Die-hard ‘Trekkies’ may already be familiar with Star Trek Continues, a popular, fan-produced Web series that picks up where ‘The Original Series’ left off in 1969. The show is produced and directed by Vic Mignogna, who also stars in it, and is shot on a stage in Georgia, complete with recreations of the Enterprise’s bridge, corridors, transporter room and sick bay.
Andy Farber (email@example.com) is a New York-based composer, musician and Juilliard teacher (photo right) who grew up watching Star Trek, a show that inspired him to pursue a career in music and scoring to picture. He was a viewer of another fan-made series —
Star Trek New Voyages — which led him to reach out to offer his composing services. And while he didn’t work on that series, he did ultimately connect with the
Continues team, and has since contributed to two episodes, with a third in the works in the next few weeks.
So far, there are five complete episodes, which can be viewed online on YouTube, Vimeo, or the show’s official Website (www.startrekcontinues.com). Farber is scheduled to work on Episode 6 in March and April. The series’ producers plan to release 13 episodes in total, for what will be considered a ‘complete’ season.
Music from the original series (TOS) was used as the score for Star Trek Continues’ first three episodes. Episode 4/"The White Iris” was temp tracked with library music, and Farber then transcribed it and re-recorded it. He also created a partial score. That was the case for Episode 5/”Divided We Stand” as well. Episode 6 will feature a complete score by the composer.
“In those days, pre-1972 or ‘73, the musicians' union required that a dramatic, hour-long television series with underscore, that you had to score a certain amount of minutes of original music for a season for 26 [episodes], and after you exhausted those required minutes, you could re-use whatever you wanted to,” Farber explains. “So consequently, out of the first season, there’s only seven original scores and maybe a hundred or less pieces of library music. After they scored those seven episodes, they re-used library music until you got to Season 2, where they started it again — there’s another six or seven original scores and library cues. And the same for the third season.”
Back then, the series’ original composer would figure out the feel of a particular episode and what instrumentation should be used.
“An example,” says Farber, “a very action-oriented episode would have more brass and less strings, whereas one that was more romantic would have more strings and fewer brass instruments.”
When he worked on Episode 4 of Star Trek Continues, Farber had access to an orchestra at the Eastman School of Music.
“It’s a student-run orchestra that’s made up of Eastman Conservatory students, but it’s not an official [part of the] school. It’s something they started on their own called the Empire Film Music Ensemble. I was able to use a string section, because certain cues required that, and other cues were more of a woodwind/brass/percussion-based thing.”
For Episode 5, Farber had to put together a collection of volunteer musicians in the New York area.
“Stylistically, I went with a wind ensemble with very few strings,” he recalls. “In that case I used six woodwinds, three trumpets, three trombones, three French horns, a tuba, a drummer, a mallet percussionist, a couple of bass players, three celli, and a piano. I had to use electronic samples of tympani where they were required because there was no money to rent it.”
Working with real musicians was all part of the plan to make the score sound like it might have in 1969, when MIDI didn’t yet exist. He uses Sybelius software when composing and Logic for recording when working from his home studio. In some cases, he is able to write and record preliminary tracks with reference melody and timing that can be sent to his team of musicians, who then re-record their parts and send files back to him, via Dropbox, for assembly of a final track. He uses a 24-fader Mackie console for mixing in his studio, but will go out of house to mix final tracks, opting for a studio with a larger analog console and the ability to mix in realtime.