Sci Fi Wire posted a new interview with Indutrial Light & Magic model maker John Goodson and visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett regarding the design and creation of the new U.S.S. Enterprise NCC 1701 for the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie. Here is an excerpt.

How updated is the Enterprise?


Roger Guyett, visual effects supervisor
: When I was a kid-when I bought toys or when I built things-I always wanted stuff to move. And one thing that frustrated me about the original Enterprise was that nothing moves on it. It was just a very static thing. …

I don’t know how familiar you are with all of the terminology of the Enterprise, but there is a main hull, which is the big disk. There is a secondary hull, which is a tube, and then you have two engines. And at the front of the bottom sort of cylinder there is this thing called the “collection plate” [aka the navigational deflector, in Trek parlance]. We made ours move, so it actually sort of comes out, and it grows, and you can move it around. We just made the whole thing much more contemporary.

And also when the ship goes into warp-of course, we had to create our version of warp, too, but you’ll see the fins actually split apart slightly. So it goes into kind of like a warp mode, and from my perspective, all of those things add a level of interest and … design to the whole process and make it so much more fun to work on every aspect of the process of the Star Trek world.

When you are on the Enterprise, you got to see a lot of the Enterprise. You can set different moments in the movie and different places- … the engineering room or corridor or medical bay-so that you feel the enormous extent of the Enterprise. …


Goodson
: On the original TV show Enterprise, there were some patterns that were on the bottom. There’s a rectangle and a circle and a T shape, and there’s these big geometric forms, and I always try to sneak them in when I can, and I got to put them on this ship, too. It kind of connects us back to the original TV series a little bit. It’s a subtle thing, but it does actually bridge those two ships together. …

The pattern on the saucer is what we’ve always referred to as “aztec,” which is what it’s always been called, and that dates back to Star Trek: The Next Generation, and we wanted to pull that in on this ship and make it very subtle.

One of the things about the [Star Trek: The] Motion Picture Enterprise that was really cool for a practical model is they used the type of paint called “interference paint.” This paint has little tiny [mica] prisms in it, and when you look at it from one angle, it would be red, but if you walked across the room to look at it from the other side, it appears green. There’s gold and blue. There are a variety of colors you can get from this paint, and they painted the Motion Picture Enterprise with this paint. In the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, they’ve got, like, 20 minutes of the camera scrolling over the ship looking at all the stuff, and you see these very subtle iridescent effects.

We wanted to put that into this ship [for 2009], so we played around with some of the shaders and created, in the [digital] paint, these colored maps that look like Wonder Bread wrappers almost. Where one map would have red, the other map would have green in exactly the same spot. Where it would be blue on one map, it would be gold on the other map. What this would do, as the model moved through the virtual light, depending on where the light hit it, would affect the color. So we would get that same kind of effect that they had on the practical model in the digital model …

Even though this technology is all fictitious, we spend a lot of time talking about it and trying to make sense out it so that when you’re doing something on the ship, like putting a door in or something like that, it sort of makes sense. We’ll spend a lot of time going around and around looking at it and trying to work out what you would expect to see. Even though it’s all fictitious, what would you really want to see?

The full interview is here.

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