This past weekend, Screen Rant was one of a handful of media outlets invited to J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions for a Star Trek into Darkness preview event. For a sense of what the opening minutes of the film are like, you can check out our spoilerfree thoughts on the 9 minute Star Trek 2 preview that will be ahead of IMAX prints of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

For a more in-depth look at what we learned on the visit, read on.

New Footage

In addition to the IMAX preview footage, those in attendance had the opportunity to see about 10 more minutes from Into Darkness, particularly a scene that takes place about 2/3 into the movie. While we can’t tell you exactly what was in that footage, what I can tell you is that while I thought the opening minutes of the film were very good, the additional footage that was screened was amazing.

All I can say about the segment is that it does establish that Benedict Cumberbatch (the villain of the film) is called John Harrison – and that what we saw was extremely exciting and suspenseful, while also including some humor by Simon Pegg, who seems to officially be the comic relief of the new franchise. Also, we get to see a more mature Captain Kirk played by Chris Pine – one who demonstrates both humility and a sense of self-sacrifice.

Bad Robot Productions

The Bad Robot facility is a movie geek’s dream come true. The entire place is currently dedicated to Star Trek into Darkness, and we were taken through a number of areas related to different aspects of the film’s production – including make-up, digital visual effects, props, costumes and music.

I was struck by the fact that everyone involved is really into getting all the little details right – there was no “short cut” attitude visible by any of the folks we talked to. Also, there are cool props and memorabilia all about – some set decoratively on shelves, while other items from previous films are just laying about on shelves in various rooms. It was odd seeing so many movie props that one could definitely consider collectible just laying about – but for the staff it’s just part of their stock in trade.

Makeup Effects

David LeRoy Anderson (head of makeup effects onInto Darkness) gave us some insight into his department’s work on the film. He personally applied Zachary Quinto’s Spock eyebrows every morning – one hair at a time. It took 30-45 minutes to apply them every day (side note: at one point it began to take longer and longer to get it done – it turns out Zachary was shaving a bit more of his eyebrows every morning, causing more to have to be filled in).

One cool bit of information Anderson shared is that there will be Klingons in the film – and we will get to see them without the helmets they wore in the deleted scenes from the first movie. One of the challenges they faced was having the actors’ features come through, so they all didn’t look the same. And yes, they DO have ridges along the top of their skulls, and there is an interesting twist on the ridges, which I won’t give away.

Music

We also met with composer Michael Giacchino (who did the music for the last movie). He gave some fascinating insight into how he scores a film. He is scoring Into Darkness in chronological order – in other words, he doesn’t jump to the end, write the music for that, and then jump around to various scenes. He scores the film as it transpires, so that he can match the feeling of what develops in the film to what the audience will be experiencing as it happens. The music reflects the overall essence of a scene; even if there is some humor, if a character is in danger off-screen, that undertone of music continues to carry through the humorous part of the scene. Also, the music reflects what is in the characters’ heart at any given moment, not necessarily what they are saying. It was quite a fascinating look into how the music for a film is created.

In our next article, we’ll discuss visual effects, props and costumes. Stay tuned.

Star Trek into Darkness opens on May 17, 2013.

Photo of Michael Giacchino and J.J. Abrams from ScoringSessions.com