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The refitted Constitution-class studio model

For the original design, please see Constitution-class model (original).

The studio models that represented the Constitution-class USS Enterprise were slated to be modernized and redesigned after the production of Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series. Starting out with traditional physical studio models, digital versions were also used to represent ships of this class in the Star Trek franchise.

Early concepts

File:Phase II Enterprise, fore.jpg

Ralph McQuarrie's Enterprise concept art...

File:Phase II Enterprise, aft.jpg

...ultimately rejected in favor of Jefferies' design

Ralph McQuarrie, best known to the public for his stunning production designs for the Star Wars films, was hired by Ken Adam to help develop the designs for the new Star Trek: Planet of the Titans movie, ultimately abandoned to make way for Star Trek: Phase II, the new television series. Although the design used the same elements as the original design, saucer shaped primary hull, warp engine assemblies and a engineering secondary hull, the secondary hull was flattened and wedge shaped, providing a radically different look, one not unlike the Star Destroyers McQuarrie designed for those films.

Interestingly, McQuarrie envisioned his designs as capable of performing a saucer separation. He has remarked in this respect, "I had devised a concept for the end of the film... Some alien form has designed a way to use the power of a black hole's gravity to form a spherical shroud around the black hole. If you have a dense enough material, gravity cannot penetrate it. There are two openings in the shroud that they would use to pull ships in. The saucer of the Enterprise (which was detachable) ends up in the shroud. They meet the aliens and had a dramatic finale. These two images are of the Enterprise saucer in the shroud.(...)The disc of the Enterprise would separate from the rest of the ship to land on the surface of planets." [1] The sketches, McQuarrie referred to, of the independently operating saucer section, were published in The Art of Ralph McQuarrie (pages 124-129).

Jefferies' 1977 contributions, note the "1701A" annotation

Their Enterprise design, however, was abandoned, and Roddenberry asked Matt Jefferies to update the famous starship to reflect the refit that would be part of the Phase II-series' back story. During June 1977, Jefferies' re-designed the engine nacelles from tubes to thin, flat-sided modules, and tapered their supports. He also added the distinctive photon torpedo launch ports on the saucer connector.

Jefferies' original back-up design variation

"Basically," Jefferies said, "what I did to it was change the power units, and make a slight change in the struts that supported them. I gave the main hull a taper, then I went flat-sided and thin with the power units, rather than keeping the cylindrical shape. Trying to work out the logic of the refit, I knew a lot of the equipment inside would change, but I didn't see that there would be any need to change the exterior of the saucer. Certainly, though, the engines would be a primary thing to change. Part of the theory of the ship's design in the first place was that we didn't know what these powerful things were or how devastating it would be if anything went awry, so that's why we kept them away from the crew. And that meant they could be easily changed if you had to replace one." (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 27) Elaborating he later clarified, "As far as I was concerned, about the only thing we could update was the engines, So I changed the design of the pods and the struts. I still wanted an absolutely plain exterior. Anything that man makes is going to break down; why put him outside in the worst possible environment when you can ut him on the inside?" Jefferies started work from drawings he'd actually prepared for the original series that showed the Enterprise with flattened nacelles, to be presented to Roddenberry if he did not like the first version. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 8, p. 84)

Early ads for The Motion Picture portrayed the upgraded Enterprise initially designed for Phase II by Jefferies

Minor's concept art for the Phase II Enterprise

Unlike the first redesign of the Enterprise, Jefferies' new version, further detailed by Mike Minor and Joe Jennings, was designed along the classical lines of the original albeit modernized. Jennings was brought in on recommendation of Jefferies, after the latter expressed an unwillingness to leave his then job at Little House on the Prairie, in order to continue the re-design work (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 26). But when Paramount Pictures abandoned its plans to create a fourth television network in late December 1977 and subsequently transformed the second Star Trek series into the first movie, that Enterprise, already in the process of being built, was discarded as movie director Robert Wise brought in a new art director – Richard Taylor – who assigned Andrew Probert to do a second redesign of the ship, essentially keeping with Jefferies' new lines, while adding the extensive detail that was necessary for a motion picture miniature. Probert recalled, "When I started the design phase of the Enterprise, my Art Director, Richard Taylor, showed me these pictures of the ship as it had been designed by Joe Jennings and Matt Jefferies for the Star Trek Television movie now known as: 'Phase II'. He also produced plans of the ship and I was told that this would be our starting point. Since this four [sic.] foot miniature was made for a 20 inch television screen, it would have worked just fine but our miniature had to hold up on a 40 foot movie screen, so we started our eight foot version from scratch." [2] Taylor himself was even more outspoken in his opinions,

"When we first came on the project we had to look at everything that existed and Roddenberry said, "Just use the sets that we’re building and the models we are building". So, I gave the models and honest look but had to tell them in the end that "If you use these models and sets, you’re going to be laughed out of the theatre". The models would have been embarrassing at best. They were really old school in their detail and were not built to armature and light the way we needed for motion control. They looked like the old television show. Again, Don Loos built the Enterprise and Magicam built the dry-dock and a few other things but they were building for a television movie. The resolution of television is forgiving; the big screen is not. I sat down with Roddenberry and Katzenberg and said we are going to have to redesign the Enterprise because it needs to be armatured from six sides and it needs to have lighting systems in it. I told them "You saw Star Wars. You saw the quality of those models and for us to shoot these models of yours with motion control; to put that motion blur in there with multiple passes… it has to have lights that we can control for individual passes". If the camera is going to get close to the model–say, up close to the windows, the model has got to be big enough for us to give it detail. Trying to film a model that is too small is deadly. The focus, lighting, depth of field, surface textures and much more come into play. The Enterprise ended up being almost 12 ft. [sic.] long. The model that was under construction was maybe 4 ft. [sic.] long." [3]

Planet of the Titans models

USS Enterprise study model

File:USS Enterprise study model in Space dock.jpg Earth Spacedock

Based on Ralph McQuarrie's design of a new Enterprise for the proposed Star Trek: Planet of the Titans movie project, at least two study models were build, before the project was canceled. Stored away for the better part of a decade the models would make a surprising reappearance. Although stated as having made an appearance in the debris field of "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II", (The Art of Star Trek, p. 56) they have not been identified as being there. [4]

B-24-CLN study model Surplus Depot Z15 (bottom)

One of the models, however, was present as B-24-CLN at the Surplus Depot Z15 in "Unification I". Part of the other model could be seen in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock docked in Earth Spacedock when the Enterprise enters. The models therefore became canon albeit without class designations or names. The B-24-CLN study model, constructed out of wood and plastic, detailed with hand-applied tape and ink and measuring fifteen inches in length by eight inches wide, eventually turned up on 8 August 2010 as Lot #12 in the Propworx' The official Star Trek Prop and Costume Auction, estimated at US$1,000-$2,000, where it sold for US$3,500.

Phase II model

Price working on the molds of the bridge and saucer section of the model

Loos working on the engineering hull of the Phase II Enterprise model

Molds of the dorsal and nacelle of the model

After Matt Jefferies' redesign was approved for the Star Trek: Phase II television project in 1977, detailed construction blueprints were drawn up for construction of the physical studio model [5] (which were not the ones published in Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, color section). To ease the workload on model making company Magicam, Inc., headed by Jim Dow and the company tasked with the build of the studio models, the lead visual effects company for the production, Robert Abel & Associates (RA&A), sub-contracted Brick Price Movie Miniatures to build the hero model. Price brought in modeler Don Loos to do the bulk of the construction work. A contemporary visitor, Trek author James Van Hise, commented at the time, "Don Loos was building the new Enterprise. I saw parts of the model, just the saucer was about three feet across, and the fiberglass it was molded from was so strong that it would have supported a person's weight." (Enterprise Incidents; special edition on the technical side, 1984, p. 36). Work on the six-foot model, constructed out of fiberglass with joint connections made of undersized aluminum sheet plates and therefore, despite its size, quite heavy, was in progress when the project was upgraded to the Star Trek: The Motion Picture movie project. (American Cinematographer, January 1980, p. 153) "I did the new working drawings with my board on the bed in a hotel in Tucson, because we were on location with Little House. I came back and had them printed. Don Loos had the engine pods finished, and was working on the struts, but around that time I had to quit.", Jefferies remembered. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 8, p. 84) As both Wise and Taylor decided that the model was too small and not detailed enough to meet big screen requirements, a new model had to be built from scratch. Taylor clarified, "Before our involvement, the production had been working up a model of the E. It was about 4ft. [sic.] long. It was made with molds and fiberglass. The model I saw had no lights built into it. Its design I thought was an improvement on the television version. Regardless of its design the level of detail and the scale of a model to be filmed with the latest motion control technique could not be accomplished with that model. We would have to build a new version from scratch. Of course this isn’t what the folks working on the show wanted to hear." (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 103) Price was pulled off the project in January 1978 (though his company would remain to build props for the movie), the model three quarters complete by then, and the task of building a new model reverted back to Magicam. Template:Brokenlink

