Monday, November 4, 2013

The Voyage Continues - Star Trek Fan Series PT. 3

Welcome back folks! Getting some great responses from people, I'd love to hear some more! Keep it coming! Now, moving on. As we entered the mid 2000's it became very clear that Star Trek fans were very much wanting to and capable of putting together film and video projects to tell their stories. The Hidden Frontier team started off shaky and only got better and better until towards the end of that show's run, they were telling some very interesting stories, while the computer effects and virtual sets continued to improve. As all things however the Hidden Frontier era had to come to a close. Yet, much like DS9 before it, the end of the Hidden Frontier series would begin yet another era for Hidden Frontier Productions formerly Areakt Pictures.

Star Trek Odyssey 1.01 "Iliad" from Hidden Frontier on Vimeo.

On September 22, 2007, "Iliad" the first episode of the new series Star Trek: Odyssey, premiered. Starring the character Lt. Commander Ro Nevin (Brandon Mcconnell debuted in the second episode, "The Wine Dark Sea".) the series begins with an invasion of an Unknown Alien species into the Beta Quadrant of the Milky Way Galaxy. It is later revealed that this is an invasion force from the nearby Andromeda Galaxy. It is immediately evident in the full 54 minute episode that things are different, and better. Everything from the previous series is improved; the music is fuller and sets the tone immediately, the costumes on the Romulan and Archein are interesting and well made, if maybe a bit loose, haha. The opening CGI effects are incredible! We are finally entering into an era in which these fan made effects, obviously inspired by late era DS9, Babylon 5, Star Wars and the recent Battlestar Galactica, now are starting to rival the actual effects from Star Trek. In fact, even the virtual sets which I previously had loathed, start to look crisp and well defined, better than some VFX on syndicated shows from the 90's like The Lost World, Mutant X, or even the FOX/Sci-Fi Channel Sliders! One thing that is still noticeable are the halos from the green screen though, WHEN WILL MODERN SCIENCE DEFEAT THESE! The story is also very well written. Scenes no longer feel forced or overwritten, while still delivering the details of the scientific that Trekkies really appreciate. Acting is probably the most notably improved. Starfleet officers feel like officers, and the Romulans feel like Romulans. On some of the more modern fan films, which often try to recast our heroes, it doesn't always work. Odyssey have side stepped these issues, (with some exceptions to be sure.) but for the most part the story moves along with very few distractions. I have not seen more than a handful of episodes from Hidden Frontier, and sampled about 2 hours worth from the whole of Odyssey, but after my research here, I must say, I will be going back to the beginning and watching Hidden Frontier and Odyssey. Of note: There are two spin-offs of Hidden Frontier and Odyssey, The Helena Chronicles, which is a continuation of the HF storyline, and Federation One, a continuation of the Odyssey story, though with a pretty interesting twist: it's about the Federation President, (No, not Nan Bacco.) which in and of itself I think is incredibly interesting. The whole of Hidden Frontier Productions work really is an interesting one. They took basic Star Trek themes, and expanded them to their logical conclusions, took ideas that had been undercooked and underutilized, (Voyager) and made them even more interesting than the actual series it was based on. With a lot of people believing that with Enterprise and Voyager, Star Trek had run out of stories, and relevancy, here come an intrepid group of filmmakers that prove quite the opposite. Now, speaking of Intrepid...

It is sometimes easy to forget that Star Trek is an international phenomenon. The United States is very well represented, with the naval pageantry that so much of the series is rooted in, the ship classifications, the uniform designs, and all of the humans seem to be from North America. However, the stories that were told really did have an impact overseas. Now, it isn't as popular all over the globe as say Star Wars, or even Batman, but the abundance of fans on the internet from Germany, to Scotland, to Japan prove that it was a series that spoke to a larger audience. Star Trek: Intrepid is a Scottish fan production created by Nick Cook in 2007. The first episode "Heavy Lies the Crown" takes place aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid as she is escorting a convoy of Federation Merchant Service ships to a new home on the edge of Federation space. Intrepid is interesting in that is has a considerable part of the cast from human non-Starfleet personnel, a first for a Star Trek show. This also allows the Federation and the Merchant Service to have very different ideological goals, which give little glimpses of Carol Marcus in Wrath of Khan. The newly colonized planet also gives me a few memories of a long lost sci-fi show that aired only one season on NBC in 1994, but I still refer to as one of my favorites: Earth2. Intrepid feels different from all of the other Fan Series I've seen because there are a lot of location and physical sets merged with the virtual sets. It seems information on what works and what doesn't has been passed along through the fan film community, as they seem to be employing very similar uses of the virtual sets. In fact Intrepid and Hidden Frontier start out of the gate as distant friends, as Captain Elizabeth Shelby guest stars in the very beginning of the first episode played by the Hidden Frontier's Risha Denney
This relationship continues as other Hidden Frontier actors and characters guest star through out the series leading to two cross over episodes, the first "One of Our Own", the other "Orphans of War" both vignettes and "Operation Beta Shield" serving as a feature length sequel to Star Trek: Odyssey. Intrepid released their first episode in four years this May, "The Stone Unturned" featuring the now famous Patrick Stewart lookalike, Giles Gaston as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. (Famous for his "other" portrayal of Jean-Luc Picard.) The effects, acting, music, costumes all very much improved. It seems a new era in Star Trek Fan Films is coming around. Join me on Wednesday when I will be trasitioning to the more modern Star Trek Fan Films starting with Dark Armada, Starship Farragut, Of Gods and Men and then NEW VOYAGES/Phase II. On Friday I will be wrapping it all up with some information on Star Trek: Renegades and Star Trek Continues, along with a quick look back and some speculation on what the future may hold for Star Trek Fan Films and Series as the Voyage Continues!

Update: I added a youtube playlist of all the videos in the series. It is embedded below.

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