“When I knew we were launching into a new thing and building our own canon, I was very excited to contribute to the legacy of ‘Star Trek,’” visual effects supervisor Jason Zimmerman admits about the brave new world of “Star Trek: Discovery” season 3.
“Then it set in that we’re creating canon, so in a different way it’s just as challenging and daunting because you’re developing something that the fans are going to look to with the same amount of love that they did at the Enterprise or the Borg Cube or any of those things,” he reveals. Watch our exclusive video interview with Zimmerman above.
“Star Trek: Discovery” premiered in September 2017 on what was then called CBS All Access (and is now Paramount+) to praise from critics and fans as a welcome reboot of the revered franchise, with its first season is set roughly ten years before the events of “Star Trek: The Original Series.” The show’s acclaimed third season (it has an impressive 91% “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes) follows the crew of the USS Discovery as they travel over 900 years into the distant future. It stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Wilson Cruz, David Ajala, Michelle Yeoh and Rachael Ancheril, with Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise serving as showrunners.
With the USS Discovery travelling to the future, beyond existing Star Trek timelines, the show was given a newfound freedom to explore a new time period without being so weighted down with the enormous and often cumbersome responsibility of staying true to existing canon in the expansive “Star Trek” TV and cinematic universe.
This season’s main focus was the big mystery of this distant future: What caused “the burn” – the cataclysmic event that led to the destruction of all spacecraft across the universe. Rather than it be the result of an act of war, or a natural galactic disaster, it was discovered that the ultimate trigger for the cataclysmic event was the devastated cry of a Kelpian child over its mother’s death, a huge gamble by Kurtman and Paradise that paid off given fan reaction to the big revelation.
For Zimmerman, it was important that the visual effects created for “the burn” and its cause primarily focused on the emotion. “As a visual effects guy, sometimes visual effects can be spectacle for the sake of being a spectacle, but they don’t really necessarily drive the story forward,” he explains. “Working with Alex and Michelle and Olatunde [Osunsanmi, one of the show’s directors] and everybody, a lot of the time they they’ll say ‘is the shot emotional enough,'” the Emmy nominee recalls, asking questions that are fundamental to the many shots designed by him and his team. “Are we serving the tone of the story? Are we serving what they’re trying to tell and trying to get across? Does it have the right emotion?”
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