Star Trek Enterprise colors on the screen


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The original Enterprise, restored and now on display at the Smithsonian, has been well documented, including paint chip information. That is critical if one is building a studio model reproduction, but what we see on the screen is something else. TV and movie models were filmed under studio lighting, and the film had sensitivity to specific colors.

I would guess that most of us build a model or create a costume based on what we see on the screen, and that's how we should choose our colors.

How to do it? One way is to adjust the color balance on your TV screen, if you can, while playing a DVD or BluRay. Adjust the brightness setting to get the actor's face tone to what you consider normal. The scenes with the Enterprise should then show the gray scheme close to what the 1960's filmmakers wanted you to see. Hold out paint strips and eyeball which one matches the primary hull shade.

If you can't adjust the TV, manipulate the video in a computer video editor to adjust skin colors. You can spot skin with too much green in a second. Next do a screen capture of the Enterprise and then see which shade of gray matches it. From there you can use appropriate lighter and darker gray for the trim. That is hard to see on the screen, so use "A Modeler’s Guide to Painting the Starship Enterprise" by CultTVman. Do a Google search to find it. It defines the studio scale model in great detail, but you'd want to adjust those colors to match the screen image.

What I found doing this was the primary hull gray is somewhere between light gray and battleship gray and no undertones of green, or whatever. It varies from scene to scene, so you'll have to make a guess like I did.

Another example is the red Star Trek uniform; the one with a strap down the right shoulder. On screen it's red, but the actual costume is much darker. It's know as the 'Monster Maroon' in the costuming community because of color and the difficulty with recreating it.

The same screen vs. studio model color issue applies to Star Wars.

Newer movies have better color balance, so the surviving studio models are much closer to what is seen on the screen. As astute modelers, we have to use judgement and think about what we are doing.

So, it all boils down to whether we are duplicating a stage prop or duplicating what we see on the screen.

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