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Excelsior Bridge 3

The viewscreen aboard the USS Excelsior displaying computer-enhanced images

A viewscreen (or main viewer) was an audio/visual device used as early as the 2150s aboard starships, space stations, and at planetary facilities by space-faring organizations including Starfleet, the Borg Collective, the Cardassian Union, the Klingon Empire, and the Romulan Star Empire.

These devices were used to display various types of images from sensor data and communications signals.

General specificationsEdit

Viewscreen refit Enterprise

The viewscreen aboard the USS Enterprise displaying red alert status in the 2270s

Generally consisting of a large screen located on the bridge of a starship (or operations center of a space station or starbase), the viewscreen was an almost universal facet of space exploration and colonization dating as far back as the 22nd century, surviving well into the 23rd and 24th centuries.

Viewscreen targeting, remastered

The viewscreen aboard the USS Enterprise-D with a targeting reticule, 2364

Typically used to display images of the area immediately around or in front of a starship, the viewscreen could provide views from all directions, as well as call up data from the library computer. It was also essential in ship-to-ship communication, allowing face-to-face conference if so desired, utilizing subspace and other communications systems. Visual contact, however, could only be achieved when in visual range. Intra-ship communications were also possible, though the main viewer was rarely used for this function. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; TNG: "Ship in a Bottle"; VOY: "The Cloud")

When necessary, the image on the viewscreen could be magnified - 24th century starships easily gaining a magnification of 106. The image could also be augmented, with the ship's computer displaying extrapolated images or graphics displaying sensor data. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; ENT: "Broken Bow")

StarfleetEdit

NX-classEdit

NX class viewscreen

The main viewer aboard Enterprise NX-01

Installed as early as 2151 aboard Starfleet vessels including NX-class starships, the viewscreen was located on the front bulkhead of the main bridge. Rectangular in shape, the main viewer aboard these vessels provided a wide screen view of the space around the ship, as well as visual communications. They were capable of processing multiple inputs simultaneously, as was sometimes seen when two or more parties wished to have a joint conversation with Enterprise.

ViewscreenSplitScreen

Muroc and Telev in a multi-party communication on Enterprise viewscreen

In the year 2152, the crew of Enterprise NX-01 mounted a sophisticated sensor on the grappler arm allowing their sensors to detect and display onscreen cloaked Suliban and Romulan vessels. (ENT: "Shockwave", "Minefield")

Dialog in "Balance of Terror" suggests that 22nd century starships that fought in the Earth-Romulan War were without viewscreens, or at least incapable of visual communications. While this supposition was natural, Star Trek: Enterprise clearly established viewscreen technology present on United Earth vessels, as well as aboard Andorian ships, Klingon ships, and many others, while the Romulans seemingly did not (or chose to communicate through audio only).

Kelvin-typeEdit

Kelvin-type ships in service in the 2230s had viewscreens consisting of three windows, that could have computer data projected on it. The windows also had blinds. (Star Trek)

Constitution-classEdit

Constitution class viewscreen, remastered

A standard orbital scan of Psi 2000 on the Enterprise viewscreen

Returning to the same basic shape of the 22nd century viewscreen, the main viewer utilized aboard such 23rd century Starfleet vessels as the Constitution-class USS Enterprise was mounted at the front of the main bridge and was generally rectangular in shape.

MainViewerRearProjection

Data from science station displayed on main viewer

Though a smaller viewscreen (utilized as early as 2254) would be supplanted by a larger one in 2266, the viewscreen aboard the Constitution-class vessel generally displayed images with a blue outline and featured a number of controls mounted to the left and right of the monitor. Capable of the same function as previous versions, this viewscreen model could also be used to display sensor data from within the starship, call up cross sectional diagrams of the ship itself, and display data re-routed from other stations. (TOS: "The Cage", "The Menagerie, Part II", "Where No Man Has Gone Before"; ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"; TOS: "Spock's Brain")

The iconic viewscreen from The Original Series would be the basis for all other versions seen after in the movies or spin-off TV series. The chase lights seen at the bottom of the screen were not present during the two pilot episodes, but were present with the debut of the more standard viewer in "The Corbomite Maneuver".
One of the main foci of the remastering effort was the replacement of most images seen on TOS viewscreens.

