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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old August 9 2013, 12:26 AM   #1
Warped9
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TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

This was prompted by another discussion on another forum.


The holodeck is an idea widely and almost exclusively associated with TNG and the many stories where the holodeck placed a significant part. Indeed recently just awhile back the Star Trek Continues fan-film "Pilgrim Of Eternity" got some viewers confused and maybe even a little miffed by introducing an early form of holodeck on the Kirk era Enterprise.

Some new viewers to TAS sometimes comment on the appearance of a form of holodeck in the episode "The Practical Joker," thinking the idea seems odd given the idea is so tied to TNG.

But for those who might not know this the idea of a holographic recreation center was an idea going back all the way to the beginning during TOS' production.

To quote from Page 190 of The Making Of Star Trek (published 1968):

"The fourth major facility on the eighth deck level is the entertainment center. Certainly man of the future will require entertainment as much as we enjoy motion pictures and television today. Probably entertainment will be three-dimensional in nature and perhaps will go even further, in that you will sit in the room and the story will take place all around you. In other words, a sophisticated extension of holography.

This technique will also have its effect on the traditional "mail call." Instead of receiving a letter, a man can sit in the room and, via tape, actually "see" the person sending the correspondence.As the tape is projected , the images will form in the air in front of him, so he will be able to see how his child looks, what's happening to the house, and how great his grandmother looked that day. It will be just as if he were standing there with them. Having used the "projecting unit," he can then use the "photographing unit," do a similar thing himself, and send it home..."


So from this we can see they already envisioned some form of "holodeck" or "holo-room" even if they never managed to get around to showing it. Not surprising then that they used TAS (re: "the Practical Joker") to show something that might have been challenging f/x wise during TOS' production. And, of course, twenty years later the f/x of the '80s allowed them to fully realize the holodeck concept on TNG. Of course, on TNG the holodeck is also two TOS concepts rolled into one: the holographic center and the arboretum. Third season TOS (re: "Is There In Truth No Beauty" and "And The Children Shall Lead") finally showed us the beginnings of a garden like entertainment center meant to somewhat recreate the sense of being outdoors. It was also supposed to be shown in TOS' "Elaan Of Troyius, but even though the scene had actually been filmed it was edited from the final cut of the episode. This idea was conceptually elaborated on in TMP where the 8ft. filming miniature of the TMP refit shows the large windows (on the lower part of the secondary hull) of an extensive arboretum or botanical facility. Of course, on TNG the holodeck can recreate any landscape to give you the illusion of any scene or planetside locale you can imagine.

Given this then it's not surprising that TAS or a fan-film could opt to show something previously conceived but unrealized on TOS.

Watching TNG one could get the idea (because of the way it's presented) that the holodeck was a new form of entertainment on Picard's Enterprise, but that needn't actually be the case. In the real world many ideas can exist only in theory and discussion or even rudimentary form for years to decades or more before technology is sufficiently advanced to fully realize the concept.

So there really is no reason the holodeck or some form of holographic entertainment center couldn't have existed during the TOS era.
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Old August 9 2013, 12:33 AM   #2
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

One possibility difference could be that in the 23rd century they were unable to create solid holograms.
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Old August 9 2013, 12:45 AM   #3
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

MacLeod wrote: View Post
One possibility difference could be that in the 23rd century they were unable to create solid holograms.
And that is how it's presented in the Star Trek Continues episode, where we see Scotty walk right through the projected image. Mind you in TAS' version the crew trapped in the holographic recreation room were experiencing the projections as actual physical manifestations---they actually felt like they were trapped in a blinding, freezing blizzard.
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Old August 9 2013, 12:58 AM   #4
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

^More than that -- IIRC, they were trapped in a holographic pit and were able to dig their way out. So the "Practical Joker" rec room had pretty solid projections.
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Old August 9 2013, 01:20 AM   #5
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

Warped9 wrote: View Post
Watching TNG one could get the idea (because of the way it's presented) that the holodeck was a new form of entertainment on Picard's Enterprise, but that needn't actually be the case. In the real world many ideas can exist only in theory and discussion or even rudimentary form for years to decades or more before technology is sufficiently advanced to fully realize the concept.
The impression I got from Riker's reactions in "Encounter at Farpoint" was that the holodeck was a Nifty New Thing that he hadn't experienced before. Given Riker's rank and many years of experience on starships and traveling around the Federation, if holodecks were standard, he should have encountered them before and not acted so bowled over by their awesomeness.
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Old August 9 2013, 01:35 AM   #6
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

^^^ Perhaps a matter of degree.

