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Fan Film Friday – The making of STAR TREK: DECEPTION II (part 1)

By January 26, 2018 Fan Films

Last week, we took a look at the 8-minute TNG-era fan film from 2013, STAR TREK: DECEPTION.  Written and directed by British fan filmmaker LEO TIERNEY, the entire production was completed—including time for pre- and post-production—in under six months using about $1,500 donated by supporters in an early Kickstarter.

One of the most eye-catching aspects of this short fan film was an amazing cockpit set of a Starfleet runabout, constructed from scratch by Leo himself.  It looked incredibly accurate and realistic, despite the modest budget.  The film itself was quite fun to watch and noticeably well-produced, with tens of thousands of views on YouTube.  You can watch it here…

After completing the production, Leo later commented that he would love to follow up on the story in a sequel to see how Starfleet deals with this hidden Klingon base.  But for the next couple of years, there was no mention by Leo of any plans to do another fan fan film.  During that time, Leo helped the fan series Star Trek: Intrepid with some of the VFX for one of their episodes (“Nemo Me Impune Lacessit” released in 2016).  And it seems that collaboration led to Leo getting bitten by the fan film bug once again.

On April 16,2105, Deception fans caught the first hint that Leo was planning a sequel:

I’m currently on the lookout for a large area of space to build a (roughly) full-size bridge, and I could use some help locating the perfect place.

I’ve been keeping an eye out on places such as Gumtree for large garages or offices, but if anybody has any better ideas or locations please let me know! 

I would probably also need a hand when the set construction begins, which won’t be until sometime in the future, but if you’re handy with a hammer and/or own a large garage please let me know as well! 

Ohh, and here’s a quick mock up that I created for the bridge a while back, to get an idea of scale and positions, enjoy!

Although as of this writing, Deception II is still not yet complete (Leo estimates it’ll be ready by May 2018 at the earliest), thanks to a wonderful series of Facebook updates, photos, and videos, I can give you all a peek behind-the-scenes at this eagerly anticipated sequel.

By July of 2015, fans got their first glimpse of the new Deception II logo (see the image at the top of this blog entry), as Leo was still looking for space…about 12 x 12 meters or so.  But 2015 would pass by without Leo finding a suitable shooting location to build his sets.

But finally, in March of 2016, fans got their first look at the new Deception II studio!  And what did this incredible new facility look like?  Well, here’s a photo…
Yep, it’s just a garage, located in a quiet English village.  But soon, after a little cleaning up of the interior, it would become a portion of the bridge of an Excelsior-class starship.

Of course, with a garage barely large enough to fit a 1961 Ford Prefect, it would have to be a somewhat small portion of the bridge….with the rest digitally added with green screen and CGI, as was done for the aft section of the Runabout cockpit in the first Deception film.  With some help from an Excelsior bridge schematic posted on the amazing ExAstrisScientia.org website, Leo decided what “corner” of the bridge would give him the biggest bang for his buck…or rather, pound.

And to give himself an idea of what set pieces would need to be constructed inside the garage and where, Leo created a 3D mock-up previz showing how much of the garage would be filled with console stations and how much would be left for the camera and lights.

Always one to make miniature models first before setting to the task of building the full-sized real thing, Leo created this to work from…

The wood arrived on May 7, and Leo immediately got started building his first arch.  What you see below on the right represents about 8 hours of work.  It might not look like much, but as Leo said in a Facebook post, “I like to think it’s a start.”

The following weekend, Leo completed frames for all 3 arches and attached them to the back walls for supports.  A week later, he began working on the desks…

Fans wouldn’t see another update until July 20 (remember that Leo was building all this by himself in his spare time!).  But things were coming along quite nicely…

Five days later, Leo had added the medium density fibreboard (MDF), and things began looking much more substantial.  This might turn into an actual bridge set after all!

By late September, all the MDF panels were on, the back wall/door was completed, and Leo had built the front console for helm/navigation…

Painting began in October, and a couple of coats later, by mid-October, Leo was beginning to add some highlights and shadows to create a sense of depth.  Also, his garage light that was attached to the ceiling broke, requiring him to use a portable work light, as you can see…

Around this same time, the Klingon console prints came in and we finally saw what this Klingon bridge was going to look like…

WAIT A SECOND!!!  Didn’t I say this was going to be an Excelsior-class starship?  When did it become a KLINGON bridge???

(Oh, man!  You guys are gonna LOVE this next part!!)

Have you caught on yet that LEO TIERNEY is very resourceful and quite brilliant?  Well, apparently, he has a script that calls for BOTH a Federation bridge AND a Klingon bridge, but he only had the money and space on hand to construct ONE set.  So Leo decided to create consoles that could hold printouts of both Klingon and Starfleet style controls and readouts.  Just swap out the prints from under the plexiglass and—voila!—a Klingon bridge becomes an Excelsior-class bridge and vice-versa.

Well, actually, it wasn’t going to be quite as easy as that.  And with November bringing in freezing temperatures, Leo wrote “…it’s getting harder to work on the set without my fingers dropping off with frostbite and my breath obscuring my vision.”  But construction was nearly complete—Leo just needed to add some flooring, hide those bricks, and drop a green-screen.  Why a green screen if he’s building actual sets?  Well, that’s leads us to one of the coolest things about this entire production!

Winter was coming, so Leo shifted indoors to do some lighting and color (oh, I mean colour) tests on his computer.  The first task was to shift the colour balance of his set to match the red hue of the Klingon bridges so often seen in Star Trek.  Compare the image on the left side (below) to the colour-adjusted one on the right…

Much more Klingonish, right?  (Klingony?  Klingonific?)  But that’s not the really cool part.  Y’see, the set still looks really cramped and claustrophobic, right?  But what if you were to take the set and MIRROR it?  Then it might look something like this…

Whoa!  How AWESOME is that, right???  But you can’t mirror half a set while you’re filming…or can you?

Get ready to be blown away next week as we see how Leo’s digital wizardry creates a full Klingon bridge out of only half of one…while filming real actors!  Also, we’ll watch as Leo tries to turn this Klingon bridge into an Excelsior bridge?  Won’t it just look like the same set with different console graphics?  Trust me, folks, you WON’T believe your eyes…!

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