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The transporter was a subspace device capable of almost instantaneously moving an object from one location to another. Transporters are able to dematerialize, transmit and reassemble an object. The act of transporting is often referred to as "beaming".
Although transporters have been used by many civilizations throughout history, the first Human-made transporter was invented sometime prior to 2121, originated by Emory Erickson. The first operable transporter was developed before 2139. (ENT: "Daedalus") The descendants of colonists who established an early Human settlement, on the planet Terra 10, retained knowledge of transporter technologies until at least 2269, as well as intersat code even though that communication method went out of use two centuries beforehand. (TAS: "The Terratin Incident")
When the transporter was in its infancy, there was much controversy surrounding its safety and reliability within United Earth. When it became approved for biomatter, there were even protests. The debates ranged from claims of brain cancer, psychosis and sleep disorders to metaphysical debates over whether or not the person transported was the same person or a copy of the original. (ENT: "Daedalus")
The Enterprise NX-01 was one of the first Starfleet starships to be equipped with a transporter authorized for transporting biological objects. Initially, however, it was utilized only sparingly, due to a general distrust of the technology held by Enterprise crew members. Its use became much more common during Enterprise's search of the Delphic Expanse. (ENT: "Broken Bow", "Strange New World", "The Andorian Incident", "Hatchery", "Countdown", et al.)
These early transporters were not very reliable and, even after Enterprise's mission, most were authorized for non-biological transports only. Even when transporter use became commonplace, most Humans and other races at a similar stage of technological development preferred traditional methods of travel. (ENT: "Strange New World", "The Andorian Incident", "Daedalus")
With the advent of safer transporters, biological transport became increasingly common, which led to the appearance of the first transporter-related diseases. The best known disease was transporter psychosis, which was diagnosed in 2209 on Delinia II. (TNG: "Realm of Fear")
As Starfleet continued its exploration of space, dependence on transporters grew significantly. Transporters could simplify away missions considerably by eliminating the need for a shuttlecraft. In case of emergencies (medical or otherwise), the time saved could mean the difference between life or death. (ENT: "Strange New World")
Transporters became the most reliable form of short-range transport by the 24th century. Innovations in transporter technology around this time included safer site-to-site transport, which allowed for transport between two locations without first returning to a transporter room. By the 29th century, Starfleet had developed temporal transporter technology that allowed travel through time in a very similar manner to standard transporters of earlier centuries. (TNG: "Realm of Fear"; VOY: "Relativity")
By the 24th century, most space-faring civilizations of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants employed transporter technology for short-range transport of personnel and equipment. There were many advantages to utilizing transporters.
Traveling by transporter was essentially instantaneous and an individual's sense of time while transporting was effectively non-existent. Benjamin Sisko and Harry Kim, while training at Starfleet Academy in San Francisco, frequently transported to New Orleans and South Carolina, respectively, to see their parents. (DS9: "Explorers"; VOY: "Non Sequitur")
In general, a transporter chief was responsible for the operational readiness, maintenance and repair of a ship or station's transporter systems. By the 24th century, transporter systems could also be operated from computer terminals, other than those in transporter rooms.
Furthermore, emergency transporter armbands, transponders and combadges could be programmed to remotely activate a transporter. Normally, remote transporter activation was limited to emergencies or when the crew of a vessel was not on board. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds", "Realm of Fear"; DS9: "The Jem'Hadar")
A typical transport sequence began with a lock to coordinates, during which the destination was verified and programmed, via the targeting scanners. Obtaining or maintaining a transporter lock enables the transporter operator to know the subject's location, even in motion, allowing the beaming process to start more quickly. This is an essential safety precaution when a starship away team enters a potentially dangerous situation that would require an emergency beam-out.
A transporter lock was usually maintained by tracing the homing signal of a communicator or combadge. When there was a risk that such devices would be lost in the field or are otherwise unavailable, personnel could be implanted with a subcutaneous transponder before an away mission, to still provide a means to maintain a transporter lock. Alternatively, sensors could be used to scan for the bio-sign or energy signature of a subject, which could then be fed into the transporter's targeting scanner for a lock.
Next, the lifeform or object to be beamed was scanned on the quantum level, using a molecular imaging scanner. At this point, Heisenberg compensators took into account the position and direction of all subatomic particles composing the object or individual and created a map of the physical structure being disassembled, amounting to billions of kiloquads of data.
Simultaneously, the object was broken down into a stream of subatomic particles, also called the matter stream. While certain types of energy could be transported safely, active phaser beams would be disrupted during this breakdown process. (TNG: "Datalore") The matter stream was briefly stored in a pattern buffer while the system compensates for Doppler shift to the destination.
The matter stream was then transmitted to its destination across a subspace domain. As with any type of transmission of energy or radiation, scattering and degradation of the signal must be monitored closely. The annular confinement beam (ACB) acted to maintain the integrity of the information contained in the energy beam. Finally, the initial process was reversed and the object or individual was reassembled at the destination.
From its earliest incarnations until sometime between the early 2270s and mid 2280s, transporters generally immobilized the subject being beamed during dematerialization and rematerialization. Advances in transporter technology after that point allowed a person being transported to move, during the process, in a limited fashion.
Transporter operations (alternate reality)Edit
In 2258 of the alternate reality, the transporter operation process included the use of the annular confinement beam, followed by electromagnetic focusing and the use of a gravitational compensator. The transporter operator then applied a temporal differential and engaged a particle lock. (Star Trek)
Safety features, protocols and componentsEdit
As with other Starfleet technology, the transporter had its own set of safety features, protocols and procedures. In an emergency, many of these safety systems could be modified or circumvented.
Early versions of the transporter in the 22nd century appeared to have no protection against external incursions into an active transport. "Foreign matter," such as blowing debris, could get caught up in the transport and become embedded or integrated into the subject. (ENT: "Strange New World") Energy weapons fire would also affect the subject, unless it was sufficiently far into the transport that the fire passed through it harmlessly. (ENT: "Broken Bow", "Countdown") By the late 23rd century, however, transporters shielded the subject from these external incursions. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; TNG: "A Matter of Perspective")
Biofilters were uniformly used on all Federation transporters by the 24th century. These filters functioned to decontaminate transported objects and prevent harmful substances, pathogens, and even certain forms of radiation (including theta radiation), from contaminating the rest of the ship or station. This process replaced earlier systems that required the subject to be fully rematerialized on the transport platform before applying an energy-based process to topically decontaminate the transportee. (VOY: "Macrocosm", "Night"; TOS: "The Naked Time")
Though the biofilters performed a general contaminant removal with each transport, they were far from perfect; previously unknown infections or viruses occasionally failed to register, requiring the filters to be recalibrated to recognize the new threat. As such, biofilters were incapable of filtering out certain types of substances and pathogens, most notably psychic energy. (TNG: "Lonely Among Us", "Power Play")
Biofilters were also unable to detect and filter certain types of phased reality lifeforms without prior calibration. Biofilters also functioned to detect and disable weapons and explosives (remat detonators, for example). (TNG: "Realm of Fear", "The Schizoid Man", "The Most Toys")
Additionally, pattern buffers were used to compensate for relative motion during transport, ensuring that transported matter materialized in the correct location.
Except in cases of extreme emergency, protocols prohibited transporting objects while traveling at warp speed. (TNG: "The Schizoid Man") Such transports are possible, however, if the two vessels match warp velocities. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds"; VOY: "Maneuvers")
Diagnostic and maintenance toolsEdit
- Annular confinement beam
- Gravitational compensator
- Heisenberg compensator
- Molecular imaging scanner
- Particle lock
- Pattern buffer
- Phase discriminator
- Phase transition coil
- Primary energizing coil
- Site-to-site transport interlock
- Targeting scanner
- Transporter console
Almost all Starfleet facilities and starships were equipped with at least one transporter device. The number of transporter devices differed; for example, most shuttlecraft had one transporter while Galaxy-class starships had twenty. (TNG: "11001001")
When cargo bays were present, these often contained cargo transporters.
The visual effects of transporter beams varied among the types used by different species of the galaxy, and the different models of transporter. In most cases, there was a delay and visual/auditory effect as the subject/thing being transported was dematerialized and rematerialized. However, transporters used by the Aldeans transported a group of children as well as teenager Wesley Crusher from the Enterprise-D to the planet Aldea almost instantly, with the only visual effect being the actual disappearing and reappearing. (TNG: "When The Bough Breaks")
22nd century Starfleet transporters showed a number of blue "sparkles" moving to one center, forming a small sphere that then disappeared (dematerialization).
23rd century Federation transporters, during the 2260s, showed a shower of golden "sparkles" during materialization and dematerialization. Klingon units during the same time emitted a solid golden "haze" effect.
By the 2280s, both races made use of transporters that appeared to utilize a "wave" effect, the Federation's being blue and the Klingons with golden yellow.
24th century Federation transporters emitted a distinct blue/white "sparkle" when used. Klingon transporters displayed a red/orange sparkle and Romulan transporters a green sparkle. Cardassian and Ferengi transporters displayed red/orange "swirls" of energy. Borg transporters displayed green "swirls" of energy.
Another difference was the speed by which a transporter operates. Compared to transporters used by the Hunters, a Gamma Quadrant species, in 2369, the Federation transporter was slow. (DS9: "Captive Pursuit")
Furthermore, each type of transporter beam had a distinctive sound pattern associated with it. (file info) Along with differences in "tone," the volume of the sound also varied. Klingon transporters in the 2260s, for example, were completely silent. (TOS: "Day of the Dove")
Production of Mark V transporters was halted in 2356. By 2371, Mark VI transporters were considered outdated. Mark VII transporters were able to transport unstable biomatter, as long as the phase transition inhibitor was adjusted. (DS9: "Family Business")
The most commonly used type of transporter was the personnel transporter, designed primarily for personnel.
A pattern buffer with a biofilter was typically located on the deck below the transporter room. The outer hull of a starship incorporated a number of emitter pads for the transporter beam. (citation needed • edit)
Personnel transporters worked on the quantum level to enable secure transport of lifeforms. Biofilters built into the transporter systems prevented dangerous microorganisms from boarding the ship.
Transporter platforms had a variable number of pads, arranged in various layouts (by model and by manufacturing race):
The transporters installed on Earth's NX-class starships featured one large circular pad that took up the entire platform. It was large enough to transport two to three people, provided they stood close together.
