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Ron Goad
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Posted: 03 June 2017 at 8:15pm | IP Logged | 1  

This is a very good article that was posted on another site I tend to frequent:


Covers the subject of artistic minimalism and how it shows up in Star Trek (The Only Series).


Edited by Ron Goad on 03 June 2017 at 8:16pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 03 June 2017 at 8:59pm | IP Logged | 2  

Interesting read!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 03 June 2017 at 9:39pm | IP Logged | 3  

That's a lot of words to sum up a shrinking budget!

As we know, Roddenberry spent "movie money" on the first pilot -- he nurtured plans to release it as a theatrical film if it didn't sell the series -- and there is no "minimalism" there. But there IS something else.

Building CGI sets for NEW VISIONS I have come to appreciate the cleverness of Matt Jeffries designs more and more -- and he was already a huge influence on my own work. I find myself thinking of how many of his sets were very much like traditional theater sets, to be viewed from only limited angles. No fourth wall, and nothing behind the other walls, either.

Later iterations of TREK exploded onto the screen with sets so busy they'd have made Wally Wood's eyes water -- but they lost the futuristic look of TOS. The ennui-engorged make fun of Mr. Sulu driving the boat with just a few blinking buttons -- but when they do they forget this was painting a portait of two hundred years hence. Compare your smartphone to Univac, and you'll see what was going on. Simplicity, practicality, not "minimalism".

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 12:16am | IP Logged | 4  

Building CGI sets for NEW VISIONS I have come to appreciate the cleverness of Matt Jeffries designs more and more -- and he was already a huge influence on my own work. I find myself thinking of how many of his sets were very much like traditional theater sets, to be viewed from only limited angles. No fourth wall, and nothing behind the other walls, either.
+++++++

"Theatrical" is the word which consistently pops into my mind when thinking of TOS. Simple-yet-evocative sets. Splashes of mood lighting on the walls. BIG acting. BIG music.
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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 1:58am | IP Logged | 5  

When I was a kid I use to wonder. How was it possible for the crew to operate the ship? It was just a bunch of blinking lights. As I got older I thought they must be using some complicated combination of button pushing. With varying sequences achieving different results. That thought both impressed me and was a bit discouraging. I could never be a crew member. ;(

When I got a little bit older. It occurred to me that the simplicity of the design of the ship was because the tech was so advanced it was essentially idiot proof. We can see even with the tech we use today. One of the things that comes with advancing technology is user friendliness. 

 With the exception of Star Trek Enterprise. Later series have made the mistake of making everything needlessly complicated looking. Enterprise  gets away with it because it predates TOS. It makes sense that it would cluttered.
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 5:23am | IP Logged | 6  

"That's a lot of words to sum up a shrinking budget!"

...

Who knew The Empath had such deep artistic meaning. It looked like a third season cost saving episode to me.
There's one word I think of when I want  to describe the "look" of TOS; clean.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 6:44am | IP Logged | 7  

When I was a kid I use to wonder. How was it possible for the crew to operate the ship? It was just a bunch of blinking lights. As I got older I thought they must be using some complicated combination of button pushing. With varying sequences achieving different results. That thought both impressed me and was a bit discouraging. I could never be a crew member. ;(

Think of mathematical sets. To one side of his board (as one example) Sulu has a panel with sixty four buttons. To calculate the number of combinations, take the number 2 to the sixty fourth power (minus one, for the null set). That goes into BILLIONS of possible combos. And that's without allowing for a combination of buttons which, when pressed, change the whole array!

When people grumble about this, they do nothing but reveal their own narrow thinking.

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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 7:20am | IP Logged | 8  


Think of mathematical sets. To one side of his board (as one example) Sulu has a panel with sixty four buttons. To calculate the number of combinations, take the number 2 to the sixty fourth power (minus one, for the null set). That goes into BILLIONS of possible combos. And that's without allowing for a combination of buttons which, when pressed, change the whole array!

When people grumble about this, they do nothing but reveal their own narrow thinking.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I never thought to the extant of billions of possible combos. But yes this was what I thought had to be going on. The fact that Sulu could remember and perform even under the most dire of circumstances was incredible.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 7:48am | IP Logged | 9  

I never thought to the extant of billions of possible combos. But yes this was what I thought had to be going on. The fact that Sulu could remember and perform even under the most dire of circumstances was incredible.

It's like typing. 26 letter keys create thousands upon thousands of words, in multiple languages. Once learned, it becomes pretty easy. (I'm typing right now without looking at the keyboard, for instance.)

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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 04 June 2017 at 8:05am | IP Logged | 10  

It's like typing. 26 letter keys create thousands upon thousands of words, in multiple languages. Once learned, it becomes pretty easy. (I'm typing right now without looking at the keyboard, for instance.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is a concept that's far easier for me to wrap my head around. I thought of it in terms of numerical formula. That made it a herculean effort for me. Arithmetic wasn't one of my better subject.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 05 June 2017 at 6:04pm | IP Logged | 11  

It's like typing. 26 letter keys create thousands upon thousands of words, in multiple languages. Once learned, it becomes pretty easy. (I'm typing right now without looking at the keyboard, for instance.)

I always imagined the Star Trek ship interface to be something more akin to a Stenotype machine, which on the surface might look arcane and nonsensical (even to users of 'regular' keyboards) but has layers of hidden functionality to someone trained in it's use, especially with button combinations and 'chording'.  It doesn't just have to be a single-layer of tacticle buttons either, it could have multiple levels of haptic (pressure or vibration) feedback that tell the user where they are in the interface matrix.  

I also like to think Starfleet ships were designed to accomodate users of varying number and length of digits (or probosces) so it makes more sense to have a simplified interface and branch out from there, rather than force the square pegs of other species into the round holes of human decimal habitus.  

What always amused me in the later series were the audible command macros they used ("Computer, use Riker attack program alpha", etc) which usually just made the ship do a loop-de-loop and shoot phasers at the end (woo!).  Lazy, not to mention the huge security issues this kind of system opens up.   Most people can't keep their home and work passwords straight  without writing them on a post-it note -- which they proceed to stick to their monitor and completely miss the point of having password security in the first place.  Imagine if Riker mixed up maco alpha (total destruction) and beta (disable)... oops!


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 06 June 2017 at 5:10am
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Ron Goad
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Posted: 19 June 2017 at 9:16pm | IP Logged | 12  

Actually - if you run the numbers through an inflation calculator - Star Trek's first season was quite well funded:

The average for the first season was about $190,635, which adjusting for inflation is equal to $1,439,959.12 today.

The average for season two was a bit less and season three - well - less said the better there...
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