The Star Trek Universe panel offered some insights into the third season of Star Trek Discovery, but nothing on the progress of post-production as fans wait for the third season, which still doesn’t have a release date. However, another Comic-Con@Home panel offered up some details on one of the more difficult challenges for post-production during quarantine: recording the score.
Russo talks Disco season 3 recording
When TrekMovie spoke to Discovery composer Jeff Russo in April, he believed that he couldn’t start work on recording the score for the third season until the pandemic lockdown lifted in California, so he could gather together the dozens of musicians, engineers and others needed for recording on a scoring stage. But as the pandemic lockdown continued into May, Russo and his team developed a new process to record scores remotely.
During a “Behind the Music” virtual panel for Comic-Con@Home, Russo said he has used this remote recording technique successfully and completed the scores for the second season of Umbrella Academy and the first season of Cursed, both of which were released on Netflix in July. Russo gave an overview of the process:
Luckily Star Trek: Discovery had finished production, so for post-production everybody is just working from home. We will be able to finish that season of the show… All those things that finished production beforehand, we were able to do. We had to put together a remote orchestra, including Star Trek, which is 40 people all in their bedrooms or all in their garages. All of them talking to my engineer about where to put the mic, what mic to use. How to do this and how to do that to get the most out of that sound, so we can take all 40 of those performances and edit them together and magically make them sound like we were at the Warner Brothers scoring stage or the Fox scoring stage, which are the two places I normally work. And that has been EXTREMELY time consuming and extremely complicated but it has been also extremely fulfilling.
Officially CBS has been saying that the third season is coming in 2020. However, those who work on the show have made it clear that post-production for a show like Discovery is very complicated, especially during these times. Earlier this month co-showrunner Michelle Paradise implored fans to be patient, saying “our incredible team is working nonstop to bring it to you as soon as possible. It’s taking a bit longer these days, but it’s worth the wait.” In June, editor Scott Gamzon had a similar message, reporting that the team was “working as best and as fast as we can,” but he also noted that working from home “presents numerous challenges that have slowed down our process.”
July 27 UPDATE: CBS Announces October 15 release date for Discovery season 3
With musical homage, a little goes a long way
Russo also talked about his approach to writing the scores for both Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard, and how he doesn’t have to be heavy-handed when it comes to incorporating classic Star Trek music to get the desired effect:
I think that it is so fantastic that some of the best composers that have ever been, have written some of the most iconic themes for this particular franchise: Jerry Goldsmith, Fred Steiner, Alexander Courage; the list is pretty long. So whenever I get a chance to tell the story by just pinging on the heart a little bit by playing the Courage theme or playing Jerry Goldsmith’s theme or Jay Chattaway’s theme, or any of these themes where literally all you have to do is play a couple of notes and [snaps finger] you are instantly taken right there. That makes my job easier, so I love doing that. It’s thrilling for me to weave something like that into something I have written, because it gives me the opportunity to jump five steps without having to do much. I just have to use those three notes and it really puts me there.
He offered an example of how sometimes even when he is trying to be very subtle with it, fans notice:
It was very apparent to me too when I used two notes from the original Romulan theme in the first episode [of Star Trek: Picard], just two notes in two different rhythms. I did it kind of, ‘I wonder if anybody will pick up on this?’ And the first episode came out and my Twitter was flooded with, ‘Oh my god, the Romulan theme!’ It was very fulfilling to me to know that people are paying that much attention and you can just use a very small thing and have it be that effective and have that sort of response.
Russo also talked about how he has approached Picard and Discovery differently and about his work on Fargo. You can see the full panel moderated by Star Trek: Discovery’s Mary Chieffo, which also includes composers Sean Callery (Homeland), Maggie Phillips (Fargo), Torin Borrowdale (Locke & Key), Amanda Jones (Twenties), and Nathaniel Blume (Prodigal Son).
More Discovery and Star Trek Universe from Comic-Con@Home
During the Star Trek Universe panel on Thursday the Discovery cast had a brief Q&A which provided some insights into season three, so check out our full recap for more. We also had coverage of all the other Star Trek Universe shows so check out all of TrekMovie’s CC@Home coverage.
Russo’s Star Trek scores available now
You can pick up Russo’s score for the first season of Star Trek: Discovery at Amazon on MP3, CD, and Vinyl. Season two is available on MP3 and Vinyl. The first season of Star Trek: Picard is available now on MP3, a vinyl release is coming soon.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.com.