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STAR TREK

Lights, Camera, Cosmos
One of the eternally compelling themes of "Star Trek” is how human beings put ingenuity, passion and optimism to work in tackling seemingly impossible problems. The production took those precepts very much to heart. Astonishingly, the epic shoot that recreated a cosmos light years away from earth was shot almost entirely in Southern California and not primarily on stages, but at practical locations, which meant that the crew initiated such total metamorphoses as turning a beer factory into an Engine Room and a baseball stadium parking lot into a desolate ice planet.

This was the way J.J. Abrams, always spurred by imagination, wanted it. "So much incredible stuff that is almost unimaginable to us happens in ‘Star Trek,' so I wanted to always keep it feeling as real as possible, emotionally and physically,” he says. "I didn't want to have it all be green screens and CG. I wanted to build as much as possible, which meant a really intricate process that involved a lot of discussion about every detail, from what the interface on the dash of a 23rd century car looks like to how a ship fires on another ship.”

Like the captain of a ship, Abrams surrounded himself with people who had already earned his trust: cinematographer Dan Mindel (from "MI:3”); editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey (from "MI:3” and "Alias”), production designer Scott Chambliss ("MI:3,” "Alias”), and a newcomer to the team, costume designer Michael Kaplan ("I Am Legend,” "Miami Vice,” "Mr. & Mrs. Smith”). Also re-teaming with Abrams from "MI:3” was Industrial Light & Magic's Roger Guyett, who has also served as visual effects supervisor on some of the biggest adventure films of recent years, including the "Pirates of the Caribbean” series, "Star Wars: Episode III” and several "Harry Potter” films. Guyett also took on the role of second unit director.

Chernov continues: "J.J.'s philosophy was very important and it's one I share, that you put together a crew made up of the most creative people you can find and let them do their job, always encouraging them to go farther and come up with more ideas. That spirit was contagious on this set.”

Director of photography Dan Mindel says: "What was great about the way we shot ‘Star Trek' is that we were continually learning from what we did the week before and upping the production level.”

After much debate, the decision was made to shoot "Star Trek” in anamorphic widescreen. "We all wanted this movie to feel as huge as space itself, and widescreen gave us the expansive, cinematic feel ‘Trek' has never had before. I've always believed that movies should be about creating a complete illusion. There's something magical about what we've done: keeping the effects very organic and using analog photography to make a high-tech space movie,” Mindel says.

Fans of past "Star Trek” movies will definitely be in for a fresh experience. "This ‘Star Trek' has J.J.'s touch,” says Mindel. "The way we approached it is that the viewer is the camera and the camera is never standing still, which makes for a feeling of constant adventure, exactly what you would feel if you were on the Enterprise light years from home.”

How do you update and refresh one of the most iconic motion picture sets of all time? This was what the production crew of "Star Trek” was up against as they began tackling how to design the U.S.S. Enterprise and, most especially, the Bridge, the nerve center of the ship, where the commanding officers steer her through the stars. Accessible only by turbolift, the Bridge contains a communication station, a science station, a helmsman station and a navigation station, all encircling one of the most recognizable pieces of furniture in modern storytelling: the Captain's chair.

When it came to doing a renovation on the Enterprise, Abrams and his desi

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