Monday, June 8, 2009

Star Trek by the Minute 004


Previous: STbtM 003

 Update: On a second viewing, I'm seeing lots of brick walls people complained about

This is a pretty easy segment to review as it consists entirely of the Kelvin skipper leaving his ship and taking a shuttle to the evil vessel. The great looking turbolift comes down to a deck with crew racing around, either preparing for evac and/or damage control. As is common in Star Trek, the automatic doors have predictive abilities Nostradamus could only hope for. We see door "43" already opening when the captain is at least 10 meters away, but perhaps the door sensors can tell: this captain means business. 

The slacker crew members wait much longer than this to stand at attention when he walks by… Speaking of which, if my ship had fires, dozens of hull breaches, casualties with many in immediate & mortal danger, with evacuation preparations ordered, and all that on top of a Red Alert, as captain I might be tempted to slap any crewman that thought the best use of their time was to stand at attention while I'm strolling by and crewmates are being blown out into space.

The captain goes into the shuttle through some of those heavy plastic curtains you see at slaughterhouses. I'll bet those were handy for keeping the cabin nice and cozy during Breen tailgate parties...with spicy Skorr wings - Oy! In fact, our captain does get offered a skewer soon, but more on that later… :)

We see the shuttle make a banked turn out of the bay and head toward the evil ship, and here is another physics problem: There is no reason to "lean" into a turn in space, and honestly, wouldn't using a more realistic simulation have added a more alien feel and enhanced the dramatic impact of the scene? I think real science, done well, nearly always trumps the fake stuff.


Lens flare much?

Our captain heads toward the massive evil ship and despite the size of the black crystalline Byzantium of this ship, he somehow knows exactly where to go, and a series of doors open directly on his flight path. The closeup as he peers into the vast evilness of the alien ship makes abundantly clear: this captain wears too much mascara to live.

The landing on the evil ship is very Star Wars like: the Kelvin shuttle has X-wing style landing skids, dirt and paint scratches. The touchdown effect looks like the drop ship from Aliens, with great shock-absorber articulation. Of course, all dramatic ship exits need to have some fire-extinguisher effects, but this is merely a shuttle – so it is toned down a bit. It's a shame we don't get a good look at the shuttle.
Next: STbtM 005

14 comments:

crone51 said...

He does wear a bit too much mascara but I still thought he was pretty cute.....

Steamblade said...

The turbo lift goes down although the shuttle bay is at the top of the seconary hull and Robau is coming from below.

BurntSynapse said...

Maybe there was a problem with the lift exit on the shuttle bay deck (damaged in the attack, etc.) and Robau had to go deeper into engineering?

Steamblade said...

Then would it not stand to reason that he could not go directly to the shuttle deck (a continuous shot I believe) without changing levels?

BurntSynapse said...

Hi Steam! I'm not 100% on what you mean here, esp. with "direct" and "continuous shot", but I'll do my best to answer. I would guess that ordinarily there is a lift stop on the shuttle bay deck, but Robau would definitely have to leave the bridge level to reach it. It's hard to believe that the lift would normally stop only in such and inconvenient place. Honestly, I think is was just decided without too much thought that this would be a good way to show off some awesome looking sets!

Steamblade said...

I was thinking, but not sure, that when Robau exits the turbolift that it is a continuous shot (no cuts) tracking him until he reaches the shuttle. I could be mistaken, I don't really remember. The fact that he steps out of the 20th century industrial elevator is another matter entirely.

BurntSynapse said...

I just rechecked: there are 5 shots in the sequence I'm going to call: turbolift descent and Robau exit, stairway ascent, lightning catwalk, door 43 approach, passing the plastic sheeting, and taking his seat. The shuttle launch & flight sequence follows.

Steamblade said...

Thanks for the clarification.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

I know this is an ancient post, but I came here from your comment at the post about Prometheus at physicstoday.org. I did want to address a couple of points that it looks like no one else got.

