Admiral Janeway

Something has always bothered me about Admiral Janeway seen in Star Trek: Nemesis.  (I saw something online a few minutes ago that brought this subject to mind)  In 2278, when Voyager returned home, she was a Captain.  A year later, in 2379, she was an Admiral.  No biggie there, she obviously got promoted between the end of Voyager and that movie.  However, her rank in Nemesis makes no sense.  I’m going to use this chart from the old Star Trek Encyclopedia to illustrate what I mean.  (thanks to Bernd Schneider and his site Ex Astris Scientia for the chart)

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Looking at the chart, you can see there are five ranks of Admiral, just as there are in most Navies, Admiral one through five stars.  In the current US Navy, those are Rear Admiral Lower Half, Rear Admiral Upper Half, Vice Admiral, Admiral and Fleet Admiral.  Looking at this image from Star Trek: Nemesis, you can see Janeway with 3 pips inside a rectangle on her collar.  (Thanks to Memory Alpha for this image)

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That rank insignia makes Janeway a 3-star Admiral, aka Vice Admiral, in 2379.  So, in the span of a year, (or so) she would have to have been promoted three times, or would had to have skipped the two Rear Admiral ranks entirely.  This makes absolutely no sense.  I can get the whole thing where she returned from the Delta Quadrant, saving her crew and providing valuable information on both that region and on new propulsion technologies, so she was promoted.  But, skip two entire ranks?  That’s just ludicrous.  For one thing, for all the good she did on Voyager, she did some questionable things too.  Granted, nothing worse than any other Starfleet Captain has done on the shows, but certainly a few iffy things.  Still, there was nothing I could see that would stop her from getting a promotion, but to a more appropriate rank of Rear Admiral Lower Half.  (formerly known as Commodore)

Stuff like this is just what irks me about Star Trek at times.  Of course, I know what they did.  The script called for Janeway to be an Admiral, so they made her an Admiral using whatever rank insignia they had on hand.  They didn’t care that the insignia they gave her promoted her way too fast, they just did it to make their film.

TOS Miranda Class, Pt. 06

Well, I haven’t worked on this for a few days because I’ve been busy playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, which got a massive update on Steam, including the ability to play on Linux. So, I’ve been happy. Even though I own the old CD version for Windows, I could never get that working in WINE. If I remember correctly, I could never get past “insert disc 2.” It wouldn’t register the disc and let me continue installation. But, that’s all moot now, because all I had to do was buy it on Steam and download it. :D

Anyway, back to the ship. I forced myself to add the remainder of the windows. It’s tedious, but I got them all on there. Note: there are less “rows” of Windows than on the Enterprise because mine actually line up with a deck plan, they’re not just put on there wherever I felt like. I couldn’t really find a lot of good places to put many windows on the bottom, so I just did one row.

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TOS Miranda Class, Pt. 05

It’s just one of those days. I have nothing really new to show, but I actually did a lot of work on this thing today.

One thing I absolutely despise and will not tolerate to the point of going to great lengths to get rid of them are smoothing errors. They’re ugly. I had a few around my aft section window cuts last night, but not too bad. Minor things, but I knew they were there. So, I bisected in some geometry to fix it. The geometry itself is ugly, but who cares? It’s not like the wireframe matters, it’s what the thing looks like rendered that matters. So, this morning I was doing some renders with different lighting hitting that part to make sure there were no more lingering errors. While I was happy to see none there, there was a major issue around the back of the model, where the back of the trenches and the shuttlebay openings are.

I turns out the booleans tool in Blender has a major issue. Well, all booleans tools do, but this is a particular quirk of Blender, it also happens on the Knife Project tool. It turns out, when you cut into a plane, the booleans (or knife project) doesn’t create flat, even geometry. It cuts the new geometry a fraction off of the level of the existing geometry, leading to smoothing errors when rendering. When you’re dealing with a face that’s lined up with one of the 3 axes used in the 3D space, that’s not an issue. You simply go around and manually realign the points to be level. That worked great for the top of the back of the saucer. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with angled planes, like the ones found on the back edge of the saucer, things get trickier.

I fought with the existing geometry for a good couple hours or more. I tried the Edge Split modifier and all kinds of things, nothing got rid of the errors. So, I finally realized that the offensive geometry had to go and that I needed to start over. Fortunately, I’m anal about saving stuff to new files when I do things like cuts, so I just had to open a second Blender window, open the uncut file and copy and past the sections I needed over to replace the messed up geometry. That’s where it got even more fun.

I tried re-cutting the geometry using the Knife Project tool, that’s where I found out it does the same thing booleans does. So, I wound up through a series of bisects, insets, extrusions, and whatnot, getting the elements I wanted back in there, without using either the booleans or knife project. It was a giant pain in the butt, but worth it in the end because there are no freaking smoothing errors. It’s all clean and it looks beautiful rendered.

