Star Trek: Any starboard in a storm

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May 13 2007 5:59 PM

Star Trek: Any starboard in a storm

So I'm sitting at home today doing some work on my laptop and feeling decadent because I have the TV on as well. I decide to flip through the channels.

Home Shopping. click Infomercial. click Pat Robertson. click Same infomercial, different channel. click Poker. click Baseball. click Golf. click Infomercial. click Star Trek.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


Win! Classic Trek! And it's "Tomorrow is Yesterday", a good one. The Enterprise is thrown back in time to the 1960s, and they accidentally beam aboard an Air Force pilot, and antics ensue.

At the end, to get back to the future, they have to warp to the Sun, use its "magnetic field" to pull them in, and then that will somehow throw them first back in time a little way, and then forward back to their present.


So I'm watching, and I realize that this is one of the upgraded, refurbished Treks. They digitally remastered and cleaned up the old films, and added new computerized effects. Sometimes it's good, and sometimes it's not so good. In this episode, I got a chuckle out of seeing that they used special effects to make the ship's chronometer be more digital looking, instead of the silly rotating tumblers they used to have back in the 1960s.

But then there was a "what-the-heck?" moment. As they warp past the Sun, they used a lot of the new effects, which looked OK. You see the Enterprise approach the Sun, and then move off to the right side of the Sun as it starts to warp around. The ship banks left, to port.

Now, I can forgive the idea that you don't need to bank in space (no air, so nothing to bank against). I'm used to it. Plus, they had to put it in: in the original footage, we see the crew suddenly lean to one side when Sulu throws the switch.

But there was one thing the effects guys maybe should have thought through first. We see the ship banking to the left, to port, since it's on the right side of the Sun. But in the original footage, everybody leans toward port!

Oops. If they bank to port, the crew would lean to the right, to starboard. Remember now, in 2006 someone went in and added that warp effect. And they screwed it up: the ship should have gone to the left side of the Sun, and the ship should have banked to starboard. Then the crew leaning to port would make sense.

I know, there are a million other things to nitpick on the show, but I give the original show a pass on a lot of them. In this case, some computer guys put the new effects long after the fact. They should have paid attention! They should be stripped of their Trek geek badges, too.

But it was still cool to see the old shows all spiffied up and pretty. Kirk rocks.



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