Star Trek TV Productions To Add AR Wall To Create Virtual Sets, Like ‘The Mandalorian’

(Lucasfilm)

Executive producer Alex Kurtzman is currently gearing up to put three live-action Star Trek shows into production over the upcoming months, with long-term plans for Trek on TV through 2027 already being mapped out. All of these sci-fi shows rely on cutting edge special visual effects, and Kurtzman is now looking to add the latest technological innovation.

Star Trek Universe going virtual

The season three premiere of Star Trek: Discovery showcased location shooting in Iceland. Production in the era of COVID makes location shooting like that difficult; however, Kurtzman has a plan to deal with that, as explained in this excerpt from a new interview in IndieWire:

Remarkably, Season 4 will start shooting on November 2. The entire cast recently traveled to Toronto to begin their quarantine before production starts, with full COVID safety protocols in place. The kind of international location shooting we saw in Season 3’s first episode is out, but Kurtzman noted, “it looks like we are going to be getting an AR wall for future seasons of ‘Star Trek’ on multiple shows.”

AR walls are new in-studio production techniques using gaming engine technology combined with wall-sized screens of LEDs to create virtual environments that react to camera movements. Using AR walls can create superior visual effects and allow the actors to actually see the environments instead of green screens. And in many cases, these LED walls can replace the need to go on location.  The technology has been used in some recent Disney projects including the Disney+ Star Wars show The Mandalorian, which picked up Emmys this year in both visual effects and cinematography.

This video from Insider shows how these AR wall virtual sets are used.

Based on Kurtzman’s comment, it appears this new technology will be installed in Ontario, Canada, the production home for both Discovery and the upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. It’s possible it could also be used for Star Trek: Picard, which is shot in Southern California, but these AR Walls are very expensive.

Discovery actors did home motion-capture for season 3 inserts

Production on the third season of Discovery wrapped just 10 days before Hollywood went on lockdown. This moved all of the post-production to remote work, including visual effects. Working remotely created an issue with shooting any additional footage (called “pickups” and “inserts”), which is often needed to fill in gaps as episodes are being edited. So again, the Star Trek team turned to technology to provide the answer, as explained in another excerpt from the IndieWire interview:

“The visual effects team was extraordinary, because there are some shots that you will never know aren’t practical, aren’t actually shot on location, that are full CG shots, full CG elements of things that would typically have been an insert,” Kurtzman said… These aren’t entirely CG doubles for the actors, though. Each actor who needed pick-ups received motion-capture equipment to finish elements of their performance at home. For those inserts, Kurtzman said, “It’s an actual actor at their home motion-capture studio, which then gets rendered in the computer as a living thing. It’s a real person… Each of our actors have been scanned, so we can actually impose their faces on a body, which is quite something.”

The Star Trek TV production team has experience with motion capture suits. The following video shows how they were used in Star Trek: Short Treks.


New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery premiere on Thursdays on CBS All Access in the U.S. and on CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada, where it’s also available to stream on Crave. Episodes will be available on Fridays internationally on Netflix.

Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.

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I love this idea. I love the epic look of the Mandalorian. Discovery achieves that at times for sure. Incorporating that into Star Trek could only be a plus. Lower Decks showed us how freeing not having to build and pay for so many physical sets and locations can be to the imagination.

Wow. This is going to be really interesting – as you can see when you have a costume or on-set objects with medium to high reflectivity, like the Mandalorian’s armor, it picks up live reflections from the LED wall environment – and this will also bounce off hair, eyes, skin, etc to really make cast members look like they are in the location, vs. pasted flatly on top of a background plate. I had no idea they used this technology in The Mandalorian and I would have sworn it was all shot on location. This will also be an interesting replacement for digital set extensions – like the ‘viewscreen’ on the Discoprise which was basically one big CGI element IIRC.

Last edited 1 month ago by Fred Javelina

Here’s a piece I did about the process: https://www.icgmagazine.com/web/a-new-hope/

Kmart, your piece is great! The underlying message to me is that the tech is about to be able to do almost anything, but the writing must be there beforehand, securely and almost perfectly.

Preplanning is essential, so that whatever accommodations that happen on the day aren’t huge reversals. That ‘brain bar’ of theirs can accommodate a lot on short notice, but that slows things down a bit, which kind of undercuts one of the best parts of the process. Then again, think about how wonderful it would be to shoot pickups from 20 different locations all in a few minutes, because you can just call up the backgrounds and lighting programs from memory and just start rolling!

