The Roddenberry Archive Recreates Sets From First ‘Star Trek’ Pilot “The Cage”

The Gene Roddenberry estate is developing “The Roddenberry Archive,” which is a multi-decade collaboration to collect and preserve Gene Roddenberry’s legacy at the highest levels of fidelity and historical accuracy. A number of Star Trek veterans are involved in the project, including artists Denise and Mike Okuda, Doug Drexler, and Daren Dochterman who are all working with the cloud graphics company OTOY.

Their first project is to create a 1:1 virtual experience of The Motion Picture USS Enterprise. And they have just announced another ongoing project to recreate elements of the first Star Trek pilot “The Cage,” bringing in even more Star Trek veterans.  The Roddenberry Archive has released new details and a video showing how this intriguing new project is being put together.

A virtual “Cage”

The Roddenberry Archive team has enlisted the help of two of the surviving cast and crew of “The Cage” director Bob Butler and Sandy Gimpel (who played a Talosian). Also helping are Sean Kenny who played Pike in “The Menagerie”, and Chris Hunter – son of original Captain Pike actor Jeffery Hunter.

The official announcement explains the process:

The Roddenberry Archive team has allowed the cast and crew of “The Cage” to step back in time 58-years and revisit 1:1 life-size virtual sets, costumes, characters, and props (including fully working Enterprise interiors). The Cage, which predates Star Trek: The Original Series by two-years was written and produced by Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Robert Butler.

Mr. Butler has provided the archive with hours of behind the scenes materials, and in March 2022, reviewed the 1:1 scale USS Enterprise’s bridge in a virtual production environment to confirm that it faithfully matches the physical set he filmed nearly 60-years ago.

A close match to original actress Laurel Goodwin is scanned in costume for the recreation, as these split screens demonstrate.

The project members show off their work in the following announcement video:

 

The Roddenberry Archive is recreating Enterprise’s legacy

Reconstruction work on the Roddenberry Archive project will eventually cover the entire 40-year legacy of the original USS Enterprise from 2245 to 2285. The project aims to “recreate life-sized representations of almost a dozen canonical Enterprises by the end of this decade.” The goal is to allow “future generations to immerse themselves in the evolution of the legendary starship.”

This video from last summer shows off some of the early work on recreating the Enterprise.

You can learn more about The Roddenberry Archive and the Enterprise recreation at OTOY’s site here.

There are no specifics on how or when people will be able to see these projects. However, OTOY says the plan for eventual distribution for The Roddenberry Archive will include using innovative techniques such as VR/AR and holographic display panels.

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First! Fantastic. I’ve found the sets of the Cage more futuristic and more cinematic than those of TOS and at the same time inspired by the late 50s design like Forbidden Planet.

I’ve always felt the same.

We can now duck, while the TOS 1701 gang weigh-in in disbelief.

Mike and Denise Okuda have such a passion for Star Trek, I’m glad they’re involved.

So true! It’s great to see them so involved in all things Trek again!

Having the Okudas in leadership roles in this project truly helps with the trust that it will capture whatever can be documented and recreated at this point in time.

This now fully explains why the fan-made VR tours of the Enterprise were shutdown by CBS and Paramount in 2018.

I am involved on this project and was also involved in the Stage 9 Enterprise-D recreation, the shutdown was unrelated to this.

I really, really, really hope they make this avail to all people and not limited to conventions, museums and wealthy people.

This sounds pretty impressive.

Amazing!! Star Trek has become so disappointing to me personally since the Rick Berman era ended, but this gets me excited again even though I am not 100% sure what it is about!

One thing seems obvious to me though, if they can recreate the ship and the sets then one day they will be able to recreate the likeness of the actors. How far will they / can they / should they go with that and what would it mean in terms of copyrighting a person?

We get a 5th Season of Enterprise, years 4 & 5 of the original 5 year mission etc
Could go back and give us new episodes / movies from the old casts

…………..interesting!

Deepfake technologies are already pushing those boundaries. For example, with the Mandalorian, Mark Hamill did not record a single line of dialogue and had his face superimposed over a younger body double.

Carrie Fisher used to joke that one day when she looked in a mirror she’d have to send George Lucas $5.00. Maybe she was being prophetic

I’ve been foreseeing this for some time in the future. What I would love to see: The Star Trek movies of the 70s that never made it and the Phase II series. I know that some find it boring, but I love those 70s designs!

STXIV ?

Love It!!

Hope they will remember the awesome work people did recreating the D-Enterprise in Unreal and for VR. Until CBS dumped the project for no (official) reason…

They do remember it, some of us involved in that project are now working on this! :)

Can you address whether Light Field Lab is still involved on this? I interviewed with them — their main thing is holographic presentation — in summer of ’20 and this Enterprise recreation was something they were supposed to be partnering with Rod on.

Yes

How much will all this cost?

The goal of OTOY and the Roddenberry estate is for it to not be monetized, as stated publicly on Twitter.

That’s fine and dandy and all, but if I gotta shell out $50 or whatever to walk through any version of the Constitution Class Enterprise on my Oculus Quest 2, OTOY can take all of my money!!!

