Sternbach On Leaving Voyager

By Amy
April 5, 2001 - 4:02 AM

Continuing this week with their own Voyager retrospective, the official site has interviewed Rick Sternbach, senior illustrator on Voyager and a man who has been with the franchise since the early days of the Next Generation.

"Creatively," he begins, "it's been a great seven years for me personally and for the overall Art Department team effort. I've had the pleasure and privilege of designing the exteriors of the U.S.S. Voyager and its innumerable shuttlecraft, as well as alien ships and gadgets, other Starfleet vessels, and various space stations encountered on the interstellar road back to Earth."

And has Voyager's final episode seen a particular strain placed on the Art Department? "The finale hasn't been too terribly different for my vehicle and prop work in terms of budget or deadlines," he says. "We've got a few new vessels, one of which required some extensive blueprinting, but that's happened during regular seasons as well, whenever we've needed highly detailed drawings for new ships. Some ships can be reworked from existing CGI (computer generated imagery) objects, and some can be created in CGI from minimal sketches (the so-called 'ship-of-the-week' designs). The finale spacecraft so far have been worked out pretty smoothly.

"My favorite design," Sternbach says when asked to pick his finest creation, "has to be Voyager itself, with the Delta Flyer coming in a close second, and Ares IV third. I suppose I've had the most fun with Voyager because of the end result of the original design, plus all of the detail pieces added over the run of the show. We've seen the warp core ejected, the escape pods released, the landing gear deployed, and various bits of damage caused to the hull. The designs I laid down on paper and in my desktop PowerMac were translated into one of the last big physical models made for Star Trek, the beautiful five foot shooting miniature from Tony Meininger's shop. I could walk all around that one," he recalls, "eyeing the painted flanks and parts I had seen being fabricated weeks before. After that came animated 3-D CGI sequences by vendors like Santa Barbara Studios, Foundation Imaging, Digital Muse, and Eden FX. Those were always exciting to watch, even though I already knew what the ship parts were supposed to do. To me, Voyager became a massive, powerful, and believable object, perhaps more so than the Enterprise-D, because of the sense of human scale afforded by a smaller ship with windows we could see into. We could see Janeway in her ready room. We could watch people walking the hull, affecting repairs. Voyager felt like something one could tap on with a spanner and hear a satisfying clang. "

Of course, with his work on 'The Next Generation' and 'Deep Space Nine', Sternbach has been though it al before- finale wise. "I thought they (the TNG and DS9 endings) were both handled quite well, for different reasons. The Next Generation's 'All Good Things...'" he says, "was a terrific adventure with the added twist of solving Q's time-hopping puzzle. Deep Space Nine's 'What You Leave Behind' had the unenviable task of converging all of the issues of the Dominion War; the political intrigue during the series was particularly fun. I'm looking forward to actually seeing Voyager's finale. I have my own idea of how it will look, based on reading the script, but once filming is wrapped and the visual effects are underway, I'll sit back, try to forget what I read, and wait for the episode to air."

Finally, how does Sternbach feel about having his long stint on Voyager coming to an end? "I'm just the slightest bit dejected to see it end," he says, "but I'm also glad to see the saga come to a conclusion. I can leave Voyager at the top of my game to pursue new television, film, and book design work, particularly a mainstream publication project titled 'A Spaceship for Earth.' "

The full interview with Rick Sternbach can be found by following this link to the official site.

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