DarenDoc's Slightly Nifty Musings Inc.

TMP Tech: The Air Tram

by on May.05, 2009, under Movie Design, Star Trek

The sleek, functional, sky-buses known as “Air trams” speed around the city of San Francisco and StarFleet Command Headquarters, delivering personnel and supplies to the bay area facilities.  

These vehicles always reminded me of the designs in the Saturday Morning shows like Ark II, or Jason of Star Command… the tapered nose and black front windows must have just seemed like a good fit into the 23rd century world of Star Trek the Motion Picture.  

Enjoy these views of the original miniature Air Tram from Star Trek: TMP and the cg tram I made for the shots in the Director’s Edition:

Here is a little pre-production breakdown I did of the Interior Tram Station shot… where the idea was to “open up” the vista a bit and make it a little less claustrophobic with that big wall on the right…

This was not the final shot in the film… this was just a breakdown of elements that were needed when we finally got the film footage imported and stabilized.

13 comments for this entry:
  1. avatar

    Those trams did have the “clean Starfleet look”, but somehow they (and the whole scene) will always remind me of the emperor’s arrival in a lambda-class shuttle in the Return of the Jedi.

    So what were the markings on that miniature, “Starfleet Command” or something else?

    And I must jump on the occasion to tell you how much I enjoyed the Director’s Edition version of TMP with the new effects that felt just right. You and the VFX team did a beautiful and respectful job that enhanced the movie in all the good ways. I look forward to more of your work on the movie!

  2. avatar

    It does say “Starfleet Command”…so this is probably a special shuttle for high muckety mucks…

  3. avatar
    john eaves

    wow this is great,,, there was really nothing out that I have seen that showed all that you did to restore TMP,, put up more!!!

  4. avatar

    I agree with Eaves, that was awesome!

  5. avatar
    Cobb fan

    Nice work Daren! It reminds me of the underground rocket-train from Gene’s “Planet Earth” pilot too.

  6. avatar

    I loved the old-style chuttle snuck in there, too! AS an aside, when I found out that there was no real escalator in that shot, only a forklift, I was amazed. The motion is so smooth as they ascend, the forklift operator must have been a true expert!

    I loved the new effects in the movie, all around the new cut was much more enjoyable to watch. I’m only sad to hear that the Director’s Cut won’t be the one on the Blu-ray TOS movie set release I’m getting soon. Any chance it will ever be released that way?

  7. avatar

    And I meant to say SHUTTLE, not CHUTTLE, which is a completely different animal.

  8. avatar

    I answer the DE on Blu-ray question at least once a day… :)

    I for one am glad that the Theatrical Version is being released in the best format possible. I’m a completist myself, so I realize the need in some people to have all that is available… to “own all that’s ownable”.. as v’ger might say.

    Will the DE be released in Hi-Def? I don’t know. I hope so. If the studio had gone along with our plans back in 2000, it would be a very easy question… and there wouldn’t be anything in its way. As it is now, there is no Hi Def Master of the Director’s Edition. It would take time and money to create one. Dave Fein, Mike Matessino, and myself have always said we would be glad to go back and revisit the project to make it available in not only Hi def, but Film Res… as it should have been. I hope that Paramount Home Video has great success on their current releases, so they will see the interest and market for such a project.

  9. avatar

    As another completist, I think I sometimes have a subconscious expectation of being Burgess Meredith, in a bank vault with a generator and a DVD player and a stack of Star Trek releases, gleefully rubbing my hands together and muttering that there’s time enough at last. Hopefully my jillionth viewing of “Amok Time” will take the edge off of the apocalypse.

  10. avatar

    Jay, Oh, no, fate would not allow that… the single DVD player would break as soon as you put in the first episode. “Noooooooooo!”


    Thanks for answering the question again for my sake. Perhaps you should put up an FAQ about it somewhere on your sidebar to avoid having to repeat yourslef endlessly to people like me…

  11. avatar

    :) I didn’t mind. It’s good to know that people are still interested enough in it.

  12. avatar
    Matt Wright

    Daren just going through the commentaries on the Blu-ray releases of the movies. I love the TMP commentary you and the Okudas and Reeves-Stevens did. You’re quite the witty dude :-)

  13. avatar

    Hey, thanks Matt… it sure was fun… I was glad to have been asked.

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