I bet eventually this will be using existing footage from many different sources throughout cinema history to recreate places and “package them” – the same way studios used to have standing NY sets, or Old West sets.

And what’s really great about your idea is that older stuff was originated on 35mm film, so the image quality — if you go back to a well-maintained source — is going to be high enough to work with the existing capture system.

Someone is going to make a crazy good looking version of Zentropa.

Wow, I haven’t seen that movie in maybe 20 years, but I still remember a Max Von Sydow voiceover where he intones, ‘you are now ____.’

Congrats on this very indepth article!

Some specific technical detail I was wondering about, are they utilizing the newest class of 8K screens to create this immersive experience? There’s a reference to 6K but I’m not sure if this refers to the cameras (commonly used to have some editing leeway for a 4K end product). Me thinks with a 6K camera, moire patterns should not be a problem with 8K screens, only if the screen is lower resolution than the camera can resolve (i. e. the camera should not record individual pixels). There’s alot of talk of moire avoidance strategies so I wondered.

Last edited 1 month ago by Vulcan Soul

I don’t recall the K resolution designation with regard to screens being mentioned at all (there was a ton of NDA kind of stuff binding several interviewees, and at least three companies that weren’t permitted to participate), but do SEEM to remember that there were references to screens in the .5mil range that would make the process better next time out. The moire issue can possibly be sidestepped by shooting on film, too … I did a piece on WESTWORLD season 3 for musicbed’s film blog, and that series featured a huge window wall in an office done on set with this kind of screen and I don’t recall there being moire problems on that, and it might possibly be because that stuff was shot 35mm, not digital (technically, originating on 35mm is pretty darn high rez, but you can knock that down depending on exposure and lens choice, but the fact it is an analog rather than digital capture probably makes a difference, in more ways than just aesthetics.)

The main good news for MANDALORIAN s that SW was always a little soft looking, in part owing to the stocking behind the camera lens used by Gil Taylor on desert scenes in the original picture, so avoiding a razor sharp look is stylistically in keeping with old STAR WARS.

Your argument about having a higher K screen shot by a lower K cam makes intellectual sense to me (but keep in mind, I’m a dumb old shot-on-film guy from way back who has only ever shot reversal film with practically zero latitude) … it’d be kinda how Kubrick’s guys photographed animated still photo cutouts in 2001 and made it work, because the stills were shot on super-high quality still cams that had resolution far beyond even the 65mm film cameras, so the grain and photo-ness was not discernable in the movie. However, I got a slight feel of ‘this is kind of a black magic area’ from a couple of the interviewees, like not all the results are as expecgted, so a lot of it was ‘test, tweak, test again.’

I can honestly imagine TREK actually choosing to focus sharply on a particular background during the course of a scen just to create a moire deliberately, as the start point of a hologram or vision fading. So there are probably creative uses to badly-moired imagery that haven’t been touched on yet!

Was the stocking basically a fixed filter to deal with harsh desert sun, or was that to keep dust out of the gate?

It was some kind of light nylon, and not stretched in front of lens, but I think mounted at the film gate. There’s discussion of this in the big MAKING OF SW book, and elsewhere.

It was used specifically to gauze up the image (same approach when filming the Star Child at end of 2001, though in that case, rumor was that they used 30 year old nylons from Marlene Dietrich to get just the right shimmery look), sort of the way you can gauze up an image by shooting through screen door material (a very VERY poor man’s way of making it look like there is smoke in the room is shooting through a slowly moving rolled up piece of screen door material — it works in Super-8, not sure if it would for larger formats.)

Oh very cool. I have to get that book! It is interesting how the cinematography has changed a lot yet we still want to be able to get certain effects with cheap / practical gear. Like J.J. Abrams knocking on the film cans to get a certain sort of vibration built in – which they later had to match when blending live-action and CGI shots in the first Star Trek, by building a little arcade button controller thing so the editor could add “wobble” data manually :)

Now of course, we’re watching it on a $500 HD LCD set, which even if calibrated properly, isn’t anywhere near the range of reproduction a modern cinema laser projector can do. (They’re amazing – RGB + three other colour lasers, nearly infinitely variable intensity, the colour range is out of this world)

There is at least one startlingly huge omission from the Rinzler book, about when ILM was shut down briefly late in 1976 (not the one mentioned happening in 75) … I have tried to engage with the guy online about this and never gotten any response, but it kinda calls into question his position back then as the guy on this stuff. The very first person I talked with (out of about 15 folks) when I did a big retrospective on SW in late 95 brought up the closure, and he wasn’t even hired when the 1975 closing happened. And it was mentioned in CFQ as well in their 1978 double issue on the film. Yet it is absent from this big epic tome that is supposed to tell all. ?