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So, after a long day of frustration, this is all I have for tonight. While they may look like last night’s renders, there are differences you don’t see. And, now that I’m done with that and I’m mentally drained, it’s time for some XBOX 360. I’m going to go take out a day’s worth of frustration on some thugs in Gotham City. ;)

TOS Miranda Class, Pt. 04

Work, work, work.

OK, lots of things here and there. I added some cuts to the back of the saucer for the shuttlebays. I also added trenches to the top for the greebles that will more or less replicate (at lower detail of course) the nurnies that ILM put on the movie version. I also added a cut for the deflector-like details on movie version, but I don’t know yet what I’m doing there. I also put in the three groves that are in the underside of the Enterprise’s saucer. And, I added windows. A whole bunch of windows. I’d have done more, but I also spent a lot of time cleaning up the mess that the booleans made. And, I fiddled with the bussard collectors some more.

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TOS Miranda Class, Pt. 01

So, this is what I’ve been working towards. I wanted to do the nacelle first because I wanted that to match the original Enterprise’s nacelle. The rest, of course, has to all be custom built from either fan plans of similar configurations and from my head. Of course, people have done these over the years, with different options for hull shape, pod/no pod, where the deflector goes, etc. I did one several years ago in Truespace and then nearly two years ago in Lightwave, I rebuilt the same ship for Star Trek: Equinox. Though, that was a smaller ship and one that I never personally called “Miranda class.” This one is more appropriately sized. Like the Miranda class in Star Trek II and onward, the saucer has the same diameter as the Enterprise’s saucer, though this one is (of course) based on the TOS Enterprise, as opposed to the movie one. So, the saucer has a diameter of 127.1 meters. However, I did “beef up” the edge a bit, to more realistically fit 2 decks there. I also made the teardrop taller, for the same purpose, and the bridge is probably taller to, as I don’t believe the series version bridge structure was large enough to house the bridge. So, this is where it stands right now:

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The saucer was time consuming (it took up much of yesterday) but not particularly difficult to do. I did it pretty much the same way I did in Lightwave, which involved a lot of box modeling, a custom curve or two, and a buttload of edge rounding. The ship is going to have a roll bar, just as the movie one does. I plan to put the navigational deflector and possibly the torpedo launchers in the pod. I’m also going to do the big phasers on the roll bar, just as they are in the movie version.

Blendering, Pt. 05

The bussards are about where I want them now. Or at least, I’m done fiddling with them for now. I redid the lights and played around with the dome settings. The dome itself has no glow, all of the light comes from the inner bulbs, just as it should be.

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Here’s a look at it without the dome in place and with the emission shader turned way down so that the lights don’t blow everything out.

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Yes,there are only two colors of lights here. Also, my dome is tinted orange. It doesn’t look like the bussards on the Enterprise from the original TV show and it’s not supposed to, because I’m not building the original Enterprise. I’m building something else. And, since this is done, (or at least as done as it will be for now) I can get on with the rest of the ship.

Blendering, Pt. 04

Well, the nacelle is mostly done. I’m still fiddling with the bussard collectors. For one thing, I need to redo the light bulbs. Plus, I’m still hunting for the correct combination of shaders to get the dome to light how I want it to with transparency/translucency and all.

Also, I have some kind of odd “bright” pixels happening in the second and fourth images. I’ll have to look into Cycles settings and figure out what’s going on there.

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Also, I have a question for Blender users. When you take several objects and make them one (like the various parts of the nacelle) how do you connect them? Do you Join them? I’ve seen “joined” meshes when I import my Lightwave meshes and they don’t handle multiple UV maps very well, so I’d think joining them would mess up the UV mapping. Or, do you Group them? Or is there a third option I don’t know about? Truespace had a cool glue tool, but not many other packages seem to have that. In Lightwave, I just collapsed everything down to one layer, but that’s not how Blender works.

Blendering, Pt. 03

Muwahahahahahaha*-cough-hack-wheeze!

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It’s obvious what this is. I just have to do the grills, the bussard collectors and that little light on top and it will be done. I put a little shiny material on it to make sure there weren’t any hidden errors.

I’m really liking Blender. The work flow is so smooth and effortless. Plus, I can build most of this stuff very similarly to how I did it in Lightwave. Sure, some things are better in LW, but some are actually better in Blender. My favorite thing right now: edge loop select. Freaking genius! Select a couple points in a line, hit that and it selects the rest. I had to go around and lasso select them all in Lightwave. Unless the space was too tight for the lasso select to work, then I had to do it manually. Ugh.