Wednesday 13 May 2020

A closer look at Discovery's prop design

Discovery's props range from the beautifully ornate reimagining of the Klingons, to the newly robust take on TOS classics, and a whole bunch in between. I've sought out the work of some of the team that brought those props to life to take a closer look. Continue below for phasers, tricorders, helmets, swords, and even a bazooka!

However what really excited me when I came across the work of Ray Lai who designed many of the props in the series, were some of the more mundane items, giving classic Trek forms a new spin. Like this delightful set of engineering tools:

Lai has shared lots of his concept art for the series on his website, in many cases giving us a chance to get a good look at devices only seen fleetingly on screen. Here's another collection of equipment, this time for sick bay:

Prop maker Michael Asanuma shared some photos of another engineering tool, a phase coil resonator, built by himself, Mike Moore, Bob Manion, and Scott Brodeen. You can see a few more images of it on Instagram:

Ray Lai was also responsible for the design of the delightful whacky Andorian helmet doned by Harry Mudd. Those designs were handed over to Patrick Kroetsch, who spent six weeks bringing it to life, complete with an air bladder, magnetic releasing face panel, built in lighting, and ventilation systems! You can read all about his process on his website, where he also shared more photos of the helmet under construction.

Ray Lai has shared lots of his concept art on his website, including some much more familiar designs, like the tricorder:

He's also responsible for many of the weapons in the series, including the Section 31 phaser, an obvious homage to the TOS movie era designs:


Disco prop master Mario Moreira shared some photos of the final product on Twitter:

Moreira also posted a video, highlighting the phaser's retracting barrel feature:

The more familiar phasers are also the work of Ray Lai:

As are some of the much less seen weapons of the series. Here are an Andorian rifle, Tellarite bazooka, Tellarite blaster, and Nausicaan blaster:

Also from Lai is Emperor Georgiou's sword:

The final weapon was built by Omega Projects, who have a good gallery of pictures of the sword on their website, and also describe its construction:
The pommel and crosspiece are hollow bronze castings. The handle is carved wood with red lambskin inset with bronze banding. The blade is hand ground aluminum for stunt fighting but with a mirror polish. The sheath is hand carved wood with bronze inlay.

While we're looking at blades, Mario Moreira and CBS's John Van Citters recently shared some nice photos of the Boreth bat'leths:

Previously Moreira also shared this photo of himself with the regular Disco bat'leth, at the time marking the start of production on season three. Note in the background many other props, including the real version of the Tellarite bazooka, and a 3D chess set!

Back among Ray Lai's concept art, here's an unused concept for drone, and a remote control:

This is a sample analyser, and a transceiver:

Then getting a bit more esoteric, we have an augmented human device:

And some funky engineering VR glasses:

Lai also worked on a concept for a shuttle pod:

And the interiors of a shuttle:

Do check out all the websites and accounts of the artists mentioned to see more of these designs, and other projects they've worked on: Mario Moreira, Patrick Kroetsch, Michael Asanuma, Omega Projects, and most especially Ray Lai, whose galleries cover many different film and TV projects.

Hopefully more of their work will be featured in the forthcoming Art of Star Trek Discovery book. And in the meantime you can find lots more behind the scenes coverage from all of Trek, by checking out my behind the scenes and concept art tags. Or to keep track of all the latest Discovery news, have a look back through my Discovery tag, for more behind-the-scenes, plus previews, tie-in fiction, and other merchandise updates.

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