I agree. I really assumed a lot of Mandalorian was shot on location. Now I wonder what if any of it actually was! Pretty cool.

Some was. Disney+ released a multi-part series on the making of The Mandalorian that goes into it in detail

So cool. This means Trek is basically shot on a holodeck now :-)

Also, it may have solved the problem of cancellation for a very long time. If CBS invests is such an expensive piece of tech, they have to put it to proper use. They may cancel one individual show but not all of Trek can end at once as it did in 2005.

This is 2020 not 2005

Naw, for realz?

Not sure what the economics of this is. Did Secret Hideout pay for this 100%? It’s permanently at the Toronto studio. One would think it could be used by whatever production wanted to rent it. So then I imagine if SH paid for it and it’s at the studio that both would get an agreed upon share. This would not be limited to Trek productions I should think.

The economics are fine.

CBS Studios has its own new studio in Mississauga, and we have been told that space is reserved there for live-action Trek series. This seems the most likely option to keep this as a ViacomCBS resource.

If it gets built at Pinewood Studios Toronto (assuming they could get space), that complex is on city-owned land and BellMedia is the co-owner and manager of the complex. BellMedia is already the distribution partner for all things Trek in Canada so not much risk there. Ryerson University (which has a tech focus) has a lab/demonstration site on the Pinewood premises so there could be some collaboration there.

OK then. I’m not up to speed on the status of the Canadian production facilities.

They should have the AR wall for Strange New Worlds and show that the Enterprise bridge is basically a “Desktop Theme” that Pike can switch between TOS style and Discovery style with a simple voice command. :P

If they had this tech for TFF, Kirk wouldn’t have had to ‘miss my old chair.’

This should not only keep travel costs down for the cast and crew, but it will also allow the Discovery and Enterprise to truly travel to strange new worlds, where alien environments can be created without the limitations of having to build a set or travel offsite to various shoot locations.
Maybe Toronto and Mississauga have warmer winters than places like North Dakota, Minnesota and Illinois, but now “outdoor” production can take place all year around regardless of the weather outside the studios. Pretty cool!

I live in Minnesota and it’s not too cold. Minnesota nice is a thing.

Apologies, no insult intended to the folks of Minnesota! I remember Toronto was going through a record cold spell during the NBA all-star game weekend a few years back, so I assume most Americans who saw that think it is always -10F here all winter long – actually the average high for the winter is usually around 30F because of the Great Lakes. In fact I think Toronto is geographically located south of about 10-15 percent of the CONUS (continental United States). That said, it is damp, dark and not a lot of fun. I would prefer to be back in San Jose from Dec to April haha.

Last edited 1 month ago by DeanH

I was also thinking that this can really help a more episodic Strange New Worlds to actually visit new worlds every week.

Moreover, it’s the entrance ticket to that mythological Star Trek live action anthology series the suits had to redlight so far because of cost!

VS, sets and props that actors can interact with will still require design and labour. Likewise costumes and new prosthetic makeup.

But yes, it really will expand the scope of what’s possible and affordable.

I’m thinking that a anthology series of experimental “Long Trek” made for streaming movies or 3-6 part miniseries might be possible now.

Let’s not forget that not requiring a permanent cast, with rising salaries each season and long-term contracts, considerably offsets other costs. Basically, everybody would be a guest actor on there. I’d also think like in previous Treks, they could re-use props etc., at least for the same time period (such as between TNG, DS9 and Voyager), even when episodes are set at different locations.

Last edited 1 month ago by Vulcan Soul

The Mandalorian uses this groundbreaking technology. Star Trek using virtual sets is perfect.

Star Wars always have better visual effects than Star Trek most of the time.

Ninja hat den Topos ich widerspreche mir im nämlichen Satz zu so einem ausgeklügelten Maß perfektioniert, dass ich mitnichten mehr daran glauben kann, diesjenige geschehe in irgenster Weise auf unfreiwilliger Basis, sondern ist vielmehr ein solch zielsicheres Stilmittel, das ebenso gekonnt eingestzt ist, dass der damit beabsichtigte Zweck sich mir jedoch vollkommen auf nebulöseste Weise entzieht.

