‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Crew Shares Behind-The-Scenes Views Of Season Two Finale

Since the explosive season two finale of Star Trek: Discovery there has been a lot revealed about the making of the big two-part episode and season as a whole. We have curated the best of all this behind-the-scenes goodness.

“Rotisserie” fight video

One of the action highlights of the episode was the Inception-style gravity-defying corridor fight between Georgiou and Control. CBS has released a video showing how this scene was created using a rotating set.

Finale director shares videos and images from the set

Since the finale, director Olatunde Osunsanmi has been releasing videos and behind-the-scenes images on his Twitter and Instagram. Some of the highlights are below. This first one shows the setup for the opening crane shot which revealed the bridge of the USS Enterprise.

The episode was notable for the amounts of pyrotechnics used throughout. In another video, Osunsanmi shows how loud the sparkers were on set.

The director also shared some nice images from the set, including one of Anson Mount as he prepared to give his final speech.

The official Discovery Instagram account posted a slideshow of more images from the finale.

Visual effects supervisor talks homages in finale

Visual effects supervisor Jason Zimmerman talked to SciFi Bulletin about the close to six hundred effects shots created for the finale. He noted that they went out of their way to ensure that the USS Enterprise and USS Discovery were differentiated:

Were there elements you could bring across between Discovery and Enterprise, or did you have to treat them as two separate ships?

We treat each ship individually just because the design is so different. Enterprise being Enterprise, that is such an iconic ship you really have to spend your time and make sure every effect that you do on that ship does what it’s meant to do, based on canon, on what people are expecting. There was nothing we really ported over; we tried as hard as we could to make sure that everything had a unique look for the Enterprise vs. the Discovery.

He was asked about one in particular that felt like an homage to Treks of the past:

The final shot that we see of Discovery that we see disappearing into season 3 feels very much like the wormhole effect from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Was that a conscious look back?

I think with all these, we look back at all the previous Trek shows because they lay the groundwork for the Star Trek universe. The idea for that came, actually, I believe from Alex in concert with Tunde talking about it; if I’m not mistaken, when I heard about it, it was when I walked onto set during the finale. Tunde came up and said “We’re going to put streaks on everybody, that’s what Alex says.” Alex came up with the idea and fortunately it was something we were able to make it work.

Wormhole “streaks” effect in season two finale

Visual effects artist Timothy Peel revealed on Twitter that one element shared with Federation ships is how the edges of all screens have a red glow during red alert to “add to the drama” while still being functional.

How sound design made the Enterprise sound like the Enterprise

Discovery’s supervising sound editor Matthew Taylor and lead sound designer Tim Farrell spoke extensively to A Sound Effect about their work on the second season. They also talked about how giving the Enterprise a unique sound:

How does the Discovery sound different from the Enterprise?

TF: For the Enterprise, the show runners were all about retro. We spent a lot of time going back through the original Star Trek material searching for the beeps and boops on the Enterprise. Mike did a fantastic job of reorganizing every single beep, tick, and clack from the original Enterprise, and used those to re-create the sound of the Enterprise’s bridge. Then, we put in a few more modern beeps and boops as well. Our goal was to pay as much homage to that as we could in this series.

The show originally started off on the Shenzhou, and then we went to Discovery. The Shenzhou is an older ship and so we had to create an older sound for that. When we go to Discovery, everything sounds more sleek and modern.

So it was fun to work on the Enterprise because we had all of these old sounds that everyone knows, loves, and appreciates. We wanted to honor and respect that and feature it is much as possible.

MT: Now that we are operating in canon territory, there isn’t much license to not honor that.

TF: When the Enterprise warps, we put in the classic sound but it’s like this white-noisy, hissy sweep. We couldn’t just play that because it didn’t work. It didn’t fit in with the other cool sounds in the series.

MT: It didn’t fit the aesthetic that Alex Kurtzman wants us to achieve. It’s a great iconic sound and it’s in there, but we’ve updated it.

