Tuesday 5 May 2020

Alternate worlds of Star Trek Beyond concept art: Altamid, Starbase Yorktown, swarm mechas, unseen ships, and more

Star Trek Beyond took us to several exotic strange new worlds, and every one of them was conjured from the minds of concept artists, who also thought up plenty of other ideas that never got picked to go to screen. Continue below to check out Altamid as we never saw it, Starbase Yorktown when it wasn't an orb and was full of Galaxy class ships, swarm drone mechas, and unseen starships.

Let's start with a visit to Starbase Yorktown, not quite as we know it. Concept artist Milena Zdravkovic has shared a large selection of her work from Beyond on her ArtStation profile, including this radically different take on Yorktown, as a long ribbon structure, with Galaxy class ships visiting (don't panic timeline fiends, just standing in for designs to come later I'm sure):

Another really striking image shows us a Galaxy-esque ship under construction:

Here's a more familiar view, of the station as we got to know it, packed full of Constitution class ships:

Zdravkovic worked on several variations of the busy orb version of the station we see in the film, including this version which seems to evoke an atomic structure even more strongly than the final version, thanks to those large domes on intersecting rings:

And here we're getting closer to the final forms:

Zdravkovic also worked on several Enterprise interiors, including this view of the shuttlebay:

Andrew Lee McConnell worked on designs for the shuttles that would inhabit that space. Apparently there were plans to build this new shuttle as a prop, but then ended up only using it digitally in the background. He has shared many views of the ship on his website, including really call plans:

McConnell also worked on several background ships for Yorktown, which only got as far as quick concepts, as they weren't picked for use in the film. We can see here a Federation ship, Vulcan ship, and science ship (and you can see further views of all on McConnell's website):

Another project for the film from McConnell was the Enterprise turbolift car, that ends up drifting in space (which he shared on another page of his website), and so he had to make plans for both before and after the pod was captured by a swarm ship:

Here are the final real sets:

Another crash site was of course the USS Enterprise, and McConnell modeled parts of that too:

Heading down to Altamid, concept artist Hugh Sicotte worked on many concepts to bring the planet to life. He has shared a large collection of art on his website, giving us a look at several different possibilities. This rather delightful cross-section which explains how a lot of the locations as-we-saw-them link-up:

This wide view of the planet's surface fives further context of how the swarm base sits among the wider Altamid landscape:

And then there are many views of the the swarm base structures:

Visual effects company DNEG show off this concept image of the USS Franklin on Altamid on their website.

What we see above, and what we got in the film, feels quite organic, but another couple of images from Hugh Sicotte reveal a very different possibility for what Altamid could have been:

Another option seems to based around a bridge type structure, with floating rocks all around!:

Model builder Jeff Frost reveals a very different way of visualising the planet. Or a planet, as he notes on his website: "None of my work made this film.  As can be the case, this picture was put on hiatus, and the art dept. changed hands. None of the work from the first crew was used." Altamid or not, Frost's use of physical models to conceptualise gives us another possibility seen in a very different way to all the digital art here.

Back with Hugh Sicotte, on another part of Altamid we get the pleasant forest crash site of the escape pods:

And these on-set photos from Andrew Lee McConnell reveal how remarkably close to concept the final product came:

McConnell did all the detailing on this design, including drawing up the plans to make the final props:

Another part of the film Hugh Sicotte worked on was concepts for the swarm ships, with some of his takes curiously similar to the La Sirena from Picard (I don't think he's worked on that series though, so maybe just a bit of convergent design):

Here's one of Milena Zdravkovic's images, showing the swarm ship impact site in the Pioneer (later renamed the Franklin) engineer room:

Meanwhile another concept artist, Sebastian Meyer, did some work on the design for the swarm drones, with ideas including much bulkier mecha type options (as shared on ArtStation):

Finally, back with Milena Zdravkovic, for a look at one final location, the Fibonan chamber from the start of the film:

You can see even more work from the movie, and work from many other high profile film projects, on the website and portfolios of all the artist mentioned:

If you're interested in the production of the Kelvin timeline movies there are several great books that dive into all three films in some depth: The general The Art of the Star Trek Kelvin Timeline, which spans the whole trilogy; Star Trek: The Art of the Film, which just covers the first film; Designing Starships: The Kelvin Timeline, which of course looks at the ships; Star Trek Beyond: The Makeup Artistry of Joel Harlow which looks at all those many varied alien designs from that film; and the fantastic franchise-spanning Star Trek Costumes, which includes designs from the first two Kelvin movies.

For lots more behind the scenes coverage from all of Trek, check out my behind the scenes and concept art tags. To keep track of all the latest Kelvin timeline news, have a look back through my Kelvin tag, for previews, behind the scenes, tie-in fiction, and other merchandise updates.

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