I took four years of German, yet about all I remember was slang, ‘mach mein tag’ and ‘spater mann.’

Is this an attempt to foil any machine translation by writing in the most byzantine way possible? :P

Glad I”m not the only one who thought that!

;)

Möglicherweise handelt es sich bei dem Pseudonym Faze Ninja um eine Scharade, eine elaborierte Kunstfigur, welche als parodistische Verballhornung der jungen Generation unbedarfter Anhänger des Sternentrekks fungiert. Vielleicht auch mehr Hommage als Persiflage, obschon ich zu bezweifeln beliebe, dass irgend jemand tatsächlich bereit und willens sowie zeitlich ungebunden daherkommt, sich solch einem spitzfindigen Unterfangen zu verschreiben…

Pretty impressive investment for a bunch of shows that’ll be cancelled. How does a guy who is basically fired get to spend so much of someone else’s money?

What the devil are you talking about?

He’s mocking the people who come here regularly with the BS rumors that all the Kurtzman shows are getting cancelled (they aren’t), that they are complete failures (they aren’t), or that Kurtzman himself is being let go (he isn’t).

They are theories pushed by people in the community who have an agenda to garner youtube clicks and act a bit like an alt-right of Trek fandom, spread a bunch of fake news and anyone who doesn’t agree with them is a paid shill because nobody can possibly like the new Trek shows.

I don’t dispute that there are trek fans who like the new shows and have no taste — they can’t all be paid shills, and certainly trek fans have a history of lemming-like love for a new but poor thing, and often that doesn’t abate until a certain amount of time has passed and reality has finally set in for them.

I certainly wish they’d cancel these things (most of them anyway — SNW has real and wonderful possibilities, but under the stewardship, such as it is, with the current creative crew, SNW promises to be a staggeringly huge MATRIX-sequel-level disappointment.)

That’s a very gatekeepery comment kmart. Just because someone likes something you don’t does not and will not mean they have “no taste”. Stuff that.

Stuff yourself, I’m commenting on fans based on my experience of them, in person and otherwise. What gates are you referencing, the ones holding back good taste from the masses?

Taking the position that fans who like the new shows have no taste is a prime example of gatekeeping. It’s also an incredibly arrogant presumption. If you don’t like Discovery, Picard, or Lower Decks that’s fine. You’re entitled to that opinion. But there’s no need to insult fans of the new shows. I’ve been watching Star Trek for over 30 years. I love TNG and DS9. And you know what? I like the new shows, too. Last time I checked, that doesn’t make me a lemming. It just means that I enjoy watching something that you don’t.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bob

If I hadn’t offered repeated and detailed support for my position, then I would be guilty of just unsupported sniping. But I have gone on at length and in very specific detail in my criticisms of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, and feel that any further reiteration would be perceived as trolling. So I’m just including the thesis sentence rather than the whole argument all over again.

And yes, I do think the majority of Trek fans demonstrate a lot of lemming-like behavior, same as people with obsessions over sports teams. As a teen and young adult, I used to be amazed that folks who at first glance seemed pretty well-read and articulate could skew that way, but decades of exposure have only reinforced that view.

For the record, I love a lot of DS9, outside of TOS it is the only TREK series I seriously enjoy and re-enjoy. But that’s part of the reason I find such disfavor with what we’re getting now, because it’s like they’ve chosen to cherry-pick aspects and tones that worked on DS9 without putting them in an appropriate and well-written context. Sort of like if you put the Praxis explosion from TUC into every Trek battle seen in the last 28 years, just because you know people like it.

Still wondering about the 7 years thing …

Like the show and have no taste??…….you must be a real blast at parties. Gee, something smells bad….I either stepped in dog s**t, or there must be Star Trek Discovery fans in the room.

Guess it’s a good thing parties are a thing of the past for people who want to survive.

Parties are deadly?

Depends on how deeply and often you breathe.

The investment can be utilized for other productions, not just Star Trek.

It sounds as though Trek will have first dibs most of the year with 3 series in production.

But it may be a proof-of-concept investment for CBS Studios.

Well, despite kmart’s incessant whining, they got seven years to work in the ROI…..probably explains his Trumpian levels of rage.

Disregarding the rest of your inflammatory and misguided crap … What is the obsession with 7 years? Does the magic ticket stop working after 84 months, or is this some carryover from BermanTrek? And you have only rarely read me becoming enraged, and usually only about miscarriages of justice like that thing pretending to be king, not about crappy and occasionally not-so-crappy TV shows.

