How ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Created the High-Tech Bridge of Its Newest Starship

In just about every way, the third and final season of “Star Trek: Picard” is both about looking back and moving forward. In addition to reuniting the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise from “The Next Generation” for the first time since 2002’s “Star Trek: Nemesis,” it also features a new starship on which most of the action takes place: the U.S.S. Titan, first seen in animated form on “Star Trek: Lower Decks” and now refit as a Neo-Constitution Class Starship.

For showrunner, executive producer and self-professed “Star Trek” fan Terry Matalas, the inspiration for a retro-looking starship came while he was shopping for a car. “I missed a proper saucer section on the top part of a starship, and I couldn’t help but notice how many cars have gone retro these days. And I remember, as I was driving around, I thought, ‘What if Starfleet did that?’”

Matalas continues, “I saw this incredible starship designed by digital artist Bill Krause called the U.S.S Shangri-La, which was a ‘Star Trek: Motion Picture’-era class ship with a half saucer on top and an Excelsior-inspired ‘Next Generation’ curve on the bottom, which I thought was really interesting. I said to production designer Dave Blass, I think the Titan should feel something like this.”

When it came to designing the interior of the Titan, Blass recruited veterans from “The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine” – senior illustrator Doug Drexler, scenic art supervisor Michael Okuda and video playback supervisor Denise Okuda, all from Herman Zimmerman’s production design team – but also Sean Hargreaves, who designed the sleek new U.S.S. Enterprise seen briefly at the end of 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond.”

To that extent, Blass literally had the best of both worlds. “I think that the starships in the ‘Star Trek’ universe are as heroic as the captains who sat in those seats,” he says. “So, when we were bringing the production crew together, I wanted to bring the best designers from all of ‘Star Trek’ together on one project.”

Blass continues, “What was really important to me was that we were bringing ‘The Next Generation’ characters back, and I wanted to make sure that my sets and my designs did not feel out of place in a ‘Next Generation’ world. If we were going to have our characters look and act the way they are, then our sets needed to evolve in such a way that it looked and felt like an extension of what had been done in the past while also looking forward at the same time.”

The Bridge was 46 feet wide, big enough with integrated lighting to accommodate the show’s complex shooting needs. As Blass explains, “The bridge of the Titan is only 12 feet bigger than the Enterprise-E [from ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’] and we were shooting with multiple cameras, so it had to be wide enough to get all the widescreen view shots without picking up the other cameras. And we designed the Titan with bigger consoles so the Bridge would light itself because, with our very limited timeframe, we couldn’t completely relight the set for every single take.”

But it wasn’t just how the Titan looked; it was how it sounded. “It was important for us to go back into the archives and dig out everything from ‘The Next Generation’ series and movies,” says Matalas. “There would be new sounds, and there would be updates, but you’d have a blend. So, even though visually you’re seeing Dave’s sets, the sounds are evoking all of those feelings that should be in your DNA if you love the older shows.”

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