Visiting a screen-accurate re-creation of Captain Kirk’s Enterprise is a dream come true for any die-hard Star Trek fan. Touring that starship on a real, working holodeck like the kind seen on the show, however, would be pure fantasy. But if you take the Roddenberry estate’s latest project at face value, however, it could be happening.
The Star Trek creator’s estate has announced The Roddenberry Archive, a large-scale project that aims to preserve scripts, blueprints, design documents and studio models in a vast digital archive. That’s a worthwhile endeavor on its own, but the Archive’s ambitions stretch beyond creating a digital home for Gene Roddenberry’s behind the scenes documents. Apparently, the project aims to launch a “fully immersive holographic installation” that showcases a life-size re-creation of the Starship Enterprise that’s “indistinguishable from reality.”
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In other words, the estate of Star Trek’s creator wants to create a Star Trek-like holodeck to re-create the world of Star Trek.
Yes, that’s a very big dream. The Roddenberry Archive says it has partnered with Light Field Lab to try to make its vision a reality. Light Field Lab reportedly demoed a working holographic projector to Variety in 2019, but the technology was a far cry from what would be required to create a life-size starship Enterprise — Variety said the device was only capable of creating 3D holograms in a small, 4- by 6-inch space.
It’s not clear when or if the proposed holographic installation experience would launch. Even Light Field Lab Founder and CEO Jon Karafin hedges his involvement in the project with future-looking language, asking fans to imagine being able to experience the holographic Enterprise “one day.”
That isn’t stopping the Roddenberry Archive from creating a full-scale digital model of the starship, however. Using a mix of records of the original studio models, reference designs, production blueprints and decades of research to create a 1:1 “in universe” model of the Enterprise — complete with areas of the ship not seen in the original TV series or films. The project has already shared some images of this digital Enterprise. It is indeed an impressive collection of realistic scenes from a Federation starship.
As fun as it is to dream about a 1:1 re-creation of Kirk’s famous starship, the real work of the Roddenberry Archive is focused on preserving Roddenberry’s work. Rod Roddenberry, the Star Trek creator’s son, says the project is in the process of scanning “hundreds of thousands, if not maybe a million pages” of notes, documents, scripts and behind-the-scenes materials into the digital catalogue.
The project is also partnering with cloud graphics firm OTOY to create 3D scans of props and scale models from Star Trek history, ensuring that the archive is more than just a collection of documents and artistic interpretations of old design documents.
The Roddenberry Estate calls the archive a “multi-decade collaboration to collect and preserve Gene Roddenberry’s legacy,” meaning it could be awhile before we see the fruits of its labor. For now, though, it seems that the estate is working hard to preserve Star Trek’s vision of the future for the future itself.
More details on the project are set to be announced at the Creation 55-year mission Star Trek event on Aug. 13.