^The money for the sets clearly didn't cover as well as they needed to. According to CFQ magazine and I think THE MAKING OF THE TREK FILMS, Vulcan was supposed to be shot in Red Rock, while Genesis would have been done in Hawaii (and possibly Mt St Helens, a hot property if there ever was one), and there's even concept art showing how the temple would have fit into the location.
I wonder how things would have turned out if the producers hadn't chosen to replace the art department leads from TWOK, who dated back to phase 2, production designer Joe Jennings and art director/storyboard artist Mike Minor. Jennings is on record (and this is for TWOK) as saying it would be bad science fiction to postulate a whole new world with its own custom ecosystem and then try to depict that with a real-world location that has signs of man's presence all over it, which is one reason why he did Ceti Alpha and the Eden cave inside Regula on stage instead of on location.
That would suggest Jennings would have continued this thought on SFS and stayed on stage ... but I keep thinking it would have turned out much more credible. The Ceti Alpha set works in part because of all the atmospherics and in part because it isn't on screen long, but the main thing is it WORKS. In SFS, there aren't that many shots where Vulcan really works as a location (for me, the stuff at the college is good and the ILM landing stuff.) And the early stuff on Genesis doesn't work for me at all, especially the cactus that to my eye looked more like somebody threw a flocked tablecloth over an inverted tripod.
I have a feeling Nimoy would have taken Jennings input more seriously than Meyer did, too, out of respect for his bg with Trek.
I rag on Nimoy for the flatness of the direction on both of his films, but there are quiet moments that really work in SFS, like Kirk finding McCoy in Spock's quarters, and McCoy talking at Spock on the BoP, which is my alltime favorite McCoy moment outside of THE EMPATH and BREAD & CIRCUSES, even more than the euthanasia in TFF. I think Nimoy's attempt to differentiate locations through color was a callback to TOS in some ways (including how it fails at times), and on blu-ray it comes through much stronger, reducing some of my objections to his approach.
I just hate that he gave ILM such free reign for creating the style and size of all the bits that gave the film its scale, because for me that is where the StarWarsification of TREK really took hold (except for the genesis tape and the eden cave painting, ILM was pretty much just following orders and executing the concepts of others on TWOK, whereas SFS they were designing and even contributing story stuff, like the dog and the bi-plane game.)
My biggest objection to Nimoy as director remains the fact that he didn't fight Bennett over the many story flaws (I accept that Nimoy couldn't fight studio heads over his casting, that would have been too much - but Olmos and Prochnow would have made for fearsome lead Klingons, he was really on the right track with them.) Even Shatner managed to protect a sliver of his concept (but couldn't keep out the injection of forced humor) when Bennett and Loughery went astray while on their own on the TFF script.