This is something that bugs the hell out of me. Why are there people who actually think the inboard grills of the Enterprise refit had a purple glow? Not counting the 2001 Director’s Edition TMP DVD, where they got that wrong on the CGI model, when the hell do you ever see the nacelles with a purple glow in one of the six TOS-era films? Answer: NEVER.
A blue glow in the nacelle grills was something that they wanted to do for TOS, but it just wasn’t in the budget. However, they did it for the TMP version of the ship. Now, people who have the movie on Blu-Ray, you have the theatrical release of the film. Foundation Imaging, who did the CGI effects for the 2001 DVD edition of the film, went bankrupt and their servers were auctioned off and all of their assets went kaput, including the CGI they did for the film. So, Paramount literally can’t do a Blu-Ray edition of that version of the film. So, if you have the theatrical cut, you can watch the film and you’ll see a blue glow at times coming from the nacelles, not purple. Even if you have the DVD and you know what to look for, you can see the blue glow. This shot, for example:
Now, if that looks purple to you, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you that you’re color blind. And, how do we know that’s the studio model? Because, this is the CGI model they used, complete with the wrong color of glow:
Now, in all other aspects, that is a gorgeous model. However, the nacelle glow is the wrong color, it’s a kind of pale purple (it looks worse in the film, in my opinion.) So, if you’re watching the DVD version of the film and you go “See, it did glow purple.” Nope, sorry, that’s the CGI model. I don’t know why they got that wrong. I don’t know why anybody gets that wrong. In subsequent films with that model, the nacelles still glowed blue. Though, they only glowed at warp, so it’s harder to see. Though, in TMP, they appeared to glow randomly, both when the ship was at warp and when it wasn’t, so I don’t know what they were trying to do there. However, they only glowed at warp in the other films.
So, where do people get this crazy notion that they glowed purple? A friend of mine once pointed to this image as proof:
Yes, the nacelles are purple there. However, that is a lighting test. That’s not how the ship looked on screen, they were merely testing different lighting conditions. Aside from the purple nacelle glow, I can point out four things wrong with the ship in that image:
1. The bridge module and structure underneath are the wrong shape. This was before they refined the bridge shape. If we could see the underside, I’m sure the sensor dome is wrong also.
2. The impulse engines are glowing blue. As we all know from that great shot of them activating in TMP, (and, through the use of stock footage, TWOK) they glowed orange.
3: The light “sources” for the pylons, both the thick one that connects the saucer and primary hull, and the warp pylons hadn’t been added yet. As most of us probably know, the lighting on the ship was totally faked. They set dental mirrors into Styrofoam and had them reflect light back on to the ship to create the cool spot lights all over the ship. However, they did add source lights for most of them, to make it look like there’s really something there lighting the thing. Those light “sources” at the base of the pylons aren’t present in this image, but they are in the film.
4: Light leaks. The ship didn’t have any light leaks in the film, but you can see them in that image on the nacelles and saucer.
So, it boils down to: that’s not the ship as it appeared on screen, so it can be ignored. There was also a lighting test where the nacelle glow looks reddish, though, thankfully, nobody tries to recreate that lighting.
So, if you’re building a model of the Constitution class refit, please heed my words and make the glow blue. Anything else is just wrong. Thanks for reading. :)