'Star Trek' Opening Scene Previewed During Damon Lindelof's AMPAS Panel

Storytelling in the Digital Age Group - H 2013
Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Storytelling in the Digital Age Group - H 2013

The excitement surrounding the opening of Star Trek Into Darkness could be felt Wednesday evening at the Motion Picture Academy, where a full house at Samuel Goldwyn Theater gave enthusiastic applause to a screening of the opening scene of J.J. Abrams’ anticipated sequel.

The clip was screened as part of a program titled “Turning the Page: Storytelling in the Digital Age,” whose speakers included Star Trek Into Darkness’ screenwriter Damon Lindelof and editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey.

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Speakers from Zero Dark Thirty included screenwriter and Oscar winner Mark Boal and editors Dylan Tichenor and Oscar winner William Goldenberg, who also discussed his work on Argo. Director of photography Tony Richmond (Don't Look Now) additionally joined the panel.

Screenwriter John August moderated the discussion of how digital technologies are changing the way stories are told through screenwriting, cinematography and editing. He added that technology can make fantasy real, underscored by Brandon's discussion of how editorial collaborated with visual effects, led by VFX supervisor Roger Guyett at ILM, to bring the storytelling to the fantasy environment in Star Trek Into Darkness.

The panelists emphasized that story drives the use of technology. “No matter what the tools, our job is to tell an engaging story," said Goldenberg.

Boal said he finds increased capabilities “liberating,” enabling realistic worlds that before would have been prohibitive. “It creates more opportunities for storytellers.”

Star Trek Into Darkness, which speakers pointed out was set in a future originally conceived in the '60s, was shot in part using IMAX cameras, as well as with Red.

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Panelists’ reactions to the increasing capabilities of digital cameras were mixed. Lindelof noted that “on one level I believe it pushes the envelope; on the other, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. What is important is why you [use a tool].”

Richmond admitted to having some concern that pictures might be getting “too sharp,” explaining that to address this, some cinematographers choose lenses such as the Cooke Panchro that produces a warm look.

Markey shared her concern, adding “it is losing a little of that dreaminess. I don't want to see every freckle in a close-up.”

Tichenor, pointing out that he is increasingly using tools such as virtual private networks, said collaboration might be the next big change.