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Old August 25 2011, 10:38 PM   #553
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Location: Spokane, WA, USA
Re: Star Ship Polaris

Realistically, the whole concept of "right-side-up" is meaningless in outer space. A long-established sci-fi convention is to relate it to the orientation of a vessel's internal gravity, if it has gravity, in order to satisfy the expectations of an audience who's terrestrially evolved brains want to put things in a proper and consistent orientation, even when there is no objectively defined up or down.

But what do you do with a ship like Polaris whose internal gravity is parallel to the direction of travel rather than perpendicular? For the crew of Polaris, up and down are effectively the same thing as front and back. That means what would normally be considered top and bottom as well as left and right are purely arbitrary notions from the perspective of the people on board. It's been decided that "right-side-up" for Polaris is the way I've been showing it in all these renderings and sketches, but that really isn't meaningful in any way other than how an external observer, i.e. the camera, chooses to view it.

Personally, I wouldn't mind if the entire concept of right-side-up in space was left at least somewhat ambiguous in this production. I like it when the camera is not locked-off in the horizontal plane or otherwise forced to pretend that up-and-down is a universal constant. I'm not talking about flipping and rolling the camera all over the place, I'm talking about something as simple as a slow roll in an otherwise fairly static shot, just enough to suggest the camera is really out there in three-dimensional space and the action is not all confined to two-dimensions.

As far as the markings on the ship are concerned, I think my main concern would be that they shouldn't appear obviously upside-down in any of the shots where the camera lingers long enough to get a clear look at them. That brings us back to the default orientation shown in all these renderings and illustrations. For everything we're likely to do in this production, the name and registry as shown would probably work fine, though I do think it would be helpful to put the opposite slope on the name just because I know that, from the perspective of a person standing on a planet's surface looking up at the ship while landed, the name as currently shown would appear to be rotated past vertical and partially upside-down. That sort of thing just kind of bugs me.

Another alternative I still haven't ruled out--though Dennis might have--is to eliminate the sloped text altogether and go back to having it aligned with the fuselage, probably using block letters instead of script and probably just above the orange stripe instead of superimposed on it.

However it's done, all of that will probably be textured, not modeled, so it's not something that really has to be locked-down at this stage.
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