'Star Trek Into Darkness:' 15 Things We Learned About The Sequel While Visiting Bad Robot

The Bad Robot offices are what your film company would look like if you owned one. Old movie posters and cool art decorate the walls. Props are strategically placed in the hallways. Offices are adorned with cool toys and images. There are two gorgeous outdoor spaces to chill in and it even has a secret name on the outside. Oh, hey, there's J.J. Abrams walking around.

The head of the company is currently directing the follow-up to his 2009 hit Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, which reunites his surviving original cast and adds new blood in the form of the mysterious Benedict Cumberbatch, and Alice Eve. The film is written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof, will feature a score by Michael Giacchino, and has plenty of new aliens and action scenes for fans to enjoy.

Abrams and his team invited several journalists to their offices on December 10 to learn about the film's props, costumes, makeup, music, and visual effects. From those presentations, we picked 15 cool things you didn't yet know about production and story of Star Trek Into Darkness. Details on the Japanese trailer, klingons, character names, IMAX 3D, and lots about Giacchino can all be found below, along with more info about the Bad Robot offices.

Before we get to the fifteen things  we learned about Star Trek Into Darkness after visiting Bad Robot, I have to talk about Bad Robot. So here's a bonus.

0. The Bad Robot offices are awesome.

Some companies have offices that are a reflection of their work. Pixar is one, Google is another and Bad Robot certainly belongs on that list. J.J. Abrams' TV and movie production company has an almost mythic quality. Part of that is because of the secretive nature of many of their productions. Another is because it's in a building with the name "The National Typewriter Company" on the front. So, right off the bat, it's almost as if it's being hidden. If you go to this website you can see a slew of interior images of the space before Bad Robot moved in.

So imagine that gorgeous space, complete with every single cool geek think imaginable. I saw an original Star Wars poster, a Halloween poster signed by John Carpenter, some Shepard Fairey work, Simon Pegg's head mold, a huge ad for Lost Kubrick toys and, of course, all kind of posters and images from their films and creations: Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, Lost, Cloverfield, and Alias are just a few. They have their own art department complete with 3D printer and screenprinter for t-shirts. Apparently, there's a buzzer outside that says "Are You Ready?" but since we entered through the side, I wasn't able to see it. There is, however, a time capsule buried in the ground in the courtyard that's to be opened in 2057.

A quick glimpse through the slide show linked above will show you a lot of the things mentioned here and above: the outdoor spaces, the cool exterior, the open spacing indoors. Bad Robot truly is an awesome place, especially when you go there to learn about Star Trek Into Darkness. So, back to our regularaly scheduled 15 things about that.

For information on the film's first 9 minutes, which plays a part in the presentation we saw, click here.

1. The extra shot in the Japanese trailer wasn't explicitly placed as a red herring.

When the Into Darkness announcement trailer was released, the Internet blew up about the slightly longer Japanese version which showed a shot of Kirk putting his hand on a piece of glass, seemingly playing homage to a famous scene in The Wrath of Khan. Speaking with director J.J. Abrams, he explained that the Japanese trailer is different because Star Trek isn't as popular internationally as it is here. (Abrams cited the low foreign grosses of the 2009 film.) He said some foreign audiences are more interested in emotions than action. Hence the inclusion of that shot. However, he admitted it's obviously an homage. It just wasn't specifically included at this moment to screw with people. It just worked out that way.

2. Benedict Cumberbatch's character is named John Harrison.

While we were at Bad Robot, a photo leaked online that revealed Benedict Cumberbatch's character to be named John Harrison. Many thought that was just a place holder for something bigger and more revealing. That still may be the case, but over the course of the day, multiple people referred to the character by that name. So until we hear different (and Trek fans have already begun to come up with crazy theories) he's really John Harrison.

3. The Klingon home planet of Qo'noS will be visited and Klingons will kick ass. 

Speaking to the costume and props department, it was hard not to discuss the elephant in the room. An elephant in the mold of a six foot tall, frightening Klingon armor complete with incredibly intimidating gun/knife. "We had an eye on making it as brutal as possible, it's a very barbaric race," said the head of props Andy Siegel. Yes, the Klingons are in Star Trek Into Darkness and part of the film takes place on their home planet. We know that because an outfit worn by John Harrison (Cumberbatch) was specifically designed for the difficult conditions on that planet. "The environment of Qo'noS is very windy, there's a lot of debris, it's all about protection down there," said assistant costume designer Ann Foley.

As for the Klingons themselves, they were designed as a blend of both the classic old school look, with a slight update. The make-up looks almost like bones or scales all around the skull, but each face was left open so the actors could be more emotive and distinctive. Then each face was then personalized with different hairs, noses and all that gross stuff.

4. Alice Eve plays Carol Marcus.

One debate over a new addition to the cast can now be confirmed. Alice Eve is indeed playing Carol Marcus. In the original Trek movies, Marcus was a former love of Kirk and mother to his son. However, since this takes place before Kirk has a son, you'd imagine this film could be their courting period. In a deviation from the canon, though, Marcus is now a member of StarFleet.

5. Spock's makeup was so important, the Head of Makeup did it personally.

Usually on a film, every crew member has people under them. David LeRoy Anderson was hired as the Head of Makeup on Into Darkness, which meant he had to oversee not only the primary cast makeup, but all kinds of creature creation and other tasks. One piece of make up was so important, though, LeRoy Anderson realized he had to do it himself: Spock. "Zach [Quinto] had a lot of reason to be concerned because I was going to be mutilating his face," LeRoy Anderson said. Every day he'd get up early and, before getting to his usual work, would spend about two hours doing Quinto's makeup for Spock. The ears, the eyebrows and all that. The eyebrows alone took 45 minutes each because each hair had to be individually placed on Quinto's face. "It was so tedious, I knew I couldn't just hand that to someone else and expect them to take that on," he said.

