Musings & Interests of David Stipes
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  • Will the new cost us the old?

    Posted on May 14th, 2009 dstipes 36 comments
    Copyright 2009 Paramount CBS Studios Inc.

    Copyright 2009 Paramount CBS Studios Inc.

    Star Trek has had a special place in my heart over the years. It was often the most intelligent science fiction show on television at a time when Batman and Lost in Space were considered high quality entertainment.

    While I was appalled at the “Spock’s Brain” episode, I nevertheless tried to get onto the show during its last season. I still remember my 1968 interview with Edward Milkis, the associate producer on the third season of the show.  I was very young and “green” but Mr. Milkis was patient and gave me some encouragement and sent me on my way. 

    It took twenty five years and a lot of hard knocks to get good enough to work on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise.  I spent over seven years on the shows and contributed to the lexicon and mythos of the Star Trek universe. Now, suddenly my Star Trek universe has been rendered irrelevant!

    That was how I felt when I left the new Star Trek (2009) feature from director J.J. Abrams. I was perplexed by my reactions. I certainly liked the film but in a sentence or two the time line has been changed and there is now a new reality, an “alternate timeline.”  The Star Trek universe many of us grew up with and that I had worked so long on was ….. in a word …irrelevant.

    While I realize it is a movie and not “reality,” there are certainly real world reactions to this new Star Trek timeline shift.  I have friends who will not watch the original series or any of the 80s and 90s spin offs because they are cheesy or old fashioned, etc, etc.  Yet these same people are interested in the feature film and the new Trek universe. So, for them, the past really has been shifted. It is even less likely that this new generation of Trek followers will ever go back to see the older shows now.

    I have had to deal with a lot of change in my career; technological change and I guess that is to be expected. I can even counteract it by learning new software and techniques. But there are some things I can’t change. I never expected my reaction to this film; the realization that the significance of Star Trek, the contributions of so many people, and yes, even my contributions are now  a little less important to our society and film history.

    Some people will never discover the messages within the wonderful Trek stories over the last 40 years because the “old timeline Star Trek” may pale in comparison to the youthful new crew and the flashy visual effects and the new alternate future.

    I find that kind of sad.

     

    36 responses to “Will the new cost us the old?”

    1. Being one of those friends that always had difficulty with the original Star Trek, I can only say that at least it has finally found a place in my heart. I always knew that there was wisdom in the stories, but could not wade through the acting or the background sets in order to get to it.

    2. I had the same reaction… I can only hope that the excitement for the new movie in some way leads to SOME audience members losing their stigma against TOS and giving it a shot… just out of curiosity.
      But it does annoy me when every report of this new movie contrasts it with the original shows by pointing out the “cardboard” sets and gaudy colors of the original. Personally, I’d rather open up a tattered cardboard box and find a valuable gift… than open a gorgeously wrapped, shiny-papered gift box and find… air and packing peanuts. But that’s just me. :)

    3. David, I think your worries in this regard are unfounded — you’re not thinking like a newly-minted fan would. When the Lord of the Rings movies debuted, hordes of youngsters who never would have bought and read the books, did, because they WANTED MORE, RIGHT NOW. The same thing is certain to happen with Trek — teenagers newly in love with the characters of Kirk and Spock will go seeking what fix they can get, and that will be the (newly polished) DVDs of the original series. (In fact, just a week after the movie debuted, I’m already hearing young friends say just that.) Honestly, I think you can breathe easy knowing that the new film is actually going to shine a brighter spotlight on the original series than it’s had in decades.

    4. Hello Stephen,

      Thank you for taking time to write a comment! I hope you are correct about the new Trek fans.

      I was certainly not thinking like a new fan. My response was for the most part personal because of my own involvement in ST production work. For whatever reason I have some friends and students that are quite disinterested in any versions of Star Trek prior to JJ Abrams’ movie. (An odd karma of mine … maybe to keep me humble.)

      BTW, I looked at your web site, http://www.weirdtales.net/
      Very impressive and I will enjoy spending time there.

      Best wishes!

    5. Okay, maybe my lack of interest in the old Star Trek had more to to with the fact that my college boyfriend at the time ignored me if I dared talk to him during the shows. I’m sure all the therapy I have gotten since then and a new man who doesn’t obssess about Star Trek may have opened my mind again to the wonders it has to offer.

      Actually, your students may or may not go back to the old series depending on their attention spans. Everything moves more quickly these days because the energy is moving faster. This generation wants instant gratification and the older version Star Treks may be too slow and thought provoking than today’s new Star Trek. The bigger than life VFX constantly fire off neurons in our brains that keep us alert and interested.

