Friday, June 16, 2006

Some Star Trek "Doomsday Machines"

Here we go, talking about Star Trek TOS (The Old Show). Now ... what can you do about a show that's been seen over and over and is really old news, etc? Well, you can enhance it a bit. Blow off the space dust and give it a bit of nip and tuck.

"The Doomsday Machine" episode was about a massive, deadly ship, that looks like one of those cornucopias that you see around Thanksgiving time. Anyway, in Star Trek it was wandering the galaxy, destroying planets and ships.

Over 20 years later, in the early 1990s, Paramount contacted a company named Digital Streams to enhance all of the visual effects in the episode. YouTube has the "rough proof-of-concept" footage and it looks quite good, especially for early '90s rough test footage. And there is even a bit of a Sandwormy redesign on the cornucopia planet-killing machine. I wonder if this was an idea to distribute some of the episodes as "special efx editions." Anyway, for whatever reason, the project was dropped.

Now, movie designer and Trek Talk radio show host Daren Dochterman has posted his enhanced efx from the same episode. This footage was done in 2003, as a pitch to Paramount. He tells his story at his site:

(Effects of "The Doomsday Machine" on the USS Constellation in 1967 (left), and 2003.)

What's interesting is that in both of the revised efx episodes, the destroyed starship still hangs "down" in space, listing a little to port. The 1990s version of the Enterprise has more baffling and details on the hull, but Dochterman, in his 2003 version, stayed with the clean hull design from TOS. He also chose to stay within the original design of the planet killer ship. Digital Stream did the most work, showing efx throught the entire episode. Dochterman gives us only the teaser, titles and first act. But I liked Dochterman's best, since he stayed within the design of the show.

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