6. Heather Langenkamp plays a "visitor" named Moto.Earlier this year, we learned the surprising info that Nightmare on Elm Street start Heather Langenkamp would play a role in Star Trek Into Darkness. Turns out, she's married to the aforementioned David LeRoy Anderson. Well, he revealed the role she'll be playing: an alien named Moto. Langenkamp won't be seen in the film, though, as she'll be sporting an elaborate makeup job. When it breaths, her gullet expands and lights up. Moto is one of "The Visitors," a name given for all the non-humans in the movie just so they don't have to use the generic word "aliens." Also, visitors called the Ayts will have some kind of enhanced digital effect added to them.7. The Starfleet Council won't play a big part in the film.

While discussing costumes, the point was brought up that one of the major looks in the first film was that of the Starfleet Council. You know, that group lead by Tyler Perry. Those characters might be mentioned or have some kind of influence on the events of Into Darkness but "you won't see much of them in this film," said Foley.

8. Michael Giacchino has only recorded music for the first 9 minutes but hopes to include the ORIGINAL original theme.

One of the highlights of the Bad Robot visit was spending 20 minutes in a room with Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino, showing us the first 9 minutes of the film and talking us through his musical choices. How he picks where to make things emotional, exciting and more. However, he said with the movie far from finished, he's only done music for this IMAX special scene. "The only music I've written is what you've seen in [the prologue]," Giacchino said. He wrote it and the orchestra recorded it in just four hours. However, he is hoping to include the Alexander Courage theme once we gets to work. "To me, that is Star Trek," he said. Whether or not that'll happen, though, is up for debate because....

9. Giacchino has yet to see the movie or discuss what the music will be. 

Because Into Darkness is still in heavy post-production, the composer is far from being brought into the process. The IMAX preview was a rare exception. "I have no idea what I'm going to do yet," Giacchino admitted. "I haven't seen the whole film yet so I don't know what the rest of the film needs or asks for." He believes after the holidays, he'll finally sit down with Abrams and discuss the rest of the film, including new themes and more. (Speaking of themes – the composer admitted he went through almost twenty different themes on the first film before starting from scratch and coming up with the one in the film.)

And, despite some people suggesting he borrowed a James Horner piece from Wrath of Khan in the prologue score, "Sadly, that had absolutely nothing to do with it," said the composer. "You're just writing and whatever sounds fun for me." On the other hand...

10. The first nine minutes of the movie could change.

Though audiences will surely like what they see when they check out the prologue to Star Trek Into Darkness, Giacchino admitted that when he completes the rest of the score, some of the music could change. "This is much earlier than we ever would have touched the movie," he said. "[Once the film is complete] we might even go and adjust some of the stuff in that opening, you never know." And, it's possible (but unlikely) that maybe the film could change too. It's simply too early in the process to say for sure. "This is [the film] in its state today, but a month from now it could be a totally different cut which would require going back and rescoring so it feels like one whole piece," Giacchino said.

11. The London of 2259.55 looks a lot like London of 2012.

If the first 9 minutes shown to us are retained for the final cut, Star Trek Into Darkness begins in London, StarDate 2259.55. While it certainly has many futuristic characteristics, the visual effects crew were very careful about updating the city. "We worked very hard to be respectful to the styling and architecture of the city," said Roger Guyett, who also worked on the first film. "It's fun but an enormous design challenge." They did flyovers just before the Olympics to look at the city from a different perspective and chose which major landmarks would appear in the film. One example of a landmark that stands the test of time: St. Paul's Cathedral.

12. 3D, IMAX and especially 3D IMAX makes digital effects more difficult. Star Trek Into Darkness is the first-ever feature film shot on real IMAX film and then converted to 3D. This should make for a great theatrical experience, but it's a lot more work for the digital effects artists. "[The extra time] is considerable," said Guyett. The 3D alone doubles the amount of effects work and then the IMAX frame is so much bigger and clearer. Apparently, the trick is scheduling because a computer taking a week to render a shot is a common occurrence.


13. Two major digital action beats were shot small and made big.

In the prologue to the film, two pieces of action are both taking place simultaneously. One involves Kirk and Bones on the red planet, the other Spock in a volcano. As is usually the case with scenes like this, both were shot on outdoor sets that were built as one very small piece. Later, that piece would be duplicated, enhanced and enlarged digitally into a massive, engrossing location. Because both of these early scenes were shot outdoors, paparazzi were able to sneak a peek of the cast.

14. Spock wears a heat resistant Volcano suit, and it took four months to create.

One of the major costumes from the beginning of the film is a orange, leather and metal concoction that – in the film – is meant to allow Spock into the middle of a volcano. The suit was one, if not the, most complicated created for the film as it took about four months to make. Also, be on the lookout for all kinds of cool little improvements to the costumes and sets. Metal insignias, IKEA coffee mugs, leg thrusters on wetsuits to help swimming and more.

15. A character has the ceiling in his head.

This one takes some explaining and careful tiptoeing. While walking around, we saw a curious character who was referred to as Gatt 5000. He's played by Joseph Gatt and seems to play a very important role. What exactly that is has yet to be revealed, but he has a compass sized digital readout embedded in the back of his head. Think Lobot from Empire Strikes Back meets Neo out of the Matrix. However, when deciding on what would be seen on the digital display, LeRoy Anderson picked an image no one has seen, the ceiling of the Enterprise bridge, and just duplicated it. It looks like a compass or a clock, but blue. So that's what the Bridge looks like. On the back of this mysterious character's head.