TF: We have it whine up, and warp away. As it’s warping away, you get that hissy sweep as it disappears. So that’s how we incorporated it into our current palette of sounds.

The long road to making the Red Angel suits

Costume designer Gersha Phillips has also been posting behind-the-scenes details on how her team created the Red Angel suits for the show. Gersha shared a video giving a close look at the Red Angel suit worn by Michael Burnham in the season two finale.

In another post, she revealed it took nine months to create the suits.

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Making of the Red Angel suit for Michael Burnham: The Red Angel suit took roughly nine months before going to camera. We started last April and went through multiple revisions with fabrics, textile design, the fit, colour, and the shell components. The fit of the Red Angel #Burnham suit was inspired by #scarlettjohansson’s costume in the film, Ghost in the Shell (s/o @flofoxworthy @wetaworkshop). I absolutely LOVED what they did, and I wanted our Red Angel suit to look just as streamlined on miss @therealsonequa. We developed our own fabric design by #3D #screenprinting three different layers; two of them being two different scale of a #circuitboard pattern (e.g. third photo). Inspired by Burnham’s mother’s suit (which we were developing simultaneously), we injected new technological elements to make Burnham’s look more futuristic. @marsattacks17 came up with the idea to match Burnham’s suit to the #discovery uniforms and it was quite the process to perfect it to the exact colour that we wanted. For example, in one of the earlier designs we had the thigh plates in lot lighter coloured metal but after undergoing through camera test, we toned it down as it was standing out quite a bit. There is far more to how we got to our finished product which none of this could have been possible without my brilliant costume team @st_discovery_costumes, @tamdev, @marsattacks17, @walterklassenfx, #ryandening. Thank you all so much for being on this journey with me 🖖🏿🙂G. . . . . . #startrekdiscovery #startrek #startrek2 #costume #costumedesign #costumedept #gershaphillips #netflix #cbs #bts #behindthescenes #fabric #fabricdesign #textiles #textiledesign #custom #custommade #discoteam

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She also posted an image of her team to show off just how many people it took to put it together.

Gersha partnered with prop makers Walter Klassen FX, who shared some images of the suits on Instagram, revealing there were actually three versions: a clean version of Gabrielle’s suit for filming the past, a weathered version of the same suit for filming the present, and then the new variation the Discovery crew made for Michael (nicknamed “Grey Angel”).

They also revealed even more variations including wearable, non-wearable, and battle-damaged versions.

Closeup on the makeup

Also sharing some insights was makeup designer James MacKinnon, starting with a slideshow of work for Mary Chieffo as L’Rell.

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Now that Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 has come to an end, I am going to take the next few posts to highlight the artists & technicians who helped to boldly take you where no man has gone before. Up first is the incredibly talented @marythechief as L’Rell #boldlygo. . #Prostheticmakeup #makeupfx #makeupfxartist #creatures #depthead #local_706 #startrekdiscovery #jamesmackinnon #specialmakeupeffects #space #artists #emmynominated #fxmakeup #startrek #fxmakeup #startrekmakeup #startrekprosthetics #hairandmakeupawards #startreknetflix #2019emmys #deptheadprosthetics #local798 #space #startrekcbs #emmys #emmyawards #makeupfx #specialeffectsmakeup #makeupeffects #makeup #sfxmakeup #sfxmakeupartist

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And artist Erick deLavega also shared a closer look at the heads of Linus the Saurian and Osnullus.

Spock actor Ethan Peck posted a fun photo of Vulcan ears.

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.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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While I very much liked the finale’s cinematic style, and scope, I would have appreciated narrative coherence and internal consistency even more.

(Oh — and less Po-whatever-her-name-is would have been fine, too. We all value different things in this franchise, apparently, but I definitely don’t watch Trek to see obnoxious alien teenage royalty chowing-down on spumoni.)

Yes, really wish the writing was as polished and meticulous as the production.