Ventral view of the model

The unfinished Phase II Enterprise model

Bridge detail of the model

The unfinished model in test set-up with abandoned Phase II spacedock model

Upon the upgrade of the project to a feature movie, it was decided to discard the models made for Phase II, which included both the spacedock model and the Enterprise model, as was confirmed by Dow (American Cinematographer, January 1980, p. 153) and the painter of the follow-up movie Enterprise model, Paul Olsen, who related, "It also meant the scrapping of four month’s work building models, which Magicam had just completed, so the crew held a wake for the models and trashed them. Lobster was served by Bob Morris (who later opened the famous Gladstone’s Restaurant in Malibu) on the huge 8-foot by 12-foot elevator table with the TV drydock and the original Enterprise hanging over it as a chandelier. Party over, next day start over! Only this time with proper movie models." (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 46)

Yet, a Brick Price Enterprise model turned up years later in the Planet Hollywood restaurant in New York City in the early 1990s. The saucer section and torpedo launchers were heavily adjusted to reflect the appearance the refit Enterprise has in the movies. The nacelles, secondary hull and the upper dorsal retained its original Phase II design, resulting in an unfamiliar looking hybrid between the Phase II and the movie's Enterprise. [6] Star Trek aficionado William S. McCullars has showcased pictures of the model, provided by Price himself, on his now defunct website "The Idic Page". At the same time several others were sighted at other Planet Hollywood restaurants which indicated that the franchise contracted Price to make several copies. "The model was built from parts pulled from the phase II molds. A lot of models were duplicated so that they cold be displayed at more than one Planet Hollywood.", John Eaves later confirmed. [7] American collector Adam Schneider [8] provided confirmation of existence of copies (which he had measured at approximating 6-foot in length) as he acquired one and had it converted to approximate the The Motion Picture appearance as a companion piece to the actual drydock studio model he owned. [9] [10] Additional confirmation was provided in the documentary series Hollywood Treasure (season 1, episode 15, "Trek to the Future", broadcast 8 June 2011), in which Price himself presented the molds and partial casts of the model. It could be discerned that some of the molds were at least partially modified and that the castings were not those of the original model, establishing that Price only retained the molds in 1978 and not the original model, despite his assertions to both McCullars and Hollywood Treasures to the contrary.

Phase II Constitution-class design on computer read-out in The Wrath of Khan

Phase II Constitution-class orthographic schematics

While the Phase II model was discarded, the design of it, surprisingly, showed up canonically as ship's operations graphics read-outs on bridge computer consoles in both The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan (among others clearly discernible in the Mark IV bridge simulator). The green back-lit transparencies were based upon a set of orthographic schematics, probably done at Price's model shop for familiarization purposes. It is not clear why they were used, as the back-lit transparencies based on Richard Taylor's schematics (which were predominantly blue) of the revised follow-up motion picture studio model also appeared alongside them in the features, but it is likely they had already been produced for the Phase II project.

Daren Dochterman built a Phase II CGI model that was to be used in the fan series production, Star Trek: New Voyages. [11] His model premiered in the 2012 vignette "Going Boldly".

Designing a refit Enterprise for The Motion Picture

Originally Art Director Richard Taylor wanted to totally redesign the Enterprise from scratch, once the movie project, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, became definitive in December 1977, but Roddenberry vetoed that notion and insisted to keep the basic design as established for the Phase II project and instead to concentrate on redesigning the details. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 8, p. 85) Bowing to the inevitable, Taylor turned his thought processes to the job at hand, "I got into the philosophy of how the Enterprise theoretically works. The Enterprise behaves somewhat like a surfboard that rides on a continuous wave created by the disturbance in space created by the anti-matter in the nacelles. But again, the Enterprise's center of gravity is outside its actual body, so I put maneuvering thrusters all over the craft, on the nacelles, the saucer, etc. Something I wanted to do was have an animation effect for the thrusters working when the ship is maneuvering out of the dry-dock. I also assumed that at some point we might want the saucer to jettison–either in this film or another one–so we designed it so that the saucer could maneuver by itself and land if necessary. So, the Enterprise had lots of functions it had to accomplish in the movie. How things came in and out of the Cargo Bay and how they were moved and stored." [12] Additionally, Taylor has stated, "I have always thought that the Enterprise is one of the worst designs ever conceived for a spacecraft. The center of gravity of any object in space has everything to do with its shape. The Enterprise by its configuration is one of the most unbalanced objects in the history of space and science fiction. So I asked Roddenberry if I could change the shape of the E. I wanted to create an entirely new design. He emphatically stated that the configuration of the TV model was iconic and that it had to remain the same. But I could modernize it? I studied the original Enterprise models from the television series and then started sketching to create a new version that had some elegance and style. My basic concept was to Art Deco the ships design. Give it a horizontal flow and keep it more like a Frank Lloyd Wright space ship. I wanted to emphasize lines, scale, and detail. The Saucer’s proportions were changed, the Ion engine was added at the rear and other details like landing gear, thrusters and lights so that the saucer could jettison from the rest of the ship and become it’s own flying saucer." (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 103)

Probert's design evolution of the bridge and impulse engines

Probert's design evolution of the torpedo launchers

Brought in by Taylor, parts of the new Enterprise were also re-designed by Andrew Probert, based upon Minor's and Jennings's concepts for Phase II. Aside from Taylor and Probert, other artists who also worked on the refit design were Douglas Trumbull and Harold Michelson, staying with the proportions inherited from Jefferies' upgraded Enterprise for Star Trek: Phase II, after the prodding received from Roddenberry. Probert on his assignment:

"When I first got onto Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I was told by my art director, Richard Taylor, that he wanted me to design all the humanoid spacecraft. That way there would be a perceived visual continuity between all the hardware. And then another team would design V'Ger. My designs actually started with the Space Office Complex, but when it came time to design the Enterprise, he requested that I delegate the job of designing the warp engines to him, because he had these ideas that he wanted to put forth about bringing an art deco look to the new Enterprise. He also instigated the look of various sets of parallel lines around the ship to enforce that theme. So while he was doing the engines, I wanted to actually go larger on the size of the ship, not realizing at the time that the Enterprise was originally in drydock for a refitting. Richard felt we should stay with the proportions that we had inherited from Matt Jefferies and Joe Jennings, when they'd designed it for Star Trek: Phase II. So with that as our starting basis. I lengthened the ship to a thousand feet, just a few feet longer than it was, and enlarged the saucer, eventually adding an updated superstructure to the top and bottom of it. I came up with new photon torpedo tubes and redesigned the whole navigational deflector dish area, updated the impulse engine, and added phaser banks around the ship, visible for the first time, along with a reaction control thruster system to the ship – those were there for the first time too, designing them in a way that the ship could operate as two independent entities, being the primary and secondary hulls, or as a combined Starship unit." [13]

Apart from re-designing the warp nacelles, Taylor added the the parallel lines along the saucer's edge and came up with the large transparent botanical windows in the lower half of the engineering hull, "My approach was to give it a stylization that was almost art deco. Things became more elongated and more elegant than the TV series version. I tried to give it a very art deco feel; for example, I added the parallel lines along the edge of the saucer. I spent weeks drawing and redrwaing the nacelles. The front end of them is almost a 1940 Ford grill.(...)We used small transparent images of the sets inside the windows so that when the camera got close to the model it appeared that you could see something in the windows. By the way, in some of the windows you can see photos of Mickey Mouse, Andy Probert, and others as a kind of in-joke." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 8, pp. 85, 87) In regard to the nacelles, Taylor has added, "The Nacelles were the most difficult part of the design of the Enterprise. I spent more time on their design than any other part of the Enterprise. I felt they needed to be linear and streamlined. I wanted them to look more powerful and complex, like something Nikola Tesla might have designed. Being the engines of the ship they needed an anti-matter effect around them when in warp drive. I wanted them to look like they might be heat exchangers. Finally, I gave them a deco feel and made them much more rectilinear than the cylindrical designs of the television model." (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, pp. 103-104)

Detail of D260789


Design patent image

A design patent, No. D260789, was issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office to Paramount Pictures for the USS Enterprise on 15 September 1981 (there called a "toy spaceship"), which noted Andrew Probert as the "sole inventor" of the design. The patent extended to both the original configuration as well as the refit-configuration. The patent application was tendered by the studio on 19 March 1979 and, when issued, was valid for fourteen years.

Eight-foot refit model

File:Constitution Class refit USS Enterprise aluminom frame studied by Magicam's Chris Crump.jpg

The aluminum frame-work examined by Crumb

Thompson detailing the partially constructed model

Roddenberry vetoing Taylor's radical design proposal, enabled Magicam's Jim Dow and his crew to start construction on the model in the spring of 1978. After drawing up a set of preliminary engineering drawings with the help of Chris Ross, Dow and co. started with constructing a forty pound weighing aluminum framework, designed by Dow himself, for internal strength for the model and as a armature for mounting the finished model for filming. The armature was constructed by Chris Crumb, who laid out and assembled the basic 6061 T6 aluminum aircraft grade subframe, and Lee Ettleman who fabricated the pieces in Magicam's machineshop. (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 48) Since no story-boards were yet available at the time Dow had the foresight to design the frame with five mounting points for 360 degrees shooting options around its center of gravity (though the top mounting point would be eliminated later in the process). (American Cinematographer, February 1980, pp. 152-155 & 178-180) Plastic vacuum-formed molds (the four foot diameter dish being vacuum formed butyrate over a spun plaster mold) were subsequently applied to the frame to skin the model. Redesigned elements from Taylor and Probert were built and applied as they came in during the construction of the model, making the redesign a process on the fly. By this time Crumb, had been appointed lead modeler on the build and headed a team that was beefed out with Ross, Chris Elliot, Kris Gregg, Ron Gress, Richard Thompson, Mark Stetson along with Paul Olsen.

