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Intriguing Star Trek Theory Could Explain Why The Ships Are So Dark Now

The Star Trek universe is full of fascinating details and aesthetics; over the decades since Gene Roddenberry's creation first debuted, it has also seen stylistic changes tied to societal changes as well as pop culture. More than a statement on the future, the various series have inspired designs, styles, and technology. Nothing is more iconic for the franchise than the unique vessels that make up each incarnation. With each new series, the ships themselves have begun showing up with an unexpected trait — darker lighting. Now, one fan thinks they may have cracked the code as to why the once well-lit starships are suddenly covered in darkness.

U/nightmareman45 proposed an idea rooted in one of the newest "Star Trek" series, "Discovery." The user mentioned the newer project's explanation of a mirror universe and an interesting feature for species who enter their prime counterpart; for those special travelers, sensitivity to light came as a result. According to this theory, a large migration into the prime universe led to these figures finding their way into Starfleet in various positions, including starship crews. With that in mind, those designers working on shipbuilding might be keenly aware of how light would affect those with the side effect. It's also important to point out how their theory connects to "DS9" and why that would be important on a larger scale. "During DS9 there were a number of incursions back and forth from the Mirror universe including Grand Neagus Zek," the user wrote. "We also saw that at that point the Mirror universe was not such a nice place for humans or their allies since the Terran Empire collapsed."

There may be a more realistic reason for the lighting change

The central theory from u/nightmareman45 makes sense to some fans, but others have their own ideas as to this recent development. Several commenters pointed to experiences with technology, and their adaptation might mimic the human Starfleet crewmembers. U/ChazzleDazzlicious wrote about working in a control room, "We keep the ambient lighting low due to eye strain and stress reduction." That sentiment was shared by u/N-Toxicade, another commenter who mentioned their experience with similarly lit control rooms.

Cinematographer Glen Keenan may hold an answer outside of the fans' theories; he detailed his work with "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" in an interview with ProVideo Coalition. Keenan explained the series utilizes two million LEDs as well as five lighting boards and four operators to light the sets. According to him, lighting the actors is a crucial element. "We're always in an artificial space that's not real. Our challenge is to make it real," Keenan said. "The more they're lit with the ship, the more real it is. Any other lighting is minimal."