

Now I understand that everyone has differing tastes. I just want to defend a ship I personally find awesome.

#37 — Agreed on the nacelle caps! Good catch! The ol’ Brach’s peppermint candy phenom strikes again! LOL!

But other than that, I think it’s a fantastic and very model-like rendering!

I wonder if these will be as poorly acted as those from that other gang. .

Looks Awesome – but whats with the lil’ grey nubbin on the bottom of the saucer sensor dome? Is it supposed to be the all in one weapons turret?

Nit picking aside, Drex’s look is pretty much dead on for a working starship (realized in CGI). The studio model had a lot of imperfections that were forgiven by the film grain and the small screen. CGI is a more exacting science.

The smudges are ‘slightly’ over the top but who knows what carbon infused nebula she just flew through on her latest science mission. They don’t call it the Coal Sack for nothing.

Cudos Drex. Look forward to seeing her in action!

I don’t see a contradiction between what Drex achieved for Phase II, and this approach. Both are different cinematic directions. As someone who has been interested in effects and cinematography since TOS was first in reruns(and a budding CGI artist as I’ve re-entered the field after a 15+ year hiiatus), I can appreciate the approach he’s using in Continues. Of course modelling the physical model, instead of the ship is going to look different. I wish I had thought of it earlier.

I look forward to seeing the final product.

Beautiful work, DD.

Dang I love that ship. She’s a thing of beauty, all right.

#24 Well said. It is a beautiful computer rendering of the Enterprise and it is nice to see his work has evolved since In Harms Way but I am waiting for that person or group that really goes “retro” and uses actual models. At least for one episode. For me that would be so cool. You just feel the depth of the ship when model is used. The power.