New impulse engine guts. Now without light leaks.
OK, now that I have the warp domes sorted, I’ve turned my attention to the impulse engines. I’m having a weird issue with them. Looking at this image:
If you look above the impulse engines, you can see some light bleed. There’s a red-orange “strip” of light there. It’s driving me crazy. I’ve tried changing Radiosity settings, I’ve tried adding geometry to block the light. Nothing seems to be working.
However, looking at this shot:
There’s no light bleed. I don’t know what’s causing it to happen on the wider shot, but not in the closeup. Perhaps it’s just some odd limitation of the global illumination in Lightwave 10. I am aware of some issues it can have, but mostly in animation. But, it’s nothing that can’t be sorted. I may just redo the impulse engine guts to a completely different design. What I have in mind should fix the bleed issue, as it won’t go as deep into the structure. (though, where it is now shouldn’t be an issue)
Things came to a head with me and Lightwave 2018. The render engine they rolled out for that version is just a piece of crap. Not only are the renders full of noise, but trying to use reflections causes little white spots all over that we in the 3D world call fireflies. Also, lighting effects don’t look like I want them to. I’ve looked at their forums and been chatting with a fellow Lightwave user at Scifi-Meshes, and these issues haven’t been fixed for Lightwave 2019, so there’s no point in upgrading, especially since the upgrade costs $500. Thus, I’ve moved back to Lightwave 10. It may be older, but it at least works how I want it to. Plus, the renders are nice and crisp, and any noise would be added by me in post processing, should I choose to do so.
After digging out my old dongle, (fortunately, I found it recently while looking for something else) and installing the software, I set about switching the model to LW10. Unfortunately, LW10 won’t open a file from LW2018, so I converted the model to .fbx and then imported that into LW10. The model imported well. The scale was off, but that was an easy fix. Also, all of my parts were the correct colors, but the material settings were wrong, also an easy fix.
After all that, I set about fixing my bussard collectors so that they finally look how I want them to look. I’m pretty happy with the results:
I may redo the lights inside, but the point was to get the materials where I want them. I normally don’t worry about materials at this stage, but this is a crucial element to any TOS era Starfleet ship.
These renders are ones I did for my own use, but there’s no reason not to share them. I finally got the bussard collectors where I want them. That means I’ll be moving on to other stuff. I’ll definitely be working on this this weekend, but I have some other stuff planned too. One thing I have planned is to put Windows on my main computer. This laptop works OK, but it’s somewhat limited due to the age and power of the processor. I’ve had the whole thing lock up on me more than once using Modeler, resulting in me having to do a hard reboot and lose work. Plus, it’s not the speediest thing for rendering. But, it’s still not a bad computer.
I’m playing with ideas for the bussard collectors. It took trying out a few different things to get to this point.
The light spill on the hull is there, but not as high as I’d like it to be, but I think I know the setting to change on my glass material. I’m using a Dielectric shader for the glass, as it’s supposed to more accurately simulate glass than Principled BSDF does.
I bought another computer. This one is a refurbished Dell laptop. It’s been totally refurbished, cleaned up and it looks like they maybe upgraded things like the hard drive, RAM and WIFI adapter. They also put a brand new copy of Windows 10 Pro on it. That means I can once again run Windows only software, such as Lightwave. So, I’m determined to finish this ship.
Unfortunately, while I had the project files and blueprints backed up, I didn’t have the files to align the blueprints with the background. So, I had to line them back up. They’re not perfect, but they’re close enough. If I was after the perfect version of the TOS Enterprise, it may be more of a concern. But, that ship sailed when I started adding stuff to the model that wasn’t on the original. So, close enough will do. Anyway, I added the deflector and planetary sensor, before I got into dorking around with materials.
This is after playing around with materials:
Lightwave 2018 uses newer materials than Lightwave 10, the last version I had before purchasing the upgrade last year. It uses Principled BSDF materials, which is also what Blender uses with its Cycles render engine. I had been cheating in Lightwave and using the old style “Standard” materials, which were only left in there so that you didn’t have to redo the materials on older models that you imported. (unlike Blender) But, I decided to switch over to the Principled BSDF instead. Really, it has so many improvements over the older style materials that I can see why it’s the standard now.
Anywho, it’s nice using Lightwave again. I don’t know what this means as far as my work in Blender. Buying this computer was a spur of the moment decision because the other laptop I have is terrible and I know people in the Linux community who swear by these Latitude E series laptops. But, it’s also not the speediest thing for rendering. It gets the job done, though. I also may purchase Windows 10 for my desktop computer, but the jury is out on that one. There are still things I like better about Lightwave than Blender, and that will never change. And, it’s not like I can’t either import that ship I’m working on or just rebuild it. (rebuilding it will probably be easier)
So, I bought a new book the other day:
The book without the dust cover is cool, as we see a yellow line version of Eaves’s concept for the Borg cube from First Contact.
