Bridge to the Stars

Posted Saturday, December 4, 2010, 8:09 PM

I was looking at an image of a fantastic new mega-camera that will be installed on the Blanco Telescope at Chile's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, and was marvelling at the bright attractive colours. It wasn't that long ago that everything technological was white or silver or grey, and now they are deliberately building complex machinery in bright colours.

It occurred to me that the garish 60s colour scheme found in the original series of Star Trek's Enterprise now may not be so out of place as it was looking for so long. Yes, it's still very dated, but stylistically it wouldn't necessarily be as out there as we might have expected when we were living through the Space Shuttle-oriented functional style of Science Fiction of the 80s, and the beige casual style of the 90s. We're now widely adopting the iPod-style of the 2000s, which may subsequently evolve into a colourful candy-coated style of the 2010s. Certainly I see many cars are starting to move away from the whites, silvers, and bronzes of recent times, into bright greens, yellows, and reds, so I think it's inevitable that this will spill into other electronics.

But the Enterprise style still looks cardboard and studio-bound. It definitely needs a spruce up if it was to be realistically adapted into a style that would actually be utilised in a spacecraft. Big boxy desks and chunky platforms would not be likely, and would need some softening and practical adjustments to be useful.

So I was thinking about that idea, on how you might want to adapt the bridge into a more modern styling, while still maintaining the original series palate and sensibility. After looking around online to see if anyone else had done that first, and not finding anything, I decided to do it myself. I would make a 3D model of the original Enterprise bridge and then use that as a template to update all of it into something sleek and modern but still very familiar.

The first thing I changed was the control panels, moving them from chunky desks to flat iPad-style touchscreens. This lent itself well for all the displays, including the wallscreens around the circumference and the display monitors.

I added a second turbolift door, to balance the symmetry of the bridge's layout, though it could just as easily lead to a different room instead, such as a conference room or the Captain's ready-room.

Then I made the Captain's chair into something slimmer and more flexible, while still maintaining the same dimensions and location, overlooking the Conn.

The railings around the central pit could be thinned down to bars, instead of the ugly thick wood of the original set, and shifted around to give a clearway from the turbolift to the Captain's chair. I also added an extra display panel on the railings for access convenience.

In the end, I'm not sure how much of an improvement it is. It is just as likely to appear dated in fifteen years as the original bridge does, but it is, I think, more in keeping with the future of technology and is somewhat more logically arranged, if not strictly speaking as interesting to shoot (the clearway to the lift doors does make areas in the frame feel empty).

Overall, though, it's not bad for a first pass.

3 Reasoned Responses:

TS Hendrik said...

I rather like it. The changes are subtle and keep the original flavor of the set while really sort of Feng Shui-ing it up. Have you considered making the chairs a little more ergonomic?

GuanoLad said...

Ergonomics is a crock. I've never known anybody to stick with anything ergonomically designed for longer than a few months.

Dags said...

That's pretty groovy.

Re the original Trek colour scheme, keep in mind that the show was deliberately gaudy to cater for (and show off) colour TVs that had just come onto the market.

If the same show was made today, it'd be interesting to see how the same set would be coloured if the design was unchanged.

BTW the inclusion of a second lift was done in The Motion Picture as fans complained that only having one lift onto the bridge was a serious design flaw, so well done for adding it into your design.

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