    6. I watched one of my favorite episodes of the original Twilight Zone last night – “The Obsolete Man” with Burgess Meredith and Fritz Weaver – and I will confess that I had visions of J.J. Abrams standing atop that raise dais chanting “Obsolete! Obsolete! Obsolete!” at me over and over again.

    7. Hello Cookster,

      You may be right about pacing and tempo. I was surprised how slow “ST: The Wrath of Kahn” seemed when I last saw it and I loved it when originally released.

      Heaven help us; I certainly hope being too “thought provoking” isn’t really an issue here!

      Hello Jay,
      I know that episode! Right on with the vision!

      “Obsolete! Obsolete! Obsolete!” I hear it too.

      David

    8. As I see it, Trek Prime is good. And thus, being good, will never ever become lost. Sure, there may be this new Trek 2.0, and it may have wiped Trek Prime off the books going forward in the lore, but it will never ever obtain the power to wipe Trek Prime out of the lexicon that is Trek as entertainment.

      Trek Prime is just too good as quality and intelligent entertainment.

      Thinking Trek 2.0 could wipe out Trek Prime, is akin to believing humans could destroy the Earth. Humans don’t have that much power at this point, even with nukes. Sure, we could wipe out our own species, but we are not capable of killing the Earth. IMO anywho.

      And Trek 2.0 will never wield enough might to wipe out Trek Prime or render it moot in any way, shape, or form, eh.

      Rest easy, Trek Prime isn’t going anywhere, except right into the hearts of new fans that will find it, as you can’t keep good down. That’s one reason became good in the first place, eh.

      Just me two quatloos… :)

      LLP,
      deg

    9. Hello Deg,

      You are probably right, Trek Prime is too much a part of our collective consciousness and culture to be lost.

      Some will still never seek it out (kind of like people who will not watch black & white movies.) And as S.H Segal mentioned Trek 2 will awaken some to go back and explore the original.

      Indeed, LLP,

      David

    10. That’s an excellent analogy David, with those that won’t watch B/W films, eh.

      But then, Turner created a WHOLE (very successful) network based on running those same exact old dusty “unwatchable” films, eh.

      And I have nieces and nephews that thought that way when they were younger, saying old films were boring and dumb, aka old and thus of no interest, And yet now, as they have become adults, about half of them watch and enjoy the old B/W films now. Never say never, eh.

      The other half, they don’t know what they are missing, and are into watching sports instead. Not a sports watchin’ guy myself (rather play ‘em), but IDIC, it takes all kinds to make the world go round.

      So either way, like I mentioned, Trek Prime is forever here to stay. Heck, would you have thought a three season canceled TV show from the 60′s would still be around today, stronger than ever? Trek Prime is that good, eh.

      LLP,
      deg

    11. Star Trek Online will be Trek Prime-based and continuity-heavy. Del Rey Books is doing post-Nemesis spinoffs. And there are lots of Trek Prime TV hours being aired around. The Blu Ray editions are being sold. Etc. All in all, it is a good year to be a Trekkie, and this movie has shown that the flame can be rekindled, if by doing the Abrams Maneuver. Take it as a long needed electroshock. Let’s see what happens next at both sides of the black hole.

    12. I’m actually seeing a lot of younger fans taking an interest in all things Star Trek now! I work with children who are now suddenly obsessed with Star Trek. I showed them an episode of the original series the other day and they loved it!

      Not everyone is going to have that reaction, but I think a lot more will than would have otherwise. I think the only way that they would have tried to make it irrelevant is if they ignored that all the other series actually happened. I think JJ Abrams learned from the mistakes of the new Battlestar Galactica. Don’t gain new fans at the expense of the ones who have kept it alive.

      I think having Nimoy in the film represented all of us long time fans. We feel what he feels. What happens to Spock in the movie is very much what we go through as fans. It was indeed a very intelligent way to get us emotionally involved. It is sad, as well it should be. However our heroes come out fighting and head onward strong!

    13. Hello deg, Snafu, and Mark,

      Thank you all for your insight and wise comments.

      I was feeling better about the TV series not being forgotten until I went to Blockbuster last night and I could not find ANY Star Trek TV series episodes.

      Two young employees (19 -20 yrs old) told me repeatedly that Star Trak (like “Track”) were not TV shows, only movies and they where in the horror section! I was jaw-dropped by that time and I went through the names: The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine …. They had no idea what I was talking about.

