2013-01-21

Lighting Trek

Another thing I have noticed in the past few years, especially during the run of Enterprise, is how lighting seems to be Earth's main export.  With only a few isolated exceptions, alien ships and facilities are usually lit using the same lighting tech as the Starfleet vessel they encounter, sometimes to the point that in some cases there is little to indicate that we are looking at an alien ship.

The TOS Enterprise had light coming from everywhere along with throws of color against the walls, and so did everyplace else.  "The Enterprise Incident" comes to mind, there, where even the walls seemed to be the same color.

With Enterprise, the issue was similar... everyone used the same spotlights with the same slightly softened shadows.

(And in the TNG era anyone interested in making moody shadows on the floor used the same grates over the lights, but that is neither here nor there.)

The reason this is bothersome is twofold.

First, lighting technology evolves, and as we are seeing in the age of the banning of Edison's light bulb (and the age of funky bluish headlights) we are faced with lighting tech that produces varying color temperatures.  Many people seem to favor the old yellowish glow similar to candlelight, but even that color is the product of the technology... another world's convenient wick and solid fuel might glow greenish, for example.  And of course some folks just love the overly white glow of a flourescent tube.

But the other issue is more complicated.  You see, what we consider white sunlight is particular to our sun and those like it...  how often have you heard of our "yellow star"?  And that light is then filtered through our particular atmosphere, to be received by eyes that have evolved to work best with what light is available.

So let's say that all spacefaring races light their ships to match their idea of sunlight.  We should see wide variation... the Romulans might invariably have a greenish hue to their interior lighting, for instance, and the So-and-Sos might look as blue as those silly headlights. 

And of course, some races might prefer big huge ceiling panels offering no shadows, while others opt for small spotlights with hard shadows, and others might combine the two or any variation you can think of.

Interestingly, two races often had specific colors associated ... the Borg in Voyager went all green-spotlight on us.  And the Klingons have often received special color treatment, but it has been all over the map, from blues to reds to yellow. 

Of course, I still think that the Klingons would have Pepto-pink alert and the Romulans would have green alert, if they even associated color with alert at all on a cultural level, but that is a-whole-nother story which I will work on after getting on to Trek writers for assuming aliens would even name ships (though perhaps only the successful ones do).

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