Alternate realityEdit

AR Enterprise viewscreen

Viewscreen of the alternate Enterprise

In the alternate reality caused by Nero, the USS Enterprise's viewscreen continued the Kelvin-type design. Its viewscreen was a single window the height of a crewmember, that could have images projected on it. (Star Trek)

Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman created the combination window/viewscreen in order to justify the placement of the bridge at the top of the ship: "...it was based on the odd fact that, although the bridge didn't usually have a window, it was nonetheless situated, much like a naval ship, at a high look out vantage point (which, by the way, seems unnecessarily vulnerable to attack). Rather than move the bridge, we added a window to justify its location." [1]

Constitution-class refitEdit

Constitution class viewscreen, refit

The refit viewer

During its refit in 2270, a new viewscreen was placed on the bridge of the Enterprise, this one much larger and sometimes utilized to display alert status. By 2293, refit Constitution-class starships incorporated a digital clock mounted at the top of the screen. When the ship was moored in spacedock, the inactive viewscreen displayed a generic graphic. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Movie versions of the main viewer aboard the Enterprise remained fairly consistent, until the destruction of the original starship and its replacement with the USS Enterprise. That ship again featured the familiar chase lights below the monitor as well as a somewhat anachronistic clock. For its appearance in Star Trek V, the screen (at times) utilized rear-projected images rather than post-production burn-ins. It was reused as the viewscreen aboard the USS Excelsior and USS Enterprise in The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek Generations with some cosmetic changes.

Galaxy-classEdit

Galaxy class viewscreen

The main viewer aboard a Galaxy-class starship

Battle bridge viewscreen

The viewscreen on the battle bridge

As early as 2364, Federation vessels including Galaxy-class starships employed holographic viewscreens.

While not projecting solid holographic images, the viewscreen installed on the main bridge of such vessels as the USS Enterprise-D displayed three-dimensional images, as though observing the image with the naked eye.

Larger than that of the Constitution- or Excelsior-class starships, the viewscreen aboard the Galaxy-class starship featured touch-sensitive controls at the bottom of the screen. Using high resolution, multi-spectral imaging sensor systems and could also be controlled from a panel on the right arm of the command chair or at the ops or tactical stations. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")

While it is a subtle effect, the viewscreen seen throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation clearly displayed 3-D images. This effect was created in some scenes by providing multiple angles on the viewer, with the image on screen displayed at a corresponding angle, rather than a flat, single angle shot.

Galaxy-class starships also had a smaller viewscreen located on the battle bridge. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint", "The Arsenal of Freedom", "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II")

Defiant-classEdit

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Defiant class viewscreen

The main viewer aboard the USS Defiant


Intrepid-classEdit

Intrepid class viewscreen

The main viewer aboard the USS Voyager

By the year 2371, Intrepid-class starships such as the USS Voyager were equipped with viewscreens also employing holographic technology.

Intrepid class viewscreen, damaged

The hologrid behind the viewscreen when damaged

Slightly smaller in size, the Intrepid-class viewscreen also differed from those of the Galaxy-class in that a hologrid was present behind the displayed image. When damaged or deactivated, a hologrid, much like that in the ship's holodeck, appeared on the bulkhead. (VOY: "Year of Hell, Part II")

While it most likely employed the same technology as the viewscreen aboard the Enterprise-D, the viewer seen on Star Trek: Voyager is the only screen to so apparently utilize a hologrid.

Sovereign-classEdit

Viewscreen Sovereign-class

The main viewer aboard the USS Enterprise-E

One of the more unusual viewscreen designs of the 24th century, the main viewer aboard the Sovereign-class USS Enterprise-E utilized a holographic image projected onto the front bulkhead of the main bridge.

While most viewscreens aboard Federation vessels of the era did use holographic technology, the images they displayed were generally projected within a clearly defined screen area. Not so aboard the Enterprise-E, with the viewscreen appearing from only a small area of projection systems near the floor of the forward bulkhead. When deactivated, the image projected disappeared, leaving only a blank wall in its place. (Star Trek: First Contact)

By 2375, however, such technology was replaced with a standard format viewscreen installed aboard the Enterprise-E, lasting through 2379 until the forward section of the bridge was destroyed during the Battle of the Bassen Rift. (Star Trek: Insurrection; Star Trek Nemesis)

One of the first and only steps forward from the fairly straight-forward screen first appearing in TOS, the viewscreen seen in Star Trek: First Contact seemingly appeared in mid-air. According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion however, the producers disliked the blank wall and opted to return the traditional viewer for Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek Nemesis.