Test lighted model, before receiving its final paint job and redesigned lower sensor dome

File:Constitution refit USS Enterprise studio model handled by Magicam Chriss Ross and Jim Dow for one of its firdst beauty shots..jpg

The model mounted by Ross (l) and Dow (r) for one of its very first lighting trials

Suggested as early in "The Apple" as being able to perform a saucer separation, the model was constructed in such a way that a separation could be filmed if the need arose, though the feature has never been utilized. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 9) Probert himself remarked in this regard, "The Enterprise was always designed to separate from the Engineering section. I knew about this when I did Star Trek: The Motion Picture. And if you look at the bottom of Kirk's Enterprise [remark: original configuration], you'll notice two triangular items, which are two of the landing feet for the saucer. Regardless of whether it was Matt Jefferies' original intention or not, it's sort of the way that "Trekdom" or "Star Trek lore" has labeled those features. So taking my cue from that for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I placed four landing legs in the bottom of the Enterprise and crated a very specific separation line on the dorsal." (Star Trek: The Next Generation USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints, booklet, p. 8) The continuous adding of redesigned elements to the model meant that detailed accurate blueprints of the model could only be drawn up by David A. Kimble after the model was finished, though detailed orthographic exterior views were created by Taylor for familiarization purposes, as well as serving as basis for the ships operations graphics seen on the bridge in the feature.

Part of Magicam's team with the finished model

Gregg applying electrical wiring to the model

For internal lighting, Dow decided to use neon. Lighting studio models with neon, was a relatively new technique at the time, and Dow decided to hire a specialist, Larry Albright, to apply it. Dow stated,

"Larry Albright and Paul Turner designed the lighting systems for the ship; Larry, the high voltage neon and Paul, the incandescent. Neon was chosen because of the impracticality of the use of fiber optics, due to the armaturing system (five-way) and its ability to throw a great deal of light without the attendant heat, as with incandescents. It was used wherever there was a light source in an inaccessible area and for longevity. The tiny point sources of incandescents were used where needed.(...) "Lighting systems which were made of four-milimeter neon tubing and developed by Larry Albright (56 of them, requiring 3000 volts to illuminate each) originally were to be the major illumination source of the starship. The idea was for the combined models to provide their own illumination, the thought being that lighting would be supplied totally from within the model. Hundreds of incandescents would be used in the structure, these being tiny sources called axial lamps, ten times smaller than a grain of wheat bulb. I am certain that the illumination sources discovered by our electrical people, Albright and Turner, were definitely a breakthrough for our industry. Five and six-volt computer lamps with long life ratings, good quality control for the shape of the glass envelope, and pin-based for replacement, were also built in throughout the structure." (American Cinematographer, February 1980, pp. 178, 186)

Dow further remembered, "Almost all the cabin portholes are neon - neon because the model had to be sealed, and neon has the longest life and generates the least amount of heat. It was next to impossible to provide maintenance ports in the Enterprise because it's such a smooth-skinned object. We didn't have the luxury of all that nerny detail that the Star Wars models had, to hide the lines of panel openings. But now they've added so much skin detail - which I'm sorry to see aesthetically - that we could have done it. Our job would have been much easier: we could have opened it up for access to the lights and wiring." (Starlog, issue 27, October 1979, p. 29) The inaccessibility of the internal wiring bedeviled VFX crews in later movies. Dow and his team finished up on the model in September/October 1978 and delivered it to the producers, coming in at seventy pounds. At Trumbull's insistence however, further detailing and revision of the lighting, meant that work on the model continued in the months that followed.

While construction on the model was in progress, Taylor and Dow started to consider what color and hull detailing the Enterprise should have. Taylor reiterated, "One of the things we did with all of the models was to give their surfaces details and interesting designs. A smooth object has no scale so it’s important in model work to find ways of creating scale. Sometimes it’s very subtle but it’s one of the most important elements in model photography. (...) I had this idea of giving the surface of the Enterprise a patterned, plated look and we made masks for the surface to create that surface effect. We did experiments with Crescent Metal Powders and other iridescent and pearlescent paints. So, in the end we made pearlescent body panels that varied from each other by minute differences in color and reflectivity. There were multiple masks that were used to give the surface the complex texture you see on the screen. The painting was phenomenal." [14] Going into more detail in regard to the coloring he added at a later point in time, "As we worked up the Enterprise it became apparent to me that we needed a special paint technique to give the surface of the ship scale. Literally the different spectral qualities of paint and the thickness of one coat of paint could make the surface detail of the Enterprise believable. I had done some tests with different paints as a painter and knew of the Crescent Metal Powder paints and their pearlescent pigments. Jim Dow and I looked into them as he had used them as well on his 1935 Ford, did a little test and decided some combination of those pigments would work. Designing the pattern and doing the actual painting, now that was going to be one hell of a job for someone to tackle..." (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 106)

Model showing "Aztec-pattern" under oblique lighting

Olsen working on the model

At first, Zuzana Swansea was appointed to try to apply the designed surfacing detail for the saucer section, most notably what was to become the "Aztec pattern" (Taylor's interlocking "patterned, plated" hull pattern on the saucer section, a hallmark for later classes of Federation star ships) as was envisioned by Taylor. However neither she, nor Dow or Taylor, possessed the painting skills to apply these details themselves. In order to accomplish this, Dow contracted free-lance airbrush artist Paul Olsen early on to apply the paint job, who has commented, "I was restricted to the dish, as the rest of the model was not finely detailed enough to take paint; the dish was divided into grooved panels which limited me to designing each one, and a Czech girl named Zuzana Swansea had made a tentative start on one of the panels, breaking it up into an Aztec-inspired design which was Richard Taylor’s idea and which I really liked. Zuzana had handed the keys back to Jim because she didn’t possess the airbrush skills to pull off all the varied surface detail." (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 48). Working on the model, starting with the dish, for the better part of eight months, the most striking part of his work was the application of a high-gloss pearlescent lacquer coating which gave the Enterprise a chameleon-like appearance in the movie, changing its color appearance depending on the kind and direction of lighting. The "Aztec pattern", for example, was only visible if the light hit the model at an oblique angle ("I used four pearl colors that were transparent: a blue, a gold, a red, and a green... they all flip-flopped to their complements when the viewing angle changed. Beautiful. By varying the amount of color, and the mixture of several colors on top of each other, I obtained myriad colors and depth of color.", Olsen later remembered. [15])

Test shot of the USS Enterprise showing off its pearlescent hull

...and doing the same under different lighting conditions

While considered magnificent, the paint job caused some trouble for Douglas Trumball in shooting the model. As Olsen remembers on his website, "Dear old Doug drew me aside with one of his big grins and said, "Paul, it's terrific, but we may have problems shooting it because I think we'll get light kicks off the edges of the model." The model was so bright and so colorful that light flare against the black background she would be shot against would make it impossible to isolate the edges of the model from the background so a star field or planet fall or other effect could be photographically dropped (matted) in cleanly. They would have to shoot the model with low light, which would cool the reflections and all the model detail as well. There are still some shots where the opalescence can be seen, but the real thing looked so much better than can be seen in the movie." Template:Brokenlink Olsen was assisted by Magicam's Ron Gress, who worked on the secondary hull.

