Star Trek XI vfx supervisor Roger Guyett found that a technique borrowed from animation helped the movie audience to stay oriented.
When a movie includes jumps between planets, time periods and parallel universes, it can be tricky for the viewer to figure out where the action and characters are at a given time.
To solve this problem and keep the audience oriented, Guyett created a color map for the movie. Most of the movie’s locales were digitally created, so it was easy to assign each of them its own color scheme. “When you’re completely inventing something, you have more control over those colors and tones and the way that you light those spaces,” explained Guyett. “It really is clear whether (the locale) is confusing to the audience.”
In addition to the color map, Guyett used another trick, this one taken from old Western movies. “When the guys ride out of the Western town they always ride left to right and they always ride back right to left,” he said. “(When) the Enterprise would be going somewhere, it would always be traveling left to right, and return to Earth right to left. However silly that sounds, it really helps you understand what the ship is doing. Now combine that with traveling through different colors. You’re just supporting the story and people’s basic understanding of what’s going on.”