By the 23rd century, Federation transporter platforms featured multiple independent pads, typically six in a hexagonal configuration. One- and two-pad platforms were also available.
This became something of a standard layout for Federation transporters well into the next century. As an example, the platforms used on board Galaxy-class starships had the familiar six individual pads, with an over-sized pad (in the center of the platform) that could handle small cargo.
The model of transporter installed on board Defiant-class starships featured a ¾ circular platform and three personnel pads in a triangular formation.
Some 23rd century Klingon platforms featured six hexagonal pads in a straight line. Others, such as those on Birds-of-Prey, featured a small number of platforms in a tight group. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Cardassian transporter platforms in the 24th century featured three to five triangular pads placed close together, such as those installed on Deep Space 9.
The personnel transporter was a reliable but sometimes fragile piece of equipment. The phase coils, in particular, were vulnerable to feedback patterns and could be severely damaged as result of power surges or low-level phaser fire. (TNG: "Brothers")
Cargo transporters were larger-scale versions of personnel transporters and were optimized for the transport of inanimate objects. These transporters were adapted to handle massive quantities of material. (TNG: "Symbiosis", "The Hunted", "Power Play")
In case of an emergency, cargo transporters could be reset to quantum-level mode, making lifeform transport possible. One reason for such a reconfiguration was to expedite an evacuation of personnel. (TNG: "11001001")
Dedicated cargo transporter platforms used by Starfleet in the 24th century typically featured one large circular or oblong pad. (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Portable transporters were self-contained units capable of direct site-to-site transport without using a fixed transporter pad. While having the capability to be moved from one place to another, they were known to be rather large and bulky. (DS9: "Visionary")
In 2372 of an alternate timeline, Tom Paris owned an advanced, portable, site-to-site transporter device capable of transporting itself along with its payload. This device was small enough to be carried easily on a person. (VOY: "Non Sequitur")
Emergency transporters were a special type that had a low power requirement; in case of a ship-wide power failure, the crew could use these transporters for emergency evacuation. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual; VOY: "Future's End")
By the late 24th century, emergency transport was further improved through Starfleet's development of a single-person, single-use, one-way emergency transport unit. The device was small enough to be hand-held and could transport to specified coordinates with a single touch.
By 2375, the Federation had developed a micro-transporter – essentially a scaled-down version of a regular transporter – which was capable of transporting small amounts of material within an almost-imperceptible span of time. When attached to a TR-116 rifle, it could be used to transport the bullet to anywhere within the transporter's range, where it would continue at its original velocity until striking a target. (DS9: "Field of Fire")
Certain species have experimented with transporters that differ in technology and theory than those used by most species encountered by the Federation.
The Sikarians were known to use a folded-space transporter, relying on dimensional shifting rather than matter-to-energy conversion. Similarly, the Iconians perfected their own form of transport, known as gateways, which were capable of near-instantaneous transport over vast distances. (VOY: "Prime Factors"; TNG: "Contagion")
- Folded-space transporter
- Multidimensional transporter device
- Sub-quantum teleportation
- Temporal transporter
Although beaming was quick, it had its limits. A person could not stay within the matter stream too long. If this happened, his or her molecular pattern would degrade and the transporter signal would be lost.
This signal had to stay above fifty percent to be able to re-materialize the person. A time-frame of around ninety seconds was about the maximum before that fifty-percent signal loss was reached. (TNG: "Realm of Fear")
The crew of the USS Voyager was able to extend this time by using pattern enhancers. In an effort to transport refugee telepaths to another world, Captain Janeway was able to hide many telepaths, in addition to a few of her crew, in the transporter buffers. This process, referred to as transporter suspension, produced serious complications. Because Voyager's guests and crew had to hide from Devore authorities repeatedly over the course of several weeks, acute cellular degradation was found in many of the refugees and in Tuvok. Although The Doctor was able to treat them, the degradation was cumulative. If the process had been continued, the people may not have survived the transport. (VOY: "Counterpoint")
The longest recorded instance of a person remaining in transporter suspension was that of Captain Montgomery Scott. He was able to survive for a period of seventy-five years, while suspended in an extensively modified transporter buffer and setting it to loop diagnostic mode, after the ship he was on crashed into a Dyson sphere and he was left with no way to call for help before he ran out of supplies. (TNG: "Relics")
In general, transporters could not be used while the deflector shield of a ship was active, or a deflector shield was in place over the destination. However, it was possible to take advantage of EM "windows" that were created by the normal rotation of shield frequencies. During these periods, a hole opened, through which a transporter beam could pass. To use this window, timing needed to be absolute and usually required substantial computer assistance. This technique was theorized and first practiced in 2367, by USS Enterprise-D transporter chief Miles O'Brien. (TNG: "The Wounded")
The limitation of transporters versus shields was not universal, however. The Aldeans were able to pass through their own shielding using transporters, though the shielding was impenetrable to other forms of technology and weapons. Similarly, both the Borg and Dominion used transporter technology that was able to penetrate standard Federation shielding. Some adaptations, including rotating shield frequencies, could inhibit this ability but not eliminate it altogether. (TNG: "Q Who"; DS9: "The Jem'Hadar") Voth were able to beam entire starships into a single Voth city ship, despite its shield being raised and running at full capacity. (VOY: "Distant Origin")
Using transporters when a ship was at warp speed was very dangerous because warp fields created severe spatial distortions. (TNG: "The Schizoid Man") Therefore, transport at warp generally violated safety regulations. However, at-warp transport was attempted a handful of times, usually under high-stakes combat conditions, (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds", "The Emissary") by making a few adjustments.
- If both ships maintained exact velocity (that is, the warp field on both vessels must have the same integral value/factor) transport at warp speed was possible. Failure to maintain the same velocities would result in severe loss of the annular confinement beam (ACB) and pattern integrity.
- If the ship was traveling at warp speed and the object to be beamed was stationary, transport was possible by synchronizing the ACB with the warp core frequency. This would cause difficulties in obtaining a good pattern lock. The Maquis were known to have used this method. (VOY: "Maneuvers")
- Sometime before 2387, Montgomery Scott discovered the necessary formulas enabling transwarp beaming. These were passed on to his alternate reality counterpart, but using these to beam onto the USS Enterprise caused him to be stuck in a water pipe leading to a turbine. (Star Trek)
"Near-warp" transport was also possible, but required extensive adjustments to the transport procedure. It involved the transporting ship energizing its transporters at the same time as it dropped out of warp for just long enough for the matter stream to be transmitted. The ship would then immediately jump back into warp.
Persons who had experienced this form of transport remarked that there was a sensation of being merged with an inanimate object briefly before the transporter beam reassembled them.
In 2374, Voyager personnel successfully used Intrepid-class transporters to beam stranded crewmembers from the USS Dauntless while both ships were traveling within a quantum slipstream. Voyager accelerated on a pursuit course during the transport, bypassing the velocity limitations imposed by warp field dynamics. (VOY: "Hope and Fear")
During the 22nd century, standard Earth transporter systems had a range of 10,000 kilometers; however, by the 24th century, standard transporter systems maximum range was about 40,000 kilometers, though a special type of transport, called subspace transport could beam over several light years. (ENT: "Rajiin"; TNG: "A Matter Of Honor", "Bloodlines") Many 24th century starships were equipped with an emergency transporter system, but these only had a range of at best ten kilometers. (VOY: "Future's End")
Although having a maximum range of about 40,000 kilometers, some conditions adversely affect the effective range. In at least one instance – due to missing components of Voyager's primary computer systems, – the starship Voyager had to be within five hundred kilometers of a planet's surface to use transporters on Kathryn Janeway and the holodeck character Leonardo da Vinci. (VOY: "Concerning Flight")
The maximum range of a transporter differed by species, depending on what kind of technologies they used to build it. The transporter with the longest known range was that of the Sikarians, with a range of about 40,000 light years; however this was due to their planet's large quartz mantle which amplifieed their transporter signal. Because of this, Sikarian transporter technology worked only on their planet. (VOY: "Prime Factors")
Gary Seven's mysterious sponsors on the Assigners' planet possessed transporter technology with a range of at least a thousand light years according to Spock. Scotty later noted that Seven's beam was so powerful it fused all recording circuits, and therefore he could not say exactly how far it transported Seven, or even whether it transported him through time. Exactly how they achieved this effect remains unknown, since there has been no subsequent contact with them, and they hide their entire homeworld in some fashion. There were, however, other indications that their technology was considerably advanced beyond that of the 23rd century Federation. (TOS: "Assignment: Earth")
The Vedala, one of the oldest space-faring races, also possessed transporter technology capable of beaming people and equipment to and from other planets (presumably in different star systems.) (TAS: "The Jihad") Dominion transporter technology, enhanced with a homing transponder, was said to have a range of at least three light years. (DS9: "Covenant")
Radiation and substancesEdit
Some forms of radiation and substances, usually minerals such as kelbonite, prevented transporters from working. In most instances the interference was caused by scattering of the annular confinement beam or sensor interference preventing a transporter lock. Interference could be natural or artificial and usually occurred during surface-to-starship transport but might also occur between vessels. Examples of other radiation and substance limitations are:
- Thoron radiation
- Dampening field
- Ionic interference (see also Ion storm)
- Hyperonic radiation
- Electromagnetic storm
Over the centuries numerous devices have been designed to overcome some limitations of transporters, and still others to intentionally interfere with transporters.
By the 24th century, usage of pattern enhancers was common aboard most Starfleet vessels, most often deployed to a planet's surface during emergency situations where transport was critical.
