Mapping "video errors" in Star Trek
Collected examples from each of the Star Trek series where audiovisual signal loss is conveyed.
Contributions welcome via issues tracker or @'ing me!
At the time, this is more for "showing" and not for "telling." But eventually, with enough "research," I hope to be able to come to some conclusions and overviews beyond what is already obvious (e.g. Original Star Trek is going to use film-esque errors, because film was the familiar medium at the time).
Scroll below to see examples from each series.
Use the arrows on either side to navigate through errors.
Set in ≈ 2254-2293
"It's a radio wave, sir!" A blurry, partially transparent cloud moves across the screen.
Incoming transmission from Spock. Fades in and fades out.
Spock sends a fax. Not a video error, but fax paper appears pretty mangled from the machine.
The crew encounters a radiated cube, which later turns into a golden orb. This alien appears with an "underwater" motion effect.
Spock uses floppy disks to fake Kirk's voice when sending transmissions. Malicious user error.
Searching for signals. Color bar moves back and forth across screen.
Research computer fades between photographs on command. Bonus: those data disks!
Looks like bad video but is actually just an old speaker. Transmitted voice sounds crackly.
User error: Riley gets poisoned from his dinner. No eating in the engineering room!
Spock has trouble locking onto video signal of damaged ship. Waves into view with "underwater" effect.
"Sir, this indicator's gone crazy!" Indicator looks relatively normal.
Enterprise is held in place by a solar system, communicating with these flashing lights.
Much of this episode is spent in 1968, with many scenes of the crew interacting with film.
A man disappears! He looks like film.
Kirk asks to "freeze" the distress video and it audiblly slows down like film would but the picture stays. Spock calls it a "taped" message.
Spock watches the distress call and rewinds it. He then puts it into fast-forward mode and it appears to roll like film as he speeds it up.
Ambassador Hodin ends his call with the Enterprise, and his image slowly fades out into the default "window into space" view.
Set in ≈ 2364-2370
Glitchy video, analog, with moiré effect.
Very brief error flash.
An energy based life form communicates with the crew and the audio sounds all chopped up.
Solar flares cause electrical issues
Solar flares cause static on screens.
Solar flares cause static on screens (more detail). Includes audio distress signal with distorted audio.
The crew receives a distress signal with distorted audio and video.
Hazy, poor signal with diagonal lines and some lines with square pixel blocks.
"Sir, the planet's troposphere is distorting our signal."
La Forge shows the last visual records of the other Enterprise, a "phase inverter" was used. Double-vision effect and colorspace manipulation.
Data tries to identify a glitchy audio signal.
An old message from an alien ship comes in via a memory coil and the crew tries to play it back in several ways.
La Forge's vision during a radiation storm. There's a lot going on here, including the Moire effect.
The time-traveling Enterprise goes back through the temporal rift by fading into a space-cloud and out into nothing.
Library Computer Access and Retrieval System (no errors).
Computer screen featuring signal hitting Borg ship (no errors).
Incoming distress call with analog video static and color lock/blurring issues.
Set in ≈ 2369-2375
Dax puts a small chip into the computer and it reveals a "humanoid brain" represented rotating with 3D CGI with 2D green rays hitting it.
Microscopic computer vision (3D CGI).
Alien signs off and this is the screen. Appears again at 42:36.
Odo looks at DNA on a rock. 3D CGI.
Ship diagram technology outside of the prisoner quarters.
Jake and Nog intentionally modify the inside of what looks like an old iMac. Video flickers in and out. Appears to have a sepia+metallic/chrome filter added to it. Looks like magnetic interference (see: Paik) mixed with blocky/low-res/high-compression streaming and dirty-magnetic-tape bands.
A Klingon captain sends a fuzzy message. A mix of television signal static/"snow" and loss of color lock.
Signal is grainy and jumpy, getting increasingly worse until the image is overtaken by "snow"/complete signal loss.
Problems with the ship causes all screens to produce static resembling VHS and magnets touching a television signal.
Audio signal is distorted.
People transmit into the ship as their ship blows up.
After a blast near the ship, screens produce multiple flashing VHS-like errors.
Person has trouble signalling into the ship.
"Someone is accessing the security database!"
Klingon ship has troubles with visuals, flashing static "snow" as ship fades into view.
Transmission gets jammed maliciously. Image radiates brown-grey and then turns to blocky white snow with flecks of black rainbow blocks.
Garbled transmission due to subspace interference. Blurry vertical lines returning to television static when the transmission is broken.
Broken chunked blocks of a "very sophisticated encryption matrix" overlaid on top of the standard ship's user interface.
Distorted audio from a recorded distress call.
Someone is making fake distorted sounds with her voice over a call.
Static, color loss, blurriness and shifting picture.
Set in ≈ 2371-2378
Static fills the viewscreen.
Fuzzy audio and no video from inside the singularity.
The crew tries to receive an audio signal coming from the Alpha Quadrant.
The crew tries connect with a Romulan video signal in the Alpha Quadrant.
"The pattern buffer is having trouble accepting the matter stream."
Difficulty transmitting the Romulan scientist on board the ship.
Fuzzy audio and video from a distress call.
Ion storm causes interference, which looks like visual analog television snow/bad signal.
Crew plays video back of another ship in trouble, looks like grainy VHS.
This is set in 2032. Grainy/analog lo-res video starts to have DV-esque tan bars moving across the screen (dirt/decay on tape).
Playing back video from 2032. Flickers black and white and then slowly fades out to pixelated digital "snow."
Playing back "final transmission" video from 2032. Flickers black and white and then slowly fades out to pixelated digital "snow."
Set in ≈ 2151-2155
Immediately after opening credits: Crew explores the "archives."
Vulcan computer with vertical text read left-to-right.
Communication is clear. Screen is 4:3 (even though the show is 16:9!)
Communication is cut, revealing system screen. Screen is 4:3 (even though the show is 16:9!)
Archer speaks into a camera, fish-eye blurry lens. ends with him blowing out the camera and an analog snow-ish in-color glitch.
Archer and a guy from the future modify devices from the Enterprise to make contact with the past.
Archer calls from the future where there is "no technology." Jumps in and out, slow bands moving across Archer's face when present. General signal disruption.