“probably explains his Trumpian levels of rage.”

Yikes that escalated quickly! They dont sell Romulan chill pills around your parts? ;)

Phil probably doesn’t like Fauci anymore either.

Your rom ref made me wish McCoy had made a romule ale doctor joke: What ‘ales’ you exactly, Jim? (it’s worthy of Shatner, pun-wise.)

This whole thread has turned personal so warnings to everyone.

CLOSED

It’s funny because I was just thinking of how there’s probably a clue about THE BURN ADMONITION in the spice mines of Kessel. Shamone.

Last edited 1 month ago by Vice Admiral Nakamura

It’s funny, back in the 70s GR was saying they would use Magicam for the next Trek production, and here we are over 40 years later, finally getting the Lamborghini version of Magicam.

TREK could have benefitted from IntroVision too (another in-camera virtual production tool, though in analog form, a fancy front-projection system), especially during the Bennett years, too bad nobody had the guts to go all-in on it.

But can this simulate Vasquez Rocks?

You just send a guy with a still camera and maybe a lidar rig to capture the location and you can do everything with Vasquez Rocks a real unit could do, and more, like staging takeoffs and crashes with varying perspectives. Sky is not the limit, though depicting direct sunlight is still very hard to do, since you still have to employ lighting units on the live foreground, and matching intensity and bounce from sunlight is well-nigh impossible thus far.

On the other hand they will likely do better in terms of showing different coloured suns and skies, and different atmospheres with different scattering of light.

I’m just waiting for Jonathan Frakes to refer to the stage as Planet Hell mark II.

Strange, new and authentically trippy worlds will be much more doable, and outdoor locations can be used sparingly.

TG,
You’re suggesting they can do a really slick and fantastic version of what they tried to do in SFS with Genesis, but mostly wound up with a GREEN ACRES look? That’s a really great idea. Hope you’re right.

Obvious Styrofoam “rocks” notwithstanding, one of the things that TOS and early TNG gave us were soundstage planetscapes with different coloured skies.

I’m ready for it.

I’m wishing for a planet with skies culled from WRATH OF KHAN’s Mutara Nebula, myself. Take THAT, Aurora Borealis!

Based on what they did with The Mandalorian, definitely yes.

I’m wondering if they are installing this in CBS Studios Mississauga.

I’d initially though it would be at Pinewood Studios Toronto since Ryerson University has its technology incubator/demo site there. However, Pinewood soundstage space is at a premium, at least until the extension is done, and the City of Toronto is only now looking for bidders to build the new Portlands studios.

If the AR wall is their own studio in Mississauga, ViacomCBS would be able have priority to use it for any of its productions, and least it to others when idle.

It will be interesting to see where it’s built.

I think you nailed it. It’s a long term investment for ViacomCBS as a whole so Mississauga seems the more likely location for an install.

Interesting. Hard to imagine that a camera filming a screen could look good, but from the clips above it seems to work remarkably well. The advantages of getting actual reflections of the virtual set on practical components is are compelling. Looking forward to seeing what Star Trek can do with this new technology.

If you watch the making-of documentary about The Mandalorian there is an episode where they do a deep dive on the technology. It really is amazing.

The Mandalorian is epic.

Now if they can only recreate the amazing soundtrack, stunning cinematography, non-convoluted storytelling and brilliant attention to detail of the Mandalorian… these new Trek shows might just approach Star Wars’ quality. I won’t hold my breath, their priorities seem more about pew pew action and identity politics casting.

MANDALORIAN is the very first SW project that has really registered for my wife in a big way … I’m not a big SW fan, but do very much enjoy ANH and TESB (guess I’m of the opinion you need Gary Kurtz to make a good SW movie), which she always finds to be rough going (we both abhor the prequels) and I find MANDALORIAN utterly thrilling, a kind of HAVE GUN WILL SPACE TRAVEL (or HAVE BLASTER WILL TRAVEL) if you will.

Give Noah Hawley a free hand with STRANGE NEW WORLDS and TREK would have me back in an instant, but that’s not gonna happen.

Uh, like the Mandalorian isn’t full of space gunplay? It’s Star Wars, not Star Negotiation Of Trade Routes In The Galactic Senate.

Like casting a black stormtrooper didn’t upset certain people’s “identity politics?”

Like choosing to forget hundreds of years of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, redlining, inequity and inequality isn’t “identity politics?”

