See How Space Orchids, Mr. Vup, And The “Dataverse” From ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Were Made

As we reported earlier in the week, CBS is running a campaign promoting Star Trek: Picard to Television Academy members in hopes of garnering Emmy nominations for the show, which includes social media portions and interviews. We have gathered some tidbits with some of the artists and designers who have been showing off their work and discussing what it takes to make Star Trek: Picard.

Creating a Borg Cube and giant space orchids

Visual effects supervisor Jason Zimmerman spoke to befores and afters about creating the effects for Star Trek: Picard, and the challenge of the Borg Cube, saying, “Whenever you read in a script something like ‘Borg cube’ or ‘Enterprise’, you really do freak out at first.” To get it right, he said the CG team started with how the original miniature models for the Borg looked, adding, “We really wanted to pay homage to what came before us and look at what they had done.”

The article also provides some insider details on how the team faced the unique challenge of creating space orchids:

What helped make the final look for the orchids as interesting and convincing as possible, says Zimmerman, were extra details added by Ghost VFX to make the organic creature feel synthetic and bio-mechanical and to give the flower ‘character’. “A lot of times scale can be told with speed. The slower it is, the larger it feels. We definitely utilized that a lot in those sequences.”

They also have some video visual effects breakdowns, like in this scene where the orchids attack the Borg Cube.

Making Mr. Vup

CBS released a video on Twitter about creating the new alien Mr. Vup, the reptiloid alien from Beta Annari. It highlights the work of creature designer Neville Page, prosthetic designer Vincent Van Dyke, and makeup supervisor James MacKinnon.

Creating Ten Forward to the ‘Dataverse’

Production designer Todd Cherniawsky talked to Gold Derby  about how his approach for creating the look for the sets and world of Star Trek: Picard was tied into Star Trek: The Next Generation, saying his “jumping-off point for Picard visually was without a doubt examining Herman Zimmerman‘s production design work on TNG.” When describing how Picard was “bookended” by scenes between Picard and Data in the first and last episodes, he went into more detail about drawing from TNG and creating something new:

That opening dream and the final “Dataverse” virtual reality space were easily two of my favorite scenes to do and work on. In the case of the first one, you are revisiting one of the great sets of TNG. Being able to recreate even just a small portion of Ten Forward was fantastic. Lisa Alkofer our decorator got a chance to rebuild those tables and chairs. Having that opportunity to draw that set up and build even a corner of it was not only fantastic for us, but to watch Patrick Stewart and the rest of the cast show up and see that set was quite a treat.

For the Dataverse, that was one of those moments where you read the sequence and it just read as “Dataverse.” Of course my mind went to the traditional light void undefined space. Then does it make more sense to go dark?  And then you realize it has to be the creation of something. It became very clear what made sense was to do a monochromatic version of the study from Picard’s chateau, which carried on through the season as a virtual space in the holodeck on La Sirena. So, to find the right pulse Iain McFadyen, my supervising art director, first came up with direction, first suggesting we just paint it all white. The more we thought about it, we realized it had an overtone with Data himself, so we went with a sort of gunmetal silver aluminized metallic paint, and duplicated all the expensive items on set.

Recreation of USS Enterprise-D Ten Forward in “Remembrance”

The “Dataverse” in “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2”

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Ian did well with that interview getting Zimmerman to admit that they fog up the backgrounds even in the space scenes.

For anybody wanting to see mindblowingly excellent space scenes that are so many magnitudes above what is being discussed here that there is virtually no comparison, let me recommend SALYUT 7, streaming on Amazon. I actually got vertigo in the first few minutes of the movie, watching astronauts welding on the Russian station with the Earth below them. Perfect VFX representations of the play of light on physical objects in space, and about as far removed from CBS’s mushy, mostly monochromatic and low-contrast versions of space as can be.

Thanks this sounds great. Hopefully it will be available elsewhere than amazon.



I’m just going to leave a cheer for the space orchids here.

They still make me smile a lot. Here’s hoping that SNW brings us more wild and wooly things in space.

If that means that at time Trek risks wild creativity over visual realism, I can accept it. It’s almost a feature of the franchise.

Anything wrong with wild creativity in support of visual realism? Say, 2001?
Or TMP and to a lesser degree TWOK?

In the words of “Bush 41”,

Space Orchids – bad!

Pike – good!