How the Star Trek Warp Drive has Changed in the Past 4 Decades
by Ben Auxier
Working on visual effects can be a notoriously thankless job. Artists are often tasked not only with creating the illusion of things that never happened, but things that don’t even exist, such as the warp drive technology involved in Gene Roddenberry’s half-century-spanning Star Trek franchise.
Trek’s “warp” is a central device of the series. Warp solves a real-world hurdle for space exploration – namely, the universal speed limit. As far as modern science understands, the speed of light cannot be matched, much less exceeded, by anything. Which means a planet-hopping space ship would require years or decades between stops. In Trek world, humanity discovers warp drive and signals that humanity is finally ready to join the galactic neighborhood.
But how do you portray such an innovation on screen? This compilation by YouTuber John DiMarco showcases the various creative attempts to interpret the concept visually, starting with Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 and zooming all the way through to the new animated Prodigy series. Across decades, methods, and formats, artists have been imagining and reimagining this aspirational bit of stellar tech, and its evolution is really quite fascinating for any nerd to take in.