      David :(

    14. Well David, that does not surprise me at all. Why you may ask? In a word: Blockbuster.

      I gave up on them yeeeeeaaaaaars ago, for a coupla main reasons:

      1.) (And not meaning to rip on or judge anyone, but…) Their employees knew nothing about films, in general. Who works at a film rental store knows nothing about films for Pete’s sake?

      And the clincher;

      2.) Blockbuster takes it upon themselves to edit their films titles (at least they did at the time I quit them).

      Do yourself a favor and sign up for Netflix. http://www.netflix.com

      Do a search on their website and you will find every single Star Trek series and movie, no prob.

      Never judge kids in general by the ones that are fast-food employees or Blockbuster employees. :D

      LLP,
      deg

    15. As far as I know Rogers Video here in Canada never does this “editing” thing. There are specific genres they’ll simply refuse to stock, I believe, but science fiction in general and Trek in particular are happily immune to the best of my knowledge.

      (My issues with Rogers involve other matters not relevant to this discussion.)

    16. Oh well…I guess the best laid plans of mice and men…Going to Blockbuster was actually my idea to find some of David’s work on film so he could pull frame grabs to write about for this blog. How did I know it would go so horribly wrong?!

      At least the trip to Blockbuster was not a total loss in that we began the evening laughing our heads off. The incredulous look on David’s face in response to the Blockbuster employees was priceless. I had to cross my legs to keep from laughing too hard while he was beating the steering wheel and screaming, “Obsolete! Obsolete!” as we drove away. :D

    17. My heart goes out to David, but that’s too funny Cookster. :)

      Like I said, all the stuff is on Netflix, eh.

      LLP,
      deg

    18. Hey deg,

      It was funny. It was a perfect “set-up” by the universe to laugh at me…. :P

      Thank you for the netflix info. No wonder Blockbuster is in trouble.

    19. Yeah David, I find when the universe does that, I can’t help but just chortle right along with it, eh. :P

      And no prob on NetFilx. It’s a great service, IMO. Movies come right to your mailbox, and there’s never any late charges.

      Also, since I have been with them (a few years now) they have actually cut their prices, once $4 a month, and another time, $1 a month. That says a lot about the peeps that run that company, IMO. Passing the savings as they grew onto their customers.

      Blockbuster on the other hand, I have always heard kinda weaselly things about them and my bro used to work for the guys that started it, and says they were, shall we say, less than honorable employers.

      I have never had a complaint with Netflix.

      LLP,
      deg

    20. David,

      I am with you. I am an old school Trek fan,and what the young uns need to understand is that while TOS trek may look cheesy now, in the 1960′s the effects were cutting edge for their time.

      I don’t mind a new Trek or even taking Trek in a new direction, but I am uncomfortable with the alternate time line thing.

    21. I didn’t have much trouble with most of the effects. I thought some of the sets were questionable at times. Yet, if you look at shows like Bonanza and Wild Wild West, they had pretty shallow sets, too.

    22. David,

      I’m honored to read the thoughtful insights you’ve written here on your feelings with the Start Trek culture and this latest movie. I can certainly understand your frustration and feeling of loss as the transition is passed into the new “alternate reality.” I offer the following comments as my insight into the new movie and the important place you still have in it.

      My history with Star Trek runs deep. I had a limited amount of time with my father growing up. He was a geologist and traveled the world for months at a time. The original Star Trek is something we would watch together on those rare moments together and I remember them fondly.

      As I grew, my interests in models led him to purchase by mail catalog a model rocket in the shape of the original enterprise while we were living in Mexico. It took us about 9 months to complete as father and son. It took us another few months to finally fly the Enterprise out in the desert. Next Generation got my young mind thinking about holo-decks, androids, and in a utopian future where exploration and the betterment of mankind became an area of great interest for humanity.

      I supported every movie with my attendance and high expectations. I saw as people around me started voicing their frustrations as each movie seemed to perform worse and worse at the box office. The star ship Enterprise has been a corner stone for me in this franchise and it seemed to be destroyed regularly only to be replaced. Finally, I too felt a disappointment as I watched Nemesis in theaters for a single solitary time. Star Trek fell into a possible oblivion. the movies stopped, Enterprise ended, and the future of Star Trek hung in the balance.

      I’ve seen the new re-imagined version three times in the theater. This is something I rarely do these days and I considered it a learning experience in the franchise. I have to express my feeling of gratitude for the respectful way in which this reboot did what was necessary to rally the troops and continue the franchise.

      We live in the age of prequels, trilogies, and reboots. So often are beloved entities redrafted, and their heritage erased. I submit to you that this is not so with the latest movie.

