Paramount Pictures commissioned the series following the termination of Star Trek: The Next Generation to accompany their ongoing Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. They wanted it to help launch their new channel, UPN. Berman, Piller, and Taylor devised the series to chronologically overlap with Deep Space Nine and to continue themes—namely the complex relationship between Starfleet and ex-Federation colonists known as the Maquis—which had been introduced in The Next Generation. Voyager was the first Star Trek series to include CGI technology for space scenes and the first to feature a female captain, Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), as the lead character. Berman served as head executive producer in charge of the overall production, assisted by a series of executive producers: Piller, Taylor, Brannon Braga, and Kenneth Biller.
Being set in a different part of the galaxy to preceding Star Trek shows, Voyager gave the series' writers space to introduce new alien species as recurring characters, namely the Kazon, Vidiians, Hirogen, and Species 8472. During the later seasons, the Borg—a species created for The Next Generation—were introduced as the main antagonists. As Voyager approached its end, Berman and Braga were tasked with creating a sixth series in the franchise, Star Trek: Enterprise. During Voyager's run, various episode novelisations and tie-in video games were produced; after the show ended, various novels continued the crew's adventures.
Initial work on Star Trek: Voyager began in 1993, when the seventh and final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the second season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were in production. Seeds for Voyager's backstory, including the development of the Maquis, were placed in several The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine episodes. Voyager was shot on the stages The Next Generation had used, and where the Voyager pilot "Caretaker" was shot in September 1994. Costume designer Robert Blackman decided that the uniforms of Voyager's crew would be the same as those on Deep Space Nine.
Star Trek: Voyager was the first Star Trek series to use computer-generated imagery (CGI), rather than models, for exterior space shots.Babylon 5 and seaQuest DSV had previously used CGI to avoid the expense of models, but the Star Trek television department continued using models because they felt they were more realistic. Amblin Imaging won an Emmy for Voyager's opening CGI title visuals, but the weekly episode exteriors were captured with hand-built miniatures of Voyager, its shuttlecraft, and other ships. This changed when Voyager went fully CGI for certain types of shots midway through season three (late 1996).Foundation Imaging was the studio responsible for special effects during Babylon 5's first three seasons. Season three's "The Swarm" was the first episode to use Foundation's effects exclusively. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine began using Foundation Imaging in conjunction with Digital Muse in season six. In its later seasons, Voyager featured visual effects from Foundation Imaging and Digital Muse. The digital effects were produced at television resolution and some have speculated that it cannot be re-released in HD format without re-creating the special effects. However, Enterprise has been released in HD, but the special effects were rendered in 480p and upscaled.