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General Trek Discussion Trek TV and cinema subjects not related to any specific series or movie.

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Old January 30 2012, 08:00 PM   #1
lstyer
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Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

I've watched a couple DS9 episodes lately in which the lights have gone out and someone always whips out a flashlight that looks like someone cut the handle off of it. They walk around carrying it with their fingers in what looks like a totally awkward and uncomfortable position.

Who decided that flashlights would be better if they were difficult to hold?

Was this intended to look futuristic? "In the future we will redesign simple tools less ergonomic."

Did this bug anyone else?
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Old January 30 2012, 08:09 PM   #2
Timo
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

I don't really see the utility of a handle. The human hand isn't really meant to point things like sticks straight ahead; it's really hard on wrist to hold a horizontal rod or handle. A vertical handle or pistol grip is the way to go - but it isn't a good solution if the object being held is heavy and puts a strain on the wrist. If, OTOH, the object is light, then the handle is just so much extra weight if something fitting inside your fist can get the job done.

My gripe is with the very existence of flashlights. Why not lights mounted on a headband? That frees one more hand for doing proper hand-like things, plus it points the cone of light where it should go, in the direction you are looking at. (Well, where your are facing, anyway. But the headset might just as well feature a display monocle that has an iris-tracking system for keeping track on where exactly you are looking.)

The VOY wristband lights are at least a step in the right direction. And one might argue that they provide a tactical advantage: if the bad guys aim at the light, a wristlight gives you a better chance at fooling them than a headlight...

Timo Saloniemi
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Old January 30 2012, 09:34 PM   #3
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

Why can't they have flashlights embedded in their foreheads and be able to switch them on just by thinking about it?

Why can't they have their eyes surgically altered so that they are more like a cat's eyes and can see in the dark?

That's the kind of stuff we'll have in the future! Not a frakkin flashlight that you frakkin hold in your frakkin hand.
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Old January 30 2012, 09:42 PM   #4
Search4
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

My beef has always been that they look like they're powered by AA batteries. A Trek "flashlight" could easily be spotlight-bright if need be. There's plenty of power and presumably the optical element would be very efficient.
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Old January 30 2012, 10:11 PM   #5
Christopher
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

I see a lot of TV shows today where characters use their smartphone screens as flashlights. They hold them the same way the characters on DS9 held their lights. Life imitates art.

Anyway, since it's The Future, Starfleet folks don't use flashlights, they use "beacons." Specifically, the wrist-mounted version used on VGR is a Sims beacon (named for the show's prop master, in the grand tradition of Feinbergers, Jefferies tubes, Okudagrams, Mees panels, etc.).
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Old January 30 2012, 10:34 PM   #6
Sandoval
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

"Palm beacon."

Just call it a bloody torch.

Or, if you're from the colonies, a flashlight if you absolutely must.
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Old January 30 2012, 10:58 PM   #7
Kirby
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

I never understood why Geordi would need to use a flashlight. I believe he used them from time to time.

Also, you think that they'd embed flashlights into the back of their tricorders like they have on iPhones.
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Old January 30 2012, 11:10 PM   #8
Christopher
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

I was watching some old SF show or movie recently -- it may have been one of the TekWar movies -- in which the characters had their flashlights mounted on their guns. Which seems like a good idea until you realize that if they wanted to see their companions, they had to aim their deadly weapons right at them -- which the actors actually were doing in the scene, and which is an immensely bad idea. I'm fairly certain that one of the first rules of safe firearm handling is "Do not casually point the barrel at your own teammates or innocent bystanders."
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Old January 30 2012, 11:18 PM   #9
The Castellan
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

Christopher wrote: View Post
I was watching some old SF show or movie recently -- it may have been one of the TekWar movies -- in which the characters had their flashlights mounted on their guns. Which seems like a good idea until you realize that if they wanted to see their companions, they had to aim their deadly weapons right at them -- which the actors actually were doing in the scene, and which is an immensely bad idea. I'm fairly certain that one of the first rules of safe firearm handling is "Do not casually point the barrel at your own teammates or innocent bystanders."
Plus what about the fellows who don't have guns on their person?

The TNG lights were ok in my book. Plus a light bead would have to be done via visual effects, and can look bad if one super imposes or CSO's a light in one's hand, since actor's hand movements are never 100% perfect, or how could one hold a physical lighting tool if it's a really tiny size?

