Saturday, 7 November 2015

Further Horizons: Trailers and Teasers

Works seems to have gone exceedingly well for the Star Trek: Horizons team with this week's reveal of the second and final trailer for the Enterprise-era movie.

" aptly named..."

Their first trailer, released 11 months ago, has amassed over 2.7 million views and the opening scene 211,000 views so far.

The vision of Tommy Kraft, Star Trek: Horizon is turning out to be a must-see as far as I'm concerned. There have been some voices out there suggesting it's all gone warlike and it's not keeping with the original Roddenberry vision but it was always going to be the case that future generations would take the franchise and mould it to how they saw it. Horizon is just that and more, taking us into the very uncharted territory of the years following Enterprise and placing us with the crew of the NX Class Discovery.

After three years of work on the project, we can expect the final work to be revealed in February 2016 - just four short months away - but for now we'll have to do with the trailer and what a work that is in itself. It's been out for a fair few weeks now but with #30daysoftrek and also Tommy taking the time to answer some questions in his very busy schedule, it's taken until now to put something in words.

Now we know how good the Renegades trailer looked and how that all turned out so I'm keeping fingers crossed that this doesn't head in the same way but there are a few things already swaying my favour towards this great-looking movie. It's not relying on an all-star cast to deliver its story and it's moved the story into an earlier Star Trek era rather than attempting to portray a time after Voyager with even more futuristic tech that a KickStarter funded work just can't make look as good as a fully-fledged studio. This looks like a very professional production and before I get too carried away, let's actually look at the trailer.

Opening with some sublime CGI shots of the Discovery and of a strange new world, the overlying narrative suggests Horizon to either be a planet or some form of device(?) of enormous power. Linked into this is a shot of what appears to be a full-face helmeted Romulan that reminds us we're in the midst of the never-before-seen war with the secretive race. 

Discovery's mission it seems is to retrieve a spy who is carrying information on a super-weapon that is being constructed within spitting distance of Earth. Cue some even more beautiful shots of a Romulan space station and a 22nd Century Bird-of-Prey. Man, these CGI shots are just amazing and all the way through this trailer this is the one thing that just blew me away. While there's been good CG in other productions and yes, Renegades did have some great work in there, the level here just takes that another step up. The lighting, the action, the movement of the ships themselves is extremely fluid and realistic to a point that it would easily rival anything you can see on TV right now. Look out for the Vulcan ships too as the trailer progresses. I loved the work on them in Enterprise but they look even better here and that's a fact.

Paul Lang is very prominent within this trailer as Captain Harrison Hawke of the NX-04, leading the mission against the Romulans. He's got a lot of presence here and from the short amount of material we see here, Paul looks to have done a good job in the role and has clearly played it straight which suits the style of the movie. Key to the story is the intel provided by a spy/defector that the Romulans are building a weapon of mass destruction which will turn the tide of the war and it's being constructed two light years from Earth. Is this weapon being constructed on Horizon? Is it something that the Romulans have actually discovered rather than a weapon they have made?

One thing you do notice is that there is a lot of JJ-esque lens flare in the footage whether CG or on the sets. Accompanied by some very Battlestar Galactica-like musical overtures you can certainly see which side of the sci-fi fence has influenced the feel of the movie and cast its net a little further than the sets of Berman and Braga's Enterprise from 15 years ago. In fact I'd be pushed to say that there was much of a set built since the backgrounds I could see through this were mainly computer generated and slightly out of focus which pulls your attention immediately to the action taking place at the front of the shot.

I asked Tommy about that visual nuance when I caught up with him after watching the new trailer; "I think the blurred background is an odd choice to pick on as it's simply a result of the camera and lenses used to shoot a film; IE cameras with larger sensors and faster lenses will tend to have much blurrier backgrounds.

"In that regard, I do like that particular look a lot. In the case of Horizon, since the film was shot almost entirely on green screen, the blurred backgrounds you referenced were made to simulate real cameras and lenses. Regarding the rest of the visual style, it's just a look that I like and I think fits the tone and story I've chosen for Horizon. I wouldn't necessarily choose that look for every film I make because each film needs to have it's own look and stand on it's own."

