Ed Driscoll

Ubergeeky Trek Blogging

(That’s a redundant title–Ed. Yeah, yeah…)

Last month, when I first heard that Paramount was updating the original 1966-era Star Trek with new digital effects, I was tempted to title my post, “No Good Can Come Of This”. I probably should have. I finally remembered to program TiVo to record the new series, and watched my first episode (“The Naked Time”) late last night.

I must say, I really disappointed by, well, how digital the digital effects look. If anything, they seem like a giant step backwards in how artificial and two-dimensional they appear. Just click through this Website and compare the new shots with the effects they replaced. The original Enterprise model (currently orbiting the Smithsonian) was 11-feet long, which allowed for excellent depth of field when photographed. And while the original Trek has gotten a reputation for its cheesy effects, the establishing miniature shots created for the show were pretty impressive stuff for 1966. But the show’s producers had no idea that Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was just around the corner with its revolutionary approach to realistic special effects. (The “miniature” for 2001’s Discovery spacecraft was over 50-feet long and hyperdetailed.)

I have no beef with CGI effects, but they should be more detailed than what they replace, not less. Of course, as I wrote in early September:

I’m afraid that we’re witnessing the birth of a Hollywood equivalent of Andy & Bill’s Law. Every time new chips and software are designed that allow more powerful special effects, both Lucas and Paramount will now feel obligated to airbrush their franchises. Sadly, the dilution of mass culture seems to compel Hollywood to mine its best-known commodities as frequently as possible, as no equivalent cash cows are on the immediate horizon.

So Paramount has many more opportunities to (a) churn the franchise and (b) hopefully, eventually, get its effects right in the process.

Update: Related thoughts, here.