Devices that were specifically designed to block transporter signals or to interfere with them were usually deployed under hostile conditions, thus making use of a transporter impossible or very dangerous and hampering maneuverability of personnel or material. Some of these devices were:
In 2375, Vedek Fala gave a small crystal to Colonel Kira as a gift. The device, of unknown origin and design, was actually a transporter tag, which instantly transported her to Empok Nor several light years distant. (DS9: "Covenant")
Also, in 2293, Spock used a viridium patch to locate and lock on to Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy on Rura Penthe. While not a transporter device, it was used to locate the subject with the transporter. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Although someone with minor injuries could be transported, this was not possible when the injuries were extensive. When the brain stem was damaged and autonomic functions were failing, transport was only possible if a volunteer controlled the person's autonomic functions. This was done by placing a neural pad at the base of the skull of both individuals and then connect both people via a medical tricorder. This way autonomic functions could be stabilized for a short period of time and made transport possible. (TNG: "Transfigurations")
In the 22nd century, a Skagaran/Human hybrid, Bethany, was successfully transported from a planet's surface to a starship after suffering a gunshot wound to the torso. She was treated for the wound and recovered shortly thereafter. (ENT: "North Star")
Disabling active weaponsEdit
By the 24th century, the transporter had the capability to disable any active weapon during transport. This could be accomplished by removing the discharged energy from the transporter signal, or by "deactivating" the weapon itself. (TNG: "The Most Toys")
The transporter was also capable of removing weapons entirely during transport. When the Defiant beamed aboard survivors from a damaged Jem'Hadar ship, the transporter was programmed to remove the crew's disruptors and other weapons. (DS9: "To the Death")
Falsifying disintegration by a phaserEdit
Although transports usually took several seconds to complete, it was possible to transport an individual to safety a split-second before they were to be struck by a phaser beam, making it appear as though they had been disintegrated. By 2373, Section 31 had access to such technology and used it to fake the death of operative Luther Sloan in front of the Romulan Continuing Committee. Since William Ross later told Julian Bashir that Tal Shiar chief Koval had fired a phaser at Sloan, rather than a disruptor pistol, it is likely the weapon had been specially modified and was integral to creating the illusion. (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")
Connecting two transportersEdit
Two transporters could be bridged together by means of a system interlock to facilitate direct transport between them. Federation vessels could activate other Federation vessels' transporters remotely by means of this. This meant that two transporters could be connected to each other to allow beaming in situations where it would otherwise not be possible due to ionic or some other type of interference. (TNG: "Symbiosis", "Realm of Fear")
First, a remote link to the other transporter had to be established, then the system interlock needed to be engaged and the pattern buffers of both transporters were synchronized. When the phase transition coils were in stand-by mode energizing could commence.
In the mid 2260s, beaming from a transporter pad to a location within the same vessel was a very risky proposition. The limitations of the technology at that time made it highly probable that any error would result in the subject rematerializing within a bulkhead, deck, or other structure. As such the procedure had rarely been attempted. (TOS: "Day of the Dove") Interestingly, the first occurrence of this procedure was used without incident a century earlier. (ENT: "Chosen Realm") Commander Riker and Tasha Yar used this operation during a rescue. (TNG: "Symbiosis") When cargo instead of passengers was beamed aboard, Riker ordered Yar to beam the cargo to the hold without a second thought.
Intra-ship transport appears to be both safe and commonplace by the 2360s, as, beyond the aforesaid example, the technique was used a number of times aboard the USS Enterprise-D:
- Captain Jean-Luc Picard and First Officer William T. Riker both beamed from a transporter room directly onto the bridge. (TNG: "11001001")
- When several Bringloidi were beamed aboard carrying assorted farm animals, Picard ordered them beamed into Cargo Hold 7. (TNG: "Up The Long Ladder")
- While escaping a mind-controlled crew, Wesley Crusher engaged a program that beamed him from Deck 36 to Transporter Room 3. (TNG: "The Game")
- Ambassasor Ves Alkar's assistant, Liva, was beamed away from her quarters on command from Captain Picard to prevent her being used by Alkar. (TNG: "Man of the People")
- When rogue Ferengi briefly took over the Enterprise, a plan was devised to capture them by beaming them one by one onto a transporter pad secured by a force field. (TNG: "Rascals")
- Picard, Riker, and several others transported from a shuttle in its bay directly to the observation lounge. (TNG: "Gambit, Part II")
The earliest known example of site-to-site transport carried out by Federation personnel occurred in 1986 (though the transporter was on board a vessel that had traveled back in time from 2286). A Klingon vessel stolen by the crew of the late starship Enterprise had site-to-site transporter capabilities. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
By at least 2268, limitations in pattern buffer and targeting scanner technology had been sufficiently overcome that it was now possible to transport from one location directly to another without the need to re-materialize the subject in between. (TOS: "A Piece of the Action") In the 24th century, this operation was enabled and controlled by the site-to-site transport interlocks. (TNG: "Brothers")
Site-to-site transport holds the matter stream in the pattern buffer while the ACB was re-targeted. Afterward, the matter stream was redirected to the new location and normal re-materialization was carried out.
Using this technique, any computer terminal with access to the main transporter sub-systems, or any applicable subroutine, could be used to control transporter operations, including bridge terminals. This technique could only be utilized when sufficient energy was available to the transporters; all normal transporter limitations would still apply. (Star Trek Nemesis)
This procedure was particularly useful in emergency medical situations where time was of the essence. Subjects could be beamed directly to sickbay where treatment could be carried out quickly. (TNG: "Tapestry", Star Trek: First Contact)
By the 23rd century, it was common practice to store a "transporter trace" (a stored copy of a subject's molecular pattern as scanned during a normal transporter cycle). While it was usually kept for security purposes, in extreme situations the transporter could be modified to use an older trace pattern in place of the latest scan for the purpose of re-configuring the matter stream during molecular conversion, effectively replacing a subject with a younger version of itself during matter re-construction. The first known use of this technique was in 2270, when it was used to restore the reverse-aged crew of the USS Enterprise to their adult versions. (TAS: "The Counter-Clock Incident") Another notable use was in 2364, to restore Captain Jean-Luc Picard after an unsuccessful attempt by an alien energy being to merge with him. (TNG: "Lonely Among Us")
When necessary, a person's DNA could be used to create a transporter trace. This technique was utilized by Chief Miles O'Brien and Lieutenant Geordi La Forge during a mission to the Darwin Genetic Research Station in 2365.
Transporter traces were also used as a medical tool, to help in spotting anomalies at the molecular level. When comparing the transporter ID traces of Deanna Troi, Data and Miles O'Brien before and after they were taken over by Ux-Mal criminals, Doctor Crusher was able to detect that their nervous systems were generating high levels of synaptic and anionic energy. (TNG: "Power Play") Another example of such an application was in 2373, when The Doctor used Harry Kim's transporter trace records to determine when he had been infected with Taresian DNA. (VOY: "Favorite Son")
Deflecting the transporter beamEdit
A transporter beam could be deflected to different coordinates by a tractor beam so that the objects being transported would rematerialize at a point other than the intended target coordinates. Such action could only be detected by examining the transporter log. An unusual amount of antigraviton particles would be present in the emitter coil, as those particles do not occur naturally but are used by tractor beams. Locating the coordinates at which rematerialization took place was not possible; however, it was possible to calculate the point of origin of the tractor beam itself. (TNG: "Attached")
Single person transportEdit
A transporter could be programmed to only allow one particular person to be transported to and from the transporter pad. Thus programmed, no other persons could use the transporter. If the use of the transporter was further prohibited, by use of an unknown access code, using the transporter was almost impossible.
The only way to circumvent this lock-out was to use the transporter trace from the person who re-programmed the transporter and to input this into the transporter while it was in its testing mode. When in testing mode, a transporter would accept simulated inputs.
When the main computer could not be used, several tricorders could be networked together to control the transporter. To circumvent the lock-out, access codes from a few bridge officers were necessary to force it in a recall loop. So, everyone who would beam down would be seen by the transporter as the person who re-programmed it in the first place. (TNG: "Brothers")
Faking a transporter accidentEdit
A transporter accident could be faked in such a way that a transporter chief would think a person died during transport. For example, this could be done by adjusting the carrier wave of a second transporter to the carrier wave of the first. The person would then beam off the first transporter while the second transporter beamed in a small amount of genetically identical material.
Only a doctor could determine if this material was really the person in question. The transporter trace could be used to compare the logged DNA pattern "trace" to the "dead" person. Single-bit errors might be detected if the "dead" material was replicated.
Another indicator of such a ruse would be a temporary increase of the matter to energy ratio while transport was in progress. However, this increase could fall with in the nominal operational parameters of the transporter in question. Investigation of the transporter logs would be necessary to find evidence of a second transporter signal. (TNG: "Data's Day")
Emergency mass beamingEdit
Some transporters could transport large numbers of people, and either rematerialize them simultaneously, or in groups. However, this was not often done due to safety reasons. In 2268, the crew of the USS Enterprise used their transporters in this manner to capture members of the crew of a Klingon ship. In 2377, the USS Voyager transported over two hundred Klingons off a battle cruiser by expanding the transporter's buffer capacity. (TOS: "Day of the Dove"; VOY: "Prophecy")
Narrow confinement beamEdit
Setting a transporter's annular confinement beam to a narrow width would sometimes allow it to penetrate some types of shielding or other interference. One noteworthy application of this was to penetrate Borg shields, a procedure developed by scientists Magnus and Erin Hansen. (VOY: "Dark Frontier")
Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres invented an emergency measure of locking a transporter beam on to minerals in the target's skeletal system in order to allow transport when bio-signs could not be detected from transporting origins. This allowed personnel to be transported back to the ship, even if regular means of transporter lock failed. She came up with it after a conventional signal lock failed during an emergency beam-out from a Borg cube in 2373. (VOY: "Scorpion")
Pirates used transporters to steal the USS Voyager's main computer and other critical equipment, rendering the ship's weapons, navigation and propulsion inoperable. This led Tom Paris to remark, "I feel like we've just been mugged." (VOY: "Concerning Flight")
- See Fetal transport.
Though transporters were a quite safe way to get from one point to another, there were still cases of transporter accidents:
Transporter psychosis Edit
In early models of the transporter, errors at the molecular level during rematerialization could cause serious damage to living subjects over time. As a result of these errors, some subjects developed a syndrome that was named "transporter psychosis", first diagnosed on Delinia II in 2209. (TNG: "Realm of Fear")
Rocks embedded in skinEdit
In 2151, Crewman Ethan Novakovich was beamed back from the face of a planet later known as Archer IV by the still-experimental transporter system aboard the Enterprise NX-01. The emergency transport was attempted during a fierce windstorm. Upon arrival, he was unconscious and had rocks, leaves, and other debris from the planet's surface embedded in his skin due to a malfunction in the phase discriminator.
Split one entity into good and evil entitiesEdit
On stardate 1672.1, in 2266, a strange ore had altered the function of the transporter, causing one of the most bizarre transporter accidents on record, in which Captain James T. Kirk was split into two separate entities.
