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If you build it, they will warp
October 8, 2010 2:44 PM   Subscribe

"Star Trek: First Contact gave John Eaves the opportunity of a lifetime when his boss Herman Zimmerman asked him to design a new starship Enterprise. As he recalls, he was determined that the new ship would be sleek, fast, and muscular. " Designing the Enterprise NCC-1701-E from FSD: Starship Concept Art
posted by wayofthedodo (31 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's every school kid's scifi-obsessed design nerd's dream to design an Enterprise.
posted by mrnutty at 2:52 PM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I used to have a giant poster of an isometric cross-section of the Enterprise D. The level of detail in it was quite insane; everything was either identifiable or labeled, from turbo lifts to the hydroponics bay. But you know somewhere, for at least one someone, it was a labor of love.
posted by NBJack at 2:56 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would a lessened resistance by way of sleekness really matter in space? I know it's not an absolute void, but it's not as though there's air or water to impede motion. Besides, when in warp drive, an ovoid force field is projected around the ship, so little protrusions wouldn't matter at all, no?

*takes off nerd hat, cries quietly*
posted by Bromius at 2:59 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Star Trek has consistently had the most visually pleasing, futuristic, and wonderful space ships. For instance, the Borg.
posted by polymodus at 3:00 PM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am sort of surprised they built a model for this one, but glad to read that they did. I just like the idea that something of these things actually exists somewhere, I suppose.
posted by ghiacursed at 3:01 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Much to my surprise, they still sell them.
posted by NBJack at 3:05 PM on October 8, 2010


It's every school kid's dream to design an Enterprise.

Dare to dream.
posted by mazola at 3:05 PM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


It was really the last Enterprise to be a fully physical model, and was only used for First Contact. The next two movies used only CG, with a slightly redesigned Enterprise-E in Nemesis.

John Eaves has a blog, which also features his work on Star Trek 2009.

For reference's sake, Doug Drexler has a similar blog, which is just awesome and will cost you days of productivity.
posted by Harry at 3:10 PM on October 8, 2010


I never really grokked the E. Maybe it's just b/c I was a big fan of TNG as a kid and so i was really used to the D design.. the E never seemed 'iconic', but maybe that's because we just didn't see it enough on screen. (Also maybe because those movies sucked hard and ruined all that was good about the TV show).
posted by modernnomad at 3:11 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would a lessened resistance by way of sleekness really matter in space?

There are two basic parts of a typical Federation ship, the warp nacelles and the saucer. Presumably the warp nacelles have their sleek shape mostly out of engineering necessity. However, air resistance, or perhaps more accurately, atmospheric reentry is a concern for the saucer section because the saucer section can detach and (crash) land.

Whether a saucer shape is really actually all that great a design for atmospheric reentry I don't know, but it doesn't seem too far removed from a typical space capsule.
posted by jedicus at 3:15 PM on October 8, 2010


The very first Enterprise was well balanced and symmetrical, with what appeared to be a perfectly round saucer section. It looked like what it was designed for - deep space exploration and science, where if you needed to fight a battle you could. Then TNG movies went from exploration and character driven plots to half-assed action flicks, so I guess the ship design had to change as well in the minds of the designers. They all were designed to look longer, more oval if not down right pointy, and took on dark shading to show how big and terrifying they were. Don't ask me why considering in the re-boot and Wrath of Khan the audiences seemed to think original design did just fine in battle, thank you.

So in my summation, the new designs all seem to be suffering from penis envy.
posted by Muddler at 3:17 PM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't say how many hours I sat on the can reading this book, but it was a lot.
posted by phaedon at 3:26 PM on October 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


As a kid. Just to be clear.
...
posted by phaedon at 3:26 PM on October 8, 2010


There are two basic parts of a typical Federation ship, the warp nacelles and the saucer. Presumably the warp nacelles have their sleek shape mostly out of engineering necessity. However, air resistance, or perhaps more accurately, atmospheric reentry is a concern for the saucer section because the saucer section can detach and (crash) land.

My understanding was that the typical federation ship was able to enter planetary atmosphere in controlled flight, but that we didn't see this actually happen until Voyager.
posted by biffa at 3:27 PM on October 8, 2010


You want sleek and futuristic? I present the NCC-1701-J
posted by griphus at 3:46 PM on October 8, 2010


Would a lessened resistance by way of sleekness really matter in space?

Note that the Borg are intended to infer visuals of no-frills, no art, form-over-function, no individuality, pragmatic-to-a-fault. Sleek? Pshaw.

What does their ship look like?

It's a cube. No front, no back. Exposed cables, pipes, whozits and whatzits running everywhere.

You can keep going with this.