And Geordie using a torch is simple, his visor, as we know, causes him constant pain, the way it works with his natural senses, so to see in the dark might require him to fiddle more with the visor, and hence, more pain. If I were in Gordie's place, I'd just use the torch to aid in my already enhanced vision....since less pain is always better.
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Old January 30 2012, 11:33 PM   #10
Christopher
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

The Castellan wrote: View Post
Plus a light bead would have to be done via visual effects, and can look bad if one super imposes or CSO's a light in one's hand, since actor's hand movements are never 100% perfect, or how could one hold a physical lighting tool if it's a really tiny size?
Actually it's become pretty easy these days for computers to track actors' movements as long as they wear clothes with dots on them -- although I'm not sure the dots are even needed anymore. It's become pretty routine to digitally insert objects into characters' hands or otherwise track their motions exactly.

Although lighting technology itself is becoming increasingly advanced to the point that you might not need to create the effect digitally. We have very bright LEDs in all sorts of colors these days. In TRON Legacy, all the lines of light on the characters' costumes were actually practical, working lights built into the costumes, not visual effects added afterward like in the original film.
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Old January 31 2012, 12:14 AM   #11
lstyer
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

Timo wrote: View Post
A vertical handle or pistol grip is the way to go
That would have been a more "satisfying" way to make the flashlights look futuristic, for sure.

My gripe is with the very existence of flashlights. Why not lights mounted on a headband?
That's not a bad idea, though sometimes I think you'd want to be able to point the light other than where your head is pointing.

Search4 wrote: View Post
My beef has always been that they look like they're powered by AA batteries. A Trek "flashlight" could easily be spotlight-bright if need be. There's plenty of power and presumably the optical element would be very efficient.
You're right, but I'm willing to write that one of to the practicalities of production.

Christopher wrote: View Post
I see a lot of TV shows today where characters use their smartphone screens as flashlights. They hold them the same way the characters on DS9 held their lights. Life imitates art.
That's a good point, but the DS9 flashlights appear to be purpose-built as flashlights.
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Old January 31 2012, 12:20 AM   #12
The Castellan
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

Christopher wrote: View Post
The Castellan wrote: View Post
Plus a light bead would have to be done via visual effects, and can look bad if one super imposes or CSO's a light in one's hand, since actor's hand movements are never 100% perfect, or how could one hold a physical lighting tool if it's a really tiny size?
Actually it's become pretty easy these days for computers to track actors' movements as long as they wear clothes with dots on them -- although I'm not sure the dots are even needed anymore. It's become pretty routine to digitally insert objects into characters' hands or otherwise track their motions exactly.

Although lighting technology itself is becoming increasingly advanced to the point that you might not need to create the effect digitally. We have very bright LEDs in all sorts of colors these days. In TRON Legacy, all the lines of light on the characters' costumes were actually practical, working lights built into the costumes, not visual effects added afterward like in the original film.
Yes, but we are talking twenty years ago, it could have been trickier back then, perhaps.
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Old January 31 2012, 12:53 AM   #13
EmperorTiberius
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

Christopher wrote: View Post
I was watching some old SF show or movie recently -- it may have been one of the TekWar movies -- in which the characters had their flashlights mounted on their guns. Which seems like a good idea until you realize that if they wanted to see their companions, they had to aim their deadly weapons right at them -- which the actors actually were doing in the scene, and which is an immensely bad idea. I'm fairly certain that one of the first rules of safe firearm handling is "Do not casually point the barrel at your own teammates or innocent bystanders."

I don't see anything wrong with flashlights on weapons, you need to see where you're shooting. As for pointing the weapon at someone, why would you do that? Even if you only have a flashlight, you don't point it at someone's face

I think a real solution would have been very powerful wide dispersal light from a tiny opening in a tricorder. A couple of tricorders would light up a room to 80% normal lightning
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Old January 31 2012, 01:28 AM   #14
Christopher
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

EmperorTiberius wrote: View Post
I don't see anything wrong with flashlights on weapons, you need to see where you're shooting.
Yeah, but most of the time you also need to not shoot what you're looking at. I often see cops/feds on TV holding a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other, with wrists crossed. I'm not sure, but I think I've seen this done on Flashpoint, which is carefully researched and accurate in its depiction of police procedure.

As for pointing the weapon at someone, why would you do that? Even if you only have a flashlight, you don't point it at someone's face
The face isn't the only part of the human body that's vulnerable to bullets.

And the characters in the show I saw were pointing their guns right at each other.
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Old January 31 2012, 01:34 AM   #15
StevenR
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Re: Why don't Starfleet flashlights have handles?

lstyer wrote: View Post
Timo wrote: View Post
A vertical handle or pistol grip is the way to go
That would have been a more "satisfying" way to make the flashlights look futuristic, for sure.
The angle head flashlight dates back to WW2.

I'm wondering about some kind of wearable lenses or goggles. We have night vision now, 300 hundred years from now they may be able to look in near total darkness and wear something that makes it seem like they are looking at something in daylight.
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