One man embodied all of Kirk's so-called positive qualities and the other embodied all of his "evil" qualities. It was some time before the mishap was discovered, and the malignant version of Kirk roamed the ship, stealing brandy, assaulting crewmen, and even attempting to rape Yeoman Rand.
When he was cornered, and finally captured in the engine room, his errant phaser shot damaged the transporter further. Scotty and Spock isolated and repaired the damage.
Their repairs were confirmed when a test animal, which had previously been split in a similar manner to Kirk, was sent through the transporter in an attempt to reintegrate the two creatures. Upon reintegrating, it rematerialized dead, but McCoy speculated that this was the result of the animal not understanding what was happening to it and dying of fright, where the sentient and rational Kirk would be able to understand what was being done to him and thus be able to cope with it.
Transport to the mirror universeEdit
In 2267, an ion storm near the Halkan homeworld resulted in a power surge in the Enterprise's transporter, causing momentary interdimensional contact with a parallel universe. Captain Kirk, Doctor McCoy, Commander Scott, and Lieutenant Uhura, who were beaming up to the Enterprise at the time, materialized in the other universe, transposing with their counterparts from that universe, who experienced an identical accident at the same time. Later, after reviewing the events which led up to the accident, the Enterprise crewmembers were able to recreate the power surge using energy tapped from the ship's engines, and return to their own universe. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")
According to Intendant Kira, all transporters were subsequently redesigned in order to prevent a recurrence of such an event. Despite this, the Terran rebels were able to develop a multidimensional transporter device capable of reconfiguring transporters for use in beaming from one universe to the other. (DS9: "Crossover", "Through the Looking Glass", "Resurrection")
In the 2270s, two Enterprise crewman, including science officer Commander Sonak and a female officer, were killed in a transporter malfunction of the recently re-fitted Enterprise. Sonak was coming aboard to start his position as science officer. During the transport sequence, a malfunction caused a corruption of the buffer pattern for the commander and the crewperson. As they began to re-materialize, the transporter systems couldn't cope with the data loss and their physical form became "deformed"; the female crewperson screamed out in agony. The transportation failed, returning the deformed bodies back to Earth. The transport chief planet-side reported back, shaken, "Enterprise. What we got back didn't live long... fortunately." The details of their injuries are unknown, only that they visibly grew much shorter than their normal form during the duration of the re-materialization. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
In early 2375, Weyoun 5 was killed in a transporter accident. Damar was to have been with him but "had been called away", casting suspicion on him for possibly "arranging" the incident. (DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")
Split one entity into two identical entitiesEdit
An unusual distortion field meant the Potemkin had difficulty beaming up Riker. A second confinement beam was initiated to overcome these difficulties, with the intent of reintegrating the two beams in the transporter buffer.
This was unnecessary as only one beam was successful at transporting Riker, the modulation of the distortion caused the second beam to be reflected back down to the surface, materializing two Rikers, one on the ship, and one on the planet's surface. Unlike the two Kirks created in 2266, both Rikers were functionally identical to the original man.
The Potemkin left orbit, unknowingly abandoning the duplicate Riker. After eight years, this accident was discovered by the Enterprise-D which revisited the planet, found the second Riker and brought him back to the ship. (TNG: "Second Chances")
In 2369, Jean-Luc Picard, Ro Laren, Guinan and Keiko O'Brien were physically reverted to twelve year olds after the transporter deleted ribo-viroxic-nucleic sequences from their genes. This presented some difficulties, notably with Picard's ability to command and the O'Brien's marital relationship. There were two options; do nothing or attempt to recreate them using their last fully-formed patterns to replace the missing sequences. Beverly Crusher was hesitant to send them through the transporter again until they could figure out what caused the malfunction, fearing they would lose even more and become younger.
Later, it was discovered that a molecular reversion field had penetrated the hull of the shuttle, causing the transporter to only register part of their patterns. Following the upload of their adult patterns, Miles O'Brien successfully re-aged Picard and the others. (TNG: "Rascals")
Rematerialization without clothesEdit
Rematerialization on the wrong coordinatesEdit
In 2270s, the programming of the transporter by Ari bn Bem caused two members of a landing party to rematerialize just next to a cliff overlooking a water party, the rest materializing safely on the cliff. Once materialized, they proceeded to fall into the water. (TAS: "Bem")
In 2371, Benjamin Sisko, Julian Bashir, and Jadzia Dax were accidentally transported to the year 2024 by an explosion in a microscopic singularity while it was passing through the solar system at the time of the beam-out.
Fortunately, Miles O'Brien was able to devise a way to send Kira Nerys and himself to different periods of Earth's history to try and find out where the away team was sent, and then bring them back home.
However, while in the 21st century, Sisko accidentally caused the death of Gabriel Bell, forcing him to assume the identity of this historical figure. (DS9: "Past Tense, Part I") As a result, Sisko is actually in all the historical photos of Bell. (DS9: "Little Green Men")
Transfer to hologramsEdit
In 2372, the patterns of Sisko, Kira, Worf, Dax, and Miles O'Brien were temporarily stored in the computer core of Deep Space 9 to prevent their patterns from degrading because of an explosion on their runabout at the time of beam-out.
Their physical patterns were integrated into a holoprogram run by Julian Bashir, and each took on one of the holographic roles in the program, while their brain patterns were spread throughout the station's computer systems. Eventually, Michael Eddington was able to restore the crew members back to normal by using the still-active transporters on the Defiant. (DS9: "Our Man Bashir")
Two entities merged into oneEdit
Lysosomal enzymes of an alien orchid were the cause of another accident in that same year. Tuvok, Neelix, and the orchid were temporarily merged into one being during transport; as the orchid aided microscopic entities in breeding by allowing them to combine with each other, it accidentally caused Tuvok and Neelix to combine when they were broken down into atoms during transport. "Tuvix", as he named himself (or "themselves"), was a complete mixture of the talents of both crewmembers.
After discovering how to separate the two patterns and retrieve both Tuvok and Neelix, Tuvix protested that such a procedure would be equivalent to murdering him, but the procedure was undertaken anyway, and Tuvok and Neelix were restored. (VOY: "Tuvix")
Other transporter accidentsEdit
It should be noted that by the mid-24th century, there were only an average of two or three transporter accidents a year across the Federation, yet millions of people were transported every day. (TNG: "Realm of Fear")
Background information Edit
- The transporter was developed by the production staff of the original series as a solution of how to get crewmen off a planet quickly. The only alternative was to either land a massive ship each week, or regularly use shuttles for landings, both of which would have wreaked havoc on the production budget. (Star Trek Encyclopedia, 3rd ed., p. 519) Although both of these were proposed in the initial draft of the series outline Star Trek is... (with regular shuttlecraft landings and rare descents of the ship), a revision of the same document (as reprinted in The Making of Star Trek, pp. 22-30) contains one of the first examples wherein the concept of the transporter was outlined. (; The Making of Star Trek, p. 26) The description posits a not-yet-named "energy-matter scrambler which can 'materialize' [landing parties] onto the planet's surface." The outline goes on to say, "This requires maximum beam power and is a tremendous drain on the cruiser's power supply. It can be done only across relatively short line-of-sight distances. Materials and supplies can also be moved in this same manner, but require a less critical power expenditure." (The Making of Star Trek, p. 26)
- Gene Roddenberry considered the invention of the transporter to be highly fortunate and "one of many instances where a compromise forced us into creative thought and actually improved on what we planned to do." He further explained, "If someone had said, 'We will give you the budget to land the ship,' our stories would have started slow, much too slow [....] Conceiving the transporter device [...] allowed us to be well into the story by script page two." (The Making of Star Trek, pp. 43-44)
- The script of "The Cage", the first Star Trek pilot episode, refers to the transporter as consisting of a device that dominates the transporter room and "could be an artist's nightmare-conception of a futuristic x-ray machine," as well as a "glassed-in transporter chamber" that the device hovers over.
- The depiction of the transporter in TOS: "The Man Trap" was instrumental to that installment becoming the first to ever be broadcast. Though "The Man Trap" writer George Clayton Johnson was unaware of this at the time, Herb Solow informed him, years afterwards, of the transporter's importance in convincing the executives at NBC to air "The Man Trap" first. Johnson relayed, "He told me, 'By going with yours, we were able to open the series with the crew getting aboard the transporter device and beaming down to the planet. By letting the audience watch the transporter in action, and letting them see the crew materialize and dematerialize, we were saved from having to try to explain it.'" (George Clayton Johnson - Fictioneer, "Star Trek")
- Arthur Singer, the story editor for the third season of TOS, had some uncertainty about the function of the transporter, which he expressed around three months after D.C. Fontana left the series as story editor. Regarding how Singer voiced his confusion about the device, Fontana recalled, "[He] wandered onto the set and asked our set decorator, 'By the way, what does that transporter thing do again?'"
- The series writers' guide (third revision, dated 17 April 1967) stated about the transporter, "Its range is limited to about 16,000 miles." 
- The writers/directors guide for Star Trek: Phase II contained the exact same statement. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 96) For that series, a "transporter station" was to have been incorporated into the Enterprise bridge, complete with a working transporter. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 20) This was to have served as an equipment transporter, for beaming such things as small tools to the bridge. (text commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (The Director's Edition) DVD) On 13 October 1977, Gene Roddenberry posited that transporters of Phase II would be able to beam through the Enterprise's force field when it was fully raised, by opening a section of the force field in order to make it weak or moderate. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 50) However, the writers/directors guide for the series clarified that the Enterprise's transporter could not be operated while the ship's deflector screen was in operation. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 97)
- Reportedly, Gene Roddenberry briefly considered – early one day, while Star Trek: The Next Generation was in preproduction – vastly increasing the power of the transporter in The Next Generation to such an extent that no main starship was to have been featured in that series. This unusual suggestion was scrapped by the end of lunch on that particular day. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission 1st ed., p. 14) Also during the development of TNG, some consideration was given to the possibility of featuring a transporter on the Galaxy-class bridge, though this idea was soon dropped in favor of turbolifts. (Starlog issue #125, p. 46) Since writer David Gerrold had listed (in his book The World of Star Trek) transporter malfunctions as being a too-overused plot device in the original series, Roddenberry intended to correct this in TNG. (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before paperback ed., p. 110)
- The concept of a long-range transporter was again briefly considered, upon initial development of TNG's final episode, "All Good Things...". The scene in which it was to be used was soon omitted, though. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 3rd ed., p. 301)
- A transporter was originally not budgeted for inclusion aboard the Defiant-class, which was introduced at the start of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's third season. At one stage, however, Herman Zimmerman expected that, as stories and budgets warranted it, transporter facilities would later be added to the Defiant-class. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 97) A transporter for that class was indeed created, designed by Jim Martin. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 112) It debuted in season three's "Past Tense, Part I".
