The making of STAR TREK: DECEPTION II (feature, part 2)

Last week, after releasing the 8-minute TNG-era fan film STAR TREK: DECEPTION in 2013,  British fan filmmaker LEO TIERNEY announced in April of 2015 that he intended to make a sequel.  But first he needed to find a place to construct his sets.  A year later, Leo showed fans his new “studio,” a small garage in an unassuming English village…

With limited space (man, is THAT an understatement!), Leo spent the next several months constructing physical set pieces that could be used as a bridge for BOTH an Excelsior-class starship and a Klingon bird-of-prey.  Leo first installed Klingon-style graphic prints on the consoles and readout screens.

As the weather got colder, Leo spent less time in the unheated garage and more time at his computer adjusting the color (well, he spells it colour) balance to make the lighting look dark and red as a Klingon bridge should.  Now he faced the challenge of making the bridge look like it wasn’t some tiny and cramped garage.  And later on, Leo needed to take those same sets and somehow make them look like the bridge of a Federation starship!

Would he be able to do it?  Read on…

The trick to expanding the set is to digitally add a “mirror image” of the part that does exist, using a green screen to cover up the annoying out-of-place brick wall of the garage.  Using a still frame of himself standing at the back of the set, Leo demonstrated to his Facebook followers what the mirroring process would look like…

Pretty cool, right?

So with the lighting and colour adjusted just right, Leo scheduled his Klingon actors for the weekend of March 4, 2017.  Afterwards he reported:

A ton of laughs and some really great, cinematic shots. 
Now to organise the footage, and get the set ready for the next phase of shooting, with the Federation. 

He also posted this amazing-looking still image…

Okay, now to turn this Klingon bridge into a Starfleet bridge!  The first step, of course, was to get rid of the red hue.  While red worked great in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home when our heroes were on the bridge of the captured Bird-of-Prey, Federation starship interiors tend to be much brighter (at least prior to Star Trek: Discovery).  And not only that, they also look a little bluer.  So Leo started playing around again with lighting and colour balance, using an image from (I think) either Voyager or DS9 as a guide…

Creating an Excelsior-class bridge also required the addition of turbolift doors, something Leo began working on just after the Klingons were done, and a ship’s plaque for the USS Longshanks.  The plaque was made from a simple printout and foam, sprayed gold…

You might notice, if you look closely at the far right edge of the image, that Leo added some reflective tape along the edge of the arch.  That will brighten things up quite a bit!  When the lights shine on the tape, well, you would even say it glows…

The Federation LCARS graphic prints arrived in late April of last year and were quickly swapped in to replace the Klingon prints.  Leo, still shaggy from the cold winter, then donned an oversized command tunic and became “the grizzly captain” (his words) for a series of photos to start figuring out the best lighting and colour balance for the upcoming scenes…

On May 1, Leo posted an absolutely mind-blowing video (at least to me!).  He did a set-extension test using a 3D model of the mirrored parts of the existing set. Take a look at it below.  Don’t worry that the Federation and Klingon bridges seem to be in the same room.  Just look first at the raw video in the lower left with the brick walls and garage door.  Then look at the top video and see how those bricks and garage door both disappear!  (The effect is most noticeable about halfway through.)

A week later, fans learned that Leo didn’t really like the way the glowing LCARS graphics were looking on camera.  For the Klingon scenes, the prints on the consoles were lit from behind and/or from underneath with LED bulbs.  But they didn’t really jump out.  That was kind of okay on the darker Klingon bridge, but on a bright Starfleet vessels, those LCARS computer displays really needed to explode with light.  But how could Leo make that happen?

Once again, reflective tape to the rescue!  Even though it meant re-ordering and re-installing all of the LCARS prints for the Starfleet consoles, Leo tested a semi-transparent version or the prints with reflective tape underneath.  In low light, it looked drab and dull.  But when bright light (a camera flash, which you can see below on the right side) was used, those LCARS began to really pop…

A couple of weeks later, Leo had swapped out all of the LCARS graphics and posted a video showing how gorgeous everything now looked on film.  You can really see below how well the reflective tape glows both behind the printouts and on the edges of the arches and elsewhere (oh, and the chirping birds in the background are quite relaxing)…

By the end of May, Leo was putting some finishing touches on the lighting and colour correction levels, again using himself as a model (now with a nicely trimmed beard).  You might think that Leo just likes taking pictures of himself in uniform, but in fact, what you’re seeing below is the result of many weeks of meticulous computer work to balance light and colour as perfectly as possible…

Take a moment to scroll back up to the Klingon version of these same sets.  I think the difference is truly staggering!

Filming of the actual Starfleet actors began in early August, and this photo from the set shows how little space there was to fit in the lights, cameras, and the actors themselves!

The next update didn’t happen until October 8 (two months later), but Leo assured everyone that shoots were still happening, and the footage looked great.  Just a few more shoots to go.

The latest production update to their Facebook page  update was posted on November 29, the very cold and final day of filming the main actors.  Again, we got a chance to see just how cramped the starship bridge set area really was…

And we also finally got to see the captain and first officer of the the USS Longshanks

By the way, “Longshanks” was the nickname of the medieval British monarch Edward I, who brought a new era of law and order to the people of England and made Parliament a permanent institution.  He also conquered Wales and attempted—but ultimately failed—to do likewise with Scotland.  Remember Braveheart?  The English king that William Wallace fought against was Edward Longshanks.  Oh, and Edward I expelled all the Jews from England, an edict that would remain in effect for 350 years.  (Okay, end of history lesson…and yes, this will all be on next week’s quiz.)

So, when will we get to see the finished product?  I asked Leo…

I’m not expecting Deception II to be complete for a while yet, probably May 2018, as there is a lot of VFX work to do, plus editing and sound.  But I’ll keep you posted.

And I, of course, will keep all of YOU posted.  But if you couldn’t tell, I’m really excited to see how this fan film turns out!

2 thoughts on “The making of STAR TREK: DECEPTION II (feature, part 2)”

  1. No wonder it’s called ‘Deception’.

    I know how err, compact those garages are, which is why most of them rarely have cars in. This is definitely one of the best uses I’ve seen though, beats storing bikes and tools etc.

    Fascinating insight.

  2. It’s stunning what these fan film makers do with the advances in technology. I too, am excited to see the finished product.

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