Federation: Delicate, yet powerful. Scientific. A shape that infers a round head, a body and outstretched limbs.
Romulan: Early models literally had bird-like imagery on the hull.
Klingon: Nacelles look like animal legs, with backward-bending knees, as if constantly in a crouch. Then they switched to the "bird of prey" look, which actually did infer a bird of prey.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:47 PM on October 8, 2010


we didn't see this actually happen until Voyager.

Not technically within the atmosphere, but the Enterprise is spotted by a 20th-Century fighter pilot in TOS "Tomorrow is Yesterday."

Side note: The fighter pilot is flying an F-104 Starfighter.

NERRRRRRRD. Get that man away from the Internet!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:51 PM on October 8, 2010


Yeah CPB, I nearly mentioned that myself but had reached my geek limit for the day.
posted by biffa at 3:55 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Griphus: I got a 404 Forbidden on your link, but this image of the Enterprise-J seems to work.
posted by mephron at 4:27 PM on October 8, 2010


I never really grokked the E. Maybe it's just b/c I was a big fan of TNG as a kid and so i was really used to the D design.. the E never seemed 'iconic', but maybe that's because we just didn't see it enough on screen. (Also maybe because those movies sucked hard and ruined all that was good about the TV show).

I actually really really love the E. I think it's my favorite Star Trek ship, and I'm a really huge Trekkie (grew up watching TNG with my daddy, asking what that little boy was doing on the bridge; never got a good answer for that).

For me, it was the sparkle of the interior. It seemed to genuinely have the gloss you would expect from a space ship in the future, whereas the D was just so glaringly lit, with all that carpet and those plastic wall panels. I've always thought that the D looked a little bit like a Super8 in space, and the idea of living in such a place is distressing to me, or at least depressing. Whereas the E seems classier, sleeker, and more livable.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:12 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seemed to genuinely have the gloss you would expect from a space ship

Or a dentists office. TOS FTW FFS
posted by Trochanter at 6:04 PM on October 8, 2010


Or a dentists office.

Maybe the reboot Enterprise. But, christ, the E is dark. I wouldn't want my dentist to work in that kind of lighting.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:05 PM on October 8, 2010


Maybe I had it wrong. I meant the TNG bridge with the dentists thing.
posted by Trochanter at 6:12 PM on October 8, 2010


Enterprise, schmenterprise. Miranda class.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:24 PM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


(I could also accept the Akira class... but they should have created the Kaneda and Tetsuo classes to go along with)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:25 PM on October 8, 2010


Would a lessened resistance by way of sleekness really matter in space?

It's a battlecruiser. So long as projectile and beam weapons are the norm, profile is an issue.
Yeah, yeah, borg
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:26 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pretty neat site. I wish they had an article about the redesigned Enterprise for the 2009 movie, one that ideally would go into detail about what the hell the designers were smoking.
posted by webmutant at 8:21 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, apparently my Trek-fu has completely worn off, because I couldn't bring myself to read a single sentence in the link.

Really, to me Nemesis and...see I can't even think of the name...the one with the planet that rejuvenates everyone...didn't really happen they were so gawdawful. Which leaves First Contact as the only movie with the 1701-E. So it doesn't really stand up against 7 seasons and a movie with 1701-D.

Sheesh, still can't remember that movie subtitle...can't even be arsed to look it up.
posted by dry white toast at 8:21 PM on October 8, 2010


2 Trek links in one day? charlesminus' head asplode.

webmutant: the designer was Ryan Church, one of the demigods of us concept art types. He talks about the design and defends it in the comments here. There's also stuff on his site and in the "Art Of Star Trek" book from the new film.

He's one of my personal major influences, and a hell of a cool guy. I like his take on it... and I've been watching Trek since it was on NBC.

dwt: Insurrection
posted by zoogleplex at 9:01 PM on October 8, 2010


Talking about saucer shapes, here's my understanding:

The triangle marks on the underside of the saucer are believed to be hiding the landing legs of the saucer (1980, Geoffrey Mandel). Although it seems likely the exact meaning of all the Enterprise's exterior markings were never pinned down, it does rather nicely mirror Forbidden Planet's C-57-D, which was a major inspiration for Star Trek.

Obviously, the later sleeker saucers were designed to look fast and cool to the audience. But Rick Sternbach and Micheal Okuda did sort of rationalize by introducing 'warp dynamics', by which streamlined shapes really do make the ships go faster.
posted by Harry at 5:04 AM on October 9, 2010


zoogleplex: Thanks for the links. I see this Ryan Church guy has worked on the Star Wars prequels, Transformers, and Avatar.

Ummm.

I'm sure he's *very nice.*
posted by webmutant at 7:34 PM on October 11, 2010


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