Like it isn’t identity politics to castigate people for making small attempts to make things fairer and more representative — when even cursory research will show industry / writers’ rooms and casting tends to default overwhelmingly to straight white middle-class people, and even they admit it’s a problem?

Let’s say the quiet part out loud: Some folks want their Trek to be straight and white because a world where things are truly equal mean no unearned advantages, no positive assumption made of your character or creditworthiness or citizenship, and now you have to actually compete on your merit. (When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression, as the saying goes.)

Star Trek has always tried to show inclusivity to the whole human family. That’s sort of the point of the show; everyone wants to see themselves in the future, especially if they are marginalized.

That was the point of casting a black woman, an Asian man, and writing characters as coming from various nationalities – and including an alien. That’s why so many people see themselves in these characters – outsiders who find acceptance, when in your real life you may have none.

That was the point of writing shows with the first Black and woman captains, and particularly, the DS9 episode ‘Far Beyond The Stars’ – specifically about the Black experience in America. “We love our country, but it doesn’t seem to love us back,” said Doc Rivers, coach of the LA Clippers, in reference to ongoing police violence and the backlash to Black Lives Matter. (As Michael Che said: “That’s all it says. Matter. Do we matter? Do we have to go back a step and acknowledge “Black Lives… exist?”)

When every day in your life exists in tension between the colour of your skin and the power of the state to arbitrarily detain you – a power that may be incentivized by a for-profit prison system – it’s like having low grade PTSD… all the time.

Who, living under those conditions, would not want to imagine a world where you can literally breathe free, systemic barriers have been removed, historical grievances redressed, scarcity and poverty eliminated, opportunities are open, and you are actually judged on your merit? Where you can bring your entire, authentic self out into the open, and not have to deny who you are, or like the Borg, ‘assimilate?’

Cool.

Disney Star Wars does diversity right.

CBS Star Trek takes the sledgehammer approach to it, and does it simply for headlines, and at the expense of story-telling. The casting pendulum has swung so far the other way, it’s become impossible not to notice and be distracted by.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve

Since the facility The Mandalorian uses is in Southern California, Picard probably won’t have to travel to Toronto to use CBS’s. As long as they don’t have a production using it, Disney will be more than happy to make a few extra bucks and it keeps Sir Patrick happy by keeping things in California, as he wants.

Color me impressed.

As someone who dabbles in CG, this is seriously impressive – the scope is – boundless. What this would mean for a show like Strange New Worlds, I cannot even get my head around. The ability to immerse actors in a truly alien environment – with all the subtleties of lighting and reflection, as well as being able to give the actors something to act against, rather than a green screen, is.. incredible.

Agreed, it’s incredible.

It would allow backgrounds that look real but are so much more than mattes.

Real geography could be manipulated in scale and colour in preproduction to create something authentically alien. Or to use sensitive environments where filming might not be permitted.

For example, I’ve always thought that the Midlands rock formations in Ontario would make a fantastic alien landscape, but they have to be protected from damage.

Here’s the link to a short video on the Cheltenham Midlands from a Toronto area newsmagazine:

https://youtu.be/_XqfHJkkB00

That’s BADLANDS not Midlands.

I deeply loathe autocorrect.

“Authentically” alien might be the wrong goal — now that we have hi-res photos of authentic rocky hillsides on Venus, Mars and several asteroids, they look a whole lot like rocky hillsides on Earth. Instead, I’d suggest “imaginatively” alien.

Any geology on an alien world (that has a human shirt-sleeve environment) probably has an analogue somewhere on Earth. What they can do with the AR wall is portray locations that would be impractical to visit or construct, such as glacial ice tunnels, lava tubes, giant crystal geodes, or with a lot of surface movement (trickling water, sludgy lava, squirming super-mold).

(C’mon, Discovery crashes on an unnamed planet with mountains floating in the air and they get barely one mention by Tilly — is that an ordinary phenomenon in the 2250s UFP that we’ve somehow never seen? Sheer squandering of potential, that’s what that is. Save the VFX for an episode in which the cast isn’t consumed by indoors duties.)

Or a Ringworld or Dyson Sphere …

Three more series-! Keen to see what their ideas are. I’d like to see a series set on “Old Vulcan” – telling the story of how the planet moved from violent barbarism to logic. Paramount – please contact me to discuss! :-)

I think that’s a tragic mistake! Moving to pre-production a large part of post-production reduce artistic flexibility a lot!