Absolutely. The production crew are all doing a top job. The writing and story crew don’t deserve to be a part of the same show as the production folks.

Cut the Writer’s Room a bit of slack will ya? It was originally supposed to be a one hour finale and then it got expanded to two hours. The whole production was under tremendous pressure to get it all done in December for varying reasons. One I can think of is worker visas. As the show is shot in Toronto- I’m sure a lot of cast and crew had a visa that expired in December 2018. Anson Mount came to the Set Tour in Ticonderoga last December and he was exhausted from filming the season finale. His artist visa may have been close to expiry as well.

Seems to me the finale was just over an hour long. Further, the production crew was up to the task. The writers? Not so much.

It went from one part to two, ML31. The show was originally slated for 13 episodes in S2 and went to 14 [yay!].

I think a solution for some of the problems folks perceive with the writing would be to keep each episode a wee bit less “dense” story-wise. I feel the writers are doing a great job with characters, personalities [Burnham’s big character flaw, stubbornness], humor, camaraderie, and the actors sell this very well; the things that are more difficult for me to watch are how many plot elements have to be crammed in per episode. It feels as if they rush-rush-rush.

I loved the scene with Spock and Michael after she confronted Leland and he told her about her parents. She was in the gym, beating the crap out of that humanoid-shaped bag, and Spock came to talk to her, and the scene lasted for more than 15-30 seconds. It gave us a chance to breathe, to consider what both characters were going through and how they were dealing with it. Likewise, the earlier scene with Amanda, Spock, Michael and Sarek in the cave, where we saw family dynamics at play.

A little slower, please, so we can drink in every drop of high production value and superb acting and the lovely moments the writers can create!

I think you mean the season went from a 13 episode to 14 episode season. In a show with a season long story arc I find calling episodes “Part 1” and “Part 2” redundant. Technically they were part 13 and part 14.

The problem I had with all those moments is that none of them really felt earned. The crew camaraderie always felt forced from day one. The TNG characters all felt forced to me too, but it seemed they learned better for DS9 and Voyager. Both of which had better conceived and well rounded characters. Some of the Spock moments KINDA worked. But that was because he was Spock more than anything.

Uhm Dennycranium the writers room (which is what we’re critiquing) sits in LA.

Yes, I’m certain the writers were under pressure, and the firing of the showrunners in midseason very obviously took a toll…

But every aspect of production is clearly done with great dedication and care by an incredibly talented team…

Who have had to do things like change the church windows in episode 2 twenty-two times because the writers didn’t even have the first two episodes locked down before preproduction began.

It sounds as though Kurtzman has taken the approach going forward of requiring a full season of scripts to be drafted prior to preproduction — we’ve heard 10 episodes are drafted for Picard, and that S3 of Discovery needs to be written before the lead writers can get the pilot written for the S31 show.

This approach has been successful for The Orville, and I’m encouraged that the Trek products are moving to this.

I still think – even though there has been nothing said – that it sure looks like that extension was to make this the Pike show pilot – especially considering – all the time spent with Pike, Una, Cornwell, and the ticking torpedo was all Enterprise centric— and then that the Discovery story ended at the 56 minute mark, and there was 9 more minutes of Captain Pike and crew – and finally you had that split end credits musical score of Discovery and TOS.

Sorry, but the Trek universe needs more Po’s, to keep things interesting. Did Worf chugging prune juice cause a lot of angst?

Nice job with the curation!

I continue to be amazed at the production quality and incredible level of detail that go into the sets, makeup, and visual effects for this show. It is a crying shame that CBS All Access cannot manage 4K HDR like Netflix and Amazon Prime, because Star Trek: Discovery absolutely demands a 4K HDR presentation!

Totally agree Scott.

We have a 4k PVR now, and I was stunned to see Discovery isn’t coming in that format.

Given the challenges of remastering the 90s series, you’d think they would go for the highest format currently available.

