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Exclusive: Concept art for space suits, ships in Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Inside The Art and Visual Effects

By Jeff Spry
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Warping into theaters on Dec. 7, 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was the big screen debut for Gene Roddenberry's intrepid USS Enterprise crew and starred the entire main cast from the NBC-aired original series which ran from 1966-1969 — and we have a peek behind the scenes, decades later.

This splendid and sometimes ponderous sci-fi adventure set the stage for the soaring Star Trek film franchise and was directed by the great Robert Wise, whose myriad Hollywood achievements include The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Haunting, The Sound of Music, and The Andromeda Strain.

To chronicle the artistic challenges and rewards of the $35 million production, Titan Books' lavish new coffee-table book titled Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Inside the Art and Visual Effects (Sept. 1) seeks to go where no Man has gone before in presenting little-known facts, behind-the-scenes images, rare concept art, detailed storyboards and brand new interviews  — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive look inside its geeky treasures.

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Written by Jeff Bond & Gene Kozicki, this 192-page 40th anniversary tribute edition also contains a constellation of revealing archival material created by legendary Star Trek luminaries including Douglas Trumbull, Robert Abel, John Dykstra, Syd Mead, Ralph McQuarrie, Andrew Probert, Matthew and Richard Yuricich, and Ken Adams.

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"Star Trek: The Motion Picture is one of the most ambitious post-Star Wars science fiction movies and with Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind is one of the only blockbuster science fiction sagas of the era to focus on a thoughtful, non-violent theme instead of action and space warfare," Bond tells SYFY WIRE. "It's legendary for corralling the biggest names in visual effects of the time.

"Probably my favorite part of the process was discussions with Richard Taylor, who with Abel had worked on many of the stunning logo graphics for ABC television and the surrealistic TV commercials for Levi's jeans in the 1970s, and whose "candy apple" neon graphics look became an important, and until now, relatively unsung element in the unique look of Star Trek - The Motion Picture, which continues to influence the design and visual effects of the Star Trek franchise and many other productions decades later."

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Co-author Gene Kozicki, a 30-year visual effects veteran, considers this deluxe new book to be the fan letter he never wrote to a film that made a monumental impression on him.

"I remember seeing Star Trek: The Motion Picture when it first opened in 1979," he tells SYFY WIRE. "My father and I arrived a bit late to the theater and the only seats left were in the balcony. We had missed the overture and opening credits. As we were walking up the ramp through the light baffles, I heard the pounding drumbeat of Goldsmith's Klingon theme. As I came around the corner into the theater, I saw these three Klingon ships heading right for me. I froze. Not because I was scared, but because I didn't want to take my eyes off the screen and miss anything. My father, aware that I was blocking someone's view, threw me into the nearest seat to get me out of the aisle."  

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"The design work stood out from day one," he notes. "The visual effects work lived up to the hype - and in many ways still holds up in the current CGI-dominated era of VFX blockbusters. The character studies, however different from the series and unexpected they may have been, feel very natural for a crew that has shared a great adventure, gone their separate ways, and are now thrust together in a situation that is not entirely by their own design."


Now blast into our exclusive preview in the full gallery below, ahead of tomorrow's official launch day!

All images taken from Star Trek The Motion Picture - Inside the Art and Visual Effects by Jeff Bond and Gene Kozicki, published by Titan Books. TM & © 2020 CBS Studios Inc. © 2020 Paramount Pictures Corp. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.