History’s ‘Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe’ Doc With Into Darkness BTS & More Online Now

In honor of the recent release of Star Trek Into Darkness, The History Channel has aired a special documentary titled "Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe." Originally broadcast last Wednesday, May 15th, the special is now available on History Channel’s website via streaming for free. See below for mini-review and screenshots plus a link to more BTS with ILM.


Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe on History

The History channel has a new documentary titled "Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe" which ties together Trek and real life science. Of particular interest is a significant amount of behind the scenes footage of the making of Into Darkness, as well as clips from the movie not seen in TV spots or trailers. The most notable bit of new footage is a very beautiful extended shot of the Enterprise silhouetted against a distant nebula, which was featured in the film itself, but substantially cut down in the final edit.

Get an extended look at the USS Enterprise in new History channel special

There is more eye candy in the form of detailed looks at the Enterprise interior sets and other locations. We are also treated to interviews of the cast, crew, including a lot with director JJ Abrams. But instead of hyping the film, Abrams and his cast discuss how real science inspires their stories of Star Trek, and how in turn Star Trek itself inspires future scientific research.

History’s "Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe" takes you behind the scenes on the USS Enterprise

Also covered is an extensive look at the filming of the Enterprise warp core scenes at the National Ignition Facility. Many of the facility’s staff talk about how Star Trek inspired them to take up their careers in science, and influenced the type of research they do. Other scientists weigh in on the plausibility of faster than light travel using warp drive, the possibility of first contact with alien life, and humanity’s need and desire to venture into the stars.

And woven throughout the special are discussions with a dozen real life scientists from SETI, Berkeley, Columbia, MIT and other prestigious institutions talking about real-life science and how it releates to the fiction of Star Trek. They cover topics such as warp drive, alien life, time travel, planet hunting and more – all the while showing how Trek has had an impact on many people who work in these fields.

Behind the scenes at the NIF

Bottom line is that this special is highly recommended. Come for the great behind the scenes look at Star Trek Into Darkness and stay for the insight into real-life science.

Head over to History Channel to check it out:

Note in order to watch the show online you must be US resident and you have to log in with details of your cable service provider. The show is also repeating on the H2 channel and available On Demand with some cable systems including Comcast.

fx Guide Behind The Scenes Looks At Into Darkness and ILM

If you are interested in some more behind the scenes details, fxGuide has 3 articles looking at how the film’s visual effects were created. Covered are how the film’s environments, vehicles, starships, and worlds were masterfully fashioned by visual effects vendors Industrial Light and Magic, Atomic fiction, and Pixomondo.

fxGuide go behind the scenes with ILM to find out how shots like this were done

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Does the special reveal that John Harrison is just John Harrison and he lied about being the leader? :)

Will we be ever able to see this in the UK

The Mutara Nebula perhaps?

Caught up in the discussion of STID as a movie is the wonderful effects job ILM has done, particularly with the amount of fine detail to the damaged Enterprise. Really impressive.

It was very well done. I enjoyed watching it.

Odd that an hour and a half special would be on their website but doesn’t actually air on TV.

I’m looking forward to this, it’s already set to record in my DVR. I’m ticked that there is no “Art of STiD” book coming out. There is very, very little STiD merchandise at all, for that matter. I love behind-the-scene stuff and this special will help satisfy me a little, but I want more!

I’d love a closer look at the Klingon ships, buildings, costumes, etc.

Sadly, not available to watch in the UK

@7. I’m wondering if the merchandising issue has anything to do with those internet rumors about JJ/Bad Robot not being able to have full control over Trek and do the massive merchandising/spin-off films/tv series that they originally planned. I’m still so bitter about that. I’ve been wanting models and books and everything else for STiD.

GREAT show by the way, I saw it last Thursday night and it was great. Good behind the scenes stuff and GREAT scientific discussion from actual scientists and innovators.

The shot of the upside down (?) Enterprise inside the nebula is a real work of art! Is that a shot from the movie? (STID doesn’t come out here until July). I wish History channel’s special could be seen outside the US so I could see it. I hope it is one of the extras on the DVD (although I doubt it).

I wondered about the Nibiru creature, it looked familiar, and sure enough according to the fxGuide article it’s the same model as the furry beast monster on Delta Vega from ST 2009 but without the white fur.

“A brief encounter with a Nibirian creature, which Kirk stuns, also occurs before the cliff jump. It turns out that this creature was actually a re-working of one seen in Star Trek. “There was a creature in the first movie called the Polarilla and it’s on the ice planet,” recounts Kavanagh. “It’s chasing Kirk and just as it’s leaping to jump on Kirk it gets eaten by the big red creature. Well that Polarilla creature is in this movie and we re-purposed it. We took the model and gave it a shave, so it’s basically a naked Polarilla and we called it the Niborilla.”