Though Olsen has credited Taylor and Swansea for the "Aztec-pattern" design, Andrew Probert too has claimed credit for its creation, "Richard asked me to come up with an overall scheme of surface paneling to give the ship another level of detailing. I agreed that it would give the Enterprise more credibility as a manufactured spacecraft, even though panel lines wouldn't be visible at the scale distance needed to encompass the entire ship in a shot. Richard thought a subtle differencing of the paint scheme would accentuate those panels and that worked really well. For the saucer, I came up with "Aztec Pattern" panels providing a series of interlocking edges in order to reinforce the ship's surface tensile strength." [16]

As related elsewhere, the production of The Motion Picture was a troublesome one, fraud with delays and setbacks. The Enterprise model itself also caused some, one of them near completion when, "The Enterprise was just about finished, when one night, after we had all gone home, some clown impressing his girlfriend showed her the model, turned on all the circuits out of sequence and blew the circuits in the dish. This required major surgery and repainting and added two months to the shooting schedule which was now getting hairy.", Olsen remembered. (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 55) The second setback occurred just after shooting had started when over the 4th of July weekend, the the air conditioning system went awry and dripped water onto the bridge of the Enterprise, warping it, causing the top half pop off the dish and take some surface paint with it. Gress and Stetson had to pull an all-nighter to patch it up. Stetson recalled,

"Ron was actually being modest. It was two all nighters in a row for me. It was hot summer in the middle of model photography, and the model had been left in a hot set-up on stage over a rare weekend of not shooting. I am only speculating, but it could have been a holiday weekend - maybe July 4th. The faulty building A/C unit dripped all weekend from the ceiling of the stage right onto the bridge section, which had, believe it or not, been constructed from pattern wood. It warped, curled and cracked loose at the joint with the saucer. A shot had been planned pulling out from a close-up of the bridge, full-screen, so a quick repair was not an option. We pulled the model into our little maintenance shop and I detached the bridge part and started fresh on a new one. I turned a new acrylic pattern on a machinist's lathe for the main bridge dome. I used the precision of the lathe to scribe in all the horizontal detail lines, and then sculpted the rectilinear aft section from polyester body filler, over a styrene and acrylic box structure. Then I made an RTV silicone rubber mold of the pattern and laid up a part using white tooling epoxy and fine fiberglass mat. I didn’t use polyester resin because we were concerned about the dimensional stability of the part being so new and 'green'.

"Meanwhile, Ron masked off the top of the saucer and flattened and filled all the damage at the joint where the bridge had cracked loose. There was a lot of paint build-up on the model by that point, so Ron had to figure out how and where to merge the new work into the original paint layers. Kris Gregg prepared tiny replacement lights for re-installation. Ron did a light prime coat before we re-attached the new bridge to the saucer. We were very concerned about the coarse texture of paint grain because of the severe scrutiny which the upcoming shot would afford the viewer, where any amount of ‘tooth’ to the paint surface would blow the scale. Ron, therefore, mixed his paints really thin and painted with the lightest touch. We had to re-fill the joint between the bridge and the saucer before Ron sprayed the final prime and finish coats. There was a fair amount of 600-grit and 1200-grit sanding involved.

"I personally worked 36 hours straight, then took a four-hour nap at the Marina Marriott across the street in a room that the production kept for just such emergencies, and then worked another 36 hour shift. Ron and Kris Gregg and others on the crew tag-teamed with me to get the ship ready for filming once more as soon as we possibly could. I still have the replacement bridge pattern and mold around the house somewhere." (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise pp. 55-56)

The model, including the revisions Trumbull requested, pushing the weight up to 85 pounds, took in total 14 months to complete. Measuring 100×46.5×21 inches, she reportedly was constructed at a cost of US$150,000. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 207)


The model within spacedock model set up for filming at FGC

The model mounted at FGC for filming

Trumbull's company, Future General Corporation (FGC), did not use the traditional technique of bluescreen miniature photography. Bluescreen photography had been a widely used technique (already for The Original Series) where a studio model was placed in front of a background screen of a particular color (blue, but green and an intense kind of orange had also been used), using a type of film that did not register that particular color. Anything of that shade of color did not show up on the film, leaving clear areas into which other film elements could be inserted later in post-production. Unfortunately, any reflection of the screen onto the model would also vanish, resulting in holes in the footage of the model, an effect known as "blue-spill", made worse the more reflective the model is. Any holes in the footage in objects that were supposed to be solid had to be painstakingly matted in frame by frame in post-production. By using a technique called "frontlight-backlight", Trumbull managed to work around the problem. "(...) We shot all the the Enterprise footage because the Enterprise had a white, shiny surface and would have caused tremendous matting problems at Apogee. Spill light from the blue screen would have reflected off the ship and created holes in the mattes. Even with our high-con operation we had quite a problem pulling decent mattes off that model: with blue screen it would have been nearly impossible." (Cinefex, issue 1, 1980, pp. 12-14) Trumbull also had the internal lighting rewired to satisfy his vision of a concept of self-illumination as opposed to a model completely awash in light as it was originally constructed. For highlighting several spots on the model, FGC employed a visual trick as was explained by Olsen, "One nifty trick the lighting guys employed which impressed me was in order to dramatically light the Enterprise, they placed big styrofoam blocks about the model with lots of dental-type mirrors of various diameters on swivels. The were stuck in the foam, a spotlight was shone on them, and the lighting whizzes then pointed each mirror to the part of the ship they wanted to light. Some mirrors had colored gels on them, others Vaseline to blur the edges of the light, and the whole effect was perfect. Such a simple trick, but ever so effective." (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, pp. 56-57)

Though FGC filmed the model, responsibility for it fell to FGC's subsidiary company, Entertainment Effects Group (EEG), in order to cover legal liability if anything untoward were to happen to the model. For this purpose a number of model makers, among others Mark Stetson, moved over from Magicam to EEG as model handlers, to make sure the model was handled properly. (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 180)

ILM's visual effects team struggling with the model during uncrating

Dow and his team made the model a rugged one, suspecting the model would be used in in subsequent outings. His foresight was fortuitous since it became apparent that The Motion Picture would have follow-ups. The model, being constructed out of molded plastics instead of the heavier fiberglass traditionally used until that time, was considered light at the time. By 1981 however that view was not shared by the VFX team of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), which was handed over the model for pre-production of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Although admired, the model was soon loathed by the team for its cumbersome handling and heavy weight. Director of photography Kenneth Ralston had been on record for his open dislike of the model at the time, "I hate that model. I think it's made out of lead. I don't know what's inside to make it so heavy; it took eight guys to mount it for a shot and a forklift to move it around. (...) I'll probably get attacked about his, but I'm just not crazy about the original design of the Enterprise. It's a shape that does not lend itself easily to looking good in the frame. It's hard to come up with angles that read like anything. There are only two good angles on it." (Cinefantastique, issue 44, Vol. 12, issue 5/6, pp. 54-55) and, "I hate that ship. I've said it a hundred times, but it's true. I think it's ugly – the most silly looking thing. The model is murder to work with, so I'm glad it's gone," he recalled while preparing the Enterprise for destruction in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. (American Cinematographer, August/September 1984, p. 61) The cumbersomeness was part of the reasons why the class of the USS Reliant was redesigned from a Constitution-class (as it was originally envisioned in an early draft of the script) to the Miranda-class (the other reason being that the producers were afraid that audiences would not be able to tell the two ships apart during the battle sequences). (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 83)

Further problems arose with the internal wiring for lighting when some of the lighting shorted out. Unable to procure help from the original electricians from Trumbull's company FGC (FGC also tendered a bid to do the VFX for the movie, but was passed over in favor of ILM), Martin Brenneis, responsible at ILM for all the electronics and supervising model maker Steve Gawley had to figure out for themselves how to fix the problem. As Brenneis recalled, "The lighting in it was obviously done by a model maker who knew nothing about electricity. I and a couple of the model makers had to do some rewiring to least make it safe! It was too much work to completely rewire it, but we patched the bits that really were hazardous so that we could use it. Another complication was that all the lights were sealed inside the ship, so if even one was damaged the entire model would have to be taken apart." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 20) Brenneis' comment was vividly illustrated by an instant when some of the lights were knocked out due to a shorted wire, bringing filming to a halt. Gawley had to go into the model, arm-pit deep, to feel out the loose wire on touch. An added disadvantage of the complicated and cumbersome wiring was that Ralston had to painstakingly, and thus time-consuming, rewire an elaborate network of switches on the Enterprise to a big control console every time the model was mounted for filming. (Cinefantastique, issue 44, Vol 12 #5/6, p. 55)

Trumbull's concept of self-illumination caused Ralston yet another set of headaches in filming the exterior lighting of the model. That concept meant that in the previous movie certain surface features were pointed up, such as the registry number, the name and the Starfleet logos. Trumbull had achieved this among others by using an elaborate set-up with adjustable tiny mirrors that reflected the studio light onto the model, acting as miniature spotlights. ILM used a rig with with actual tiny spotlights with adjustable lenses, so light spots could be reduced to pinpoints. Ralston found it excruciatingly hard to incorporate this feature during filming however, as whenever the model rolled all these tiny spots of light had to roll with it. Since it was infeasible to have the lighting rig to roll, Ralston had to use tricks shots, like having the cameras roll while the model was stationary, to achieve the effect, "It affected the flexibility of what we could do with models. Fortunately they're not doing maneuvers like X-wing fighters anyway. They sort of lumber along, and it's what's going on all around them that creates the excitement in scenes like the grand-slam finale: the battle inside a nebula." (Cinefantastique, issue 44, Vol 12 #5/6, p. 57)

The toned down model on set for blue-screen filming at ILM

Using the blue-screen miniature photography technique, Ralston soon encountered the same problems Trumbull had with the intricate paint job while shooting. Because of budget restraints not being able to change filming techniques a decision was made to give the model its first repaint. Highlighting details with matte paint on the hull and using dulling spray, the team got rid of the pearlescent gloss of the model. Justifying the decision Ralston said, "The ship won't look any different on the screen. The iridescense effect still works, but having a little relief on the surface made things easier for us. We didn't have to horse around with the lighting to get rid of the gloss." (Cinefantastique, issue 44, Vol 12 #5/6, p. 55) However since in the movie stock footage of The Motion Picture was also used, the Enterprise appeared in The Wrath of Khan in both liveries.