"We see door "43" already opening when the captain is at least 10 meters away" [...] "The captain goes into the shuttle through some of those heavy plastic curtains you see at slaughterhouses."

Those are the doors to the actual shuttle - you can see the angle of the hull around them in the picture you included - so it's not unreasonable to assume that the computer or docking bay officer opened them because they knew which shuttle he was using (probably offscreen: "Prep a shuttle for me." "Yes sir, shuttle 43 is the ready shuttle."). The plastic curtains only separate the flight deck from the passenger area.

"Speaking of which, if my ship had fires, dozens of hull breaches, casualties with many in immediate & mortal danger, with evacuation preparations ordered, and all that on top of a Red Alert, as captain I might be tempted to slap any crewman that thought the best use of their time was to stand at attention while I'm strolling by and crewmates are being blown out into space."

This (standing against the wall and coming to attention when and higher ranking officer passes in a narrow corridor) is normal military tradition, and there's a reason for it: In a ship where corridors are usually crowded and narrow (which we can see these areas of the Kelvin are) the idea is to make room for the higher ranking officer to pass by, and also be stationary in case he needs you for something and has to pull you away from what you're doing. The assumption being that the guy who is higher in the chain of command a) needs to be where he's going more than you do, and b) knows where you need to be more than you do (because he knows more about what's going on).

"despite the size of the black crystalline Byzantium of this ship, he somehow knows exactly where to go"

They're Romulans from ~100 years in the future. I'm sure they know how to broadcast a standard Federation docking beacon. This also goes to a point from a previous post - I would assume the Romulan's transmission simply appeared onscreen without being accepted because they probably hacked the system.

Re: Steamblade's point about the turbolift. The simplest explanation is that either it routed around battle damage, or the arrangement of other systems in the engineering hull required the shaft to be routed from above. The "real world" explanation is that, rather than building large and therefore expensive sets from scratch, they rented a brewery to use for the engineering areas and just dressed them up as needed, using the existing piping, catwalks, and tanks to give it a "functional" feel. You can also see some of this later when Kirk finds Uhura at her duty station which is, oddly for a communications station, sandwiched between two rows of large storage tanks.

John C. 'Buck' Field said...

Hi Jake!

> (probably offscreen: "Prep a shuttle for me."

Well, Robau had already ordered shuttles prepped for emergency evac, so technically, their doors should already have been open. However, if a conversation had taken place, it could only have been from within the lift during the 8 seconds in which we do not see Robau, who exits the lift from the same central position we saw him take upon entering.

> standing to attention is normal military tradition,

The ship is on fire, venting atmosphere, and the Bridge can't even tell whether shields are up, down, or working. Crewmen are dying and our friends' blood is flowing out on the decks. I tend not to regard observing traditional military etiquette in such situations appropriate.

>corridors are usually crowded and narrow (which we can see these areas of the Kelvin are)

I acknowledge the reasoning you provide for why the "make way & stand aside" policy exists, but disagree it makes any sense here for reasons above. I also disagree with the area being narrow & crowded. Please note the screenshot just added above...no crowd, no need for her to stand aside, and suddenly altering her movement could cause its own problems.

Again, we notice more brick walls everyone was going on about!

>They're Romulans from ~100 years in the future. I'm sure they know how to broadcast a standard Federation docking beacon.

Probably not if we think about its real probability. To be extra-generous, let's assume a constant rate of change in technology rather than an accelerating one we experience.

Now lets take the Chilean miners rescued in 2010, put them on a modern ocean ore hauler but armed to the teeth, attacking a scout steamer in 1910, a day out of Shanghai. How certain would we be they could send a standard Jiangsu communication? Let's even give them an extra, triple advantage over the Romulans: our future Chileans can use any of the 3 methods available for the Chinese to receive: telegraphy, kerosene signal lamp, or flags. How certain are we now that the miners could perform such a trick, even if they had a Morse code key, instructions, and everything they needed sitting right in front of them, just waiting to be assembled?