- While Star Trek: Enterprise was in development, Executive Producer Brannon Braga initially wanted there to be no transporter on the Enterprise NX-01, though this idea was disputed by executives at Paramount. "[He] thought transporter technology is in the future," explained André Bormanis, regarding Braga's viewpoint. "Well [...] this became a point of contention with, you know, the powers that be. The compromise we reached was that, okay, it's got a transporter, but it's experimental technology, and they don't really want to use it unless they absolutely have to. And we thought, in the 22nd century, it ought to be more challenging, or better yet, let's not introduce it in the first season. Maybe the second season, they'll upgrade the ship." ("To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise, Part I: Countdown", ENT Season 1 Blu-ray special features)
Sets and props Edit
- The "psychedelic" back wall of the TOS transporter was actually made from reflective, translucent plastic known to musicians as "Drum Wrap" since it's commonly used to adorn the outer cylinders of drum sets. The same plastic later went on to be incorporated into intercoms regularly featured on Star Trek: Enterprise. ("Stigma" text commentary, ENT Season 2 DVD)
- The TOS transporter had a "built-in top and bottom lighting setup for the beaming up/down effects," stated Robert Justman. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 17, p. 13) The transporter pads from TOS were simple Fresnel lenses. John Dwyer, a set decorator who worked on both TOS and TNG, explained, "In the original series, the lights in the platform under the round rings were curved lenses, polished in such a way as to make the light really bright, like you have in lighthouses; but they also use them in the bigger stage lights, and that's what these were." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 25) (See this Flash recreation from a scene deleted from "Mudd's Women" for an indication of the luminosity of a 10,000 watt Fresnel lens.) These components were the only part of the transporter set that remained when the set was redesigned for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (audio commentary, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Blu-ray)) The Next Generation also used the lenses as the units in the ceiling directly over the pads. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 78) Dwyer recounted, "[Production Designer] Herman [Zimmerman] said, 'Hey, that's a good idea; let's just keep it!' So we did." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 25) The same components were additionally included in the transporter of the USS Voyager in Star Trek: Voyager. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 78) Michael Okuda remembered, "One day during, I think, Voyager, I happened to be working in the catwalks above the set and I was looking at those lenses. Five of them looked yellowed and chipped, so I believe that they were from the original series. One of them looked a lot newer." (audio commentary, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Blu-ray))
- The equipment transporter proposed for the Enterprise bridge of Star Trek: Phase II was actually built. One remnant of its construction, a square arrangement of four green lights, was incorporated into the Enterprise bridge of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Regula I transporter in that film involved spotlights reflecting off a glitter ball behind the set, a simple way of achieving the effect of energy patterns on the transporter chamber's back wall. (text commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (The Director's Edition) DVD)
- The faint pattern on the insides of the TNG transporter took its inspiration from a sweater owned by Herman Zimmerman, who created the pattern while prepping TNG. Interested in doing something different from the psychedelic moire patterns of the original series' transporter but not having liked any of the patterns that he or his staff devised for potential use, a frustrated Zimmerman finally took off his sweater and declared, "Here, this is what we'll use!" The pattern was thereafter incorporated into the design of the Enterprise-D's transporter, which was reused as the Enterprise-A's transporter in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. (text commentary, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Special Edition) DVD)
- For Star Trek Generations, the transporter of the Enterprise-D was given a new interior lighting scheme that included the addition of amber gels behind some of the upper transporter lenses from TOS. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 278) Because the original panels from the TNG transporter's back wall had somehow been damaged during preproduction on the film, they were replaced by new but virtually identical panels. (text commentary, Star Trek Generations (Special Edition) DVD)
- At least one of the floor panels from the Enterprise-D transporter was reused as a serving tray in Quark's Bar, Grill, Gaming House and Holosuite Arcade in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. (Secrets of Quark's Bar, DS9 Season 1 special features)
- According to Star Trek: Communicator, the Intrepid-class transporter incorporated "vertical edge-lit Plexiglas and spiky sonic foam lining the walls." (Star Trek: Communicator issue #111, p. 52)
- The floor and ceiling of the transporter aboard the NX-class Enterprise were inspired by the fresnel lenses of TOS. ("Broken Bow" text commentary, ENT Season 1 DVD)
- The operation of the transporter incorporated numerous sound effects. For the original series, the beam-ins and beam-outs included a musical cue written by regular TOS composer Alexander Courage. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 006) Douglas Grindstaff, the series' sound editor, then worked on the sound effect. He commented, "It was a hunk of music. I played with it, and I actually shaved it to fit the optical effect, so that it would be perfect." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 11/12, p. 83)
- The transporter sound effects in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier were reused from previous movies. (Captain's Log: William Shatner's Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, p. 215)
- Upon recreating the TOS-era transporter effect for the Sydney-class transport USS Jenolan of TNG: "Relics", the TOS style of "beaming" sound effect was hunted down from studio archives by co-producer Wendy Neuss. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 219)
- The soundtrack of Star Trek Generations includes the sound effects of the Enterprise-D transporter as well as a Klingon transporter.
- For reproducing the beaming sound for the 2009 film Star Trek, Ben Burtt – who devised the film's sound effects – used the upper frequencies of a set of studio chimes. "I was searching for a method by which they might have created the materialization tones in the original transporter. I wanted something like that," he related. "It was a magical sound but I don't know how they did it. I experimented with a lot of different things, and I found that if I started out with the very highest notes [of the chimes] [...] and I just did a [steady finger] roll [...] you got a really good approximation of something that sounded like dematerialization or materialization." ("Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek", Star Trek (Three disc Blu-ray) special features) Burtt also used a recording of props from the film Frankenstein (1931) he had acquired to go with the initial spark of electricity during a beam up.
First televised depictionsEdit
- One early method of depicting beaming involved an actual light beam between the transporter and its target. In a memo dated 24 August 1964, however, Gene Roddenberry vetoed this idea. "I think we can safely forget the animated beam of light from the transporter chamber to the planet surface," he wrote. "It would be much cheaper and certainly handier from a story point of view to simply 'dematerialize' the passenger in the transporter chamber, 'rematerialize' him on the planet surface. We can also save the effect here of the crew being transported down a light beam to the planet." (The Making of Star Trek, p. 89)
- The transporter effect was experimented with during production on "The Cage", the first Star Trek pilot episode, and – on 28 December 1964 – Roddenberry sent another memo, this time criticizing the effect and providing recommendations on how he thought the appearance of beaming could be improved. He advised, "Eliminate the thick line around the crew members as they are transported. Have a subtle suggestion of sparkle rather than the Peter Pan sparkle presently being used. Get rid of the colored outline. Have crew members slowly dissolve. Maintain whole image with slight flickering of color instead of present solid color." Another suggestion that Roddenberry presented was that, when showing crew members materializing on a planet's surface, "all the actors should have the same color effect instead of the present individual assortment of colors." (The Making of Star Trek, pp. 117-118) For an animation of an early version of the transporter effect, see Special Effects at StarTrekHistory.com.
