The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Star Trek
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Visual Effects
CAS Part 1
ASC Close-Up
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The filmmakers carried out the DI at Company 3 with colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld. “Shooting on film, which is really important to me and Dan, and then doing the DI with Stefan allowed us to do a critical and final pass that was in some cases about color-correction and in other cases about being incredibly creative and giving certain locations an even bolder look,” says Abrams. Mindel notes, “Kodak offered us [Vision3 500T] 5219 because of its greater latitude, but I found it lacked the initial contrast that I like; I’d much rather have the contrast on the negative than try to add it afterwards.” He opted instead to shoot two Kodak Vision2 negatives, 100T 5212 (day exteriors) and 500T 5218 (interiors). “We shot at T2.82⁄3 basically all the time, and I like to use zooms on set, so I pushed by half a stop to give us enough light when we were inside or shooting at night,” adds Mindel. 

After the mission is accomplished on the drill platform, Sulu is jolted off and into freefall. When Kirk jumps after him, it falls to Chekov, aboard the Enterprise, to lock onto the plummeting targets and beam them back to the transporter room. In the transporter-room set, “we had some floor and ceiling lighting effects that remained fairly similar to the look of the original series,” says Mindel. Prampin adds, “We gave the art department old Fresnel lenses out of 10Ks, and they actually incorporated those into the set for the characters to stand on.” A mix of 10Ks and Nine-lights provided illumination from below the transporter, and 2K MoleBeam Projectors were aimed through holes designed into the ceiling. The transporter remained dark “until the characters stood on it, and then we would gradually start putting a little light into it,” says Prampin. “Eventually, we would get to an overexposed state, at which point the characters would ‘disappear.’” (25K SoftSuns and 8K Paparazzis enhanced the effect.)  

When Pike falls into Nero’s hands, Spock becomes acting captain of the Enterprise, and in the interest of logic and efficiency, he decides to keep Kirk out of his way by jettisoning him to the ice planet Delta Vega. The planet’s exterior was constructed alongside the drill platform at Dodger Stadium. “We mocked up a proof-of-concept on the computer and did a very quick survey of the car park,” says Guyett. “We ran a Sunpath on the two sets, and we were able to present this concept of shooting the two sets side-by-side and demonstrate that it could actually work. J.J. would do first unit on one, I’d do second unit on the other, and then we’d swap.”  

Cinematographer Bruce McCleery, a longtime collaborator of Mindel’s, shot the second-unit material. The filmmakers combined several techniques to suggest a larger space than conventional construction could provide in the stadium’s parking lot. “We shot plates in Alaska, and we did a lot of fantastic DigiMatte work to create the ice environment,” recalls Guyett. (Aerial director of photography David B. Nowell, ASC shot plates in Alaska and Utah.) A bluescreen, illuminated by 18Ks, wrapped around the Delta Vega exterior, and above the set, key rigging grip Rick Rader suspended a large silk from a construction crane that could be moved depending on the position of the sun. For additional fill, Mindel used 100K and 50K SoftSuns. 

Seemingly stranded on the ice planet, Kirk encounters an elderly Spock (Leonard Nimoy), who has traveled back in time in pursuit of Nero. This Spock leads Kirk to a Starfleet outpost tended by Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg). The outpost set was built in a part of the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Van Nuys, Calif. “We used Par 64 space lights to create little pools of light for people to walk through, but for the most part, we kept it pretty subdued,” says Prampin. “To hide the back wall, Scott Chambliss put up a bunch of chain-link fence with some aged plastic on it, and behind that we stuck a lot of 4-by-4 Kinos, some gelled with Lee 179 Chrome Orange and some with Lee 219 Fluorescent Green. We also used some Kinos in and around Scotty’s station, but we mostly keyed that with Blondes through diffusion, usually Lee 129 [Heavy Frost].” 

After the elder Spock shares a future formula of Scott’s with the young engineer, Scott and Kirk manage to beam back to the Enterprise as the ship travels at warp speed; Scott’s calculations, however, land the pair in the engineering decks. For this scene, the filmmakers sought a large-scale location “that would feel clean and fresh instead of oily and disgusting,” says Chambliss. “Instantly, we thought of major food-processing plants, and our research led us to the [Anheuser-Busch] plant.” Mindel explains, “We shot in a pump house, which was so noisy that everyone had to wear ear protection. We also shot in the fermentation house, which was refrigerated — it was 100°F outside, and we were all inside in protective clothing! The fermentation tanks gave us many reflections and great-looking pings off the stainless steel, but we had to be very careful about what kind of lights we used, where we used them and for how long, because you can’t change the temperature of the ambient air very much before you mess up all the beer.  

“We only used fluorescents to key with, and we were able to light backgrounds with conventional lights and turn them off between takes so they never got too hot,” he continues. “We weren’t allowed to bring dollies up there, so we shot with the Steadicam.” The filmmakers also tapped some of the location’s existing mercury-vapor worklights. “We just wrapped them in a little Rosco Scrim to control their level and brought in our own lights to augment that,” says Prampin. 

With Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov all finally aboard, the Enterprise boldly enters danger’s maw to conclude its first adventure. Proud to have enlisted for another voyage with Abrams, Mindel reflects, “J.J. enjoys what he does immensely, and he wants us all to bring our best and show him something a little different from what’s been seen before. His mantras are that the work should be fun, and you should respect the audience. We tried really hard to make this film worthy of its name.”




Anamorphic 35mm

Panaflex Millenium XL, Platinum; PanArri 435

Primo lenses

Kodak Vision2 11T 5212, 500T 5218

Digital Intermediate

Printed on Kodak Vision 2383

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