As to underscore Ralston's objections to the model, its size also caused some additional problems. Ralston continued to explain how for several fly-by shots the camera had to be turned sideways and lifted up to keep the blue screen behind the model. When using a wide angle lens for close-ups, the ship sometimes ran off the edge of the screen and the stage or ceiling joints showed up on the footage shot.

The master model was virtually used back to back for its next appearance, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and needed no further modifications aside from additional application of battle damage, both in the form of paint and rubber patches, molded and painted to simulate battle damage. Aluminum slivers were also applied to simulate peeled back hull plating.

ILM's Eric Christensen working on the wiring of the model

After the third movie, the continuation of the movie series was henceforth by no means an automatic certainty, let alone the reappearance of the Enterprise model, so the model was not cleaned up and put away in storage. By the time Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home went into production and it became obvious that Kirk's new command would be a new Constitution-class ship, ILM's model shop had to do a major refurbishment of the model, to make it appear as a new ship. By now the the damage add-ons had adhered to the paint and removing them caused damage to the paint, so a first true re-paint was necessary (though the original paint layer was not removed). The decals were also replaced to signify the new call sign "NCC-1701-A". Concerns existed about the internal lighting system, but it held up. It was in this finish that the model was originally slated to represent the USS Stargazer in the "The Battle" episode, before a last minute decision was made to introduce a new ship class.

Another unexpected refurbishment was necessary in early 1989, when the model was uncrated at the New York-based effects house Associates and Ferren. Fully expecting to be able to shoot the model at once for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Bran Ferren was dismayed when he observed that, "One entire side of the Enterprise model was sprayed matte gray, destroying the meticulous original paint job. We had to go in and fix it before we could shoot it, which took two painters and an assistant about six weeks to do." David V. Mei was the lead modeler responsible for the refurbishment which also included replacing the decals that were crumbling. (Reportedly, the vandalism was done by a film crew member of Universal Studios when the model was on loan for a video presentation for their Star Trek Adventure attraction, in order to work around the blue-spill problem.) This time around, the internal lighting did not work properly. "Also, the Enterprise turned out to be an electrical challenge that only continued to work because there were sufficient short circuits within it to keep it arcing into operation - so we had to rewire it", Ferren continued. (American Cinematographer, July 1989, p. 83) Senior Modelmaker Mei on his contribution, "The Enterprise was built by Magicam for the first feature. Over the years, parts of it had been given battle damage and it needed to be brought back up to standards. One side was essentially undamaged and we had to match that. The Enterprise had always had an iridescent finish that made it difficult to shoot bluescreen. Everybody who photographed it had to solve that problem individually. The artist who originally painted it was Ron Gress [sic]. He used a lot of auto body lacquers and it took him months to paint that thing. It shows. There was so much work on it. I spoke with him on the phone, trying to get some tips. We wanted to remain true to his work." (Cinefex, issue 42, p. 52) The refurbishment was a serious set-back on an already very tight budget.

Two years later, the model was hauled out of storage once again for preparation for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and sent over to ILM's model shop. Lengthy financial negotiations delayed start-up of production, but ILM made use of the time offered them to give the models sent to them a thorough overhaul. Although pleasantly surprised about the overall shape the model was in after more than a decade, the first thing art director Bill George and his team of modelers tackled head-on was the ever re-occurring headache, internal wiring. Not that they had a choice though as ILM modeler John Goodson explained:

"A lot of times you'll inherit a model that doesn't come with a power supply, so somebody has to go through all the wiring and figure out what the voltages are and how everything works. Every model has a bunch of wires that come out out of it off-camera and which basically make the model work – running all the neon running lights and cooling fans. When we got the Enterprise back for VI, for some reason all the power cables had been hacked off! So we had this model that was more than a decade old and everything was sealed inside without the access panels ILM usually builds into its own models. So Jon Foreman, our electronics guy, had to sit down with the end of the umbilicals, with stubs of like fifty wires that go to things in the ship, and figure out what every one of those lights was and rewire the whole thing."(Industrial Light & Magic: Into the Digital Realm pp. 57-58)

This time the model was opened up and the wiring was repaired and modernized. "The original powerbus was situated in such a way that about a dozen small wires had to be snaked individually through the different access ports. Jon Foreman went in and rewired the Enterprise with two specific goals in mind: one, make it easier to to mount by having a single harness to route through and connect up: two, since we wanted to cut down the number of passes required for each shot, the exposures for the various lights on the ship had to be much closer in intensity. Prior to this, the running lights, window lights and sensor dome had been shot with separate passes. But by reworking the wiring, these could now be recorded in a single pass, thus reducing stage time.", George recollected. (Cinefex, issue 49, p. 42) Also the model began to show its age, now being covered with hairline cracks, damaging the paint layer and also Olsen's original pearlescent paint scheme starting to reassert itself yet again. The cracks were filled with putty and sanded down, a new paint layer was applied by Kim Smith together with layers of dulling spray.

This proved to be the last time the model was to be used as a shooting model for a Star Trek production.

Post-production use

Shortly after wrapping up the production for The Undiscovered Country, the model went on tour, firstly to the 1992-1993 Star Trek Smithsonian Exhibit and a year later to the Hayden Planetarium, New York City, for its 1993-1994 exhibition in both instances shortly reunited with its progenitor. [17] In 2001, the model was sent over to Foundation Imaging as a reference guide for modelers Robert Bonchune and Lee Stringer for their CGI model they were building for 2001's Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director's Edition). In awe, Foundation's Digital Effects Supervisor Adam Lebowitz recalled having the model there, "October [remark: the Oktober spread of the Star Trek: Ships of the Line (2002) calendar] is based on an actual photograph I took of the filming model of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701. While working on the Director's Edition DVD of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the model was on hand at Foundation Imaging, and many of us took the opportunity to grab some photos of living STAR TREK history. On one occasion I rolled out a high-powered film light and placed it at an extreme angle, hoping to catch some dramatic shots of the model. I fell in love with one particular angle that highlighted the way various curves intersected at a central point, and we decided to recreate this with our CG model for the calendar." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 9, p. 104) On 1 November 2001, the model was on its last public display, before being auctioned off in 2006, in the lobby of the Paramount Theatre of the Arts for the Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director's Edition) Event, where the revamped movie was premiered. [18]

The model at auction

This model, known as Lot 1000, the very last item of the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction, and estimated at US$15,000-$25,000, was eventually sold on 7 October 2006 with a winning bid of US$240,000 (US$248,800 including buyer's premium), which incidentally meant that the studio recouped roughly half the (inflation adjusted) cost it incurred when the model was built back in 1978. The model was featured in the documentary Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier, as the Okuda's uncrated the model.

The model was eventually acquired by Microsoft's co-founder Paul Allen for his Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, where it currently resides (although due to space restraints it is not on permanent display).

Partial physical refit models

On several occasions, even the large eight-feet model was not deemed detailed enough for envisioned close-up shots and enlarged partial models had to be constructed to obtain the desired visual effects. As Richard Taylor had put it, "Different scale models were made for different shots. Some shots of the Enterprise were larger scale models sections of the model that needed even more detail. The side of the E where the shuttle docked was one such model." (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 105)

The Motion Picture secondary hull section models

The hull section model as constructed for The Motion Picture on set with the travel pod studio model

The secondary hull section model as constructed for Phase II

The model Taylor was referring to, was an enlarged section of the port forward secondary hull, just below the Starfleet pennant that featured an airlock. The model was deemed necessary as it was there that the travel pod, carrying Admiral Kirk and Montgomery Scott, after their inspection tour was to dock with the ship. As this scene was already envisioned in a later, revised version of the pilot episode "In Thy Image" for the Star Trek: Phase II project, it was one of the earlier models built at Magicam, and initially bore markings and detailing that was in line with the Enterprise model built for that project. Once the project was upgraded to The Motion Picture, that model was discarded and replaced with a larger one that corresponded with the studio model built for that production, which included a re-sculpted airlock and changed signage.

The Wrath of Khan section model

The section model on set with applied battle damage handled by ILM modelers Jeff Mann (l) and Steve Gawley

ILM modeler Larry Tan working on the section model

File:USS Enterprise taking punishment by the USS Reliant.jpg

...and how it looked on screen

Although Trumbull liked the model of the Enterprise he initially considered the model too small for his purposes, or as he stated it, "the Enterprise in particular, was one-fourth a big as it should have been. Even in Silent Running, which was a low budget movie, our space craft was twenty-six feet long; In 2001, the Discovery spacecraft was fifty-four feet long. But in Star Trek, the Enterprise is barely seven feet long; and it was just an enormous struggle to get not only a sufficient degree of detail, but also camera angles and depth of field and lighting that worked." (Cinefex, issue 1, 1980, p. 15) Ralston came to agree with Trumbull, when it came to shooting the scene where the Enterprise is hit by Reliant's phaser volley in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In order to get the detailed close-ups (and in order not to have the master model damaged), Gawley and his team build an enlarged section of the forward upper secondary hull with the dorsal. The model, measuring 48×24×27 inches, was constructed out of wood and skinned in wax so that simulated damage could be easily sculpted and animated onto the surface, helped by the fact that the studio lighting softened up the wax. The damage on the model could also be easily reversed if the need arose, as it eventually would in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the three other movies the section model would be used in.