Anyway, I’ve been a fan of John Eaves’s work for years, I have his old sketch book from the movies Generations and First Contact. Eaves’s Star Trek career spans over 30 years, as he started out in Greg Jein’s model shop for Star Trek V, and he also drew concept work for the Klingon disruptor cannon and the Starfleet shuttlecraft, though the shuttle concept wasn’t used. He moved out of the model shop and into the concept art department for TNG and DS9, continuing to the TNG movies and Enterprise, and has done concept work for the first two JJTrek movies and Discovery. He not only designs ships, but props as well, as everything in a Sci-Fi movie usually has to be made and needs concept work to visualize designs.
Anyway, good book. I’ve only read the Discovery part, though I skimmed over some of the rest. I wanted to know why certain things were done they way they are for Discovery, and this book answers some of that.
So, that’s what I have for now. Good book, especially if concept art fascinates you as it does me.
So, I finished up the details on and around the impulse engine, and I tweaked my glow a bit too.
One thing I wanted to do was add some reaction control system (RCS) thrusters to the impulse engines. This is real world technology that started appearing on Star Trek ships in the 1970s. Back in the early days of suborbital space flight, they experimented a lot with the rocket powered X-plane series to try out different technologies for space flight. One thing they had to solve was how to maneuver in a zero gravity environment. They tried various things that were unsuccessful before someone had the brilliant idea to put little thrusters all over the plane for course corrections. This worked, and RCS thurusters were born and have been used on NASA spacecraft since then. By the 1970s, when Star Trek was getting its revival, a number of NASA scientists volunteered their time as scientific advisors on the attempts to create a movie and a TV show that resulted in TMP. I’d assume they’re the reason Star Trek ships have had little thrusters on them since the 1970s.
One thing that bugs me about the ships is that they have a few thrusters here and there. I guess the assumption is that, with them placed where they are and with centuries newer tech, less thrusters will get the job done. That’s all fine and dandy, but one thing that seems to be somewhat missing on a lot of Star Trek ships are thrusters that point directly forward and backward. We know they exist, because they’re referenced a lot, but they aren’t shown a lot. It can be assumed that the thrusters can be pointed in different directions to achieve directional flight and maneuvers, but still. Some ships hardly have any thrusters. (looking at you, Constellation class) I like to try and make my ships somewhat realistic in the thruster department. Though, I’m no scientist, so I may not necessarily get it “right” either, but I do understand the basics of how these thrusters work. One ship that’s the exception to this is the NX-01, it has more thrusters than most Star Trek ships, including plenty that point directly backward. There are some near all four impulse engines, which makes sense. Plenty of backward thrust for moving the ship forward on thruster power. I decided to do the same here. There are screw holes in the back of the impulse engines of the actual model, to attach the part to the ship. I put the thrusters pretty much where those holes are.
Anyway, to achieve my idea for the thrusters, it was necessary to build the saucer ones first. Not really necessary, but I like to do those first and base all of the other thrusters on the ship after them. So, I did those, then I added the 12 nozzles to the impulse engines. I decided to go with a design between the NX-01 and the Enterprise refit. The NX has bell thrusters, similar to what are on real NASA spacecraft, where the refit has squared holes sunken into the model. So, I did round nozzles that stick out slightly and are sunken in. No glows on the thrusters, because I’m not a fan of stuff glowing just for the sake of it.
I’m not overly fond of the windows and thrusters being so close together, but these things happen. The windows are placed where they are on the series ship, and the thrusters have to go there. Well, they don’t have to, but 45 degrees rotation in relation to the ship’s axes is the most efficient place to put them.
This is the first time I’ve felt like working on this ship in a few weeks. And, I don’t mean that in a “I just didn’t feel like it” sense, I mean I’ve literally been sick the past few weeks. Some kind of nasty flu, or something like that. I even had to call in to work a couple days, and I’m the type who almost never calls in.
Anyway, I’ve been working on the impulse engines:
I probably would have done more, but this is also the first time I’ve loaded up Windows in a few weeks. It told me along the way that it had downloaded an update. I opted to wait, but then decided to install the wretched thing a while later. It took almost an hour just to install this stupid update. I know how long it took because I was watching a stand up comedy special that was slightly over an hour. I started the update towards the beginning, and it finished just before the comedy special did. So, that was frustrating.