Matt why did Bones say to Jim you just stunned our read with that creature? I guess they were going to ride on top of it to the Enterprise underwater?

Sorry I meant ride not read. LOL.

The implication is that they were going ride the beast to get away from the locals. Remember, McCoy says something like “this isn’t the way to the beach” at the start of the scene.

Since presumably the beast could charge along faster than the locals could run, they could get away from the indigenous people and then when safely away they would sneak off to the beach McCoy talked about and scuba back.

But impulsive Kirk stuns it and so they have to make the dramatic cliff leap instead.

I think they were supposed to ride the beast to the beach and get picked up by Sulu with the shuttle, but that didn’t work.

Watched it on H2 last night, very good show. A lot of good science & space talk w/ Geoff Marcy, Alex Filippenko, & others. Nice behind-the-scenes stuff & some of the new aliens. Would love an article on them (hint, hint).

A shame we can’t get this in Australia – I would have loved to have watched it.

Saw this Thursday night, thought it was a great mix of behind-the-scenes stuff & science. Nice look at some of the aliens in the movie.

It was a great special…I love the History Channel watching it is never wasted time. Same with Discovery.

With luck this special ends up on the DvD , although I see it more as a blu- ray exclusive.

1, russell no it dont say anthing about Harrison true Id. ive see this a couple of times already cool program very well done.

I liked it. Very well made and interesting. They should do more like it.

I thought the niborilla was going to attack Kirk and that is why he stunned it.

That the core of Trek for me, the sudo science. It has inspired a lot of people and some have gone on to invent things we use today because of Trek. I like Star Wars, but what does that do for our society? Inspire lightsaber fights?
I am disappointed at recent Treks cast away of “believability”. I hope it doesn’t continue or it could act like a “Cold fusion bomb” for the franchise ;-)

science of nu-trek? LAUGHABLY STUPID =D LOL

The History Channel show is REALLY GOOD! And, regardless of the fact that it’s based around STID, the science discussion is really interesting. It mainly about space travel and talking about the possibility of life on other planets, so it doesn’t really tie to any specific references in STID (other than the fact that the ship travels at warp and they show an alien species in the beginning).

The behind-the-scenes footage is as good as it gets until we get the special features on a DVD or Blu Ray! I especially enjoyed the footage from the NIF, and it’s cool to see how some of the stuff was shot. I’m a video/movie production nerd along with being a space fanatic, so this is really great stuff!!! And, honestly, if you just enjoy science and movie making, this really is still enjoyable regardless of your take on STID.

Loved the new warp core scenes (shot at the NIF at Livermore National Labs). I think that’s more of what Abrams was striving for when he shot “Budgineering” in the first movie; a real-world location that would give the generally sleek and esoteric world of Star Trek a much needed real world functionality. Budgineering just looked too low-tech; I mean, it just LOOKED like a brewery (doesn’t help that I know two people who work there).

But the facility at Livermore is a different kettle of fish altogether.
The look is much more on target. Presumably it was just as hard (if not a lot harder) to get clearance to shoot there (rather than the Bud plant), but the result was very much worth it. This warp core may be my favorite since the beautiful ‘bottomless’ design we first saw in ST-TMP (but even that elegant set looked like a set).

This time the production team really thought outside the warp bubble.
Great job! ;-)

Anyone else notice during this special that JJ himself when watching the action on a monitor put his hand over the lens flare so he could see the people without distraction?!?!?!?!?

i do not watch this film but i am found of history,space & universe

It’s a fantastic documentary with great behind the scene look ins to Star Trek Into Darkness grounded in space science. The view of the Enterprise at the start and the end of the documentary is breathtaking. I highly recommend it.

I’ve finally seen this documentary after coming across a version of it not locked to the US. It was very enjoyable, and reminded me again of how amazing the universe is.

I couldn’t help myself when they showed Gilligan’s Island, I thought of Galaxy Quest ;-) But then, that’s the point: if/when other intelligent life out there comes across our expanding radio bubble, what will they make of us based on our early transmissions?

Finally saw it – beautiful documentary, but it completely ignores the brain and behavioral sciences needed to create Star Trek’s optimistic future: http://brainknowsbetter.com/news/2013/5/30/if-youre-going-to-talk-about-the-future-dont-ignore-the-brain-star-trek-secrets-of-the-universe-review

@ Ali – nice write-up :)

Thanks Matt!

the lawrence livermore lab rarely lets movies film there…the first one was the original TRON….the big door..sneakin around n the laser levels were all at lawrence livermore lab…is into darkness the only other movie that shot there?

@ 36 – Yep it seems to be just TRON and Into Darkness, it’s a pretty cool little exclusive club :)