It pays to have a Trekkie in your marketing department, especially if you're making a new Star Trek series. In a recent interview with comicbook.com, Star Trek: Discovery costume designer Gersha Phillips explained the joys and challenges of crafting costumes that fit into both a modern aesthetic and the timeline of Star Trek: The Original Series.
In the currently airing season two, Discovery meets the Enterprise, as classic characters Capt. Pike and Spock appear. Playing Christopher Pike, Anson Mount wears a yellow uniform that nods to the original mustardy-green top seen on Jeffrey Hunter in the original 1965 Star Trek pilot, "The Cage." The new Pike makes his debut in episode one, "Brother."
There was just one hiccup — they forgot to put the rank on the uniform.
If you picture Spock in blue or Scotty in red, you'll likely remember gold rings at the cuffs of their long sleeves. The number of rings designated ranks — the captain sported three, a lieutenant had one, etc. On Discovery, in contrast, characters show their rank via little pips on their insignia badge. So…
"When we first shot the first few days of Enterprise uniforms, we forgot to put rank on," Phillips explained. "I forgot who told us, I think it was marketing, actually. [Vice President Star Trek Brand Management at CBS Studios] John Van Citters saw that we hadn't any indication of rank on our uniform. And so, me and my team, we spent like a night of trying to figure out how we were going to add rank bars on their uniforms… Then they had to go back and CGI all the stripes…"
Yep, in a show filled with dazzling special effects, one of the last places you expect to find CGI is around a Starfleet officer's wrist.
We rewatched the season premiere to see if we could spot scenes with CGI rings and real-world costume rings. The screen shot above is merely one scene in which you can see the rankings. Honestly, we can't say for sure if those are sewn or added by computer. So — bravo to the effects team! And nice catch, Van Citters.
Star Trek: Discovery is currently available via the CBS All Access streaming service.