See USS Enterprise’s Engineering In ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Created Using Virtual Production Tech

The AR Wall virtual set technology introduced in season four of Star Trek: Discovery is being put to good use by Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Not only is the AR wall being used to help create some of those alien worlds, but it is also being used for some sets within the USS Enterprise itself. Thanks to team behind the show’s visual effects, we can now get a closer look at how it’s done.

Pixomondo’s virtual engineering

The often talked about AR Wall used by Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (and Star Trek: Discovery) is located at Pixomondo’s and William F. White International’s virtual production stage in Toronto. Pixomondo has been working on the Star Trek shows since the launch of Discovery and introduced the AR wall for use in season four of Discovery.

The following video shows how practical set pieces and the AR wall are combined to create the set for engineering on the USS Enterprise.

Pixomondo also provided us with this photo from the production on Thursday’s episode “Ghosts of Illyria” showing off the engineering set.

USS Enterprise engineering set (Pixomondo)

The AR wall is also used for the Enterprise mess hall. Writer/producer Bill Wolkoff shared a video this week showing the ship at warp effect in action.


Of course, a big selling point for the AR Wall is creating alien worlds. Pixomondo shared some photos showing how the AR wall was used for Spock and T’Pring’s date on Vulcan in the premiere episode of the series. You can see in the following two photos a sort of before and after once the AR wall displays the virtual Vulcan environment.

AR wall stage getting set up (Pixomondo)

AR wall showing virtual Vulcan (Pixomondo)

Gaming tech driving new virtual sets

Pixomondo’s virtual set and AR wall utilizes technology from the Unreal Engine, which is gaming technology being applied for film production. Unreal released their own video showing off how the tech was used in season four of Discovery.

New episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debut on Thursdays exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., Latin America, Australia and the Nordics. The series airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada. In New Zealand, it is available on TVNZ, and in India on Voot SelectStrange New Worlds will arrive via Paramount+ in select countries in Europe when the service launches later this year, starting with the UK and Ireland in June.

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Nice, but where are the huge vats?

This is no brewery!

Starfleet finally figured out that beer was not a good catalyst for generating a warp field.

Nope, just mushrooms.

Technically that wasn’t engineering as in the engine room but more the water reclamation room.

nice. It’s modern but enough of a reflection of what’s been done in TOS that you can almost hand wave TOS away as being the ‘standard def / you might have cataracts’ release and now we’re finally seeing the same ship but in high def and with our glasses on.

I like those designs. Retrofuturistic. Looks like an extension of the TOS-bridge to the engineering room, if they had the money back then.

I like this engineering design a lot, and a lot more than the version we’ve briefly seen on Short Treks. The physical set pieces of the warp core are super retro and the virtual conduits reflect the TOS basic design. The only downside is the frantic nature of this promo video. Not my style…

I definitely agree with that. I didn’t like the engineering look in Short Treks either, but yeah it was a quick thing to do for a few seconds, I don’t think anyone thought it would really look that way if it became a real show.

I still think this one looks ridiculously big but that’s the ship in general.

I assumed what was seen in Short Treks was the upper part of the warp core where the reactants are injected/directed, and what’s shown in Strange New Worlds is the actual intermix chamber & power distribution manifold.

It’s so interesting watching this concept in production tech evolve over the past 15 years or so. I remember using mods and Battlefield 2 for aircraft shots in a short film I was making back then… and then Sanctuary doing the old version of this with greenscreen physical “blocks” and MLG camera interfaces.

Beautiful. Looks TOS and functional. Love it!!!
My only request would be the large display boards on the side where engineers can see the power distribution, warp fields, manipulate energy levels, etc and some ladders like TOS for access. Big displays, see TOS with some engineers for the chief engineer to demand more power from with the displays going red and sparks flying that he has to report to the Captain that she can’t do much more than this!!

I second that.

Yes, but where do they brew their beer?

Like I was saying…

Cool design but it looks way too big for a Constitution class ship. Or has SNW gone the JJVerse route of arbitrarily doubling the size of the ship?

Judging by the size of Pike’s quarters, the ship is bigger now.

It’s all way to big, just plainly showing this is not the TOS/TNG universe the producers keep insisting it is.

Oh, were you expecting canon? lol! The ship is gigantic now, I think the design is 442 meters vs ~289 for the original Connie

After seeing the vast empty spaces inside the ship in Discovery I don’t think anyone can or should care about this anymore :(

The sets are amazing but man this ship looks so big compared to the original Enterprise. And the ‘mess hall’ looks closer to a fancy New York restaurant lol. Not a huge deal it just feels more like a luxury cruise liner compared to the original which was closer to a Navy vessel; especially its more limited space.

But at least engineering doesn’t look like a brewery.

Baby steps. Some are still see TNG and think a hotel lobby is more the environment for drama and excitement than a cramped combat information centre. Hmm… what is more exciting warship navy environment complete with displays or the lobby of the Best Western complete with elevator door and couch?
That being said I think some Producers/Directors on SNW who shoot a scene on a bridge set where people can talk to each other in a shot without screaming and without just a giant door in the background going “wow, this is amazing!!! Why hasn’t this been done before?!?!”
Gives me hope for the future of Trek.


Is the part where everything comes at the camera like the lightning tunnel Spock passes through in TMP supposed to be a warp reaction? Couldn’t make head nor tail of any of that.

I can’t wait till I see some sort of official blueprints to see how Engineering fits into the Secondary Hull.

Might as well ask for a blueprint of the Tardis

Discovery make Tardis-style ship interior canon. I can’t care about those details (blueprints etc) anymore thanks to that.

Isn’t this nothing more than a high tech version of “blue-screen” Star Trek , “Hidden Frontier” from 2000-2007?! :) Another thing Fan Films did first!

It’s not a blue screen because the backgrounds are projected in real time so the actors actually have something to react to. If anything it’s closer to a 21st Century version of the front projection system that Kubrick used for the Dawn of Man scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey where (and I’m really oversimplifying this) prehistoric backgrounds were projected onto a giant screen.

It’s a giant curved LED screen. The imagery on it is a virtual set, generated in real time by Unreal Engine software, most commonly used in game development.

It tracks the real-world camera position to match views / movement in the virtual set accordingly, so it doesn’t look like a flat mural, but a real 3D space.

Virtual lighting inside the scene is matched with on-set lighting rigs, and bonus, since the LED wall surrounds the actors, you get realistic reflections etc so they don’t look like they’re standing in front of a green screen.

Great behind-the-scenes video from the Discovery production team here:

No, because it’s displayed and then actually filmed with the actors, it also reacts to camera movements so it appears to have 3D depth.

If anything this is the exact OPPOSITE of a blue/greenscreen