I accept TOS/TAS as canon, so the Rec Deck holodeck exists during that era.

How to explain the seeming novelty of holodeck tech in TNG?

Maybe some advancement that dazzled Riker and the others. Like going from VHS to BluRay, or B&W television to HD 3D television.

Sure, the holodeck exists since TOS era. But TNG era brought some new aspect or quality that knocked their socks off. I don't know.
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Old August 9 2013, 02:14 AM   #7
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

Christopher wrote: View Post
^More than that -- IIRC, they were trapped in a holographic pit and were able to dig their way out. So the "Practical Joker" rec room had pretty solid projections.
Perhaps one could rationalize that "inanimate" matter could be replicated but convincing replications of people and and animals couldn't be done yet. Extreme weather or environmental conditions might be produced by the ship's systems given the holographic recreation room was supposed to be able to simulate environments beyond the norms used throughout the rest of the ship.
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Old August 9 2013, 12:31 PM   #8
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

Allow me to weigh in as I'm currently spending considerable time of preparing the layout of the R Deck (Main Deck 8) in my Kirk's TV Enterprise deck plan project.

I'm not aware that TNG combined both the holodeck and the aboretum into one. We do have the holodeck on one hand and the actual arboretum on the other in a couple of episodes (a successor to TOS' "herbarium" and the "botanical section" of the TMP Enterprise).

For the Recreation Deck The Making of Star Trek specified four distinctive areas:
  • a large recreation area (i.e. the Season Three "recreation room", a "psychodelic aboretum" which I refer to as "solarium" because of the female crew member in the deleted scene from ET taking a sunbath there, probably warmer than the rest of the ship - thus a favorite place of Spock and kids eating ice cream )
  • the main food preparation area
  • ship's laundry
  • and a rather exotic entertainment center (obviously the TAS "Rec Room" aka holodeck)
I believe an essential question has to be how serious we should take the actual depiction of the TAS holodeck. Obviously, to accomodate such a room on the TOS Enterprise the ship's length would have to equal the size of Picard's Enterprise-D!

I consider this to be an abstract depiction for the target audience (kids and young adolescents) to convey the idea that you could get literally lost in this room since it was rather difficult to realistically illustrate a room with 3D wall panels on a 2D TV set...

I recently visited the Dornier (flying boat) museum and there was a rectangular room were ceiling mounted front projectors working in tandem projected seamless wall images onto the wall which was a fascinating experience and almost conveyed a 3D illusion of being there and actually surrounded by the scenery.

Considering our advances in 3D flat screens without the need of 3D glasses, I think we'll be having 3D walls as depicted in Aliens (deleted scene with Ripley relaxing in a holoroom aboard the space station) or Schwarzenegger's Total Recall sooner than later.

Combined with realistic hologram projection and 4D weather effects (we already have in theme parks) I feel able to buy the vision of this exotic entertainment center depicted in "Practical Joker" but solid objects and a pit for our protagonists to fall in - sorry, that's a TAS vision like these infamous EVA life-support belts, I feel myself unable to take seriously.

Bob
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Old August 9 2013, 01:20 PM   #9
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

I would be guided by the essential idea conveyed in TAS and not get hung up on any specifics. After all TAS depicted the hangar deck and exotic looking shuttlecraft far oversized than they could actually be.
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Old August 9 2013, 01:24 PM   #10
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

We're balancing between two issues here, yes. Writers in the 1960s already could see that holographic projections would be a plausible part of a scifi milieu, and would see applications in entertainment. But writers in the 1980s wanted to reserve the right to treat the technology as a novelty for the wow value...