BorgEdit

Borg viewscreen, remastered

A Borg viewscreen

Borg cubes were equipped with special viewscreen technology, projecting images onto a free-floating cube-shaped viewer somewhere within the ship.

Such a viewer was utilized by Locutus of Borg during the Borg incursion into Sector 001 in 2367. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II"; DS9: "Emissary")

This was the only incident in which a Borg viewscreen was shown, all other occasions (such as in "Scorpion, Part II") portrayed smaller monitors within the Borg cube. It is likely that such a screen was erected for the newly assimilated Locutus, as the Borg collective consciousness seems to negate any need for one.


CardassianEdit

Viewscreen DS9

A typical Cardassian viewer aboard DS9

Cardassian viewer, not in use

A Cardassian viewer, not in use

Quark's viewscreen

A viewer in Quark's

During the 24th century, starships and space stations constructed by the Cardassian Union utilized unique, holographically projected viewscreens.

Installed aboard Galor-class warships and Terok and Empok Nor-type stations, these Cardassian viewers consisted of hollow, oval-shaped frames. Images were projected into these frames, then disappeared when the viewer was deactivated.

This same technology was employed in the construction of Cardassian-type viewers. (DS9: "Emissary")

The ops aboard Deep Space 9 featured a large viewscreen placed on a wall and allowed viewing from everywhere on ops. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

Quark's had the option for a large Cardassian style viewscreen to be placed directly in front of the large glass mural in the bar. (DS9: "Rivals")

DominionEdit

Jemhadar hud view

Point-of-view of a Jem'Hadar virtual display device.

Jem'Hadar ships eschewed traditional viewscreens for a virtual display device. Instead of occupying the forward wall of the bridge, the "viewscreen" was in fact a display within a headset worn by the navigator. The device was not well-tolerated by Humans, who could typically wear it only for short periods. Cardassians, by contrast, were shown to have similar tolerances to Jem'Hadar and Vorta.


KlingonEdit

K't'inga class viewscreen

Viewscreen on a K't'inga-class vessel

As with many things Klingon, viewscreens installed aboard Klingon starships including Birds-of-Prey, K't'inga-class warships, and Raptor-class vessels were distinguished by angular shapes.

Klingon Bird-of-Prey viewscreen

Viewscreen on a Bird-of-Prey

Performing the same basic function as their Federation counterparts, 23rd century Klingon viewscreens aboard such ships as the IKS Amar were able to display tactical information in graphic and photographic formats. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; ENT: "Sleeping Dogs")

RomulanEdit

Khazara-viewscreen

The main viewer aboard the IRW Khazara

Narada viewscreen

A viewscreen on the Narada

Viewscreens aboard Romulan starships, including D'deridex-class warbirds functioned very much like their alien counterparts during the 24th century.

Consisting of screens smaller than those used by the Federation and Klingon Empire, Romulan viewscreens (like that of the IRW Khazara) were rounded-off square shapes, accented with green rectangles at the top of the monitor.

As with most starships, the viewscreen was mounted on the forward bulkhead of the main bridge aboard Romulan vessels. (TNG: "Face of the Enemy")

The Narada, a Romulan mining vessel, did not appear to have a centralized viewscreen. (Star Trek)

VulcanEdit

This article or section is incomplete This page is marked as lacking essential detail, and needs attention. Information regarding expansion requirements may be found on the article's talk page. Feel free to edit this page to assist with this expansion.
Vulcan High Command viewscreen

The viewscreen at the Vulcan High Command


Appendices Edit

See also Edit

Background information Edit

In early design drafts for both the USS Voyager and the USS Defiant, the designers contemplated eliminating the viewscreen entirely. Attempts such as the holo-communicator in DS9 and the suspended-in-mid-air viewer in First Contact were made, but ultimately gave way to tradition. The viewscreen was considered an important staple of the Star Trek universe.

External link Edit

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