Explained Horizon creator, Tommy; "I'm very close to finishing the film visually. There are 177 scenes in the shooting script and I've finished 167 out of those 177. We're close to the end!"

"We have done the work and we are ready..."

Great news with that premiere only a few months away so what's left? "I had a great guy, Michael Huang, volunteer for sound design duty." continued Tommy, "He'll be doing a 5.1 and stereo mix for the film as well as doing all of the sound design duties. He already has the first hour and twenty five minutes of the film to work on while I finish the last fifteen or so minutes of the film. After that it's onto music duty for me!"

If you think it sounds like Tommy is working particularly hard to get this project completed you would be absolutely right - and then some; "There have been so many challenges over the course of making this film that it's hard to list one. One of the things that has made this film unique is I've had to do the vast majority of the work myself.

"Whereas productions like Renegades, Axanar, etc. have decently-sized teams behind them, I'm almost entirely a one-man-band. I've had some people to help me out here and there: a couple people provided some Vulcan and Romulan ship models, some folks have helped with tasks like rotoscoping here and there."

"Overall though, it's been all me from the beginning. I've written, directed, edited and shot the film, done all of the visual effects and compositing as well as will be doing the music, and I sewed all the costumes. I'm sure there's other stuff in there I'm forgetting as well. Probably the hardest part has been staying motivated and passionate over this now three year haul. But we're getting close to the end and it's really gratifying to see it all come together"

So can we expect to see a Horizon II in the near future or was the three year journey just long enough for Tommy?

"I currently have no plans for continuing the story after the film. That's not to say I haven't thought about it, I have." he said, "But after this incredibly long project, I need to branch out and do something different. As for what exactly that is? I've written some scripts: a few shorts and a feature, but I don't know exactly what I'll be doing. I'm just focusing on getting Horizon done at the moment."

Overall fan reaction to the trailer that I've seen across the various forums talking about the movie have been positive especially in regards to the look of the film and the quality of the effects shots we've seen so far. Added Tommy; "We have nearly three million views on our first trailer and are climbing in views on the second trailer."

No question why that second trailer is proving popular since it's packed out with action and is now hitting 46,000 views. There's an entrancing story, Romulans, Vulcans, space battles and - if you catch him - Future Guy (looking a little bit Romulan himself). Future Guy does imply that the   I also suspect from the trailer that one of the crew will turn out to be an agent for another faction who is aboard the Discovery to deal with the threat that Horizon presents - in fact that's suggested by some of the later dialogue in the trailer. Could this crewmember be a temporal agent similar to Daniels in Enterprise? She does, in the trailer, mention that she has undergone a "procedure" so could it be she is from the race that created that Horizon weapon?

The use of green-screen may be evident all the way through but it means that the movie can step out of those ship confines and onto strange new worlds, starbases and more. Within this trailer there are glimpses of those aspects in visuals I would not have expected from such a production. The last sections of the trailer do indicate some final showdown surrounding the titular Horizon but exactly how it all fits together will have to wait until February. But how incredible does it all look?!

The crew in an alien base, Romulan Birds-of-Prey all over the place and the Discovery in grave danger just heighten my interest and leave me wondering how the story will evolve from the few minutes we have already seen. What really impressed here is the fact that this isn't a bottle show. We're getting off the ship and in style. Certainly Horizon seems to have a lot more angles than we know about besides the Federation and the Romulans. We are going to be thrown into the Empire's territory, potentially in search of Horizon and its creators. 

If the trailers have whet your appetite for the movie then Tommy would love you to share it with other fans of the franchise and help spread the word. "In addition to that, we have various donation options via Paypal still available on our official website." said Tommy, "As rewards for donations, donors can receive various things such as a digital download of the film when it's done, a copy on DVD or Blu-ray, a copy of the soundtrack, and more. Check out the Support Us section of our website for more information on that."

You can visit the Horizon site now to hep the cause and also view the second trailer right here.

All picture credits Star Trek Horizon and Tommy Kraft.

Is Horizon something you're looking forward to? What did you think to the second trailer?

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