It's pretty trivial to assume that people like Riker would be impressed by better holodecks just as much as they would be by the very first holodeck in existence. That's why people buy flatscreen televisions, after all. Additionally, it's easy to declare certain simulations less or more realistic than others, thanks to them being presented to us through a "filtering" medium. In TAS, it's trivial to claim that the simulation was somewhat cartoony! In early TNG, it's equally easy to say that older holodecks looked like badly edited and framed television entertainment, whereas later ones had better editing and framing (less jumps, more realistic use of perspective).

Obviously, to accomodate such a room on the TOS Enterprise the ship's length would have to equal the size of Picard's Enterprise-D!
Unless, of course, it is just the default "giant empty hall" simulation being run by the actually quite small facility.

Whether the simulation would consist of optical illusions, physically manufactured objects, or something else altogether, we can't tell but can freely speculate on. Quite possibly, a key element in such simulations (and more crucial in early models) is the spraying of psychoactive chemicals into the air, to dull the senses and to make the users more receptive to the optical and physical illusions... "Digging one's way out of a pit" could in physical reality be some very different action, only made to resemble the moving of dirt through chemically enhanced suggestion.

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Old August 9 2013, 01:28 PM   #11
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

Robert Comsol wrote: View Post
but solid objects and a pit for our protagonists to fall in - sorry, that's a TAS vision like these infamous EVA life-support belts, I feel myself unable to take seriously.

Bob
It wouldn't have to be a physical pit. The program could fluctuate the gravity of the room to give them the feeling of falling as the projection around them simulated the visual experience. They would still, in effect, have to "climb out" according to the rules of the program.

Or something.
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Old August 9 2013, 02:12 PM   #12
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

I look at it this way.

TMoST reprinted material from the Writer's Guide in regard to the ship's facilities, capabilities and crew. Unless something onscreen directly contradicts what's printed (and showing GR and the creators' intent) then I accept that's supposed to be there.

A distinction is the original description is of optical illusions (possibly coupled with changes in gravity and atmosphere) as opposed to physical replication seen in TNG. That could well be the thing that so impresses Riker decades layer, that you not only could see, smell and feel a convincingly illusion but now interact with it physically as well.

The way the group of STC portrayed the holo-rec-center strikes me as what is described in TMoST.
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Old August 9 2013, 02:33 PM   #13
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

^But a writer's guide is just a tentative framework, a set of suggestions. The creators' intent is that it will just be a beginning, something that can be a source for ideas but that can also be freely ignored or contradicted if someone comes up with a better idea. It's like an artist's initial rough sketch of a painting. This is how the creative process works -- you come up with rough ideas but you aren't too attached to them and you don't hesitate to dump them if something better comes along. So to look at a preliminary work like a writers' guide as an authoritative indication of "creators' intent" is misunderstanding how creation works. A creator's intent is constantly changing and evolving as new ideas occur and supplant old ones. Really, a creator's only intent is to keep trying to improve one's creations, and being too attached to one's early ideas would just get in the way of that.

Perhaps calling it a "series bible" is what's misleading to laypeople, because "Bible" carries the connotation of inviolable gospel, and a TV writers' guide is anything but that.
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Old August 9 2013, 03:01 PM   #14
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

The printed material shows the creators' intent on how things work or how things are supposed to be on the show. It becomes irrelevant only if directly contradicted onscreen. Nothing in TOS contradicts the concept of a holographic recreation centre as described in the printed material. The sticking point wasn't intent but ability and opportunity. Perhaps TOS couldn't afford to show such a HRC, but it was easy to do in TAS (even if they might have gotten some particulars wrong). There is also nothing in TNG that contradicts a HRC in TOS. Early TNG also made Data seem like he'd just been activated not long before the events in "Encounter At Farpoint" and yet it isn't long into the series before we learn Data has been activated and interacting with Starfleet personnel for quite a few years.

