Welcome! As part of its ongoing mission to document the Art and Production History of Star Trek, this site will present technical articles on Star Trek prop and costume authentication - focusing on The Original Series - with detailed photos and episode screenshots to complement the information presented; as well as feature pictorials to showcase Star Trek memorabilia in private & public collections, present rare Behind The Scenes TOS imagery & discuss other topics.
Gerald Gurian is a 35+ year collector of screen used Star Trek memorabilia and a passionate fan of TOS
     
- Star Trek TOS At Auction Part I - Gurian Collection Highlights - Greg Jein TOS Hero Type II Phaser
-Authenticating a TOS Communicator -6 Myths About Star Trek Prop Design -Star Trek 3rd Season Command Tunic
- Design Features of TOS Tricorders -Star Trek Props At National Air & Space - TOS Leatherette Tricorder
- TOS Federation Sciences Dress -Desilu Studio TOS Prop Fabrication - Unreleased Allen/Gurian Prop Photos
- The Beautiful Women of TOS Part I -TOS U.S.S. Enterprise 11' Filming Model - Captain Kirk's Chair from TOS
- Spock Ears -TOS Control Panels & Displays - Mr. Spock's Science Station
- TOS Soundstage at Desilu -TOS Shatner Romulan Pants - The Beautiful Women of TOS Pt. II
- TOS Galileo Shuttlecraft -Greg Jein TOS Cage Laser Pistol - TOS 3rd Season Midgrade Type II Phaser
- Dr. McCoy's Sickbay on TOS -TOS Balok Puppet Head - Captain Kirk "Mirror, Mirror" Tunic
- Greg Jein TOS Hero Tricorder -1992 Smithsonian TOS Cast Video - TOS 1st Season Command Tunic
- TOS "Where No Man" Silver Contact Lenses -TOS Special Effects: The Transporter - The Art of Matt Jefferies
- TOS "Space Seed" Gold Mesh Jumpsuit -Gorn Costume from "Arena" - Rare TOS Behind-the-Scenes Videos
- TOS Stunt Type II Phaser -1993 Bill Theiss Estate Auction - TOS Shatner Command Dress Tunic
- TOS Elasian Royal Guard Tunic -TOS Finnegan Silver "Shore Leave" Tunic - TOS Science Officer Tunic "The Cage"
- TOS Shatner Early 1st Season Command Tunic -William Shatner TOS Tunics At Auction - TOS Shatner Late 1st Season Command Tunic

Monday, February 16, 2009

TOS Special Effects: Phaser Fire

A comparatively simple special effect to accomplish during production of The Original Series was that of phaser fire; which relied upon animation. As explained by Stephen Whitfield in “The Making Of Star Trek” (Ballantine Books, 1968): “A series of drawings is prepared, each showing the beam slightly larger and longer than the previous one. These are shot, one frame at a time, and when the film is run at normal speed, it appears as though the beam were being fired.”

In the image below, a piece of raw film is marked up to indicate the direction of travel for the desired phaser beam to be added to the scene. Apparently, an initial path slightly to the right was crossed out in favor of one to the left…

A screenshot showing the finished version of the special effect is seen below …


A great variety of beam colors were drawn by the graphic artists; as is documented in the following group of episode screenshots. Specifically, colors ranging from red and pink and orange to blue and violet and white are seen. Presumably, the different colors represent different force settings such as stun, heavy stun, disintegrate and kill, etc...







In “The Enemy Within”, Sulu fires a set of 3 beams simultaneously from his pistol phaser to heat a group of boulders on a frigid planet surface …

Also in the same episode, as Spock applies a nerve pinch to the “evil” Kirk; an errant phaser beam that features 3 parallel linear bolts of energy is discharged …

In “Return of the Archons”, violet colored beams fired by Kirk and Spock hand phasers are seen to diverge greatly as they hit a hostile crowd …



And in “Spock’s Brain”, Kirk fires a green burst of energy from his pistol phaser; as opposed to the traditional beam, to stun his adversary …

In the following shot, from “Miri”, it is evident that the special effects artist slightly misaligned the start of the phaser beam, which is placed a significant distance in front of the hand phaser …

The same animation technique was employed to portray the firing of the Starship Enterprise’s main phaser banks …