Oh, I'm sure old-fashioned machining is true of some of the 'simpler' props. Besides which, 3-D printing can make a great template for casting stuff. But a lot of the gothic hyper-detailed Klingon gear from S1 that blew so many socks off represented a CAD problem moreso than an old-school artisan finely sculpting each little tiny thing bit by bit from scratch.
E.g. https://www.slashfilm.com/star-trek-dis ... exhibit/2/
Think of it like CGI ships versus old-school model photography. I can CGI a few different classes and cut-and-paste ships into a scene all day long, thus creating a hyper-detailed shot, whereas in the old days I'd have had to build a model for each class separately, then maybe some smaller models to make more distant ships, and of course composite it all together . . . hell, if I could just do a matte painting, I'd certainly rather, at that point.
And having worked with 3-d printers and modeling for many years I can say that even with such technology creating pieces like that is still no small task.
Oh, for sure. Heck, it'd probably take me six times as long to scratch-build a smooth basic Enterprise in 3-D, not even mentioning printing and clean-up, as it would take a real craftsman to whittle one from plastic by eyeball. Thing is, I could never accomplish what the craftsman did, ever, not even with Greg Jein's tools and Wah Chang pushing.
Now if you told me I had to make it complicated… say, with a bunch of raised Federation deltas all over it and piping and whatnot… well, now it's more of a competition, because (as you know) I can cut-and-paste and extrude whereas the whittler has to plan it all out in advance and work on each little delta and pipe, or make them separately for final assembly later, which will involve a lot of individual tedious gluing.
At that point a smart craftsman would ask if the thing's gonna be seen in close-up from every side or not so as to avoid too much wasted effort, whereas… depending on how much clean-up my printing needs or if most of the needed work is done in the final bath… it may not behoove me (with apologies there to Saru) to not just print the whole thing.
Now, if you add painting each detail… say, making the deltas gold… the craftsman and I both have the same problem. Because I have no skill, the craftsman will probably come out on top, quality-wise. But, neither the craftsman nor I would wait until the end to colorize the pieces anyway. I would've sought to avoid different colors in the design in the first place.
(You'll note that the 3-D printed stuff like the torchbearer costume and greebly helmet thing is almost all basically done as one color, which ironically but wisely extends even to the more traditional work. Note in the Slashfilm link that the complex and more traditionally built costumes for the Klingons are all one color/dye when they could've really colorized it all differently like a row of random-color beads. Had they done that, though, it would've called attention to the 3-D printed stuff that is harder to paint so intricately.)
Still, if I had to colorize the details I would still have the advantage… I can print in different colors, and print whole sets of details at once and glue them on at once with little Etch-a-Sketch lines between them, fairly easily removed later. The craftsman would be stuck making each bit, painting them all at once, then gluing individually . . . if he or she wanted to glue en masse, the tiny framework would have to be built, too.
Long story short (too late), I can often defeat the craftsman via 3-D printer for many things with higher detail than Minecraft, despite having little skill of my own. This makes me cheaper overall even when (especially when) making an ornate and intricate product, especially for HD. With a little forethought, I can create full 360-degree designs with little to no additional effort compared to partial work, and make them appear really expensive when, in reality, I didn't have to do anything requiring expensive trade skills or talent or the hours of labor they'd require.
By no means is this an attack on Discovery or its designers, mind you. They'd have been stupid not to make use of the cost savings of 3-D printing, and choosing to exploit it to dazzle audiences who would think truckloads of cash must be driving across the screen was clearly the smart play. However, my point is and always has been that truckloads of cash *aren't* driving across the screen… or, more accurately, not nearly as many as dazzled audiences are presuming.
Again, the analogy here is CGI versus model ships. Star Trek audiences were blown away by DS9 CGI battles compared to the impossible expense model photography would've involved, but everyone knew it was CGI so it wasn't treated as if it was models anyway. We knew it was CGI and didn't think that the producers had just B-52'd money bombs upon every ILM-wannabe model-based FX shop in town.
That's exactly *not* the reaction of many fans about Discovery. You know what's going on and appreciate it for what it is, but many see the full-mask makeup and 3-D printed costumes . . . basically the CGI of modern live-action . . . and declare the show the best-produced Trek ever with highest production expense ever and everything before was cardboard and ohmigod *gush*.
Yeah, it has high production *value*, literally, thanks to the new "CGI" of the day, but I take issue with the dissing of the artisans of the past.
Or, as I recently tweeted in response to a post highlighting the umpteenth "ohmigod *gush*" sort of person:
"FFS, y'all… someone handed them a 3-D printer and a gothic sense of Klingon style and these people get so excited you'd think Jesus F. Christ was on-site waving around the Flying Spaghetti Monster's noodly appendage to take out the forces of evil once and for all."
After 10 years now of people complaining about things being different in Star Trek, regardless of quality, my patience with people extending a valid criticism of one aspect to demean the production as a whole is starting to wear thin. So if I am overly snappy on the topic of DIS, I apologize.
I noticed no snappiness at all, and appreciate that any grating on your nerves wasn't met with any personal shots, as Discovery conversations can often result in. I hope I also didn't seem to snap at you or otherwise fail to present my respect for you when explaining my point of view. If I did, my apologies.