High-tech meets vintage television for a fascinating new project that sounds like the perfect meeting of media and medium: a life-sized hologram recreation of “The Cage,” the first Star Trek pilot. It’s framed as a way to preserve, study, and celebrate the start of Gene Roddenberry’s enduring sci-fi franchise.
Such an undertaking could not happen without the participation of the Roddenberry Estate itself, so it’ll be no surprise to hear this was a joint effort between the Roddenberry Archive and Los Angeles-based cloud graphics company OTOY. Together, they’re engaged in a “multi-year effort to visually memorialise Gene Roddenberry’s lifetime of work and art,” according to a press release, this time by “reuniting the original cast and crew of the first Star Trek pilot in order to retrace the genesis of the legendary TV series created by Gene Roddenberry in 1964.”
So what exactly does a hologram recreation of a TV pilot look like? OTOY released the below video to show off the “1:1 life-size virtual sets, costumes, characters, and props (including fully working Enterprise interiors)” as well as some insight into how they were created. One big element: the help of “The Cage” director Robert Butler, who shared behind-the-scenes materials as well as offered his personal confirmation that the virtual recreation matched the actual set he worked on when he was “a young director, a green director” back in 1964. (He’s now 97 years old!)
This project won’t be stopping with “The Cage.” According to a press release, the Roddenberry Archive, which has also created full-sized model of the USS Enterprise as seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, aims to “cover the entire 40-year legacy of the original USS Enterprise from 2245 to 2285 … [recreating] life-sized representations of almost a dozen canonical Enterprises by the end of this decade, enabling future generations to immerse themselves in the evolution of the legendary starship with historical fidelity.” (Don’t miss the time-lapse of how the bridge has evolved and changed over the years, shown in the video above.) What’s more, “The art and curation team is also working to comprehensively document behind the scenes genealogies, prototypes, and designs of each artefact stored in the archive. Scans of original costumes, props, fabrics, and materials are being used to complement purely digital models where possible.”
In addition to people like Butler, actors like Sandy Gimpel (the Talosian alien seen in “The Cage”), and other first-handers like Jeffrey Hunter, son of Chris Hunter, who played Captain Pike in “The Cage,” the project obviously relies on technology supplied by the OTOY team, who are clearly fans of the series and whose approach seems in line with the Trek mindset. As the company’s founder and CEO, Jules Urbach, said in a press release: “Gene Roddenberry created an entirely new way of seeing the world, pushing us to explore the limits of space, technology, and what it means to be human. Today, new archival tools and media formats are reshaping how we share and experience history. The mission of the Roddenberry Archive is to use the tools at our disposal to create a living, breathing history of Roddenberry’s lifetime of materials, concepts, and philosophical explorations.”
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Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.