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Old February 21 2014, 05:55 PM   #1
Mark_Nguyen
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Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

In another thread, the oft-debated topic of the Miranda-class starship variant came up again. Basically, it breaks down to some VFX shots of the background ship showing the aft section of the rollbar pod, which had been built as aft-facing torpedo launchers in the physical model for "The Wrath of Khan", being apparently lit as additional impulse engines. This was a nice easter egg to us tech nerds, as it visibly demonstrated that Starfleet had the mindset to upgrade century-old designs with more propulsion, probably to better fight the Dominion.

However, there was some debate as to whether the glowey red (and glowey nacelles) on these models was a VFX goof or deliberate. There is some evidence that the pod itself had been modified in the CG model (the physical model was not used for DS9 after the series premiere) to include engines, but some people (like me) see the possible differences as being obscured by the red glow, and that the glow was simply applied to the model by a CG artist who didn't know the aft torpedo tubes were not engines.

http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__...dorsal_aft.jpg

Following the topic coming up again, I went looking up screencaps to support the VFX goof theory. First off, I discovered that the CG Miranda with the lit-up pod is in other episodes BEFORE the series finale "What You Leave Behind". I'd previously thought it was a lighting error confined to that episode. However, here's a cap from "Tears of the Prophets", the S6 finale, and there's three, count 'em THREE, Mirandas with the warp nacelles and aft pod lit up:

http://ds9.trekcore.com/gallery/albu...ophets_474.jpg

However, later in the same episode, here's shot with a couple Mirandas that had no "extra engines" or nacelles lit:

http://ds9.trekcore.com/gallery/albu...ophets_539.jpg

And while I'm at it, here's one of the poor USS Shir'Kahr, with ONLY the nacelles lit:

http://ds9.trekcore.com/gallery/albu...ophets_655.jpg

Now I wouldn't NECESSARILY use this as evidence that there are multiple variants, and that it's just a VFX goof. The DS9 Compendium confirms that in the bigger battle episodes like this one, multiple FX houses are engaged to provide the shots. They would all be given the same models, but be given leeway in how those models are lit. I would have concluded that these shots were from different FX houses and one lit the model one way with glowey nacelles and pod, and the other not.

But THEN, when reviewing more screencaps from the same episode, I found this one from the first shot... Showing one of each kind of Miranda practically SIDE BY SIDE!

http://ds9.trekcore.com/gallery/albu...ophets_479.jpg

So admittedly, I'm buffaloed here! It's much tougher to class it a VFX goof if the actual CG model was programmed to be lit one way AND another in the same shot. This strongly suggests that at the very least, the same CG model was programmed as two variants which were used in the fleet scenes as two separate models.

While I'm not completely convinced that the models are physically different - the "lit" variant differences IMO could still be masked by the red glow of the engines on these fuzzy screencaps, and I would need a clear shot of the "lit" version to believe it's different - it's fairly clear that some animator from one of the FX houses did mean for these ships to be different. Usually when you program a fleet scene, you simply import the same rules for the model and copy-paste apply them to each instance of that model in the shot. That obviously wasn't the case here.

Given that this particular episode is replete with fun references - it is the SINGLE BEST EPISODE of the franchise to make such an effort to name and label separate ships, including Shir'Khar, Galaxy, Hood, Valley Forge, Nautilus, etc. - it may be that the Miranda variant first showed up here as an Easter Egg that followed through the subsequent season. Wow, you learn new things from fifteen year-old episodes all the time!

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Last edited by Mark_Nguyen; February 21 2014 at 11:25 PM.
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Old February 21 2014, 11:25 PM   #2
Mark_Nguyen
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

Just adding to the evidence, look at the red cabooses of three of the Mirandas at the end of 6x05 "Favor the Bold". It's amazing that I've never noticed them before.

http://ds9.trekcore.com/gallery/albu...hebold_728.jpg

And yet, earlier on in that same episode:

http://ds9.trekcore.com/gallery/albu...hebold_421.jpg

It's worth pointing out though that in 6x06 "The Sacrifice of Angels", the Sitak and Majestic, or at least the Majestic, had glowey nacelles even though the rollbar pod didn't look modified. There was no clear shot of the aft of these ships though, so it's not clear whether or not they were modified with a red glow at the back.

http://ds9.trekcore.com/gallery/albu...angels131b.jpg

It's also possible that there were TWO CG Miranda models, one for close up shots (i.e. Sitak, Majestic, Shir'Kahr and the slightly closer to foreground one in "Tears"), and another lower-poly model with a glowey pod that was used in distance shots or for large fleet shots. It's not the first time they've done that sort of thing, but it supports the theory for a slightly different shaped pod that was made glowey by accident.

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Old February 22 2014, 04:10 AM   #3
Nob Akimoto
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

Do we know which VFX houses handled each scene? Maybe we could see if Doug Drexler can be roped into wracking his memory about it?
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Old February 22 2014, 06:08 AM   #4
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

Don't y'all know that the torpedo launchers is just above the impulses engines. What you see is actually the impulse engines, which is right below the torpedo launchers.
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Old February 22 2014, 07:54 AM   #5
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

Mark_Nguyen wrote: View Post
There is some evidence that the pod itself had been modified in the CG model (the physical model was not used for DS9 after the series premiere) to include engines, but some people (like me) see the possible differences as being obscured by the red glow, and that the glow was simply applied to the model by a CG artist who didn't know the aft torpedo tubes were not engines.
Thanks for collecting those screencaps in one thread.