The section model, known as Lot #992, being part of the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction, estimated at US$1,000-$1,500, was eventually sold on 7 October 2006 with a winning bid of US$9,500 (US$11,400 including buyer's premium) to American collector Adam Schneider. [19]

The Search for Spock bridge and saucer section models

On-stage destruction of the enlarged bridge model

Gawley's team dissolving the enlarged saucer section studio model

For The Search for Spock, the intricate self-destruct sequence required additional enlarged sections of the Enterprise model, a close-up model of the bridge and two close-up models of the upper saucer section. As Ralston recalled:

"(...)my involvement began at the top of the bridge when you see it blowing up. It was a miniature that we shot with the Bruce Hill camera. Sean Casey had done a lot of the work on all those models, mold-making and things, because we had to do a lot of tests before we ever got to really shooting it. The pyro work was headed up by Ted Moehnke, who did a great job on the show. I think we got some nice pyrotechnics and different pyrotechnics, too. So it was a full miniature blown up. Then we had to pull a matte of that put some stars in because it was just shot against black. Then we cut back to the Bird of Prey ship moving away from the Enterprise and dropping down. The top is blowing up. What we did–Don Dow shot that one–we just painted out the top with black. If it's against the stars, you won't be able to see it... We painted it real black. We weren't about to destroy that $150,000 model that Doug Trumball [sic] built. I was tempted though-tempted many times to take a mallet to it.

"Anyway, we had a projector and we were projecting the explosion going off on top of the ship. What you are seeing isn't the ship moving. The camera system is doing all those moves with the ship and all the different light passes. Then we come back and shut off all the lights. We project the the explosions on the ship and repeat the same moves with explosions going off. It looks like it's all locked into the same element. We also put light effects on top of the ship.

"Next we cut to the famous number (NCC 1701) being eaten away and the explosions going off. Bill George devised a very light styrofoam that he laid over this incredible grid work-something he came up with in 20 minutes or so. It looked great. We dripped acetone or MEK or something really vile stuff on the surface, but you can't see the stuff dripping on it. I wasn't sure it would work. The camera is shooting over a frame a second, that is why it is hard to see the drip. We had to get all the light off it, too, or you would see a light coming down. The grid work was shot separately from the surface. It was all put together later so we could do light effects. And some of the explosions were just Ken Smith, the optical photography supervisor, burning out certain frames.

"Then the ship comes right up to camera and the whole dish blows off. Again, the ship was shot using all the same techniques-projection on the surface, etc. But the final explosion, when the whole thing goes, is a large dish shape which Sean made out of plaster. I sprinkled talcum powder over it to get more fine material coming off it. It had several explosives inside that Ted had come up with. And we shot it as high speed as we could, It still wasn't as slow as I wanted it. The explosion was supered over the ship. There is also a stock explosion from The Empire Strikes Back in there too. It comes out from underneath the dish to make the explosion seem a little more cohesive and not so much of an effect." (American Cinematographer, August/September 1984, p. 61)

The Undiscovered Country saucer section model

ILM's modelers Eben Stromquist (l) and Larry Tan working on the special saucer model of the Enterprise-A

For the scene in The Undiscovered Country, where the primary hull of the Enterprise is pierced by a torpedo, an enlarged eight-foot saucer was built. "When Scott and I were in the very early design phases, trying to come up with ideas to make the battle a little bit different, he asked me, "What have you always wanted to see happen to the Enterprise?" and I my answer was, "I've always wanted to see a photon torpedo go right through the ship. There's one place on the primary hull where it's really thin." We designed that shot and they accepted it. We wanted to make sure that it didn't look as much like a explosion as a shotgun blast, because the photon torpedo's actually pushing through the ship. We built a huge eight-feet diameter dish with replaceable breakaway section made very of very fragile plaster, then hung the model upside-down. On the side away from the camera were fingers of metal that were dressed as the damaged ship. When a pin was pulled, a spring pushed them right through the plaster skin, which cracked since it's supposed to be ceramic tile.", Bill George further recalled. (American Cinematographer, January 1992, p. 61)

Other physical models

While the master filming model was used to provide the majority of shots, there were instances were the master model would not do.

Smaller scaled filming models

Magicam's one-foot model under construction

File:USS Enterprise flyover V'Ger.jpg

...and in action in Star Trek: The Motion Picture

"There is also a second model of the Enterprise which is twenty inches long [eighteen according to Olsen], used for long shots," Sackett/Roddenberry claim in their book The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (p. 207). It is the model John Dykstra referred to as the "one-foot" model, "But for some of the more distant shots we built and photographed a smaller version of the Enterprise, about a foot long." (Cinefex, issue 2, 1980, p. 67) Built specifically for forced perspective shots, construction on this model was started a few months into the build of its larger sister at Magicam where it was sighted by Paul Olsen when he was hired for the painting of the larger model. (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 45) The model has been used for the approach and passage of the Enterprise over V'Ger, to emphasize the size of V'Ger, itself an eighty-six feet long studio model. To date only referenced to by Roddenberry, Dykstra and Olsen, it is the least known of all the Constitution-class studio models, and nothing else about the model can be said with any certainty. action in Star Trek VI

The AMT model set up for filming at ILM for Star Trek III

...and at auction

What is certain however, is that the model was never used again, since ILM, unaware of its existence, built a new smaller Enterprise model for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, using a by then available AMT/Ertl-model kit, number S970. "In fact we used one of the AMT kits to build this little model of the Enterprise, which has about a twelve inch diameter dome. We actually put lights in it and used it in instances where we had to be far away from the ship. With the big model, you can't get too far away and make it look far away – it always looks big. So we used that one for anything where we wanted the ship real small," Don Dow (brother of Magicam's Jim Dow) remembers. (Cinefex, issue 18, 1984, p. 63) Intricately detailed and lit by ILM, measuring 22 inches in length, the model saw use from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan through Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, with the exception of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

This model, being part of the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction as Lot 999 , estimated at US$15,000-$20,000, was sold on October 7, 2006 with a winning bid of US$40,000 ($48,000 including buyer's premium). In a run up to the auction, the model was on tour at the Creation Convention in Las Vegas from 17 August to 20 August 2006. [20]

Derivative ship class studio models

Buckner and the USS Jupp model

Additional AMT modelkits of the refit-Constitution class were utilized by Adam Buckner and Dan Curry to "kitbash" the USS Curry and the USS Jupp filming models. [21](X), which were constructed in order to beef out the opening scene of a retreating flotilla of Starfleet vessels in Deep Spce Nine's sixth season opening episode, "A Time to Stand". The latter one however, was not present in the scene, though it was prepared for shooting as Buckner later confirmed, "Those photos show the ship while still under construction and the top of the dish had not yet been secured while we were waiting for the neon to be fitted. It was a pain in the patoot, and after that most of that round of kit bashing was done with UV paint and UV tape for windows and nacelles." [22](X) Only the USS Curry (with Constitution-class warp nacelles) made it onto the screen, though the USS Jupp, as were most of the other Deep Space Nine kitbashes, went on to be featured in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual.

Display models

Model of Constitution with modified nacelle configuration

A second AMT-model kit, most likely number 6675 or 6693, was in modified form used in TNG. For the episode "The Battle", the producers originally intended the USS Stargazer to be of the Constitution-refit class, in order to be able to use the existing filming model. In the build-up to the episode the "NCC-7100" desktop model in Picard's office was replaced with the AMT model kit to accommodate the transition. Painted in an overall silver color, the model had its warp engines mounted at a perpendicular angle facing outward as opposed to the original angle. Another variation is the inclusion of oblong cuts in the saucer rim, most likely to suggest shuttle bays as they would later appear on the Constellation-class; these were actually part of the AMT model, as the saucer rim sections containing portholes were separate pieces of the kit. When the decision was made very late in the production to have as yet the new class model built, principal photography was already finished and the model would be visible for a couple of episodes in Picard's ready room, since the "NCC-7100" resided in Greg Jein's model shop as reference for the larger model and would not be returned until later in the season. The model was seen in Picard's ready room in "The Battle", "Hide and Q", "Too Short a Season", and "The Big Goodbye", and was also seen in Riker's quarters in "Haven" and "Lonely Among Us" and in Clare Raymond's guest quarters in "The Neutral Zone". The model shortly returned in season three as a desktop model in a holographic recreation of Drafting Room 5 at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards and in Marla Aster's quarters aboard the USS Enterprise-D.

