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In Star Trek we typically see many exterior space shots of starships, like the Enterprise-D pictured below, where some windows are illuminated and some are dark (see yellow highlights). Up until halfway through Voyager most of these starships shots were done with physical models having physical internal lights, and in my memory the state of the window lights always remained static during those shots. (For obvious budget and TV image quality reasons)

Do we ever see an exterior shot of a physical starship model where the light behind a window switches on or off, or e.g. changes color? Because, hey, at some point somebody must've wanted to go to sleep or was done using the bathroom while 'the camera was on'.

USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D with windows highlighted

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    If you're specifically interested in whether starship lights have been shown to switch on or off in exterior shots (rather than in general), I'd recommend editing the title of the question to more clearly reflect that, since users occasionally post answers based primarily on a question's title, without having properly read the body. Sep 27, 2023 at 12:21
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    DS9 used CGI ships from it's 6th season a Voyager from it's 4th so are those the hard limits for the question?memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/CGI
    – A.Steer
    Sep 27, 2023 at 12:33
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    Good points, both LogicDictates and A.Steer, updated the question to clarify
    – dennis_vok
    Sep 27, 2023 at 12:49
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    "NEELIX: Computer, lights! Maximum level! Bergamot tea, hot. First thing in the morning I replicate some curtains."
    – Valorum
    Sep 27, 2023 at 13:00
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    I vaguely remember reading an interview with someone who worked on the Voyager studio model, where it was described that some of the little windows were made to occasionally darken for a moment as if someone were walking around in front of them. If I can find it again, I'll post an answer (or else, I might simply file it as a false memory). Sep 27, 2023 at 21:58

1 Answer 1

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I thought of the ship-wide blackout effects that happened once in a while. This was the best answer I could think of because I don't remember individual windows turning on or off. And interestingly, there didn't seem to be any Memory Alpha articles on the topic. "Blackout (power)" was limited in scope to planetary power systems.

The first episode that came to mind was “Contagion” (S02E11). A great episode overall.

A shut down effect can be seen in this video, with the Enterprise D window lights turning off progressively in four separate groups.

Moments later there is a power up effect with the lights turning on in four separate groups. The episode ends with a warbird powering up all at once. In the remastered version these effects were not applied to the Enterprise saucer section, so only three groups of window lights. However, the warbird effect was improved to show two or three groups of window lights on that ship as well.

In "Phantasms" (S07E06) there is a shut down effect where the Enterprise D loses power progressively across five groups of windows.

Several other episodes had blackouts and power fluctuations, but I think they only used interior lighting effects.

I tried to think of any blackouts on Deep Space Nine. The episode that came to mind was “Empok Nor” (S05E24). It had a power up effect that can be seen in this video.

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  • Thanks, great find, the videos make it very clear indeed!
    – dennis_vok
    Mar 14 at 12:57
  • As for how they actually accomplished these effects in the 80s/90s, I'm speculating that they manipulated the 'internal lighting' pass of the miniature film layers in post-production, rather than actually turning the internal lights of the model on and off during filming. Perhaps I'll research this subject as a followup.
    – dennis_vok
    Mar 14 at 13:00
  • Dennis see the 10:55 mark for how many of us learned about tng effects. (Though not seen here filming the ship was a multiple pass process) Reading Rainbow visit to TNG production: youtu.be/PaG6evVcd-w?feature=shared Mar 15 at 3:53

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