You can get truly lost in the illusion that you’re really on these Star Trek: Picard film sets, and sometimes that you’re really on a starship.
The fact that films and TV shows actively campaign for recognition during awards season is one of those things that seems obvious when you realize it, but that you would never have considered. Officially campaigning for a nomination is against the rules; i.e. you’re not allowed to directly ask the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to nominate your show for an Emmy, so the campaigns are dubbed “for your consideration.” In other words “No, we’re not asking for a nomination, we’re asking you to consider it.” And despite the required subtlety of the messaging, For Your Consideration campaigns can be pretty complex, involving stunts like these fully navigable 3D Virtual Reality tours of nearly every starship set featured in Star Trek: Picard season 3.
Though these virtual tours are intended for the ATAS members, they’re available to all of us, and they’re a real treat. The best part is that they’re not computer-generated environments, but rather actual footage of the sets used in the show. Fascinatingly these sets seem to have been built in their entirety! These sets, as we see them, are not like sitcom houses, with no fourth wall. If you’re standing in the middle of one of these sets, you can turn around 360 degrees, and see no indication that you’re not on the USS Titan.
The immersiveness of the Star Trek: Picard sets is a fan’s dream come true.
The exception to this is, of course, the bridges, where the viewscreen is just a large open window looking out to a bluescreen backdrop. This is a nice reminder that you’re looking at an actual set and also emphasizes how impressive the rest of it is.
While we get to see the bridge of the Enterprise-D, the Shrike, and The Elios (Beverly Crusher’s ship from the first episode), we’re really spoiled when it comes to the Titan. With the Titan, we also see the transporter room, sick bay, crew quarters, and a corridor, many of which include multiple rooms to explore.
If you’re the kind of person who gets lost in Star Trek minutiae, this is a dangerous rabbit hole. For instance, there’s a crew quarters attached to the sick bay, this is presumably where the chief medical officer lives, so the collection of daggers on the shelf above their bed raises questions. From memory, we only saw the Titan’s CMO briefly, and while she was brusque, she didn’t seem like the dagger-collecting type. Never judge a book by its cover, I guess.
Because these are real film sets, very occasionally the illusion is broken by a piece of production equipment, or equally mundane earthbound object. This could be like a game of Where’s Waldo… challenge your friends to find the mop on the Titan’s bridge (it’s in the turbolift.)
Here’s what I find most impressive about this… Remember when Peter Jackson filmed the Lord of the Rings prequels in 48 FPS, and the chief complaint was that it looked too real. When a fantasy movie looks too real, that means the environments look like what they are, film sets. Sci-fi and fantasy relies on the imperfections in the film medium to create the illusion. I assumed that the magic of television allowed them to use sets that would look really fake under the scrutiny of the naked eye, where awkward and unbuilt elements could be hidden out of frame, or in dark corners. But apparently, no element of these sets was unbuilt or anything but immaculate!
Surely this is worth at least a gong in the technical categories, as it’s an impressive showcase of the technical talents behind the show. It’s accompanied by a 110-page book all about the set design and production, that’s also available to us. The book even includes side-by-side comparisons of the rebuilt Enterprise-D bridge and the original, and technical details. It’s reminiscent of the Star Trek technical manuals I used to pore over as a kid.
- The Elios XII
- The Shrike
- The USS Titan-A bridge
- The USS Titan-A transporter room
- The USS Titan-A sickbay
- The USS Titan-A crew quarters
- The USS Titan-A corridor
- The USS Enterprise-D bridge
P.s., I couldn’t find a single index page with links to all the sets, which is why they’re listed above, but while I was poking around looking for one, I found 3D navigable sets for the original series’ bridge, engineering, and a corridor that leads to the transporter room, sick bay, captain’s quarters, briefing room, and even a Jeffries tube. These were built for Star Trek Continues, a fan-made non-canon series. So they don’t have the official seal of authenticity, but they’re still fascinating, and amazingly accurate and detailed.