Yesterday the Directors Guild of Canada hosted a screening of the season one finale of Star Trek: Discovery, followed by a Q&A with members of the Discovery art department. TrekMovie covered the event, held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, which included slides showing off concept art for the show, with an emphasis on the season one finale. The panel was moderated by Jody Clement (Art Director). On stage were Tamara Deverell (Production Designer), Joshu De Cartier (Supervising Art Director), Matt Morgan (Set Designer), Emile Poulin (Set Designer), Michael Stanek (Set Designer), Chris Penna (Set Designer & Concept Illustrator, Andy Tsang (Graphic Designer), and Timothy Peel (Motion Graphic Designer).
Designing the Discovery bridge took nine months, even with many sets re-used from Shenzhou
- No set went through more designs than the bridge of the USS Discovery, with Matt Morgan and Joshu De Cartier working on it from May 2016 to February 2017, creating over 160 drawings.
- The original design of the bridge was two stories and the extra large size of the bridge was a shooting requirement from co-creator Bryan Fuller.
- The bridge has 120 display screens, run by 84 computers.
- The corridor set for the USS Discovery is a redress of the corridor for USS Shenzhou, which was swapped back and forth.
- The transporter room set also uses the USS Shenzhou set and has been swapped back and forth.
- Stamets’ lab was originally built as a torpedo room which cost “a lot of money” and was never used.
- The warp core set extension seen in the back of lab is only supposed to be open when the ship is at warp.
- The shuttle set design was one of the more complicated things to do because it was like a “puzzle” that had to “fit together like a prism, with so many moving parts.”
Concept art and sketches:
Qo’noS in season one finale: dumpster diving to make something new and sexy
- The writers wanted to do something not seen before for the Klingon homeworld, so designers came up with a black market as it would be “fun for the art department.”
- The market sets were built outside the Pinewood stages and reused many elements from previous episodes, including an unused practical Gormagander that didn’t end up getting used for “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad.”
- Klingon graffiti included the saying: “Your mother has a smooth forehead.”
- The Klingon dice game was based on craps and had rules developed by Andy Tsang, complete with dice and play pieces. The game was named T’Sang in his honor.
- The Orion cabaret was developed because director Akiva Goldsman wanted something “real sexy,” and sets consisted of multiple sections of previously used sets including the ISS Charon throne room.
- The Orion embassy design used elements inspired by Pike’s Orion trader illusion from TOS “The Cage.”
- The Shrine of Molor set started as ISS Charon quarters and included elements of the Sarcophagus ship from some “dumpster diving” salvage.
Concept art and sketches:
Federation HQ: Toronto stood in for Paris, treaty-signing set was made but cut from season one finale
- The exterior and interior of Federation Headquarters used Vaughan City Hall, in the Toronto area.
- A set was designed and built for a Klingon/Federation treaty-signing ceremony scene which was filmed but cut.
- They based each founding Federation species’ logo flag (with the exception of new one for Tellarites) on designs from veteran Star Trek designer Michael Okuda. Tim says “Michael Okuda is my god.”
Concept art and sketches:
USS Enterprise: Changed at the last minute, left an Easter egg behind
Tamara Deverell talked about how the USS Enterprise seen in the season one finale was the result of months of designing by John Eaves, Scott Schneider, and William Budge, but even after it was finalized it changed again “at the very end.” However, the version right before the final change ended up being used for the display screens on the bridge of the USS Discovery, which we noticed back in December. Tim noted “this is not the model that flies up to the Discovery,” which Tamara called an “easter egg” for the fans.
Season 2: Huts on Kaminar, and Airiam’s story
After the slideshow, there was a Q&A, which included some brief discussion of the second season of Discovery. Deverell talked about how they made new sets for Pike’s ready room and the Section 31 ship, which have already been seen. She also promised, “We are going to lots of new places,” but couldn’t give more detail.
Here are a few more highlights regarding season two:
- They had to do 22 different versions of the stained glass windows in “New Eden” because “we had to tell the story with the windows” and they kept having to change the windows as the writers kept changing the story.
- VR is being used more in season two to allow directors and cinematographers to tour virtual sets. The guy in charge of VR has painted the walls of his office black with yellow stripes to resemble a TNG-era holodeck.
- Designs of Kaminar huts (seen in Short Treks and an upcoming season two episode) used a trace of Saru’s face and elements of “nature’s geometry” including turtle shells, armadillos and female anatomy, which is why Emile Poulin called them “vagina huts.” The starting point from the writers was to use huts from Cameroon.
- Deverell said originally the show planned to have a main character in a wheelchair but it didn’t pan out. As for the background character in a wheelchair (played by George Alevizos), they felt it was important to cast an actor who used a wheelchair himself. She said there will be “other wheelchairs that use real technology but also with a Star Trek look” seen later in the season.
- Deverell promised that fans “will learn a lot more” about Commander Airiam, adding “she is a fascinating character and her story will be revealed, a little bit.”
Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.