Speaking of which… how are we going to be able to interact with these amazing VR 3D models? I need this in my life, like, yesterday.

I agree! I didn’t see anything about how this will be implemented. But, I’m seriously hoping it’s for VR headsets like the Oculus Quest 2. To be able to walk/fly/move around Trek ships and locations would be seriously awesome.

This virtual set project is interesting, but what are the makers hoping/planning that it will be used for? Do they intend for it to be used in the shows and movies eventually? Gaming? Theme park attractions?

And “they” say that “they” can’t recreate the show exactly like it was, in order to maintain continuity. Sigh. Still, this “experience” is a neat concept, and I am looking forward to its completion. Kudos!

“They” are, for better or worse, producing series to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. These folks, bless them, are looking to please themselves and a fanbase of purists and nerds. Not the same thing at all.

(And yeah, “The Cage” stuff is especially cool.)

“Not the same thing at all” you say. Not criticizing but just to say–today’s brand new audience *will be* the purists and nerds of tomorrow in however many decades from now anybody cares to mention, if some of them take the most recently made films and series to their hearts and into their futures like so many old-time fans have (or did). Indeed, of so many working on this preservation project, that is their exact story. So don’t knock the nerds and purists lol – they’re like that for pretty good reasons and were (are) also that wide audience!
Additionally, ‘”the project aims to “recreate life-sized representations of almost a dozen canonical Enterprises by the end of this decade’: unless that figure also encompasses the three aircraft carriers, the Shuttle test vehicle, the Star Trek Online future ships and also the J, I don’t believe there have been twelve Starships Enterprise actually seen on-screen…so if the Rodenberry Archive team want to be complete and comprehensive regarding that dozen, and are sticking only to TV/movie models and sets…the Abrams films’ ship and of course the very latest, Discovery/Strange New Worlds’, will be digitally recorded for posterity to benefit today’s and the next, coming generations, too.
In fact I’d be shocked if those last two’s physical sets *weren’t* already digitally scanned for future filmed production/gaming/VR-entertainment and theme park purposes. It’s only logical. =)

Re “NuTrek” I understand there’s likely a whole lotta licensing issues with anything made after 2009 in relation to what’s being done here. Others will know more than me, however I think my points still stand about recreating that ‘dozen’!😅

Get a life nerd

Is that like telling someone to ‘get a life partner’ or are you just being a jerk who deserves a warning?

I saw this last night and it’s incredible, especially in how the Yeoman Colt actress looks a lot like the late Laurel Goodwin. The Enterprise from the Cage era looks great as well.

When you guys go to OTOY’s website, they have a video involving Yeoman Colt.

The actress is a spitting image of Colt. They should have used her in Strange New World’s.

Why couldn’t they cast that actress as Colt in Strange New Worlds? She’s a spitting image of her.

I am delighted to see such interest in preserving the origins of the Star Trek phenomenon. There is no other entertainment franchise with quite the combination of strength, influence, history, prestige, and pop cultural importance that Star Trek has had and continues to have. Others may exceed it in history (e.g., James Bond) or box office draw (e.g., the Star Wars and Marvel franchises), but Star Trek has a unique position because of its positive message and vision for humanity which have impelled it to incomparable heights in such characteristics. Part of the success of Star Trek is the care that those involved have demonstrated to preserve its elements, beginning with its roots. Attention to detail is part of this care. Demonstrative of this is the invitation of a key figure from the 1960s production of the first pilot; another is the effort devoted to accuracy, as seen in the startling resemblance between the original actress who played J. M. Colt and the current one.

This is great, lots of hard work going on to retain, recreate and archive the legacy of these great creators. Well done and thank you to everyone involved!

Looks great!

Wow! This is hugely impressive, and exciting! The work that’s going into these digital creations is just insane! Can’t wait to experience the fruits of their hard labours. Love The Cage’s designs, and TMP – So this looks like heaven!

Wouldn’t the Roddenberry Archive being “a multi-decade collaboration to collect and preserve Gene Roddenberry’s legacy at the highest levels of fidelity and historical accuracy” be best served by also putting a great deal of effort behind preserving the two Star Trek series needing restoration, Deep Space Nine and Voyager? Yes, I know they’re owned by CBS, but still.

(P.S. no disrespect at all intended to the people working on this project… I’m just saying, it would be really nice if ALL of Star Trek were being tended to by the powers that be.)

It would be great to have Voyager and Deep Space Nine in better than VHS quality. Like to finally have a real HD scan not made for 240 lines interlaced, for VHS and Laserdisc era video.

Way better than the over the top and oversized tacky sets made for the Kurtzman era. The Cage bridge looks functional and doesn’t waste space.

Watched “The Cage” last night, and it’s just as riveting and fascinating as it’s always been for me! To come full circle with a whole series centered around Pike is such a treat.

Btw, seems like tomorrow is one of the most special days in the 56 year history of Trek: Have we ever before been gifted a season finale and a series premiere on the same day? Enjoy! 🖖

Good point, I doubt it!

