Phase II Enterprise

OK, this is the thing I’ve been working on, for those who didn’t get it already. I’ve always been intrigued by Star Trek: Phase II, the second attempt at a Star Trek TV series by Paramount that was doomed before it really got into production. Of course, the pilot episode became Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and many of the sets were used on the movies and even TNG, and some of the characters and stories were revisited on that show as well, but one wonders what would have become of Star Trek had that series gone through, as opposed to becoming a movie. We’ll never know because it didn’t happen, and everything worked out OK. We had the movies with the original cast, followed by TNG, DS9, Voyager, more movies and Enterprise. All told, a lot of good Trek, some of which likely wouldn’t have happened if Phase II had happened instead of TMP. Of course, the current state of Star Trek is sad, but at least we have hours upon hours of great shows and movies.

One thing I’ve always liked from Phase II was the model work being done at Brick Price Movie Miniatures, particularly the Enterprise model being constructed by Don Loos. Unfortunately, the model wasn’t high enough quality for the motion picture work as it was being built for television, so it couldn’t be used. Still, I love looking at Matt Jefferies’ sleek redesign for the ship, and at the 75% completed model that was being built. They were also working on a space dock that was significantly different than the one designed by Andrew Probert for the movie.

Anyway, I’ve built this ship before, but it’s been many years. As before, I’m using Jefferies’ updated drawings, cleaned up and made available by David Shaw. The drawings aren’t complete, but they give a complete enough view of what he had in mind for the Enterprise’s refit. There are also a few existing pics from the build in the Phase II book, which I of course have a copy of. In fact, I’m re-reading it while working on this. But, what I don’t have as far as references is where artistic license comes in. My goal is to do something between TOS and TMP, like maybe an intermediate design. Anyway, this is what I have so far:

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Return to CGI, Pt. 2

If anyone calling them self a Trekkie sees these images and doesn’t know what ship I’m doing, I’m going to have to ask you to turn in your Trekkie card. 😉

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The rear end of the engineering section is based on the one from TOS. I did it as close to the schematic drawings and the handful of pics of the incomplete model as I could, with a bit of embellishment of my own thrown in. That’s been the most time consuming part of this build so far.

Saturday Morning Star Trek

Ah, the seventies. Who could forget it? Well, to be honest, I could because I was born in 1979. 😉

These days, most people know of the existence of a TV series in the ’70s that was a revival of Star Trek. However, this wonderful series was nearly lost to time, until it was put on VHS back in the late 1990s. Then, in 2006, after CBS acquired Paramount, they wanted to do a DVD release, so to gauge fan interest they did a fan poll to decide if the series should be considered part of Star Trek canon. Fan interest was there, and the series got a release on DVD, and that was fantastic. Fast forward to 2017, and you can get the box set for $12.99 in the U.S. on Amazon:

I love this series. For those who don’t know, here’s a brief history. In 1969, NBC messed up big time and canceled Star Trek, due to its old faulty rating system, which made it look like the show was a failure. When they re-ran the numbers in the early ’70s using better demographics, they quickly realized that the show in fact was winning their target demographic, males age 18-45. So, they immediately syndicated Star Trek. Hungry for more, they decided to do another Star Trek series, this time an animated series done by Filmation. What followed was essentially Star Trek season 4, a series of 22 half hour episodes aired on Saturday mornings. Was this the best move? Well, the series won an Emmy in 1975 for Best Children’s Series, so you be the judge. This was the first Star Trek Emmy win.

To me, it’s just a great series with some good writing. There was a writers’ strike going on, but only for live action shows. This meant a lot of writers were left with nothing better to do. So, many of the same people who wrote for TOS came back. All of the actors came back except Walter Koenig, though he did write an episode. Aside from their iconic roles, Majel Barrett, Nichelle Nichols and James Doohan provided a number of the voices for other characters, George Takei also voiced a few aliens. They replaced Chekov with a three armed and three legged navigator named Arex, who would have been impossible to create in the 1960s on TV. In fact, the series had many more aliens that looked nonhuman due to the much less limited animation format. Anyway, add it all up and you have a really good series, though it did suffer from a few technical issues, most notably coloring issues. (most animated show suffer from coloring issues)

Anyway, I was on Amazon the other day because I needed to order a couple things, and that box set was right there on my main page under my recommendations. I saw it, saw the price and had it in my cart before I even had time to think about it. So, now it’s all mine. The box is pretty cool, much nicer than a lot of Star Trek box sets. The white case is plastic, and the discs are inside in a thing that pulls out. I guess, with four discs, they figured they could go a bit more elaborate with the box. All said, it’s a steal at $12.99. 😀

Support Ship, Pt. 02

One thing I love about posting this stuff online is the feedback you can get from friends and acquaintances.  A friend over at Scifi-Meshes suggested that I move the Impulse engines from the back of the saucer to the back of the nacelle pylons.  I like this idea as it not only frees up that internal space for me to put a docking port there, but it also makes use of the ample space I have inside and in the back of the pylons.  This was a good time to make this change, as I hadn’t locked in that Sub-D on the main section and started adding details.

So, I removed the impulse engine structure from the back of the saucer and rebuilt the faces.  All in all, about 5 minutes of work.  Then I set about adding a new cut out to the back of the pylons.  I made it wide and tall to accommodate larger engines, though the engines probably won’t fill up the entire cut out.  I’ll probably add in some sensor greebles between the impulse engines and the larger center cut out.  Note:  The large sensor cut out isn’t indicative of the size of the shuttlebay.  I’m going to do a smaller bay opening than the size of the cut out, like what Voyager has.  I’ll probably put an airlock on at least one side of the bay, like Voyager has.  The bay itself isn’t going to be large, probably big enough for one shuttlepod.

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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. 😀

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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