USS Pioneer: These are the voyages of a LightWave starship model I released…

In 2007 I made my own Star Trek starship in LightWave 3D. I’d made a few others before, but this one became a labour of love. The USS Pioneer had a lot of little details, some subtle textures and a fairly elaborate lighting rig designed to make renders look good. The ship was intended to be an earlier-era version of the Constellation class starship.

When it was finished I released it1 for others to use. Then I forgot about it! This is my own rendering of the ship from that time:

USS Pioneer

I also made a video rendering2 showing off the animated textures and shuttlebay doors (the model includes a shuttlebay interior).


Seven years later…

Last night I was Googling my username, as you do, and I saw an image I hadn’t seen before:

A Light in the Darkness by Rob Caswell (April 2012)

A Light in the Darkness by RobCaswell

Someone liked my ship enough to make a nice rendering of it! The comments are amusing too. Not all are complementary as the 4-nacelle configuration divides opinion amongst Treknologists, and as someone put it: “My, what big nacelles she has!”. Later still Rob quips “When you turn the speed dial all the way, it goes to ‘Warp 11’.”

The big engines were quite deliberate. I imagined this ship as a fast response vessel of some kind, but looking at it again I would probably make them a bit smaller. But for every person who didn’t like the concept for its imagined technical rule breaking, there is someone who likes the design. In fact, there seems to be a few big fans of it.

Then I carried on looking to see if there were any more images of my ship out there. Turns out that Rob Caswell had made quite a few…

See more cool USS Pioneer renderings →

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Galaxy class

I’ve just finished watching season 1 of The Next Generation, and I’ve been inspired to get back into LightWave 3D to produce a quick homage (or two).

Enterprise D

View full size (1200 × 675) or in glorious HD (1920 × 1080) on Flickr.

This is a faithful reproduction of one of the most widely-used promo shots of the Enterprise D (see below for the originals).

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Fade In: The Writing of Star Trek: Insurrection

Links abound in this post, but dig in if you’re a Star Trek fan as there’s lots of insights and revelations into the production of one of the most unfairly dismissed Star Trek films. I actually rate Insurrection as one of my favourite Next Gen movies, but there’s no doubt it felt like a heavily compromised entry. An unpublished book by the late Michael Piller, Fade In: The Writing of Star Trek: Insurrection, tells the story.

“They’re not out to make a quick buck, they’re looking to protect the integrity of the franchise and its mythology.” 1998’s Star Trek Insurrection went through a number of different plots before becoming the film we ultimately saw. Starting out as Star Trek: Stardust, the first take on the idea involved Captain Picard going all Heart of Darkness on a former friend from his Starfleet Academy days in a bid to find the Fountain of Youth. That treatment evolved into a remarkably Avatarish story called simply Star Trek IX in which Picard must go upriver to kill a malfunctioning Data as part of a Federation/Romulan alliance to displace strange alien natives from a planet teeming with a valuable and rare ore (spoiler: Picard actually kills Data in this treatment, and Tom Hanks was supposed to have a major role somewhere).

(via “He might have read the document when he was tired, at the end of a long day of being tied to a whale.” – metafilter.com & via Boing Boing)

The PDF of the book was originally released by Trek Core. They included this note:

When 
we 
received
 this 
submission, 
we
 were 
told 
that 
Michael 
Piller 
considered 
this 
book
 his
 last 
great
 gift 
to
 the 
fans
 and
 to 
aspiring
 writers 
everywhere. 

Unfortunately,
 Paramount
 somehow
 got 
it 
suppressed
 from 
being 
published. 

Michael
 Piller 
passed
 away
 in
 2005, 
so
 getting 
this
 book 
published
 will 
never 
be
 possible
 (not 
to 
mention
 Insurrection 
is 
quite 
old
 now, 
so 
a 
book 
about 
it 
wouldn’t
 be 
financially 
feasible 
for 
a
 publisher). 

It’s 
clear 
Michael 
Piller
 wanted 
this 
book 
read, 
so 
we
 felt 
that 
making 
it
 available 
to 
the 
fans 
made
 sense. 

It’s
 an
 amazingly 
detailed 
look 
at 
the 
process 
of 
writing 
the 
movie 
including 
internal 
memos, 
letters, 
pitches, 
story
 drafts, 
etc. 

Enjoy 
this
 unique
 glimpse 
into 
writing 
Star 
Trek 
Insurrection! 

And 
lastly, 
if
 anyone 
can 
provide 
the
 draft 
of 
Star 
Trek 
Insurrection 
that 
is 
missing 
from 
this 
document,
 please
 email 
us.

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