LENÇÓIS MARANHENSES IN BRAZIL: the perfect sandy place for Star Trek’s Discovery to land

 LENÇÓIS MARANHENSES IN BRAZIL: the perfect sandy place for Star Trek’s Discovery to land

“Star Trek: Discovery” is a series in the Star Trek franchise, produced by CBS Studios in association with Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment. It follows the adventures of the intergalactic crew of the starship Discovery. And, after much success since its debut, season 5 is finally available on Paramount+.

In Episode 1 of Season 5, there were many scenes that were partially shot in a beautiful Brazilian setting: Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. The park is a protected area on the northern Atlantic coast of Brazil, known for its vast desert landscape of large white sand dunes and seasonal rainwater lagoons.

The creatives of the series wanted to capture images in the Lençóis Maranhenses Park that they would use to create an otherworldly landscape setting for a far away planet that some of the crew members of the Discovery would visit. And Brazil Production Services was brought in by CBS Studios as the Brazilian production company of choice to assist them with their special effects plate unit, capturing images in the Lençóis Maranhenses Park to be used as a location for some fast moving action scenes involving hovercrafts and some of the series main actors. The local crew responsible for capturing the images of the park was pretty small, consisting of 7 professionals in total: 3 from production including two of BPS’s main producers — Valéria Costa and Edu Sallouti — as well a 1 media manager and a 3-person drone team. 

Many images captured by the BPS-managed unit were made using drones. One of the models used was an FPV (First Person View) drone which shot fast moving footage to be intercut in the chase scenes through the dune landscape that the script called for. At the time of the shoot in the Spring of 2022, the FPV drone was still a relatively new product in the market in Brazil, so there were few professionals who knew how to operate it well. But BPS hired one of the best Brazilian competition FPV drone operators to be our pilot for the unit. A Red Komodo was attached to the drone and captured awe-inspiring, high-octane fly overs of the dunes and lagoons to be used as POV shots of pilots flying hovercrafts. Additionally, a Red Komodo was also attached to an All-Terrain Vehicle for the purpose of getting lower and more rugged POV perspectives of the hovercrafts moving trough the sandy landscape.

Some of images captured in Brazil by the BPS team were used in a ARwall studio in Toronto and were projected on huge LED panels as backdrops for the actors who stood in front of them.  In this studio, the camera shoots as if the actors were actually in the projected location adding authenticity to the finished product while also saving the production the hassle and cost of sending the main unit to far away locations.

The Lençóis Maranhenses Park is a location that is not easily accessible because it is very remote. What’s more, depending on the time of year, the place gets so hot that the sunlight reflects off of the sand and spills very strongly on the images, making filming almost impossible. But BPS did the shoot at an ideal times, with an experienced team and a well thought-out plan, using specific vehicles, such as motorized buggies with experienced drivers, for better access to specific desired spots in the peculiar landscape.

Due to environmental conservation, ATVs are not regularly allowed in the park, so BPS contacted the necessary authorities to get permission to use them.

The BPS unit managed to organize the set in the best way possible so while shooting with drones in some locations, the foreign production unit could also scan it with a LiDAR scanner at the same time, all the while ducking the rain, which did slow us down a bit, but not enough to impact the results.

We were happy to assist CBS Studios with shooting this small portion of the Trek Universe in Brazil. For inquiries about our services, please drop us a a line.