This is probably the longest amount of time between pilot and series in television history.

wow. also, wow.

Hadn’t realized that Laurel Goodwin passed recently….

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is opening next year in Los Angeles.

This seems like a perfect project for an interactive exhibit, and it would draw tons of people.

So Star Trek is really becoming a historical document. LOL, lets wait for the aliens to view them then :)) On a more serious note though, this is an excellent idea, to digitally preserve what came before for the future generations. One question I have though will this only be accessible for research purposes or can they use these assets for the TV shows as well? It’ll probably involve lots of contracts and people needing to signing off things.

Also, so awesome to see Robert Butler still alive and kicking. I was always impressed with his directing on The Cage, it was low-key but memorable. Almost like an independent motion picture but out in Space.

I just found out Joe D’agosta is also still alive (and doing interviews, according to my friend at Facttrek.) But Butler is the guy I’d probably most want to speak with. He has an enormous interview already on file, I think it is on the DGA website. The guy did so many different kinds of successful pilot episodes, plus he was the original director for THE DAY AFTER (had to honor a commitment to REMINGTON STEELE and bow out, after doing that show’s pilot, showing how STEELE messed with careers at both ends of its run, since it’s late renewal after being cancelled is what originally cost Brosnan Bond back in 86.)

The one interview I remember best with Butler was I think in Asherman’s STAR TREK INTERVIEWS (either that or an Ed Gross book from late 80s/early 90s), one where he talks about being approached to direct KHAN by Bennett, and how he was very firm in wanting to do things messy (which I guess was also in mind back at the time of CAGE.) He wanted uniforms that were stained by coffee, aging equipment … kinda makes me think Bennett took some of his ideas and used them WAY out of context as excuse for retiring the ship in TSFS. Considering Butler was just coming off the HILL ST BLUES pilot, I’m kinda surprised that he wasn’t more in demand, and that Bennett didn’t take his unorthodox approach to TREK more seriously, given the lack of enthusiasm he seems to have gotten from so many others (I gotta figure that with only one feature credit as director, Meyer had to be pretty far down his list of possibles.)

This blows me away! So impressive! BTW, I’m glad that Robert Butler has seemingly mellowed and seems to have a better appreciation of the lasting impact of ‘The Cage’ and Star Trek in general.

PS – That actress is an absolutely stunning look-alike of Laurel Goodwin! I wish that she had lived to see this project come to fruition.

Me too… Laurel sadly passed just weeks before they both would have met for the interviews.

https://twitter.com/JulesUrbach/status/1521639344993361923?

Now THIS is what the Enterprise looks like.
TNG got that right (the one with Scotty).
DS9 got that right (Tribbles).
ENT got that right (USS Defiant).

Discovery and SNW cannot be the prime universe.

(I’m going to regret this…)

If you think about all of the temporal excursions we’ve seen on Star Trek, there are going to be changes to the timeline. That’s why Enterprise exists at all. Maybe in the original timeline there was a Captain Archer and crew on the first Warp 5 ship, but that ship was not named “Enterprise”, hence why it wasn’t seen in TMP. After Picard and crew saved the future, in First Contact, Cochrane and Lily Sloane knew the importance of the name “Enterprise”, and thus the NX-01 is now “Enterprise”.

Thus the technology and ship designs changed. Look at the (silly) Temporal Cold War. If that didn’t have an effect on the timeline, I don’t know what does.

Discovery and SNW can be in the Prime Universe thanks to changes in the time stream due to time travel.

Actually, you won’t regret this.
While I won’t agree with your assessment, your line of argumentation is inherently sound. And the first and only explanation I have heard as to why stuff is and looks different. Other than having to pretend that it has always been exactly this way.

Plus… how can I disagree with Star Trek’s best Captain?!

The suggestion has been made before that the general layout of the NX class was based on the couple of glimpses Zefram Cochrane got of the two-centuries-more-advanced (at the time of the launch of the NX, three when he saw it) Sovereign class. It makes sense – IMHO – that without that influence the first Earth attempt at a warp 5 engine/ship may well have been based on an effort to copy Vulcan designs already capable of warp 6.5 to 7, which would fit perfectly with the design of the “ring ship” (sometimes listed with the registry XCV-330, but that doesn’t preclude it being the equivalent of the NX-01, assuming different choices were made with regard to class naming & registry-assignment conventions) seen in the rec room in TMP.

So…the Star Trek Multiverse?

Connected by the single Great Bird of the Galaxy which effortlessly travels through all the iterations…and now as I think about it, as the vision of Dr Soong relayed to him in Data’s buried computer program in that episode of TNG, *we* are the Bird…

Too deep??=D

So that’s why they’re suing everyone into the ground, who just attempts to do something like this …

This project is so cool!
I wish the new Strange New Worlds looked more like the original.

The possibilities are endless now with this technology. Using it to make new episodes or films? Have fans dress up and become characters? Make short films for personal use? Explore the Trek universe deeper than ever, where no man has gone before….