March 28, 2018

6 Min Read

star trek bridge crew

Star Trek: Bridge Crew – Ever Wonder What Warp Speed Smells Like?

Whether in VR or just on a normal screen, Star Trek Bridge Crew gives you an opportunity to live out the sci-fi dream of serving aboard a Federation Starship bridge, facing seemingly insurmountable odds while taking on the role of captain, engineer, tactical officer, or helm. Now, if you visit the Star Trek: Bridge Crew Rescue at Perseph experience at an IMAX VR Center, you'll experience a whole new layer of immersion, as certain on-screen actions will cause distinct smells to be pumped into the room. What are these smells, you might ask? That was the first question we had when we spoke to Maxence Moutte, Creative Perfumer at Givaudan, to learn more about what you'll be smelling and how those unique scents came to be.


What is the process for determining and creating a scent in general?

Creating a scent, like any creative work – and design in general – starts from an idea. Could it be an olfactive direction or scent association, for instance mint plus fig, plus the idea of a soft and warm texture? Could it be an illustration from another sense, like music, a texture, an image or film? Is it a concept? Abstract or concrete? Getting the precise idea of where you want to go is sometimes the most difficult part of the job... even though sometimes, the idea gets more precise during the creative work. It can also be a very intimate and individual process, as it can also be a shared work. I can enjoy working as a duet where sensitivities combine [with] each other and enrich each other.

What makes smell such a tricky thing to get right?

Sense of smell is very intimate and individualistic, because we do not receive an olfactory education! We are taught colors – this is blue; this is red. We are taught music – listening, singing, or playing an instrument. But we are not taught how to describe a smell, to analyze the smell around us, pay attention to it, and to get a common language. Therefore, we are left with personal memories and underestimate the power of smell in our life. What about the alert-signal smell of "off" food, or a fire? What about the power of re-smelling the fragrance that a beloved one wore years ago?

Neuroreceptors from our nose are directly connected to the part of our brain dedicated to emotions. No wonder we can get so emotional with smells! Designing a scent that evokes the same thing to several individuals, and to different cultures, is indeed very tricky. Luckily, there are some quite global scents despite some very cultural ones.

![moodboard speed]( speed_321195.jpg "moodboard speed")

Mood Boards were used by the team to develop scents

What does Warp speed smell like? How did you arrive at that scent?

Warp speed smells a combination of cold-smelling notes – a bit of freezing mint that gives you the impression that your face is frozen by the speed, along with hot-smelling notes such as labdanum resin that illustrate the heat of the engine while at full speed.

**What about Impact? **

Impact smells like a fireball hitting a metal vessel. There is a metallic, rosy note that occurs naturally in fragrant geranium, called pelargonium; it's burning and slightly burnt, [and combined with] burnt wood of cade, and, again, labdanum resin. This is an alert scent, a warning that a danger has arrived and there is no time to lose.

How much involvement did the Ubisoft teams have? Were they able to influence the scents?

We worked closely with Ubisoft New Business and the Star Trek team to identify the key moments of the games that could be enhanced with scents. We gave them a first round of 10 fragrances that we smelled together and discussed through. Among those 10, four were kept to be reworked to be closer to what they imagined for the game. We had to all be aligned to make sure we would deliver scents that would both appeal to players and match with the gameplay.

Were there any moments when you definitely knew you had the wrong scent?

It is very easy to see if you have the wrong fragrance. No one dares to speak, but everyone's face looks wrong or skeptical. Fragrances have to illustrate precise places and moments in the game, so they had to be easy to understand, and be appealing and pleasant. Luckily, I had the chance to immerse myself in the game and to explore the player experience. This helped me a lot in determining what could be impactful while playing.

![moodboard impact]( impact_321194.jpg "moodboard impact")

If you had the opportunity to create any other kind of scent for Star Trek, what would it be? We've wondered what it smells like on a Borg ship – probably not great.

Being a perfumer, I tend to be curious about any scent. Any scent, pleasant or unpleasant, is interesting. Exploring the unusual – like this opportunity – is even more exciting. Any new universe would make me happy to explore. What about a Borg ship? I picture this as a very organized, simple-shaped material built of metal and data – somehow abstract and futuristic, so it should not smell familiar – surrounded by a very dark universe around. Therefore, it would smell of cold and metallic notes, with abstract aldehydes that can smell of hot iron and clean dry-cleaner. Maybe we'd include some incense in background, and some dry, woody notes to give a neat structure to the fragrance.

Star Trek: Bridge Crew is now available on PS4 and PC. For more information on the game, check out our previous coverage.

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