One of the golden models

A third and fourth AMT model kit (most likely No.8617) were used by John Eaves as model and mold for the golden display models in the display cases in the observation lounges of the USS Enterprise-E in Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek Nemesis as one of the golden models. Preparing them for gold plating proved cumbersome. "Getting them all built was a huge challenge because the kits are just awful to work with, and most of the seams were huge and the choice of part lines put large, deep lines through what should be a clean surface. The Enterprise-A was the worst because it has this kinda wood texture on every inch of the ship, so I wound up filling every line and sanding it smooth to make the finished gold plating look like an Oscar", Eaves remembers on his blog. [23]

Eaves and the studio initially retained most of the models but most of them were later sold at various auctions. One was sold as part of a complete set of six in the Profiles in History Hollywood Auction #44 on 15 May 2011 as Lot 1550 for $11,000 (for the whole set), two were sold in the July 2007 and June 2008 It's A Wrap! sale and auctions as Lot#4411 and Lot #7885 for US$865.00 and US$765.55 respectively, the former to American collector Jason Stevens, [24], one sold as part of a complete set of six in the Profiles in History The Star Trek Auction on 12 December 2001 as Lot 288, estimated at US$10,000-$12,000 for the whole set, and another one has reportedly been sold in an on-line Sotheby's auction in October 2000. [25]

An refit-Constitution class model in Admiral Leyton's office

A silver refit-Constitution model was seen in Admiral Leyton's office at Starfleet Headquarters on the Presidio in "Paradise Lost". This probably was a painted AMT modelkit No. 8617.

Starfleet Headquarters model with two Constitution class vessels on the left

Other commercial products were used as two of the four models mounted in front of the sail shaped top half façade of the Starfleet Headquarters at the Presidio site, appearing in DS9: "Homefront", "Paradise Lost". The top half of the façade was itself a studio model and the starship models were Galoob Micro Machines (most likely taken from the pewter painted "Star Trek Television Series I Box Set" and "Star Trek the Movies Collectors Edition" sets). (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 13, p. 112) Two Constitution-class vessels were mounted on the left, a refit configuration the farthest out.

Battle-damaged refit model

For the intricate destruction sequence (the moment the Enterprise plummets to its doom to the Genesis planet), at the time still done by physical models, in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, an additional model was needed apart from the already available models and the enlarged physical model-sections. "Neither of these models however, was used for the Enterprise's final destruction sequence. For the shots involving miniature pyrotechnics, Ted Moehnke and his crew worked primarily with partial models that were quickly destroyed-though supervising model maker Steve Gawley and his crew actually constructed a complete model, fully one-third smaller than the original, for full shots of the partially destroyed ship.", Don Dow further remembered. (Cinefex, issue 18, 1984, p. 63) [26](X)

Its use as a destroyed starship would not be limited to this movie. The saucer section disassembled (making use of the way the model was constructed to perform a saucer separation, a feature copied from its large sister) from the engineering section, both refurbished, found their way into the debris field in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" [27] (a picture of Gary Hutzel, lurking over the secondary hull at the time was published in Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, issue 4/5, p. 64). In a second re-use, modifications were performed on parts of the model, as the saucer section and the battle-damaged Miranda-class nacelle were to be used to represent debris flying off the exploding USS Odyssey in "The Jem'Hadar". Modifications on the detached saucer-section were performed by Dennis Hoerter and Glenn Neufeld. (Cinefantastique,Vol. 25/26, issue 1, p. 109) A third and final re-use occurred in the episode "The Sound of Her Voice", where the saucer section appeared, again together with the Miranda-class nacelle, representing the crashed USS Olympia. [28](X) The repainting of the blackened exposed interior was probably done for this episode in order to increase the contrast for the shot.

This model, at the time re-assembled and known as Lot #993, part of the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction, estimated at US$6,000-$8,000, was eventually sold on 7 October 2006 with a winning bid of US$40,000 (US$48,000 including buyer's premium). The model, in its disassembled state, was featured in the documentary Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier, as the Okudas uncrated the model.

The impulse drive/deflector crystal assembly part

When the model was disassembled for "Best of Both Worlds", the part representing the impulse drive/deflector crystal assembly was removed in order to gain access to the bolts that connected the saucer section to the secondary hull. The piece was either misplaced or lost, since it was not re-attached to the model when it went on sale in the 2006 Christie's auction. However, the piece, measuring 9 × 5 inches, resurfaced in 2010, as it was offered as lot #1268, estimated at US$400-$600 and sold for US$950 in the June 12 Profiles in History Hollywood Auction 40, misrepresented as "this prop could possibly be the only surviving piece of that special effects model". [29]

The USS Enterprise wreck model
USS Enterprise wreckage.jpg USS Enterprise wreck model prepared by Gary Hutzel.jpg Wolf 359 wreckage 3.jpg Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
...prepared by Hutzel for "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II", primary hull
Wolf 359 wreckage 4.jpg USS Enterprise wreck model prepared by Hoerter and Neufeld.jpg USS Odyssey wreckage.jpg "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II", engineering hull
...prepared as USS Odyssey by Hoerter and Neufeld (r) USS Odyssey in "The Jem'Hadar"
USS Olympia debris.jpg USS Enterprise debris model.jpg USS Enterprise wreck model at auction.jpg USS Olympia in "The Sound of Her Voice"
...uncrated before auction in Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier auction

CGI refit models

Two CGI models of a Constitution-refit vessel, in fact the very first CGI ships ever for Star Trek, were built in 1981 and in early 1987 respectively, but both have not been seen by the general public.

The first one was built as a probation piece at the Graphics Group to convince mother company ILM and Paramount Pictures to go ahead with what would eventually became the "Genesis Demo". Project leader Alvy Ray Smith recalled, "It should be mentioned that we had already done one "mini-production" (in August '81) for ILM to show off our abilities. We had rendered a model of the Starship Enterprise chasing a Klingon ship in 3-dimensions, with appropriate lighting, coloring, etc. This was done using Loren's first working version of his 3-D rendering program "Reyes" (Renders Everything You Ever Saw). This mini-production had also featured several 2-D effects programmed by Pat Cole and Rob Cook. We believe that this demonstration was what prompted Paramount and ILM to ask us to do a piece of the final film." (American Cinematographer, October 1982, p. 1038)

The second one was built during the early stages of pre-production of the new Star Trek: The Next Generation series, when it became apparent to producers Robert Justman, Edward K. Milkis, and then recently-appointed associate producer Peter Lauritson, that the new show would be the most VFX-laden show of its day, much like its predecessor was. At a point they considered doing the special effects and especially the ship shots in CGI as a time saving alternative and went as far as to have an effects company compile several test shots. Since the new ship for the show was yet to be designed, a Constitution-refit vessel served as a stand-in. Justman recalled, "Eddie Milkis and I investigated the possibility of generating everything on the computer. We had great reservations about it, because it still didn't have the reality. The surface treatment wasn't totally believable; we could have gotten by, it would have been acceptable, but it wasn't satisfactory." (Star Trek: The Next Generation USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints, accompanying booklet, p. 14; Cinefex, issue 37, p. 10) Milkis further elaborated,"It was incredibly good, and it took some real thinking on our part, but ultimately we decided that if something ever happened to that company and they couldn't deliver, then we'd have nothing. We were very concerned about that and ultimately they did go out of business." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, p. 11)

The Director's Edition CGI model

The CGI models of the refit USS Enterprise from Dochterman (top) and Foundation Imaging (bottom)

For the Director's Edition DVD of the original film, new VFX shots were needed among other new shots of the Enterprise herself. Daren Dochterman, already in charge of most of the VFX built and mapped a model in his spare time. [30] "I did my best to come up with a workable ship. I used my model in some rough composites as we were storyboarding it and it looked OK. But specifically for end shots it had to be much more detailed. So I handed that model over to the guys at Foundation Imaging." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 8, p. 55)

At Foundation, the work of mapping the CG model was handled by Robert Bonchune and Lee Stringer. Having access to the original studio model Bonchune remarked, "there were just these subtle variations everywhere that gave it so much depth and reality. ILM had matted the surfaces down for bluescreen photography. but they left a few parts of the 1979 paint job near the back. There were layers and layers of subtle airbrushing and a little pearlescent here and a little less there. I was told by some of the guys who originally did the paintwork that they took white and 15 or 17 different colors like pink and blue and magenta, all these different shades, and just put a few drops in each of the paints."

Foundation Imaging's completed CGI model

In the end, Stringer worked on the saucer section, while Bonchune worked on the rest, both working on it in their own time. [31](X) Stringer further specified, "To help create this, Foundation Imaging was charged with creating and completing many visual effects shots and scenes. A version highly detailed computer model of the USS Enterprise was required. Starting with two CGI models provided by VFX Supervisor Daren Dochterman and Jose Perez, I was responsible with creating the Primary Hull (Saucer), the Bridge and Warp Nacelles (Engines). Helped by having unlimited access to the original filming miniature, the finished model replicates the look and details of the filmed version to blends the new elements and shots seamlessly into the film." [32]

Foundation's model went on to make several appearances in and onto licensed Star Trek publications, most notably in the Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendars and their book derivative.