When the post schedules keep getting truncated (because that’s always been the case), you wind up with compromised vfx a lot of the time, which you can see going back to the beginning of digital era (seaQuest anyone?) With a properly planned show, the creative decisions can be worked out aheead of time by the same creatives who would normally do the work months later under more intense time pressures. You just don’t have the option to pull a Berman and ask for endless iterations without extending the schedule to compensate (well, you do have that option, but you shouldn’t have to avail yourself of it.) The VFX people I talked with are some of the folks who were most happy with this approach, matter of fact. However, I’d think George Lucas would slit his wrists w/ a light saber over it for the reason you cite.

kmart, I’m wondering if this will make for more integrated creative decisions.

Leaving such a large proportion of the work to be done in post takes away so much creatively from the director, cinematographer, production designers and talent.

Kurtzman has talked about the challenges of doing final editing when it takes place nearly a year after production. It’s hard to recall what creative decisions had been made and why.

I’m hopeful that it will encourage greater coherence in the final product both narratively and visually.

“Leaving such a large proportion of the work to be done in post takes away so much creatively from the director, cinematographer, production designers and talent.”

I’m with you on this fully! One would hope not just the budgets profit from this (being freed for other stuff) and the creativity (allowing even smaller productions awesome” location work”) but also the artistic quality of these often-felt “industrial productions”. Less conveyor-belt, more singular vision.

“which you can see going back to the beginning of digital era (seaQuest anyone?)”

Or you could just go back a few months to the copy and paste fleet of Picard (no lockdown excuses here).

Every artist with a iota of integrity would hang their head in shame over this one!

The thing I remember about DSC and PIC fleet shots is that they aren’t staged in a real cinematic and dimensional way, looking like they could be just photo cutouts. Compare it with, say, SERENITY, where you have big groups of ships squaring off, but everything is very dimensional. Plus I find warping in and stopping cold to be a very artificial looking effect, too much like DARK STAR, where they did it deliberately to get a laugh. Inherent velocity, anyone?

kmart, your intuition is leading you astray on this one.

The whole point of warp is that the ship is still, has no movement, while in the warp bubble. It’s the warping of space that pulls and pushes the warp bubble. That way the ship and people inside it aren’t subject to the forces that would otherwise destroy them.

In the original Albucierre version there isn’t any inherent velocity carried over. Another sublight drive would be needed for any velocity after. So, that is the representation that matches the theory that we have in physics.

The best lay analogy is a plate being pulled along on a table cloth. When the cloth stops moving so does the dish.

Now, there are some other physicists that are recently proposing that the amount of energy needed to attain warp could be greatly reduced by building up velocity with another drive before going to warp. I have no idea if that prewarp velocity would provide some inherent velocity coming out of warp. But it’s not obvious that it would.

Last edited 1 month ago by TG47

TG,
I get where you’re coming from on this, but have a different perspective both on the cinematic and the science end of things, and how they can commingle to good effect.

In YESTERDAY’S CHILDREN and other literature SF that I grew up on, you have an inherent velocity going in that you take with you out of warp — and in some of these, you also have the option to redirect the vector as you leave warp, so that inherent velocity lets you go in whatever direction you like. Cinematic possibilities abound! You can have a traditional ‘wall’ of ships entering warp, but when they emerge, they are moving on all different axis in englobement of target. (I’ve been thinking about this stuff for over 30 years, because I’ve had my own anti-Trek series and universe I so much wanted to play in for film or tv. Think FIREFLY with better science, a universe where any prime directive-like hands-off policy is actually just a political way of looking off in another direction while non-signatories rob and plunder and kickback … just as they really would. Plus the resources to blockade all these systems from interference would be enough to overtax any empire.)

Back on topic … That inherent velocity gives you a justification the visual dramatic component that I like, and I think a visual component that the effect deserves as well. Look at the refit coming out of warp in TMP in midfilm, it is spectacular, and would be even w/o the ott starbow rainbow effect, because it is a well-designed shot.

Also, and I know this is a minority view, but re: warp bubbles, the way trek and/or trekfans have retroactively applied thought on this to past shows is way way off. I have never EVER believed that the refit entered vger’s warp bubble while doing the 500 meter flyover – I believe both vessels are moving indepedently at more than warp 7 and that incredible subtle computer-aided flying is being done by Sulu the whole while. There’s nothing in the dialog or action that suggests the enterprise warp engines are ever off until they are seized by the tractor beam and pulled inside. (well, there may be a shot or two where the exteriors don’t show the warp lighting on the engines, or the deflector dish is glowing yellow rather than blue, but those are editorial/vfx matters.)