Note, too, that TNG could be inconsistent in how consistent it was in relation to TOS---some things gel and others don't---which goes along with the initial notion that the writers were told they weren't beholden to TOS in terms of continuity.

By adding some form of HRC to the TOS era some folks might see it as retconning when in fact the idea had been there all along. If TOS had had a bigger budget per episode and an appropriate story to showcase an HRC it's possible it might have been shown. We had already seen the f/x of people and things visually fading or popping in-and-out so it wouldn't be a huge stretch for them to create the optical illusion. The next question would be if they considered building a whole new set for the facility or could simply redress an existing set. If it were something used only sporadically then they could have just redressed an existing set. It's also possible they never recognized a story opportunity to show a HRC and so it just went unrealized.

We know there had to have been processing and fabrication facilities aboard the TOS Enterprise as well as other facilities because they fit within the concept of the ship as depicted even though we never got to see those facilities. We never saw a cargo hold in TOS even though we know there had to be some. And so there's no reason a HRC couldn't have been there as well.
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Old August 9 2013, 03:30 PM   #15
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Re: TOS' holodeck...food for thought...

Warped9 wrote: View Post
The printed material shows the creators' intent on how things work or how things are supposed to be on the show.
No, it really does not. That's what I'm trying to tell you -- that you're getting it completely backwards by assuming that. A creator's first ideas are absolutely not "how things are supposed to be" -- they're just the earliest ideas that occurred to the creator. The final version is how things are supposed to be. That's the version that's been polished and refined and improved. The ideas in a writers' bible are like the paints on an artist's palette. They're there for the creators to use in the work if they serve a purpose, but they can be freely mixed, changed, or just left out altogether. They're tentative suggestions, nothing more.

Your mistake is in assuming that if a creator has an idea, that means the creator absolutely "intends" to use it unless something prevents it. That's BS. Take it from a creator -- we come up with thousands of ideas that we never use. It's trial and error. It's an evolutionary process -- random mutations emerge and only some of them prove viable. Just having an idea doesn't mean we "intend" it to be used at all costs. It just means it's a possibility we're considering, one of many, many possibilities. Every idea that ends up on the screen or the page is heavily outnumbered by the ideas that were tried out and rejected. Our "intent" is to consider the various possibilities, pick out the ones that work, and discard the rest -- or stick them in a drawer in case we find another use for them years later.


It becomes irrelevant only if directly contradicted onscreen.
Other way around. It doesn't become relevant at all unless it is mentioned onscreen. Until then it's just a potential, just one of the ideas that are bouncing around in the creator's head. If it ends up in the series bible, it's because it was prominent in the producer's head on the day the bible was written, but if the bible had been written a week later, that idea might have already been thrown out in favor of a better one. Creativity is a very fluid, mutable process. A given outline or bible or draft is just a snapshot of a single point in that process, and the writer's ideas and "intent" may be completely different a week or a month later. So you're reading far, far too much into the tentative suggestions in the writers' guide. The creative process is nowhere near as orderly and predetermined as you assume.


Nothing in TOS contradicts the concept of a holographic recreation centre as described in the printed material.
No, it doesn't, but that's a separate issue from your misunderstanding of creative intent. Anyway, the problem is with TNG, not TOS -- "Farpoint" treated holodecks as a new technology. Although later Trek productions contradicted that as well -- e.g. Janeway played with Flotter and Trevis holonovels as a child.

My fix for that has always been that holodecks existed, but it was unusual to have them on a starship because of the energy and computing power demanded. They were luxuries that only a top-of-the-line, fully-appointed ship like a Galaxy-class vessel would be equipped with.

But it's harder to reconcile "Farpoint" with the notion that the tech has been around for over a century. Riker said he didn't know the simulations could be so real -- that's not just surprise that it's on a ship, it's surprise at how far the tech has developed at all. It's hard to believe they could've been at the level we saw in "The Practical Joker" and yet hardly improved on at all in the ensuing century.
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