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The Nibirans were a primitive humanoid species native to the M-class planet Nibiru. They were tall bipeds with white, chalky skin as well as black, pupil-less eyes, four nostrils and pointed teeth but no ears.


As of 2259, the Nibirans were not very technologically advanced. They did possess basic knowledge such as writing, as evidenced by a scroll which they held sacred. According to Admiral Pike, however, they had only discovered the wheel relatively recently.

In 2259, the Nibirans were under threat of extinction from an erupting volcano. Their sacred scroll was stolen from a Nibiran temple by a disguised Captain Kirk, who snatched the scroll to draw the Nibirans away from their settlement below the volcano without breaking the Prime Directive. The plan working, all Nibirans who had been in the temple chased after Kirk. After he and McCoy left the scroll on a tree to end the Nibirans' pursuit, the Nibirans began to worship the scroll as Kirk and McCoy dived into the sea, where the USS Enterprise was hidden.

The Nibirans recoiled in horror as they saw the first stage of the volcano's eruption destroy their home. The retrieval of Spock from the volcano, where he had been deploying a cold fusion device to stop the eruption, necessitated a breach of the Prime Directive; the Nibirans gazed in awe as the Enterprise rose out of the sea and flew to the volcano, and then flew off after beaming up Spock before the cold fusion device detonated. The Nibirans had a clear enough view of the Enterprise to later draw a detailed picture of it in the soil, and began venerating it as a deity. Later, Admiral Pike informed Kirk he had been demoted for "playing God" and interfering in the Nibirans' development. (Star Trek Into Darkness)

Background information

Months of careful planning were required – by Lead Creature Designer Neville Page, Makeup Artist Heather Langenkamp and the rest of the makeup team which worked on Star Trek Into Darkness – before the Nibirans' visual aesthetic could be agreed upon. One potentiality was using CGI for the facial designs. "With the expense of computer-generated art for film, and the fact there was going to be 20 of these tribe members," explained Langenkamp, "I think they quickly decided they wanted a great make-up. Neville came up with some good ideas about creating a primitive tribe." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, p. 93)

According to Neville Page, "The thing that really drove [the Nibirans' appearance] was the find of a particular guy to play our main Nibiran. His physical state is so interesting and unique that it allowed us to do very little makeup work to create a really unique creature." [1] This influential actor was Jeremy Raymond, whose pronounced cranium, strong jaw and highly developed neck and shoulder muscles were particularly inspirational when it came time to design the extraterrestrials. (Cinefex, No. 134, p. 77) The performer recalled that – even before he knew which part he would be playing in the film – the makeup artists asked him "to send down a bunch of reference photos for them to draw conceptual sketches on top of." [2] David Anderson said of Raymond, "He became the model for all the Nibiran artwork that Neville produced." (Cinefex, No. 134, p. 77) Shortly thereafter, Raymond began participating in makeup tests for the species. [3]

With the vegetation on the Nibiran island having a striking red color, a skin color for the aliens themselves also had to be decided on, as did the texture of the skin. Recalled Heather Langenkamp, "What we came up with is this white, chalky skin that was very flakey, like mud was all over it. But coming up with this mud that was going to stick on an actor's body all day long, look the same all day, and not be reapplied, was very challenging. One of our artists, Jamie Kelman, really spent a good four weeks with a gentleman, applying different formulas of this clay every day. We also needed a make-up you could do within five hours [....] It was very challenging." Other necessities of the "mud" were that it had to be made from entirely natural materials and that these could be washed off easily. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, pp. 93-94)

Working from the concept drawings done by Neville Page as well as from lifecastings of Jeremy Raymond, David Anderson's makeup team ultimately created the Nibiran makeups. Specifically, Jamie Kelman developed full-body latex and clay makeup for Raymond and multiple stunt performers. (Cinefex, No. 134, pp. 74 & 77) Heather Langenkamp estimated, "It ended up being just about five hours to apply on each guy." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, p. 94) David Anderson commented, "It took a team of 30 A-list makeup artists six hours to ready the tribe. We flanked Jeremy with prosthetic lookalikes. Behind them, we used vacuformed masks of the same sculpture that actors wore beneath hooded robes. Anytime a Nibiran had to speak, we changed Jeremy's tribal markings and flipped his position in the group so he played all the speaking roles, and the characters appeared identical beneath their paint." Industrial Light & Magic replicated Nibirans using digital animation and motion capture technology. (Cinefex, No. 134, pp. 77 & 74)

Jeremy Raymond was granted first-hand experience of seeing the creation of the Nibiran species. "What was amazing to me," admitted Raymond, "was to see how organically the whole process was evolving – the performance would inspire changes in makeup, which would inspire changes in the costume, which would then shape the performance in new ways." Aside from himself, Neville Page and Director J.J. Abrams, Raymond pointed out that a few other people "were absolutely instrumental to the creation of the Nibirans," and went on to say, "[Costume Designer] Michael Kaplan and his wardrobe team created a stunning array of costumes and designs that were wonderful to play around in. And of course the incredible special effects makeup was the result of a lot of hours of hard work by David Anderson and Jamie Kelman." [4]

Michael Kaplan used draped and dyed fabric for the Nibirans. "We wanted something that was not too sophisticated, so that it would be very recognisable as a primitive race. The planet is all red, so I chose saffron gold, because it pops out." [5]

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