J.J. Abrams Talks Star Trek Visual Effects and Realism

January 26, 2008

J.J. Abrams Talks Star Trek

The last few weeks have been great weeks for Star Trek fans, kicking off with a high res photo of the brand new U.S.S. Enterprise, then the actual teaser trailer, and an update from the new Captain Kirk - Chris Pine. Now that we're actually in 2008, marketing and publicity is starting to finally kick in for J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, especially because it's also filming at the moment and set for release on Christmas Day this year. J.J. Abrams recently spoke with and talked about the CGI and realism of the film.

The actual chat transcript is a lengthy one that involves not only J.J. Abrams, but producer Bryan Burk, writer Roberto Orci, VFX supervisor Roger Guyett, producer Jeffrey Chernov and unit production manager David Witz. Some of the more interesting answers include pointing out that ILM will be doing the visual effects and that they're anticipating about 1000 visual effects shots. Executive producer Jeffrey Chernov also confirms that they're going for a PG-13 rating. Filming is schedule to wrap in early April with a full trailer due out "in theaters early to mid summer."

Despite the immense amount of visual effects work going into Star Trek, Abrams still wants this movie to look and feel very real.

"Having said that, my goal is to make Trek REAL — that is to say, not have it be camp — not have it be phony — not have it look like a scrap of green screen was used anywhere. Of course, this is Star Trek. We're using every trick in the book. But WHEREVER WE CAN, we are shooting on sets — either built on sound stages or expanding upon found locations. This is important. What this means is that the movie won't have that 'actors performing in a blue or green void then placed in front of a spaceship set' feeling that makes me insane."

"One of our really talented designers recently commented online how we shot on a green screen set and what a shame that was, since we could have built something incredible. And she was right — for that one scene, which will last for maybe thirty seconds on screen, we built only pieces and were surrounded by green. But that is the exception. We can't build EVERYTHING, and need to make this film on a budget (partly because that's the $ we have, and partly because I want the studio to see Trek as viable!). The Enterprise will be a combo of the physical and the virtual."

I've said it many times before, but ever since Mission: Impossible III, I've have had a lot of confidence in J.J. Abrams. And it sounds like he really knows what he's doing with Star Trek. However, when answering a question about the audience they're aiming to please, here's where hardcore fans may get a big disgruntled.

"This movie is not being made solely for Trekkers — that is not to say we aren't giving the true believers the fix they want — but we're also making a movie for people (men AND women) who have never seen Trek once in any incarnation."

I've heard a concern previously that this may turn out too mainstream and loose the geeky quality that Star Trek has been known for, but no one can know for sure until we actually see the completed film. Either way I'm still looking forward to this and I'm sure Abrams is creating an awesome return to a great sci-fi universe.

Star Trek is directed by J.J. Abrams (of "Lost" and Mission: Impossible III) and written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (of The Island, Mission: Impossible III, Transformers). The film is the 11th movie in the Star Trek universe. Star Trek arrives in theaters on May 8th, 2009.

Star Trek

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I'm really excited to see this, I hope this does the original Trek justice, but also is something unique and fresh.

Kail on Jan 26, 2008


I for one have never seen an episode of star trek or any of the star trek movie in my life. But I'm looking for the star trek movie because JJ is doing it and is supposed to appeal to people who are not fans of the franchise.

Nate on Jan 26, 2008


what bothers me most is that star trek is now jj's "newest" baby and i haven't had a chance to watch cloverfield yet 🙁

tronicIO on Jan 27, 2008


Star Trek must be great new adventure or Leonard Nimoy would have never agreed to be in it. As a long time Star Trek fan I am looking forward to the motion picture. The only thing that is really weird is to debut the movie on Christmas! Does anyone go to the movies on Christmas?

James on Jan 27, 2008


I got goosebumps. S.Pegg is great, but I'm slightly concerned that his role as Scotty might be comedy relief ....

Dr.Duvel on Jan 28, 2008


I'm a little late to comment on this but... Star Trek 4 was made not just for the die hard Trek fans but also for people who may not have seen or even liked Star Trek that much before. Look at the success of that movie. I'm sure there are people who came to love Trek because of the 'Whale' movie.

tonz0phun on Apr 10, 2008

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