Agreed. It’s bandwidth challenges though. A 4K picture has 4X the picture information of 1080P (Blu-Ray) I was hoping Season 1 bluray release would be in 4K but no love there. I use a VPN trick and use my Netflix sub to watch DSC in 4K. Okay, here is how you you do it:
Get express vpn installed on your device(they have a free trial) and log into the Isle Of Mann server.
Open Netflix and as long as your streaming device (Firestick etc) and your TV is capable of 4K You can watch DSC in all its 4K glory. I guess if you have a Netflix sub and you’re in the US or Canada you can use this VPN trick for getting Disco as well.
CBSAA? I’d pay extra for your service in 4K……just sayin..
I’d pay another fee just to get a Pike series as well…..

I vaguely remember discussions during season 1 that Discovery wasn’t actually shot/produced at 4K. Maybe they’ve changed it for season 2, otherwise you’re just watching an upscaled version.

It’s filmed on cameras that are ~3k resolution (ARRI Alexa) cameras, and then AFAIK the final edit and VFX is done at 2k. However, that’s still much higher quality than the typical (over)compressed streaming 1080p we see. They also have an HDR grade. So yes it would “upscaled” to 4k, but that’s placing a lot of importance on pixel counting when that’s not really the be-all-end-all, a 2k professional digital master is still higher quality than pretty much any consumer format. A number of shows are filmed with Arri Alexas. Given that the show is also prepared for the wider color gamut and HDR, somewhere CBS has some really nice original masters, it’s a shame we don’t get to see them. The highest quality we’ve gotten is standard Blu-ray, and people in Netflix regions get streaming 1080p with HDR.

I thought 2k and HD was 1080p was the same resalution and cant you have hdr in 1080?

2k and HD are not the same thing, though similar. 2k is a professional digital cinema format. HD is a consumer format. The digital cinema format is much higher quality in a variety of aspects beyond simple pixel counting.

And yes you can have HDR in 1080p on streaming platforms. However, on home video disc HDR is not part of the original (1080p) Blu-ray standard, it was only added as part of the more recent UltraHD (4k) Blu-ray standard. So if someone wants Discovery in the highest quality possible (which is what physical media offers) in HDR, that’s the format for it.

There’s a fair amount of confusion regarding HDR which has become synonymous with 4K which, as you point out, are not dependent on one another. Most shows are still shot in a lower resolution than their feature film counterparts and you’ll be hard pressed to find 4K Blu-rays for television series. “The Walking Dead”, which has been shot on film for its entire run, is one of the few series which would lend itself to an absolutely stunning 4K HDR or DolbyVision presentation on Blu-ray.

Why not? Isnt 4k thevstandard now for filming?

Not really, one of the most widely used digital cinema camera brands is the Arri Alexa family, which range from ~3k to 6k depending on the model.

The show isn’t shot in 4K though you can have 2K HDR.

That is one good-looking Enterprise bridge. Respects what came before. If it had to be done, a worthy update.

When Karl Urban raved that the Trek 2009 sets looked “like TOS, only you never saw this level of detail before,” I’d assumed he was referring to something like this. Then I saw the pictures. . .

As someone who liked the Kelvin universe Enterprise, well, no, Karl, the Enterprise bridge set didn’t take me back to the TOS days.

The Enterprise Discovery bridge was a far better update to TOS than the ‘09 reboot which looked like a 23rd century Apple store.

Better than the Orville bridge, which is lit like a freakin K-Mart. Sorry guys, JMHO. I hate that set.

I am thankful the bright bright lensflare lights were reduced by STID and even more in Beyond. Whew. I hope the actors in ST2009 didn’t suffer migraines!

I love the orvilevsets because of that. It looks way more like the style of tng and Voyager. Wouldn’t better lighting be more practical anyway? Not everything has to be dark and blue.

If you look at the TNG bridge, you will find the lighting more subdued and in the yellow spectrum. The design is warmer too, with the wood.

