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:
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:
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 →
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).
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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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 An unpublished book by the late Michael Piller, Fade In: The Writing of Star Trek: Insurrection, tells the story.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:
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