“.Moving to pre-production a large part of post-production reduce artistic flexibility a lot!”

I decisively disagree! Art lives in the moment, the mood, and “fixing it in post” is decisively NOT art…. thats polishing a product. Sure we love to perfect and improve our works endlessly, but you got to start from a coherent base work, and not bits and pieces you or even someone else reinterpret months later. Also, art thrives on limits; having an unlimited palette of colors does not lead to art but a cacophony of noise and clutter (see: Discovery).

So I would say this, on the contrary, restores the integrity of the artistic process.

Last edited 1 month ago by Vulcan Soul

As someone who works in the art department on Film and TV projects, this scares me. I understand it has really great benefits in terms of cutting costs in post-production, as well as helping with lighting, in particular, whilst shooting but I just feel like this particular advancement is possibly going to render some previous roles in the art department, as well as in post-production vfx and the locations department, irrelevant.

For instance, what is the point of having a set dresser + team on a project if someone can just plop a book case in the background at a buttons touch at the directors whim? And that someone in control is most likely going to be from the gaming world of designing/creating, someone say who wouldn’t necessarily understand the history of bookcases and general woodwork – might not sound important, but it could become important if it is a period production.

And who is designing these virtual CGI sets? It appears that it would be a gaming company with their own in-house art director and team. Why have a production designer, who would normally create the entire aesthetic of a production, and art department team at all? All you would really need is a prop master and a small team of prop hands on set to move items around/ hand props to actors etc. Suddenly a department of 50 people (art directors, art department assistants, set draughts persons, graphic designers, scenic artists, set decorations, stand-by art directors etc.) now becomes a team of 6 or 7 people.
And the same with post-production VFX and everyone who would be involved in that. As well as the locations department – a department that the art department would work very closely with. Why bother having a locations team at all f all the locations are virtual?

I hope this is just a baseless fear I have, like people usually have about advancements in tech. And I hope it actually creates more job opportunity, but I can’t see how it wouldn’t just take the place of established roles that have been around for a very long time.

Last edited 1 month ago by Maya

From looking at some videos on this, it seems that the key thing is that a lot of vfx moves to preproduction rather than post.

Not that much is changeable on the fly during production itself.

So, it sounds like some roles will evolve, but that in general there will be much closer collaboration between production design and vfx in preproduction.

To me this means greater coherence in design, and fewer situations where post seems to creatively divorced from production design.

Maybe you didn’t read up on how it has been done (so far, anyway.) Not everything is whole cloth CG, plenty of the virtual look is based on location photography, and some based on physical miniatures, which is as far away from the knowledge base of most current gaming folk as you can get. And this isn’t just ‘stand a guy in front of the screen with all the rest of the info projected/played back’ because there are practical set elements in pretty much all setups. It is a big step up virtually in terms of being mostly set extension instead of just the back distant 30% more commonly used, but that shouldn’t impact designers and decorators at all since you guys will be the ones coming up with the practical elements, which may wind up getting photographed and scanned to enhance what is used on set.

Not saying a (shortsighted) production couldn’t go the route you fear, but there’s zero evidence that anybody who has embarked on this so far has done so without involving all departments in a creative way up front, and in so doing has actually allowed the key creatives to do their thing more completely (DPs aren’t having to surrender control over so much to post crews because they’ve got the whole image to look at on-set, for example.) And pushing more stuff into the prep period instead of post just seems like a good thing in all sorts of ways to me, given that there is going to be more interaction among a greater number of departments prior to shooting, nailing more stuff down so we get further and further away from the fix-it/leave-it-to-post mindset (though there will certainly be virtual setups that require later massaging and tweaks, a lot of them.)

When tools like CADCAM for set design became available, folks were afraid it would impact the design process in a non-creative way. Same for digital editing. Don’t think it bothered too many professionals after they upped their game and added to their repetoire (though, for full disclosure, I’ve got to admit I’ve never done any kind of film editing except the analog, physical, cutting and splicing tape variety, but I’ve never worked on industry stuff, just my own zero-budget projects shot on reversal stock. And while I did use computer graphics to augment my stuff as far back as the 1970s, I was also ‘faking’ computer graphics by bending pieces of wire and coating them with UV paint so they would glow and resemble graphics, mainly because I felt it was faster — and liked the funky low-tech solutions.)