- The transporter effect ultimately used in The Original Series was a composite created by the Howard Anderson Company. Due to the differences required in each of the shots when the effect was shown, the TOS transporter effect could not rely on stock effects footage, unlike a lot of the series' other effects.  A matte was used to mask the part of the photographic image into which the transporter effect was to be inserted. (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, p. 40) In TOS, individuals came to an immediate standstill whenever they were being beamed. This was mainly due to the limits of effects techniques available at the time of the series' production. (text commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (The Director's Edition) DVD)
- To create the shimmer effect for TOS, Darrell Anderson dropped aluminum dust through a strong light beam, filming this with an upside-down camera. ("The Menagerie, Part II" text commentary, TOS Season 1 DVD) The shiny, backlit grains of aluminum dust were dropped in front of a black backdrop. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 006) Dan Curry commented, "The composites were done on an optical printer, and they were basically glitter swizzled in a jar." ("The Making of A Legend", TNG Season 1 DVD special features) According to Pony R. Horton (VFX artist on the web-based fan-created series Star Trek: Phase II), Hugh Wade – a VFX artist who worked on TOS at Van der Veer Photo Effects during the 1960s – once informed Horton that the most used sparkle elements were created using Alka-Seltzer in hot water, lit from beneath. (citation needed • edit) Following the making of TOS, the photographic element utilized for the beaming effects was put into storage at the Cinema Research Corporation, in a box labeled "Star Trek Transporter Sparkle." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 219) Robert Legato disapproved of the TOS transporter effect, later saying, "One of the things I didn't like about the look of the old show was the sharp silhouette; it looked as if it was just stamped in the middle of the effect." (Starlog #132)
- The transporter effect was to have been recreated for Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek: Phase II. In a memo Roddenberry sent to producer Robert Goodwin on 15 July 1977, Roddenberry instructed Goodwin to write a rough draft of the Writer's Guide for the series and stated, "We should specify that the old-style transporter system will still be used (although we ourselves may improve the optical a little)." (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 29)
Initial film appearancesEdit
- The beaming effect was redone for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Spock actor Leonard Nimoy remembered, "A camera unit and special effects crew spent countless days and hours shooting tests in the transporter room – as though it had never been done before." (I Am Spock, hardback ed., p. 167) The revised beaming effect was done by John Dykstra's company, Apogee, Inc. They combined two methods to create the illusion. The company bought several expensive candy dishes, shattered them, mounted the broken shards of crystal on a motion-control mover and then shone an argon laser through them, rephotographing the patterns that the bits of crystal created on a wall, which are known as Lissajous patterns. This provided the outsides of the effect, whereas the center was created with filtration light flares and moire patterns that were done by moving one pattern atop another before rephotographing the result. Of the inner effect, Dykstra remarked, "[It was] what we call a slot gag [....] It was a two-dimensional effect that looked three-dimensional, because the convention of the way the moire looked." (audio commentary, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director's Edition)) Commenting in simple terms about The Motion Picture's transporter effect, SFX artist Adam "Mojo" Lebowitz said, "One of the elements is just sparkles in a bottle of water. That's very easy to do. You just light it, film it, and stick it into a shot as a composite." (Star Trek Monthly issue 86, p. 51)
- The sequence from The Motion Picture in which two transportees die in a malfunctioning transporter incorporated both of the effects methods typically used for the beam-in as well as a third, using Mylar to distort footage of the two actors playing the victims. "Essentially what it was," explained John Dykstra, "was a flat Mylar sheet which worked as a perfect optical mirror when left flat. But then when you distorted the surface, it created these very unusual optical distortions. So, we rephotographed the actors, in their normal form, through this mirror and did motion-controlled distortion of the mirror to create the distortion of their image." (audio commentary, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director's Edition))
- For The Director's Edition DVD release of The Motion Picture, the transporter effect was not altered, unlike many of the film's other visual effects. "When you're trying to generate everything with the computer," stated Mojo, "you have to find a way to make the sparkles happen. And it actually can wind up taking a lot more time than doing it the 'old-fashioned' way." (Star Trek Monthly issue 86, pp. 51-52)
- For the subsequent trilogy of films – namely, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – the visual effects involved in portraying the uses of transporters fell under the supervision of Industrial Light & Magic. The beaming effects were repeatedly revised in these early Star Trek films, along with other basic effects such as warp jumps and phaser beams. Kenneth Ralston, who supervised the visual effects of all three movies, had concerns about the ongoing changes, though he was outvoted at the time. "The directors were driving the film, and we begged them not to do that," Ralston stated. "They were cool looks, and although I didn't like those in the first films, to me it's like a car. I don't really care what it looks like – it's just taking me from point A to point B. Wherever you're beaming them, that's the most important thing. I was just trying to save a few pennies and do something quick and painless. I don't remember which movie it was, but it was as if the design on it went on forever." (Star Trek Monthly issue 49, p. 41)
- For Star Trek II, the transporter effects were provided by Visual Concept Engineering and some initial consideration went into re-envisioning the standard appearance of the effect. "The way we wanted to do the transporter effect would have been more interesting than what they ended up with," stated VCE founder Peter Kuran. "We would have liked to show a person's body sort of building as he was beaming in... skeleton appearing first, then veins and finally clothing. Not exactly like This Island Earth, but more like an effect I saw once in The Outer Limits." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 34) In fact, the proposed redesign was specifically inspired by The Outer Limits episode "The Special One". Producer Robert Sallin, however, opted for a more conventional approach to achieving the effect. (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, p. 68) "Paramount wanted a very high-tech electronic look, with a moire effect and strobes and flashes," Kuran explained. "And one of the things they emphasized was that they didn't want to use freeze-frames for the transporter process the way they had in the old series and the first movie. They tried to make a point of having people moving while they were being transported. We did a lot of articulate mattes to follow most of the action in those sequences, which took a lot of time. Then they decided they didn't want to see that effect, so we ended up throwing most of them away." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 34) Finally deciding upon the look of the effect, Paramount settled on merging two pillars of light; the transporter effect still varied from its appearance in the first film, yet was not so radically different. (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, p. 68) The idea of having people move during beaming remained as a new element of the second film, in which people even talk during the beaming process, two aspects of the effect that director Nicholas Meyer decided to emphasize. (text commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (The Director's Edition) DVD)
- During the making of the sequel films featuring the original series cast, one controversial aspect was the degree to which the visual effects involved in the films' depictions of beaming resembled the equivalent effects from the original series. Industrial Light & Magic Animation Supervisor Charlie Mullen, who worked on the appearance of the transporter effects for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, commented (shortly after the making of that film), "I think it depends on who's directing the movie. Everyone wants something distinctive, but nobody wants it to get far enough away from the TV series to really startle the Trekkies." (Cinefex, No. 18, p. 56)
- It was with a visual effects team from ILM that Charlie Mullen created the look of the transporter beam effects in Star Trek III. Mullen recalled, "It was the first thing on Trek that we worked on." One requirement was that the revised transporter effect be stylized for both Starfleet and Klingon beaming sequences. It was also thought preferable if the new effect could be positioned more precisely on the person or item that was being transported than vaguely in the general area. At first, an animation effect was experimented with, but this did not prove to be entirely successful. "It looked too animated–a cel animation type of thing," Mullen explained. "We kept trying to get closer to the source of the effects–to use light as artwork, rather than animation cels as artwork." (Cinefex, No. 18, p. 56)
- The ILM group finally settled on another method, attaching a high-intensity light bulb to one of several paint bars on an animation stand. The bulb could be positioned exactly wherever the effect was intended to begin, such as directly where the diaphragm of a transportee was, thus achieving one of the team's goals. Each beaming effect started with a rotomatte of the person. A horizontal slot was then cut, providing a window that the light was positioned in. The contents of the window was all that could be seen by looking at the animation stand. "It's a little sharper look–hot in the middle and tapering off top and bottom," commented Bruce Walters, one of two ILM Effects Animators who worked on the film. "A computer-generated move would cause the light to fade up quickly and spread from the center to one edge, where it would die off. Then the bulb would return automatically to the center, fade up again, and spread from the center off the opposite side. The height was controlled by two things–the exposure makes it higher or lower, and the optical printer can be taped off to soften it, in case we couldn't make it as small as we needed." (Cinefex, No. 18, p. 56)
- The transporter effect in Star Trek III involved filters and some subtle animation. For example, a flashing blue and white color element that was part of the effect was given a vertical look via the use of numerous kinds of filters that were located at the front of the lens, making the light seem as if it was actually stretched into vertical bands. These filters were basic hand-made creations. "We used a piece of acetate that had been rubbed with an eraser in one direction until it looked frosted," Walters clarified. "All the abrasion that's been done with the eraser tends to stretch the light out in one direction. It's almost like looking at a reflection in a piece of stainless steel." Other filters used were color gels. Two layers of this type of gel were laid over the artwork. "We'd lay a yellow with a red on top, for instance, then scratch the red so that a light passing underneath would flicker red and yellow," explained Walters. "We even used moire patterns on some of them that ran together–it didn't give it a moire pattern look, but it broke up the light in an unpredictable fashion. The computer repeated the moves left and right, creating something like a curtain of light that defined the shape of the individual–then over the shape of the transporter tube in which the body was disappearing." Effects animation subsequently added tiny, flickering highlights that were known as "bugs" and were actually residual ripple-glass elements that filled the empty spaces where an apparently transporting individual had seemingly been. With this basic method, each transporter effect had to be filmed with at least four passes. It was then decided that the top and bottom of each transporter tube should have an initial glow as if the tubes were lighting up. (Cinefex, No. 18, p. 56) "Those had to be rotoed at the edges," stated Charlie Mullen, "and in a lot of cases there would be somebody standing in the foreground, in front of a light that had to go on in the background. A lot of people had to be articulated–at least mattes for their head and shoulders had to be done– so the glow in the background wouldn't take the top of their heads off if somebody's transporter lit up behind them." (Cinefex, No. 18, pp. 56 & 59)
- Lastly, Star Trek III's transporter effect had to look differently for its alternate Klingon and Starfleet versions. Charlie Mullen commented, "The Klingon transporters are red and yellow–they look more aggressive, more flickering than the Federation ones. The Federation's transporters are a lot smoother, while the Klingon transporters are more erratic. It's just a subtle thing, but it works real well." (Cinefex, No. 18, p. 59)
- Creating complex beaming sequences for Star Trek III sometimes involved as many as four or more ILM crew members and the work became fairly intensive. (Cinefex, No. 18, p. 56) In fact, most of the people involved were ultimately in agreement that the film's transporter effects turned out to be more trouble than was absolutely necessary. However, Charlie Mullen accepted the considerable effort expended on creating those effects as an implication of having become ambitious for a particular look. (Cinefex, No. 18, p. 59)