It seems unlikely, but I could be wrong.

Do you know of any example where anyone (not just a mine foreman) accomplished anything remotely similar, ever?

I definitely agree that settings & backdrops were compromised for effect, cost savings, etc., like Uhura's station, but more so: the story itself.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Some counter-points:

a) Communications technology in the Star Trek universe has actually remained pretty stable.

b) Simple operational protocols, like navigation, docking, and approach beacons, tend to remain fairly stable. For example, modern aircraft still use navigation beacons designed (and in some cases built) 75 years ago, and Instrument Landing Systems have been in use since 1938.

c) In the pre-reset canon which the Nerada orginates from, there are ships with service lifetimes of at least 100 years (e.g., the Excelsior class, the Oberth class, and the Miranda class*). Earth Spacedock was (probably) also around for at least that long, as well. At the very least, it's not unreasonable to assume that any changes maintained backwards compatibility, especially considering that it's all computer controlled, making it easier.

d) Given the ability of sensors in Star Trek, really all that needs to happen is for the shuttle to transmit a "universal" code that says "I need a docking point" and for a beacon at the entrance to send back a signal saying "I'm a docking port!" The shuttle's computer can just use the sensors to get location and everything else it needs to actually dock.

"I tend not to regard observing traditional military etiquette in such situations appropriate."

There are actually specific rules about which parts of military etiquette are overridden in which combat situations. Certain courtesies, like the one here, have a practical purpose in such situations and are maintained - but there are certain tasks a person can be doing that would override even that. The staircase in the new screenshot is about wide enough for two people to pass shoulder to shoulder, which is enough for her to stand aside even in combat - especially since the captain is walking down the middle - and the crewmen who stand aside are simply not doing anything that would override that protocol.

* There is actually a very Miranda-like design visible at Spacedock and in the fleet that warps to Vulcan later in the movie.

John C. 'Buck' Field said...

An admirable defense, Jake.

Props to you!

I'm guessing that even with all the advantages given the Chilean miner scenario, the obvious implausibility is why my questions were not addressed.

Nevertheless...

> Communications technology in the Star Trek universe has actually remained pretty stable.

I will concede this point, in that we have seen deliberate hacking into to com screen of hostile aliens in TOS, but since Abrams was never a fan, it seems implausible such justification was ever considered. TNG saw LeForge hack into antique Klingon cloaking pretty easily, but then again, he was not a psychopath miner.

>b) modern aircraft still use navigation beacons designed (and in some cases built) 75 years ago,

This is hard to believe. I was unable to find any example of a beacon built 75 years ago which is still in use by modern aircraft. If you can provide 2 instances I will consider the claim of "some" to be valid, and concede the point.

>c) , it's not unreasonable to assume that any changes maintained backwards compatibility, especially considering that it's all computer controlled

Such expectations are reasonable only if we observe them in computer systems and software today. In fact, I really wish I could play Ring of Red on my PS3, but no: I have to purchase it a third time, in only 10 years.

> the captain is walking down the middle

He's actually a bit on the side to his left, but headed to the right...

>crewmen who stand aside are simply not doing anything

That's why I'd want to slap them! The ship is on fire, parts are blown to bits, people are dying, and everyone is supposed to be at battle stations. That's bad, lazy writing.

If in addition the writers decided the situation was not sufficiently important to take priority over protocols, it's doubly sloppy and stupid.

If not, it's merely incompetent and lazy writing.

Cap said...

There is no reason to "lean" into a turn in space

There may be. If the centrifugal force of the turn is felt be the shuttle occupant, then it combined with the shuttle's artificial gravity will pull down and to the side relative to the shuttle. Leaning into the turn mitigates this effect, producing stronger effective gravity, but at a more practical angle.

John C. 'Buck' Field said...

Hi Cap,

I think your claim could only be maintained if we insist the shuttles similarly tilt forward and back when ac/de celerating, but since they almost never do... I'm going to maintain that objection for now.

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