Amid a number of official announcements and revelations, the star trek online community received an unexpected gift last week: a mix of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Star Trek: Animated Series from the 1970s, titled Star Trek: An Animated Short Film. He caused a stir not only for his accurate depiction of the various details of the two halves, but also for the way he highlighted their stark differences.

The clip comes from Gazelle Automations, a Toronto-based company that works with miniatures and puppets as well as animation. In a behind-the-scenes videocreator Justin T. Lee reveals how he eschewed modern animation techniques in favor of drawing each individual “cell” in Photoshop, mimicking the often shoddy 2D techniques of ’70s kids’ shows. a delight, not only in the way it captures these details, but in the subtle way Lee deploys them for the final effect.

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The animated series was something of a white whale for star trek fans for many years. According to the reference guide Star Trek: Where No One Has Been Before, NBC gave the show the go-ahead once the (canceled) original series started garnering big ratings in syndication. Conceived as a continuation of the Enterprise’s five-year mission, it ran for two seasons from 1973 to 1974. star trek creator Gene Roddenberry was reportedly very unhappy with the results and even had the series removed from canon in 1988, according to The Star Trek Encyclopedia. It remained hard to find for some time thereafter until it was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2016.


Roddenberry’s concerns were well founded. Filmation, the studio that produced The animated series, was known for cutting corners every step of the way – even for the often low standards of children’s animation at the time. The show was stilted and repetitive, with characters often appearing dead-eyed and expressionless, and action scenes merely regurgitating reruns of the same shots. Technical quirks also abounded, most notably in the recurring use of the color purple in inappropriate places. The behind-the-scenes documentaries on the DVD describe how host Hal Sutherland was color blind and never noticed the difference. Ironically, Roddenberry’s attempt to close the series only increased curiosity around her, and her odd qualities – including shoddy animation – have since become part of her charm among hiking Fans.


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Lee’s music video takes this technique and applies it to a gripping scene of The next generation: The abduction of Captain Picard by the Borg in the middle of Season 3, Episode 26, “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1”. It uses recorded dialogue from that episode, mixed with the cheesy music from the animated series’ soundtrack, perfectly recreating the moment as Filmation would have rendered it. He draws his humor from an obvious discrepancy between The next generation hyper-tense confrontation with the Collective and the often contrived action of its predecessor, but it’s the details where the piece really comes into its own.



star trek the next generation animated

Lee has been careful to recreate every aspect of the technique from the anime series, especially the shoddy ones. Beyond its careful recreation of the old-school 2D animation process, it included odd bits of purple in places like the Borg’s chassis, as well as faux cost-cutting measures such as zooming in Riker’s eyes when he speaks to avoid animating his mouth. It also involved a top-down view of the Enterprise-E deck – an angle never before seen in GNT or TOS, but which the anime series used frequently. And there is a brief glimpse of a Kzinti at the helm, matching The animated series‘ habit of putting the three-armed navigator Arex – never seen elsewhere – in the same position.


Star Trek: An Animated Short FilmThe design work of is top-notch, but more than that, the piece reflects an abiding affection for the older show, because of rather than despite its often gritty nature. Star Trek: Lower Decks exhibits the same qualities, but keeps its heartfelt shots to in-world concepts rather than visual correspondences. The new short covers one side of The animated series that Lower decks can’t, and puts your finger on why even stupid star trek can be so loved.


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