Orville’s captain’s and first officer’s chairs with the go-cup table between them just reinforce the idea that it’s bickerin’ mom and dad in a minivan.

I will give them this: the viewport at the front of the bridge is gorgeous.

Marja, I felt that the dual chair situation on The Orville mirrored that of Voyager. Which I felt demeaned Janeway just a bit. The first female captain doesn’t get a center chair? She has to get a dual chair situation with her first officer? First time we saw such a thing in Trek. Also, I think Ovrille went that route because of the history of the two characters and it could have been more fun to have Ed’s ex-wife right next to him. That is, done more for the opportunity for one liners than anything else. Of course, that aspect of Orville has been done away with, unfortunately for the show.

The Orville bridge has too many TNG similarities. In fact, all the ship interiors feel like they came right out of TNG. But I honestly believe that was by design.

Well, that tends to be a criticism of Orville in general, it’s to much a TNG clone.

And sadly, not that good of one. Occasionally it approaches TNG; much of the time it’s like a Next Generation “Star Trek Continues” but with a terrible lead. IMHO Kelly should be the captain. She seems smarter and more capable than Ed somehow.

She absolutely does, Marja. She’s also a much better actor than Seth. Look Seth can deliver jokes well. He’s pretty good at comedy. But at best he’s a mediocre actor and it just doesn’t help the show when the lead is the lease accomplished actor in the entire cast. But that didn’t matter much in season 1. When they actually TRIED to throw in some comedy.

Of course it was :^D

But it was never meant to look the same.

Yes, it was very well done given that they were forced to stay within the previously established Discovery aesthetic. I just think how they could have updated it if they were free to make it more era-appropriate.

If the suits were a nine month long project, I’d only imagine that if there is anything that complicated in season three, they have probably been deep into pre-production for a while now.

Can I just say that the design of Osnullus would make a lot more sense if its head were not attached to a feminine Human size-8 body? I don’t know, maybe a body that is larger, perhaps with tentacles instead of hands, and something other than a bipedal shape? I’m always worried Osnullus will tip over for the unbalanced weight of [their] head. It can’t be easy, but even some vestigial tentacles on the torso would help …

Linus seems consistent in keeping with the reptilians we’ve seen before on Trek, such as the Gorn, so his bipedalism doesn’t bother me. I really love this character and hope to see more of him.

I like what the makeup/prosthetics designers have done with so many of the aliens, particularly details like Linus’s and Po’s eyes that blink two ways.

Not to mention Saru and Siranna, so beautifully formed and portrayed by Dough Jones and Hannah Spear. And the Klingons, whose style I have come to love, as they look truly alien, and truly like warriors, claws, four nostrils, and all. I thought L’Rell looked fine in Season One [but for the heavy lip prosthetics], even feminine [mostly attributable to Mary Chieffo’s voice and body language], but she and Ken Mitchell were total bosses in Season 2. I loved Ken in his monkish Tenavik look, and his Kol-sha was a badass.

Kudos to the prosthetics and makeup departments! And to the actors who convey so much character through heavy makeup.

Looking at the time suits now, and I’m thinking ‘great, the Trek catsuit tradition is alive and well’. For something that has to actually work, yet be so form fitting just defies and reasonable expectation. Yeah, I have similar issues with the Iron Man/War Machine suits over in Marvelland. War Machine in particular….the guy touches down, armaments appear, and then lots and lots of fairly conventional munitions are expended that seem to appear out of nowhere…because there’s clearly no pockets on the suits to store rockets and bullets….

Yeah, I’m no fun, I know.

I can forgive such things in Iron Man because…. Comic books. Not so much in Star Trek.

Of course, if Trek made a really engaging and smart story it would be easier to forgive such follies.

I would like to add more kudos, this time to the lighting designers for the Discovery and Enterprise sets. I suppose it was intentional [Pike versus Mirror Lorca], but the lighting this year was so warm and much kinder to the actors’ faces. Thank you for changing from cold blue.

Yum yum!