      What came out in theaters was one of the most entertaining movies to mass audiences put out in a long time. It has confounded even critics and has earned a 95% and the quote is aptly given as “Star Trek reignites a classic franchise with action, humor, a strong story, and brilliant visuals, and will please traditional Trekkies and new fans alike.”

      While it is true that is has lost much of the elements that we all remember, I’d urge you to think that even with all the changes and the “parallel reality” put in place, much of the history as been maintained. The audience watching is clued in several times to the change of direction; making them aware and curious of past Trek adventures. Space travel and alternate realities is something of a common theme in all of Star Trek. Casting is impeccable given the new audience, the ship’s design is a tasteful update to the original, and many of the traditions, names, and characters have been preserved.

      I feel the new movie worked overtime to accommodate veterans and newcomers, all while maintaing the entertaining spirit needed to survive in today’s market. I believe it shows incredible commitment to the fans and to the body of work of all who have labored in this great work for all these years that it wasn’t made irrelevant. I have found myself going home and re-watching old episodes. I even have my Fiancee (a recent fan) enjoying and admiring the razor-sharp writing and the strong culture of Star Trek.

      Please think of this as a gateway movie to all things past. Because this is an alternate timeline, the old content is preserved. It can be allowed to exist on it’s own and not be rewritten on the whims of Hollywood. Take comfort that the past is held as a prized asset, living on undisturbed and complemented by the body of work to come. This has the added bonus of leaving us with an open universe. We are not seeing the same work paved over and redone. On the contrary, we will see new adventures, new civilizations, new dynamics, and new ways to reaffirm the value of Star Trek in all its incarnations.

      This sentiment is best carried by the iconic mission of the star ship enterprise.

      “Space… the Final Frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

      My hat is off to all of you. I hope to someday have the privilege to carry on your work.

    23. Hello Gabriel,

      I am pleased that you have joined us here! I appreciate your ties to Star Trek as an extension of the emotional connection to your father.

      In my way I, too, have an emotional connect to Trek that goes beyond the job. After seeing the new Star Trek a second time, I am warming up to it. It has certainly generated a lot of passion and renewed interest in the franchise and of course some angst among a few. I enjoyed the film much more on a second viewing once away from my original emotional reactions.

      I really appreciate your perspective that, because of the new Star Trek and alternate future, Trek Prime will likely be preserved as it was and is not so likely to be rewritten, as you say, “By the whims of Hollywood.”

      It appears that you may be correct that the film is reigniting the franchise. It is amazing the amount of interest and excitement that is flowing over the internet and with my students. It may well be a gateway to the classic Trek after all instead of the grave stone.

      I guess we all will be “boldly going” …. again.

      Thank you for the “hats off” tribute. You are one of the new bright lights in today’s visual effects world. You are very likely to carry on our work.

      Best wishes to you always!

      David

    24. At 3 weeks out and $191,014,403, I’d say Trek is most definitely back in the saddle. It may be a slightly “newer” saddle, but I’m willing to go along for the ride to break this new saddle in, eh.

      I had a saying for myself: Even bad Trek is good Trek, to me (with Spock’s Brain, The Way to Eden, Turnabout Intruder, etc. in mind).

      Now I have the saying: Even new Trek is better than no Trek, eh.

      Still, I roll with change, so I had no real prob with it, as I fully expected new Trek from the get-go.

      Gabriel, my Pops got me watching Trek from day one, 09.08.66, so I have deep roots in Trek as well. Trek is part of who I am really. Trek has basically been with me my whole life (having never missed an original airing of all six series, and been at every film premiere), and I’m glad it will continue to be so. And my dream is to one day contribute (work on and give back) to the vision that has given me so much joy in my life. :)

      LLP,
      deg

    25. Considering that we cannot expect the current cast to stay on for more than three movies would you guys like to see the return of some old characters in the next two movies or completely new villans/situations?

    26. At this point, I wouldn’t make many preditions. These guys may go on for a while like some of the James Bond actors.

      It would not suprise me if the writers don’t dredge up old bad guys to play with. However, I hope they will have some now situations.

    27. Hello deg,

      Gotta admit, the new Trek breathed life into the franchise!

      I looked at your site. You are well on your way to your dream. I hope you are faster at it than me! ;)

      What software are you using to construct your 3D models? Your TOS Enterprise is very nice.

      David

    28. Thanks, David! :)

      I use Luxology’s modo for modeling and UV’ing, Adobe Photoshop for painting, and NewTek’s LightWave for rendering.

      However, I just switched back to LightWave for rendering, as it has better post processing render filters/options, and other advantages over modo in the animation and rendering areas.

