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Xindi-Insectoid

A Xindi-Insectoid

Xindi-Insectoid hatchling

A dead hatchling

Xindi-Insectoids were members of the multi-species Xindi race.

Physiology

The Insectoids, like all Xindi species, had distinctive ridges on their cheeks. They were, as their name suggests, insect-like in appearance. Their average life expectancy was estimated to be twelve years. It was easy to find, on their ships, individuals about ten years old, who were probably considered "elders."

They were genderless and reproduced asexually. Also, because of their insectoid nature and the shortness of their life span, they were strongly concerned over the survival of their offspring. They protected their young by making a hatchery brig attached to their ships and shielded it in case of danger, even at the expense of the ship's life support system. Each individual was able to produce large clusters of eggs.

The eggs could not survive out of the ship and were equipped with a gland capable of producing a powerful and subtle neurotoxin. If an unexpected presence was detected in the vicinity of the eggs, the clusters would spray the substance on the intruder, causing (in the latter) an instinctive, obsessive interest in protecting and nurturing the hatchling. (ENT: "Hatchery")

Language

The Insectoid language was a clicking dialog that was the most unusual and complex of all Xindi, save that of the Aquatics. In fact, there were 67 dialects of the Insectoid language. Insectoid had names that grew longer and more difficult to pronounce as they grew older. (ENT: "The Council")

Philosophy and external affairs

Insectoids interpreted raised voices as a sign of hostility. They were quick to make decisions and were often in alliance with the Reptilians. Both species used to trade their technology between each other and usually agreed on all decisions. (ENT: "The Council")

Appendices

Appearances

Background

Physical design

The notion of there being an insect-like race of Xindi was devised by Executive Producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, who also decided that the Insectoids, in common with the Xindi-Aquatics, would be created with CGI. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 50) This choice having been made, the process of designing the Insectoids began with sketches done by Visual Effects Producer Dan Curry. ("Visual Effects Magic", ENT Season 4 DVD special features; [X]wbm) He stated, "My first thoughts were they would have six appendages like insects on Earth, but Rick felt that they evolved to a higher life-form. So the middle two became vestigial and actually went away, but I kept a lot of insect attributes like the compound eyes and breathing tubes through the side. So the creature we have now is basically inspired by a variety of different insect species that I put together–the head's kind of fly-like, with a little ant-ness." One requirement was that the Xindi-Insectoid seem visually compatible with the other Xindi, so the design for the Xindi-Reptilians proved to be a significant influence. Noted Curry, "The scaling pattern on the head of the insectoid is not dissimilar." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 51)

Having designed the Xindi-Insectoids to be incapable of sitting on a regular chair, Dan Curry designed a special type of chair for the Insectoid ambassadors. He additionally designed the weapon and armor with which the Insectoid warriors were equipped, whereas the medieval robes worn by the latter style of Insectoids were designed by Bob Blackman, who usually designed costumes for live-action usage. "Since he designed all the other Xindi garments," said Curry, "I felt it was best if Bob gave us some direction." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, pp. 50 & 51)

Dan Curry's concept artwork was subsequently provided to Eden FX, who were tasked with building the CGI model for the Insectoids. Recalling the illustrations, one of Eden's CG artists, Digital Effects Supervisor John Teska, stated, "That was a sketch of the character, and a couple of revisions for the head close-up and things like that. I had a pretty good idea of what they looked like before we started building." ("Visual Effects Magic", ENT Season 4 DVD special features) The designs for the Insectoid chair and clothing impressed Teska, who related, "When I got that [sketch], I realized, 'OK, they are taking these guys seriously! They've got wardrobe, they've got chairs!'" (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 51)

Xindi-Insectoids (wireframe)

Wireframe versions of two Insectoid characters

John Teska created the digital model for the Insectoids. ("Visual Effects Magic", ENT Season 4 DVD special features; [X]wbm) He recalled, "I dug out all my insect reference–great books with scanning electron micro-photography–where I got a lot of the ideas for the smaller details, like little hairs around the eyes, the things that didn't show up in the pencil sketches." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 50) Teska elaborated, "It was several weeks of first working up the geometry, building this basic polygonal, you know, polygon cage, sort of like low [resolution] at first, just to work out proportions and what they looked like. Then, building this elaborate skeleton that would basically allow us to move them like a character, like a puppet on the screen." ("Visual Effects Magic", ENT Season 4 DVD special features) Teska also animated the Insectoids. Robert Bonchune, effects supervisor at Eden FX, commented, "The Xindi insects are kind of his baby, so when they come along we usually give them to him, 90 per cent of the time, at least on the shows I supervise." (Star Trek Magazine issue 118, p. 30) In addition, Teska digitally modeled a version of the Insectoid chair. "We got a sample from the real chair," he reflected, "and I matched the wood grain, and everything; we actually had the prop chair here for a day." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 51)

Use of stand-ins

Unlike with the Xindi-Aquatics, stand-ins were used for the Xindi-Insectoids, to give the directors and animators references for CGI placement. [X]wbm The decision to use this procedure was inspired by the success of the CG character Gollum from The Lord of the Rings films, he having commonly been "played" by actor Andy Serkis. "I decided, I want to go into this with the same idea," explained Visual Effects Supervisor Ronald B. Moore.

The stand-ins wore special suits, which helped to track their movements for such episodes as the season 3 premiere "The Xindi" – the only episode wherein Moore used motion-control because the production staffers wanted to digitally replicate even the minutest actions of the performers. "So, Dan [Curry] came up [...] as only Dan can do, with roles of tape and started putting grids all over these guys," Moore continued. "We got black suits made for them. And put the grids on, so we could follow them [....] [We] didn't exactly know what we were up against, with these guys." ("Visual Effects Magic", ENT Season 4 DVD special features) The suits even had thin replication claws, attached to both sleeves. "The stand-ins [were] just on regular boxes, though; they don't have a butt like that [of the Insectoids]!" exclaimed Dan Curry. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 51)

The stand-ins who "played" the role of the Insectoids were Evan English and Tarik Ergin. ("Visual Effects Magic", ENT Season 4 DVD special features) Dan Curry remembered, "Ron Moore [...] was very strong in using the stand-ins for performance; that way they could read dialog and participate in the scene, so the other actors knew where to look." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 51)

The use of stand-ins also helped in post-production. Stated Dan Curry, "The CG animator got a reference of what their performance was like – how light would affect them. That way, the editors also had something to cut in." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 51) As it turned out, the animators did so well at replacing the stand-ins with the CGI that it was evident motion-control was not required. Moore was impressed with the use of stand-ins. Although aware that the actors were intentionally playing different characters, he believed that viewers can also see behavioral differences in the roles. ("Visual Effects Magic", ENT Season 4 DVD special features) Dan Curry was also pleased with how life-like the Insectoids ultimately became, pointing out, "The Insectoids are effectively there, they interact." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 50)

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