Monday, April 28, 2008

Starship Farragut, The Animated Episodes

A landmark announcement has just been made of a collaboration, spearheaded by the cutting edge cgi production house, NEO f/x and the dramatic talents of the live action fan film, Starship Farragut, which will see the first Star Trek cell animation since the demise of Star Trek, The Animated Series in 1974! This is ground-breaking not only because of the scope of the project but because of the amazing array of fan and professional names that have been gathered to make it happen, led by Chase Masterson (Leeta on Deep Space Nine), Tim Russ (Tuvok on Voyager) and Vic Mignogna (the voice of Edward Elric on Fullmetal Alchemist). Whlst Vic might not be as well known to Trek fans, His acting experience on stage and behind the mike is truly impressive as can been seen on his website.

As reported in the article on Starship Farragut on TrekUnited, March 27, NEO f/x and Farragut Films announced back in December last year that they were working on two “Special Editions”, scored by their composer from "For Want Of A Nail", Hetoreyn, and written by Michael Struck, manager of NEO f/x and Jack Treviño, a professional writer who has previously worked on Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Phase II. Described only as "short films ... produced by NEO f/x in cooperation with Farragut Films”, the details have been kept a closely guarded secret until the announcement at Creation convention in Hollywood last weekend.

The wait is now over with the public launch the new website for "Starship Farragut, The Animated Episodes", where you can view a video teaser trailer, read the full text of their press release and browse some eyebrow-raising FAQ's. The new episodes are going to be as close as possible to the feel of the original animated Star Trek series produced by Filmation which debuted in September, 1973. However, as the term "special edition" implies, the two episodes are currently considered to be a special project with no immediate plans for a series. They will be further adventures of the U.S.S. Farragut, the subject of the live action fan film, over the same time period as the projected fourth season of Star Trek.

This marks the entrance of NEO f/x as a production group in their own right, as the instigator and prime-mover of this project. Established in 2003, they are a Portland, Oregon-based company specializing in visual effects work in the areas of 3D animation, from consultation to post-production. I cannot help but feel that the sourcing and organisation of all the different people involved in this project is an excellent example of the Total Media Packages that NEO f/x has available to its clients for 'one-stop shopping' for their multimedia projects.
“NEO f/x has now been involved with literally seven live-action fan productions based on Star Trek. We felt it was time for us to throw our hat in the ring with something no other fan production has attempted… cel-style animated episodes,” explained Michael Struck ... “These animated episodes will be a tribute to the original Filmation animated series, and should be a real treat for the fans.”

“We were thrilled to collaborate with NEO f/x’s talented team once again to produce the first Star Trek animated fan film," said John Broughton, president of Farragut Films and Executive Producer of Starship Farragut. “It was an incredible experience to lend our voices to this outstanding, visually appealing piece of work that extends the tales of Starship Farragut's gallant crew. NEO f/x's one-stop, Total Media Package continues to be a great asset for us."
The first episode which Michael Struck has co-written with Jack Treviño, “The Needs of the Many”, takes place on Cestus III, the planet where Kirk and the Gorn fought and “as fate would have it, Carter and his crew encounter the same rogue Gorn, looking for revenge against the Federation.”

The second episode, “Power Source”, is written by Thomas J. Scott, an accomplished writer and president of Magique Productions, finds the Farragut dispatched to search for the USS Azrael “only to find that they may be the ones being searched for.”

Starship Farragut will be supplying the voice talent for the major, recurring characters who perform in their live action fan film however Michael has been able to follow in the footsteps of ST: Phase II and recruit some Star Trek alumni to make special appearances as well. The featured guest artist in “The Needs of the Many” is Chase Masterson, who played Leeta on Deep Space Nine and Tim Russ, Tuvok on Voyager, will be making a special appearance.

A special link to Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS) will be Chris Doohan, son of James Doohan, the original ‘Scotty’, who will be voicing two characters his father made famous in the original series. James Doohan was an accomplished voice actor from his days on radio in his native Canada and exercised those talents to great effect in TAS. In this production, most of the secondary male characters are being voiced by Vic Mignogna a prolific voice actor who is best known as the voice of Edward Elric on “Fullmetal Alchemist”. Additional voice talent featured includes Hetoreyn (who is also doing the music), Jason LeBlanc, and Ralph M. Miller.

A Star Trek: The Animated Series fan production without Kail Tescar, webmaster of, would be unimaginable and NEO f/x have appointed him the lead artist as well as an associate producer in this project. Kail's website is a comprehensive homage to the Animated Series, with nine fan-made comic books in the same 'Filmation' style and he will be continuing this run by creating a companion comic book to the animated episodes, to be released (for free over the internet, of course) at the same time.
“Since opening nine years ago, creating a full length episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series has been a dream of mine,” explained Kail. “I've been having a great time working on this project with NEO f/x and Farragut Films. It's been a lot of fun helping to create these episodes, and I hope everyone enjoys them."
For more interesting insights into the production, check out the FAQ section of the website. I was interested to read what it had to say about their production technique ...
While these episodes are being created digitally with the latest in computer technology, many of the aspects of these episodes are being created very similar to traditional cel-style animation. All of the characters are being created from scratch and animated by hand in the computer to give a very similar look and feel to the original Filmation Star Trek animated series of the 1970's. Some ship models are being created with traditional 3D animation techniques, but will be textured to give a hand-drawn, 2D appearance.
Work has already started on the two episodes and the accompanying comics and they are expected to be released on the internet simultaneously toward the end of 2008.

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