      As such, I will be bringing/porting my E over into LightWave soon, as I want to achieve a more “cinematic” look with her, that I feel I have yet to be able to achieve using modo’s render engine.

      But I have to finish up a gig I am doing with John Eaves on a Shatner-based project, building seven of John’s ship designs, in six weeks time. About half-way through at this point.

      Thanks again for your kind words, always nice to hear, but means even more coming from you guys that have real experience in the industry, eh. Very inspiring for me. :)

      LLP,
      deg

    29. Hey deg,

      I was wondering if it was LightWave 3D.

      What advantages does Modo provide over LW in modeling? I’ve never had a chance to play with Modo.

    30. Well, for me David, it’s just the logical and intuitive way modo is set-up. That, and to be specific, the malleable Work Plane (that gives you the ability to set the 0-axis according to any chosen polygon, very handy. The Action Centers for tool-use, esp. Element Move, which allows one to set/constrain the axis of movement along the axis of any chosen element (edge, poly, vertex). The selection ability. So many things really. I was quite well-versed in LightWave Modeler (I built my Slave 1 in it), and loved it. But 20 mins. into working in modo I said to myself: Yeah, this is how modeling SHOULD be, if I had designed an interface myself. Just so logical and intuitive.

      And then there is modo’s UV tools. Modeler can’t even come close to the strides and ease of which modo has taken on the tedious and daunting task of UV’ing. What used to take me days in Modeler to UV (and I was a very well-verse UV jockey in LW), now takes me hours in modo. And I have developed all kinds of tricks in modo to UV even faster than normal. I like to improve things, as much as I am able. Understanding the principle behind something (as opposed to just its application) is something that I naturally always strive to do, and this invariably leads me to often being able to improve a process. Anywho…

      I also love the on-board education system with all its tut vids for most every tool. Makes it very easy to pick up and acclimate quickly to the program. Esp. if one is coming from LW, as it is still similar in many regards (having come for the guys that created LW for NewTeK), but very different as well. In a better way, IMO. PLus it interfaces with LW well as far as file porting.

      I know these are kinda board-stroke reasons, but there is a demo available online if you are interested: http://www.luxology.com/trymodo/

      Nothing beats driving the software itself for eval, eh.

      I’m sure as a teacher you will agree: It’s all about one’s attitude toward learning and improvement of one’s skill-set.

      Many peeps get comfortable in their chosen program and gnash against the process of using/learning a new software, thinking, I already know how to do this in my comfortable program, thus they reject (consciously or unconsciously) the hassle of leaning to do it in a new package.

      But I am a guy that always strive to kick myself out of my comfort-zone, and am always looking for new and more efficient ways of doing stuff, and modo fit that bill perfectly in regard to modeling and UV’ing. What time I did have to take to sorta “relearn” certain ways of doing stuff, was well-well worth the time and effort to do so in the long-run, eh.

      Hope thus helps and answers you Q, eh.

      LLP,
      deg

    31. Hello deg,

      Thank you for taking the time to give such a detailed response. I will look into Modo and see if I can play with it a bit.

      Much appreciated!

      David :)

    32. No prob David, happy to help out if I am so able. :)

      LLP,
      deg

    33. I am a fan of the original time line, but I also enjoy this new time line for a couple of reasons. But the only one I want to state is this: For all we know, perhaps Kirk won’t die such a pointless death like in the main time line. Maybe with Vulcan’s destruction, Ceti Alpha VI will not self destruct due to the shift in gravametrical force. And maybe Khan won’t be found by the Enterprise. The possibilities are endless in this new time line, ANYTHING could happen.

    34. Hello Zero934,

      I appologize for the delayed posting. Your post got lost in the cosmic bit bucket for a while … uh, actually I goofed up. But here you are!

      You make a really good point that they could fix some of the lingering issues of the original timeline. Kirk’s death was pointless. I would have liked a more meaningful and noble demise for such a major character.

      Oh, gotta keep Kahn, I think. His character (along with director, Nicholas Meyer and exec producer, Harve Bennett) saved the movie franchise.
      David

    35. I felt the same, when I saw the new movie, the destruction of Vulcan, the new reality, the Constitution class that is bigger than Sovereign class, I was dissapointed and scared, even more scared than when they cancelled Enterprise. For the first time in my life I felt that Star Trek is over. So I became an active part of saving Enterprise and building a fan made game Star Trek Supremacy, I’m doing everything I know to save your Star Trek, our Star Trek.

    36. Hello vjeko!

      Wow! I appreciate your efforts to keep the our “classic” Star trek alive. Do you have on-line imagery or information about your game?

      We could give your game a plug!

      Best wishes,

      David

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