Star Trek - Deep Space Nine: "Apocalypse Rising"

By Thompson, Andrew O. | American Cinematographer, October 1997 | Go to article overview

Star Trek - Deep Space Nine: "Apocalypse Rising"


Thompson, Andrew O., American Cinematographer


Jonathan West, ASC

Star Trek - Deep Space Nine

"Apocalypse Rising"

Cinematographer Jonathan West, ASC likens the somber Star Trek spin-off Deep Space Nine to a "film noir set in space." The Emmy-nominated episode "Apocalypse Rising" (directed by James Conway) takes that concept to an even further extreme: it's set mainly within the world of the Klingons, the nefarious warrior race who regard honor to be the most sacred of all tenets. In this particular show, the Federation crew of the Deep Space Nine space station are surgically altered to appear as Klingons; the officers' mission is to infiltrate the Klingon empire's ranks.

West is no stranger to the milieu of "the final frontier," having boldly served as director of photography on the final two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation (after previously serving as . TNG's special effects cinema tographer). His predecessor on TNG, Marvin Rush, ASC, designed the lighting of the show's primary settings - the various interiors of the Federation Starship Enterprise - to have a rather crisp, clean look provided primarily by overhead fluorescent fixtures. West comments, "Going from that to DS9, which is generally a darker show, was a big change in lighting style. The station itself was supposedly designed by an alien race, so we tend to keep it moody. But it depends on where you are: the promenade [a recreation area with a bar, shops and restaurants] is a little bit brighter, and the corridors tend to be darker and more stark."

West's interest in cinematography stems from a four-year stint in the Air Force, where he served as a cinematographer, editor and narrator of documentaries. After his discharge, West did freelance work until he was accepted into the union as an assistant cameraman in 1974. He then spent seven years as an operator; West spent most of this time working with cinematographers Chuck Arnold, Gayne Rescher, ASC and James Crabe, ASC. In 1985, Touchstone Productions promoted him to full-time director of photography. His televisual credits include the pilots for Hope, San Berdoo, Doogie Hawser, M.D. and Heartbeat. He also shot the specials The Visit, The Big Bang, The Wliereabouts of Jenny (which earned him a 1991 Emmy nomination), Finish Line, A Small Good Thing and PBS' Great Performances' Tale from the Hollywood Hills: The Golden Land. In addition to The Next Generation, West also served as cameraman on the series Private Eye, WIOU, Heartbeat, Our House and Eerie, Indiana.

The cinematographer shoots DS9 with a Panaflex GII and Kodak 5298 stock. He finds that the 98's 500 ASA rating is best-suited to the space station's level of ambient light, which generally hovers around a T3. …

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