CGI Enterprise Being Refined At Foundation

By Christian
June 30, 2001 - 7:46 PM

When the designers on previous Trek series talked about refining their starship models, they referred to giving the ship a new layer of paint or some extra lights. When Series V Scenic Artist Doug Drexler talked about the new starship Enterprise today, he revealed that all work on the ship wasn't being done in a construction workshop, but rather purely digitally.

"For the first time ever, the ship has been visualized in the art department using LightWave, the native CG program of Trek visual effects," Drexler told the LCARS Computer Network. "This is a Trek first and is in keeping with this new show and our producers' wish to implement new techniques to make things better."

Digital models of the starships in the past several Star Trek series did exist, and where used for scenes that were too complex to film with physical models. However, both Deep Space Nine and Voyager started out as real models, and only in later years moved on to being predominantly computer-rendered.

Series V's Enterprise was designed over the past few months at the Paramount art department, but is now (virtually) in the hands of visual effects house Foundation Imaging. "Once Rick Berman, Brannon Bragga, [supervising producer] Peter Lauritson and [Set Designer] Herman Zimmerman were satisfied with the design of this new Enterprise, I was given the go ahead to send the model that I had built for them to my good friend Rob Bonchune at Foundation Imaging."

"Rob and Dan Curry (our overall effects supervisor and incredible talent) have been supervising the refinement of the CG model by Pierre Drolet who is a true madman!," Drexler continued. "I was just at Foundation yesterday and I can tell you that Pierre is doing a magnificent job refining the ship. Rob, Dan and Pierre have a lot to be proud of. I know that I am proud of them and proud to be their friend."

Thanks go out to Sean Stephenson at the LCARS Computer Network for this!

While the new Enterprise will be complete computer-generated, it owes its existence to a physical model of another Enterprise, the Original Series starship designed by Walter 'Matt' Jefferies. Jefferies will be celebrating his 80th birthday this August, and Doug Drexler is organising a special birthday celebration for Star Trek's first production designer.

"Walter 'Matt' Jefferies, the visionary designer of the original Star Trek, that guy who put standard divergent shapes together, saucer and nacelle, creating something that has remained supernaturally fresh for more than 35 years, celebrates his 80th birthday in August," Drexler told TrekToday, adding how important Jefferies was to him: "Aviator, artist, historian and wonderful gentle human being. My mind boggles when I weigh the influence that he has had on my life as a designer and as person. I know that many out there feel a strong connection to Matt just as I do!"

In order to give fans a chance to wish Jefferies a happy birthday, Drexler asked fans to send birthday greetings to the following address:

Paramount Pictures
Walter M. Jefferies
Doug Drexler
Star Trek Art Department
5555 Melrose Avenue
L.A., Ca. 90038

Upon receiving the birthday wishes, Drexler said he will make sure that they get to Jefferies.

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