- The transporter effect for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was handled by ILM's animation department. (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 70) Bruce Walters (who was credited as an Animation Camera Operator in Star Trek IV) was involved in creating the typical beaming effects, doing so in much the same way as had become the norm for achieving this type of illusion. By now, the basic transporter effect was fairly easy to generate, as Walters had a program for controlling everything except the actual positioning of the effect. (Cinefex, No. 29, p. 26)
- Star Trek IV presented the first case of a person walking while being transported; this happens to Spock as he is pacing toward camera, with trees in the background. The historic illusion was done via a motion control effect, executed by Bruce Walters. Animation Supervisor Ellen Lichtwardt regarded the effect as "the shot with the most interesting problems to solve" and went on to comment, "We had to do the transporter beams and match the move to Spock's movement." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 71) Spock's walking, however, presented some new issues for the animators, mainly because Leonard Nimoy swung from side to side as he paced. "[It] wasn't really obvious until we tried to match-move it," explained Bruce Walters. "But when we match-moved the transporter to his movement it looked funny because it was swinging from one side to the other. To avoid that problem, I plotted Spock's movement and found the average path of his moves – sort of a central core of movement that the transporter beam could follow." Conjuring up Spock's disappearance was no easy task for the film's visual effects department, either. Optical Supervisor Ralph Gordon recollected, "The problem was that the live-action plate had a minute but continuous pan in it. It didn't lock off as they usually do in a transporter shot. As a result, we had to isolate Spock, put the beam on him, fade out that side of the plate and then dissolve to an empty plate there – while still maintaining the [...] other side [of the live-action plate]. So the challenge was to find an area where we could do a split-screen without this big gaping line coming in to show. Animation wound up hiding the line in the shadow of the trees." (Cinefex, No. 29, p. 26-27) Of the final effect, Lichtwardt observed, "The dots that appear as he's being transported fade out in perspective as he's coming toward camera." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 71)
- Bruce Walters also created an unusual beaming effect for the whales in Star Trek IV, George and Gracie. "The whales needed to have sort of interesting transporter look, because they're so big," said Ellen Lichtwardt. (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 71) Owing to the largely horizontal shape of whales in contrast to the vertically-oriented transporter beam, Walters described the challenge of creating the effect as "particularly difficult." "To do it, I wound up creating a whole row of transporter beams just to [cover] them up. The beams were still vertical, but there were several of them laid side by side. We had to do about thirty passes on them – about fifteen passes for the yellow and orange [gels], and another fifteen passes for a white flare." (Cinefex, No. 29, p. 27) Remarked Lichtwardt, "It's very similar to the other look [i.e. the regular Klingon transporter pattern], but there are more panels of beams which expand across the screen, over which we added a nice white element." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 71) However, the white flare ultimately wasn't used. (Cinefex, No. 29, p. 27)
- For Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, transporter beam animation was once again provided by Visual Concept Engineering. (Cinefex number 49, p. 41)
Sequel series representationsEdit
- A new transporter effect was designed for Star Trek: The Next Generation, by Robert Legato. (Cinefex, No. 37, p. 13) There were several vital aspects Legato had to consider for the illusion, including its design approach. "It was probably the most difficult shot I did when I first came onto the show," he confessed. "At first, the producers suggested that we screen all of the different transporter effects used over the years to see what we liked and what we didn't. It was decided to go with the effect that was used in the old TV series, but updated a little." (Starlog #132) "We thought we could do better than that," noted Fred Raimondi, who was the effects editor on TNG's first season. (Cinefex, No. 37, p. 13) Continued Legato, "Of course, in addition to updating the old effect, I had to come up with something that could be done fairly cheaply on videotape week after week. Now, any effect can be accomplished, given enough time, but if it takes six hours to do one and you have five transporter shots in a show, you're going to spend all of your time in the video editing bay just doing transporter effects [....] I had to devise something that could be done literally in one hour. Effectively, we needed to be able to just stamp them out." (Starlog #132)
- Multiple methods of creating the TNG transporter effect were experimented with. "It took three tries to get it right," explained Rob Legato. "First, I had it quite a bit different with three different layers of sparkles which would change from a [small] type of sparkle to larger and larger ones so that what was left was maybe three or four large ones which slowly dissipated. Well, that was too dissimilar to the old TV series. However, I wanted to have a little streak effect at the beginning to initiate its transformation, instead of it just being all sparkle. I wanted an effect that suggested something appearing to shoot through the system, causing it to break down. So, I refined it a little bit more in terms of timing and so that the effect left a pattern as it did in the old shows." (Starlog #132)
- The production company Rick Zettner & Associates, Inc. produced the TNG beaming effect. ("The Making of A Legend", TNG Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features) Rob Legato related, "We shot various streaks and sparkles on back lit artwork." (Starlog #132) Ultimately, the latter of the two elements was actually represented with glitter. ("The Making of A Legend", TNG Season 1 DVD special features) These regular metallic sparkles were dumped into a water tank, then stirred. Another method of suspending the sparkles for filming would have been to have them float in air, although Legato described the use of a water tank as "the easiest way" to suspend them. (1988 "Reading Rainbow" segment with LeVar Burton, TNG Season 2 Blu-ray special features)
- The creation of the revised transporter effect proceeded with Rob Legato bringing all the elements of the illusion to Fred Raimondi. "He had done some full-screen animation of blue streaks that dropped into frame over a black background and also some full-screen animation of sparkles," remembered Raimondi. "He wanted to combine them into an effect that would last five seconds, creating the element that would comprise the actual 'beam in' effect." (Cinefex, No. 37, p. 13)
- The transporter effect, which was ultimately created on film but with some video work, underwent some further refinements. Fred Raimondi handled the actual hands-on manipulation of the visual, while Rob Legato directed the session. (Cinefex, No. 37, p. 13) "We moved the two sparkle patterns against each other to create a moving moire effect," Legato explained, "and then with some video ADO [originally Ampex Digital Optics, but now used generically] I extended the streaking." (Starlog #132) Fred Raimondi similarly recalled, "We decided that the streaks needed more 'oomph' – so we took the streak element and displaced it by five frames in the DDR [an Abekas Digital Disk Recorder], creating a two-layered streak. That looked promising so we did it again, creating a three-layered streak." (Cinefex, No. 37, p. 13) Legato added, "We made it more three dimensional by moving the different layers of the effect at different rates, the foreground is larger and moves faster than the background layers. Dimensionally, it adds a little roundness to the effect." (Starlog #132) Concluded Raimondi, "We added the twinkles to the streak element by doing a soft-edge wipe between the two, using our switcher which has a built-in wipe function. The wipe tracked the edge of the streak element, replacing the streaks with sparkles. Once we were happy with the transition, we dubbed it from the DDR to one-inch tape, which became our master 'beam in' effect." (Cinefex, No. 37, p. 13) Hence, a master transport effect could be applied, any time the beaming effect was to be used. (Cinefex, No. 61, p. 72)
- As well as the streaking "shower curtain" element, which initiated the beam-in and beam-out, and the generic field of sparkles, the transporter effect also included original photography of the actors disappearing. The illusion of a group of people beaming to a location was done by first shooting the set clean, then filming the set with the performers in it, and finally adding a five-second dissolve around the actors. "That's a simple effect," noted Effects Editor Peter Moyer, who regularly provided the transporter effect for TNG. (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine, Vol. 12, p. 20) As Rob Legato had not liked the TOS concept of using sharp silhouttes as part of the beaming effect, the team who devised the illusion's TNG rendition decided to do something different for the outline mattes. "We made special silhouette mattes which soften the inside edges so that the sparkles seem to go out and fade off!" exclaimed Legato. "Again, a feeling of roundness is achieved by having the effect get a little darker at the edge so it appears to be going around the back edge. That combination seemed to be the best." (Starlog #132) Explained Fred Raimondi, "Then we had our artist – Laurie Resnick – use the Quantel Paintbox to make articulate mattes with a soft edge [....] For the transporter we used an airbrush-style function to create people mattes with a ghostly soft edge." (Cinefex, No. 37, p. 13)
- To help blend the TNG beaming effect into each live-action scene, a final subtle touch was devised; an Ampex Digital Optics enabled Fred Raimondi to feed in the full-frame master transport effect. "From there it was a relatively simple matter to position and rotate the ADO panel – which now contained the transporter effect – to fit over each actor individually," said Raimondi, "creating a sense of perspective and depth. As each shot progresses, a series of circular soft-edge wipes from the switcher is employed to manipulate the sparkles into various areas of the body." (Cinefex, No. 37, p. 13) The final stage of the illusion was residual glitter on the actor's chest or the center of the object that was meant to look like it was being transported. ("The Making of A Legend", TNG Season 1 DVD special features)
- Showing en masse uses of the transporter was made much easier to accomplish using digital technology. "We're able to have five, six, seven, eight, nine people on transporters and it's all single generation quality accomplished as a complete composite in an hour," stated Rob Legato. "With tape, it would have taken hours just to get 17 machines running in sync through the switcher." (Starlog #132) However, the dissolves were not necessarily simplistic to create. Peter Moyer remarked, "When you have people or objects in the foreground, [...] then we have to have custom mattes made, which we do with the DF/X 200." The Ampex ADO 3000, a holdout matte to define the area of transportation, and a switcher wipe for the creation of the subtle afterglow were still all used for these more elaborate dissolves. (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine, Vol. 12, p. 20)
- The Klingon beaming effect in TNG was hurriedly conceived by Visual Effects Supervisor Ronald B. Moore and Dan Curry. However, neither was particularly pleased with the results. (Cinefex, No. 61, p. 73)
- Dan Curry was assigned to generate the Borg transporter effect. "I wanted something that didn't look like the Star Trek Starfleet transporter," he noted. ("Q Who" audio commentary, TNG Season 2 Blu-ray) The effect was achieved with animation. "Dan did it with a very simple art," Michael Okuda offered, "with pieces of film sliding against each other so that they would reveal light in different ways." ("Energized! Season Two Tech Update", TNG Season 2 Blu-ray special features) Curry himself explained, "It's basically a slot gag where I would draw by hand on a paintbox [....] A slot gag is dragging one clear element over another, and the illusion of motion like the spiraling energy around the Borg results from dragging basically a series of figure eights over contour drawings of the Borg." This rendered the illusion in such a way as to give it a remarkably dimensional appearance. "Yeah, 'cause basically when I drew the contour lines, I took into account the, you know, the anatomy of the Borg," said Curry, "and how they, energy beams, would run over its surface." ("Q Who" audio commentary, TNG Season 2 Blu-ray) Okuda described the illusion as "interesting" and one of many "absolutely genius, old-school techniques" that Curry employed on the series. ("Energized! Season Two Tech Update", TNG Season 2 Blu-ray special features)
- The creation of a transporter effect for the episode "Identity Crisis", in footage featuring actors seemingly frozen in time, turned into a notable experience. Because Ron Moore had a lot to oversee during the filming of the scene, he didn't notice that the camera began to move during the beam-out. "I didn't talk about it much but when I was in the edit bay with my postproduction team, we discovered [...] [the] glitch [....] Today that would not be a big thing but at the time it caused us to sweat a bit getting the effect to look right. So this became one of the first episodes with a transporter happening while the camera was moving." ("Chapter 1: A Night on the Set", Flying Starships)
- When tasked with producing the beaming effect of the USS Jenolen in the episode "Relics", Dan Curry remembered seeing the box storing the actual effect element for the TOS transporter, while working as an intern at Cinema Research Corp., and he was thus able to retrieve it. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 219) In order to handle the transporter effects in TNG series finale "All Good Things...", Ron Moore took a moment from working on the then-upcoming film Star Trek Generations. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 3rd ed., p. 302)