Refit Constitution-class shuttlebay models

Jefferies' original intended hangar deck placement design

Probert's "elevation sketch" showing the interlocking interior design

While Jefferies had a more modest view in mind where the scale and location of the hangar bay were concerned in the original configuration, when it came to redesign the Enterprise for The Motion Picture, designer Andrew Probert had a far more ambitious configuration in mind. Probert, after taking over the interior design work from Mike Minor, who had done some preliminary design work, asked himself where the workbees went, once having entered that space, "This 'new idea' was based on my discussions with Trumbull as we examined the logic of those earlier concepts. My first question was, "How do those pods get in & out of that space?" Eventually, I produced this elevation sketch to propose a solution,...and Trumbul [sic] liked it." [33]

Cargo bay life-sets before compositing...

...and combined with matte painting into this final shot

The thinking was that the hangar deck was interlocked with staggered adjacent cargo bays and as such were envisioned. Eventually, though liked by Trumbull, the whole set-up was realized by combining matte painting and a (small) partially full-scale set for the actors to interact with, as executing the whole effect as a full standing set would have been cost-prohibitive.

The Motion Picture maquette

While a full scale set was not executed, a small scale partial maquette was, as was evidenced on this blog entry:

The Motion Picture hangar deck maquette. Notice the sliver of blue-screen, indicating the maquette did not quite match up with the angle of the shots

"So, coincidentally, I had breakfast this morning with Mark Stetson and he confirmed that the Enterprise filming miniature had:
- A rear mount. (I confirmed this separately in a miniatures manual the Magicam prepared for the handover to ASTRA and EEG.)
- Replaceable hangar bay doors. One set "closed", another set "open".
- A physical model for the interior. It was forced perspective and not very deep. Was basically a floor, the starboard wall with some ribs, and a couple of work bees. They went with a miniature because as opposed to a painting because they knew the camera would be moving and there needed to be something there to have some parallax (depth).
He knows this because he was (coincidentally) the guy that built it."

Daren Dochterman added, partly in error where the workbees were concerned, "The Miniature did have a partially built shuttle bay... but was augmented with a tiny matte painting of a couple of workbees that was mounted inside the miniature itself... as you can see in one shot as they pass by. I believe this is what Mr. Probert means when he said it was a combination of matte and miniature. (of course, when we are inside, it is entirely matte painting.)" [34] The footage was re-utilized in The Wrath of Khan.

The Final Frontier maquettes

The full-scale shuttle bay set with the mock-ups

In Star Trek: The Final Frontier, the flight deck had an important role to play. Such was its perceived importance that for the first and last time, a full scale set of the Constitution-class hangar deck was constructed, complete with two full-scale mock-ups of the Galileo-type shuttlecraft, and tailored on Jefferies' original vision, as the elaborate vision of Probert was not called upon. "This is a new set for Star Trek, and it fulfills a very important function in the life of the Starship Enterprise in that this is where the shuttlecraft depart from and return to. The set took up all of Stage 8, which is perhaps the biggest stage on the Paramount lot. we had a couple of full sized shuttlecraft in the landing bay, including the one we flew on location in the desert.", cinematographer Andrew Laszlo reiterated. (American Cinematographer, July 1989, p. 64)

Filmed by "Associates and Ferren", it was initially hoped that all the flight-deck sequences could be done using the full-scale hangar deck set and the Galileo-type shuttlecraft mock-ups. As Effects Supervisor Mike Woods recalled, "All of a sudden, we were presented with this 8,000 pound shuttlecraft – when it's empty – then they stuffed ten or twelve people in it and expected us to make it fly! It was too heavy to use wires, but we were able to hook it up to an airwinch to pull it through the shuttlebay about fifty feet. It was on castors so we could slide it in and out, but the darn thing was very difficult to manipulate. For shots where we just see its nose, we had people pushing it from behind. It was all shot forward motion, as the craft skidded and crashed, knocking the pylons off on either side. We had a cargo net hung at one end to keep the shuttlecraft from crashing intro the set." Bran Ferren, the CEO, eventually had to accept the inevitable, "No matter how much we didn't want to intercut between models and live action, we ended up having to do it here." Elaborating why he was not a big proponent of having to use the live set/maquette combination, Ferren continued, "There's so much you can do wrong when intercutting between a giant set and a miniature. For example, Andy Laszlo designed a nice effect of several hundred running lights in the set which made things quite difficult from a model and miniature point of view. Try matching those on a miniature set you're shooting at F-22 at 100-200 frames per second! We had to duplicate the on-set incandescent bulbs in miniature which decayed off instead of blinking off, which meant we needed a terrifying amount of light output from our miniature bulbs. We ended up using hundreds of little 12 volt MR16 reflector lights with a pulsar we designed so we could hit them with about 130 volts of power for a millisecond, superheating them to several times their normal brightness, and limiting the peak energy with a controlling computer so we didn't detonate the lamps! It's little things like that which you don't think much about that you know will be a killer." (American Cinematographer, July 1989, pp. 78-79)

The shuttlebay camera test model being put through its paces

Once the decision was made, Ferren's company built camera test models of both the shuttlebay and the accompanying shuttlecraft (affectionally dubbed the Guido II) while construction of the actual models was underway. Apart from determining camera angles, velocity and camera speed for the pyrotechnic effects, the tests were also undertaken to establish if the shuttlecraft miniature would survive the crash, as related by Motion Control Expert Peter Wallach, "One of the main reasons some wanted me to shoot the crash motion control was they were concerned we'd break the model doing it our was." (American Cinematographer, July 1989, p. 80) The test models and the test performed are featured on the Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (Special Edition) DVD, "Pre-Visualization Models" special, disc 2.

Construction of the landingbay maquette fell to Gregory Jein, Inc., specifically assigned by Ferren & Co. Jein actually constructed two maquettes of the landingbay. One maquette was constructed in a scale to interact with the 1:12 scale (2½ foot) Galileo shuttle model for the exterior in-flight sequences. The second one was scaled to the more important 5 foot models in regard to the interior crash sequence. Jein recalled, "The actual hangar interiors we made were only background pieces, so the camera will not dwell on them for too long – it's just something you see the shuttle crash against. The most demanding part of the job was the space problem in my little shop! The 1/12 scale set was so big, we had to take the door apart to get it out of there! The 1/6 scale shuttlebay was over 20 feet wide, but we built it in sections like stage flats that bolted together, so it fit through the door easily once it was dismantled. Both sets were constructed of plywood, like big dollhouses." (American Cinematographer, July 1989, p. 80)

Once constructed, the maquettes were shipped eastwards and handed over to Wallach's effects team, who had to figure out how to execute the crash scene. Wallach recalled:

The maquettes being filmed, the smaller one in the lower left

...and as the large one appeared in post-production

"Though we did some 75 shots using motion control, it was my belief you can't do a crash convincingly using motion control, so we built a giant slingshot made from two 22'rails and a sled with rollerskate wheels on it. One has to be flexible with motion control and realize that there's a time to use it and a time not to. One should never lose sight of the fact that a simple rubber band can be a lifesaver. In this case the "rubber band" was a couple of two ton garage door springs cocked back by a three and a half ton winch. We pulled this slingshot back varying distances. Prior to launching this $10,000 shuttle at a $100,000 shuttlebay, we built the "Guido II" – a plywood mockup of the shuttlecraft – which we fired a number of times to determine the best velocity and camera speed for the pyro as well as the scale.

"One of the main reasons some wanted me to shoot the crash motion control was they were concerned we'd break the model doing it our way.. My attitude was just to put a little more fiberglass in it and catch it so it wouldn't break. We were having so much fun doing it, we wound up doing six takes in all, and in six takes there was no damage to the model. It was just a paint job away from being ready for the next take. We only needed about 45 minutes between takes.

"Two highspeed cameras encased in plexiglass booths within the shuttlebay itself recorded the action from the front and side, as the shuttlecraft plunged at breakneck speed. The shuttle sled was cocked back six and a half feet, then released, launching the model at about 300 miles per hour–on fire. Inside the shuttle was a control box which triggered a series of explosions on the ship at half-second intervals. We shot the shuttle head on at 72 frames per second, which is low-end high speed. Usually, high speed miniature photography means something like 300 frames per second, but if we had to shot this much beyond 72 frames, it would've made the sparks look a little phony.

"The side shot went by rather quickly, so we cranked that up to 90 frames per second. We also got creative for one shot, where we cut a hole in the set and mounted a front silvered mirror at a 45 degree angle, which enabled us to shoot the shuttlecraft coming directly into camera almost as if it was shot right between your eyes. After it whizzed by the cameras, the shuttle wedged itself into an ice cream cone shaped funnel of foam rubber which we designed to stop it, and my pyro crew stood by with fire extinguishers to put it out. It was a very exiting shot. By launching it for real, we added a much greater sense of realism to the effect than it would've had if we used motion control. It also enabled us to meet a very difficult production schedule in that the shot was composited all as one." (American Cinematographer, July 1989, p. 80)

Like their illustrious predecessor, neither model, due to their sizes, are currently known to have survived, though they appeared not to have been destroyed immediately after the production wrapped, as at least one of them has been sighted in storage at the Paramount lot in the late summer of 1989. [35]


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