- Adam Howard and Scott Rader each wrangled with the beam-in and beam-out effects for The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. (Cinefex, No. 69, p. 106) The company initially responsible for the transporter effects in DS9 was Digital Magic, where Adam Howard worked at that time. (The Making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, p. 242) The DS9 transporter effects were subsequently done by Pacific Ocean Post, where Scott Rader worked. "We work on live action plates – all the transporter effects and gags of making people disappear into thin air," he commented. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 64) The transporter effect used by the Hunters in DS9: "Captive Pursuit" was inspired by a scene in the film Metropolis, in which the "Maria" robot transforms into humanistic form. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 28) Recalled Dan Curry, "We changed the transporter a little bit for Voyager, too." Since the starship Voyager was conceived as a newly established craft, the visual effects artists felt the slight redesign of the beaming effect was justified. Curry added, "We use the same classic sparkle element we've always used, but instead of having what we call the old 'shower curtain' effect we have the blue light pulses; the theory is that they're doing these scans and preparing the way for the materialization of the person." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 105, p. 59)
- For remastering TNG on its Blu-ray releases, a roomful of compositors were tasked with taking the raw elements of the series' transporter effects and putting them together in a way as close as possible to how they were originally composited. (Star Trek Magazine issue 168, p. 57) Though very minimal changes were made to the beaming effects, there certainly was inherently more depth to them. René Echevarria liked the remastered transporter effects, referring to them as "really nice" and noticing the increase in depth. ("Preemptive Strike" audio commentary, TNG Season 7 Blu-ray special features)
- Michael Okuda witnessed Dan Curry teach visual effects artists who worked on the TNG remaster project about how the Borg transporter effect was achieved. As the illusion seemed three-dimensional and highly state-of-the-art, the learners were amazed to discover the effect was actually done very simply. ("Energized! Season Two Tech Update", TNG Season 2 Blu-ray special features)
- To help distinguish the Jem'Hadar from other Star Trek species, a new transporter effect had to be designed for the group. It made its first appearance, along with the Jem'Hadar themselves, in DS9 Season 3 finale. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 25/26, No. 6/1, p. 108)
- A new three-dimensional look was introduced for the Starfleet transporter effect in Generations, supervised by Ron Moore. Being considered fairly routine, the transporter beams were not created by ILM (though that company worked on all the exterior space scenes in the film). (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 3rd ed., p. 313) Rather than customary vertical streaks appearing over the profile of each person transporting, the redesigned effect – created at CIS Hollywood – consisted of curved streaks that were made to flash downward and suggest the transportee's actual body contours. "We went in with Flame and redid the beaming effect, which wound up being a bigger deal than we had hoped," stated Moore. "We didn't have a 'master' transport effect that could just be plugged in, as we did on the series – instead, each person being beamed had his or her own custom effect. It took days, instead of the hour or so we were used to; but Flame really brought out the dimensionality of it." The beaming was also composited with Flame. Additional tweaking, used to add subtleties which would integrate the effects and live-action footage, was carried out in CIS Hollywood's electronic paint and effects suite. (Cinefex, No. 61, p. 72)
- The Klingon transporter effect was also redone for Generations, after the opportunity to make improvements to the illusion – following its somewhat dissatisfying TNG appearances – was seized by Ron Moore. He prepared a demonstration of what the revamped effect might look like, a demo realized by Scott Rader at Digital Magic, then went to CIS to accomplish the finalized effect. (Cinefex, No. 61, p. 73)
- The Starfleet beaming effect was returned to its TNG appearance for Star Trek: First Contact. This encore of the transporter effect was due to Adam Howard and Scott Rader at Pacific Ocean Post. (Cinefex, No. 69, p. 106) The effect was ultimately updated for First Contact, however, building on how it had appeared before. Visual Effects Supervisor David Takemura later explained, "That was my decision – to do something cooler, to add one thing I always thought was lacking in some of the other movies for the transporter effect: a measure of dimensionality, a little more 3D sense of what was happening inside their bodies as they're materializing. So we created some new CG elements at Pacific Ocean Post and added that. I think it makes a big difference in giving the beam-in effect some depth." Laughing, Takemura concluded, "I certainly like it better." (The Making of Star Trek: First Contact, p. 123)
- A Starfleet transporter effect, albeit made to look more energetic and have more contrast than the usual one from TNG, was created by POP Film and POP Animation for Star Trek: Insurrection. Though this was initially done for the materialization effect of an on-line replicator featured in an ultimately deleted scene, POP's numerous transporter effects were retained after the scene was cut. POP also provided these transporter elements to Blue Sky/VIFX and Santa Barbara Studios, for compositing into their own effects shots from the movie. (Cinefex, No. 77, p. 78)
- Uses of a Son'a beam-out effect in Insurrection were originally to have been realized with a CGI version of the traditional ILM transporter effect from previous Star Trek films. Max Ivins, who served as one of two Digital Supervisors for the film's Second Unit filming team, stated, "I had the people turning into vertical light streaks, with residual particles that continued to drift in the direction of their original movement. I used a 3-D process based on each person's outline and contour. But since this was not a Starfleet/Federation beam-out, Paramount decided that effect would not be appropriate." Instead, Blue Sky/VIFX ultimately approached the effect, which came to be known as a "tag-out," by utilizing distorted-glass imagery typical of glass used in showers. (Cinefex, No. 77, pp. 83 & 84-85)
- The Starfleet transporter effect in Star Trek: Enterprise was intended to look reminiscent of its forebears, though still believable for its audience. "[It] is still coming out of process," reported Foundation Imaging VFX artist David Morton, early in the series' development. "We did some experiments with that. Dan Curry had a very specific mental picture [of this effect]. I think it will hearken to the [Star Trek: The Original Series] style, but we also want it to look good to today's audiences." With a chuckle, Morton added, "I don't think we're just going to resort to dropping sprinkles in front of a bright light." (Star Trek Monthly issue 86, pp. 22-23) Curry himself later commented, "We had to do a variation on the transporter that looked more primitive than what we were doing on Voyager and Deep Space Nine, yet took advantage of the increased technology we now have available that was not available when we did TNG." (Star Trek Monthly issue 92, p. 11) Curry also explained, "In this case, we did more of a blur rather than just an enhanced dissolve, where you'd see the object kind of blur in and take shape a little bit more, of an event that's happening in the air." ("Broken Bow" audio commentary, ENT Season 1 Blu-ray)
- Although the transporter effect was handled by much the same group of visual effects artists from TNG to ENT, producing the effect – by the time of the latter (and later) series – had not become completely easy for all occasions. "You would think that a transporter effect that we had done so often would be a piece of cake. But there are a lot of elements and mattes being used and even though we had done it hundreds of times, each shot was unique," explained Ron Moore. "Things made it more difficult than you would think. One thing that changed was the ambient light. For example, if a person beamed down to a planet surface in the daytime it could be tricky to make the beam and particles look good. If the person beamed down at night it was completely different. The transporter beam should act a little like a light bulb and cast light on objects around it. All this had to be added. If there was someone standing near him or her during the transport you would expect to see light on them and even throw a shadow [....] So, even though we had done many transporters, they could still be a real challenge." As an example, Ron Moore found, much to the surprise of Jonathan Archer actor Scott Bakula, that the hardest effect to create for ENT pilot episode "Broken Bow" was a transporter shot wherein Archer was beamed out of a temporal communications chamber aboard a Suliban Helix while the actor playing him ran towards camera. ("Introduction", Flying Starships)
- One of the first steps in the process of revising the transporter effect for the film Star Trek involved visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett studying the various beaming effects created for the previous Star Trek films and television series. (Cinefex, No. 118, p. 67) As director and co-producer J.J. Abrams found the original series' transporter effect too static and two-dimensional, the redesigned effect was made to encompass more movement to increase how realistic it looked, such as by having the energy beams swirl around an actor and be shown with a moving camera. Abrams also wanted the effect to envelope every part of the actor's body and even some of their surroundings. He later recalled, "It was the idea of light circling around people and the space they occupy. It wasn't just the shape of a person that would go into a light color, rather the person was enveloped and defined by the energy and light." (Star Trek - The Art of the Film, p. 105) ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Russell Earl offered, "J.J. described the effect as transporting particles of not only the person but also the immediate space around them. As particles formed, they generated light and became visible, spinning in space. This built to a flash, and then the person disappeared." ILM continued the efforts to bring a photographic realism to the effect. "We focused on the idea of the space around the person starting to activate," Earl explained, "encircling the subject as particles were sucked away and reconstituted elsewhere." Still adhering to the premise of objects and people transporting as particles, digital artists at ILM generated points of spinning light by using a three-dimensional particle simulation. "We built matchmove proxy geometry of characters," said Earl, "and then ran [the] 3D particle simulation, slowly building up the number of particles, which produced trails of light." ILM compositors then blended the effects with warping and interactive light passes using ILM's high-speed SABRE compositing system, adding even more realism to the overall design. "We did warping in the composite, and did Saber [sic] work with particle passes and interactive light passes to simulate a three-dimensional effect," Earl related. (Cinefex, No. 118, pp. 64 & 67)
- In Star Trek Adventure, where volunteers were picked from the audience, there was an optical illusion using lens distortion to simulate the transporter, which was then further edited to video for purchase after the show.
The transporter is the only technology which is commonly used in Star Trek productions but which André Bormanis, at least as of 1996, deemed as "a real stretch" of the imagination. "The Heisenberg uncertainty principle makes it impossible to know the exact location and energy of any particular subatomic particle. Therefore, were you to disassemble a person as the transporter does, it may well be impossible to put them back together again," he explained. "We have reason to believe that this is because of some very basic physical facts about the universe and there's no way to get around that." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 76)
Although the catch phrase "Beam me up, Scotty" has worked its way into pop culture, the exact phrase itself has never been uttered in Star Trek. (Star Trek Encyclopedia) The closest usage to the phrase came in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, when Kirk requests, "Scotty, beam me up." Similarly, in "This Side of Paradise", Kirk states, "Beam me up, Mr. Spock." Only two other instances have used unqualified references to the phrase "Beam me up" – "The Squire of Gothos" and "Time's Arrow".
According to Michael DeMeritt, the performers who portrayed persons who were beamed up were frequently thrilled to do so. He stated, "This is every actor's dream, whoever gets on Star Trek. 'Please, beam me up.'" (ENT: "North Star" audio commentary, ENT Season 3 DVD) Veteran Star Trek actor Vaughn Armstrong cited the transporter as his "favourite piece of Trek tech" and said, "I can't think of anything better." Similarly, when Pat Tallman was asked what her favorite technology from the franchise was, she included in her answer the rhetorical question, "Who doesn't wish for the transporter?" (Star Trek Monthly issue 90, pp. 31 & 32)
In The Worlds of the Federation (p. 16), the first transporting of a Human is said to have taken place in the transporter room of the USS Moscow.
A partial explanation for the difference between transporters between Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation is provided in the TNG novel Dark Mirror, where the Enterprise-D encounters a mirror universe where the Terran Empire continues into the 24th century; when discussing the original crossover, Chief Miles O'Brien notes that transporters in Kirk's era were essentially more powerful, but a lot less sophisticated, with people lacking knowledge of how some spatial anomalies would affect the system even if its sheer power tended to compensate for those shortcomings.
In the novel adaptation "Broken Bow", it is said that, before the verb of "beam" had been accepted for describing the process of transporting, Starfleet had considered the words "scramble", "heat," "disassemble," and "spear," although "beam" had been considered the least frightening term.