Here are two questions:
1. How does the red glow create the physical white hull that separates the 2 red glows on the back of the torpedo pod for the impulse-engine pod variant?

2. And how do the same 2 red glows create the "half-height" impulse engines on the body of the ships on the impulse-engine pod variant? (They are different from the "standard Reliant" impulse engines.)

IMHO, it would appear that the red glow on the aft torpedo pod is due to actual modifications made to the CG model resulting in a new variant model and not an animator simply adding glows where he shouldn't have on a "standard Reliant" model.
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Old February 22 2014, 11:47 PM   #6
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

yenny wrote: View Post
Don't y'all know that the torpedo launchers is just above the impulses engines. What you see is actually the impulse engines, which is right below the torpedo launchers.
Respectfully, pay attention. This is the issue being discussed:

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Old February 23 2014, 04:04 AM   #7
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

I always assumed the Miranda was designed to be upgraded which is why it's been in service for so long. It has always been my favorite ship too.
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Old February 23 2014, 08:52 PM   #8
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

bbjeg wrote: View Post
I always assumed the Miranda was designed to be upgraded which is why it's been in service for so long. It has always been my favorite ship too.
Indeed. I'm of the opinion that Starfleet (and the Klingons, for that matter) build their ships to last for decades. You can replace things like interior systems, the warp core, and bridge module, but the ship itself can go on for eighty years or more. Based on the registry number of the Lantree, for example, I think we can safely assume that ship was at least that old when it met its end. Heck, if registries were already in the 1700 range in the 2240's, it's possible that ship was already in service by the time of the original series!

Between their relatively simple design and suitability for a variety of mission profiles, I'd say this is the reason Mirandas are as common a sight in Picard's day as they were in Kirk's day.
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Old February 23 2014, 09:47 PM   #9
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

Miranda starships in war was a thread made awhile ago. It covers a lot of points covered here.
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Old February 23 2014, 11:18 PM   #10
blssdwlf
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

bbjeg wrote: View Post
Miranda starships in war was a thread made awhile ago. It covers a lot of points covered here.
I just looked at that thread and there was no mention of the Mirandas with the modded impulse pods.
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Old February 24 2014, 08:16 PM   #11
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

As noted in the OP, at this point I'm okay to accept that these ARE two different CG models of the Miranda. What remains to be seen is whether or not the one that is seen with the extra impulse engines was deliberate or, as I mentioned, a goof from a VFX guy who didn't know what they were doing. I still think this was a possibility, though admittedly the evidence mounts that this was deliberate.

The one thing that still bugs me is that the red glow of the rollbar pod is just so featureless. From the screencap shown above, it looks almost as though someone pasted simple polygons over the nacelles, impulse engines and rollbar, set the transparency to heavy, and then applied a glow (I'm speaking in rough Photoshop terms here, as that's the extent of my experience). If you look REALLY closely at the glowey bits, they don't absolutely match up, especially on the nacelles, and the rollbar ALMOST looks as though you can see the torpedo tubes behind them. Look at the nacelles in this image below of a "proper" Miranda, the glowey bits on the above picture looks like lazy trapezoids to me:

http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb2...anda_Class.jpg

Part of me is still wondering if the modified Miranda CG model was a rush job and the differences, like the lighter bit you mention on the rollbar, are just results of someone thinking we'd never really be able to see the difference (much like the various GCS models out there). I totally acknowledge it was a possibility, but as with so many obscure things we may never know unless we can plumb the minds of Mojo or Daren Dochterman or other people who may have worked on the shots.

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Old February 24 2014, 10:19 PM   #12
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

I have the same issue with the glow Mark, which is why I'm leaning towards "Rush job low-poly model" too.
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Old February 24 2014, 10:38 PM   #13
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

Mark_Nguyen wrote: View Post
As noted in the OP, at this point I'm okay to accept that these ARE two different CG models of the Miranda. What remains to be seen is whether or not the one that is seen with the extra impulse engines was deliberate or, as I mentioned, a goof from a VFX guy who didn't know what they were doing. I still think this was a possibility, though admittedly the evidence mounts that this was deliberate.
I do know that the original CGI model of the Miranda was built by ILM for First Contact (they actually scanned the filming model in its last incarnation, from "Generations," so the CGI model's registry was actually the Saratoga's NCC-31911 from DS9's "Emissary.") Unfortunately I don't remember seeing it in FC from behind. I also know that the model, along with the other FC ships, was remapped for use in DS9, so that might have been when the pod was given the impulse glow. I'm also of the opinion that it's just a VFX goof.
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Old February 25 2014, 03:12 AM   #14
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

There are at least two Mirandas visible in the early part of the battle, but we don't get a good aft view of either of them. Only the second one is close enough to the camera to have a reasonable amount of detail visible for a few seconds, but the first one can be seen firing torpedoes as the Defiant closes in.

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Old February 28 2014, 11:09 PM   #15
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Re: Miranda-class variants in the Dominion War - Screencap Analysis

It's possible that they though that these old supply ships are so weak in shielding and armor, that their only chance to survive in combat is increased acceleration and maneuverability.

I doubt that these red lights were added accidentally by VFX, since Galaxy class also turned on the extra engines. What the show-runners had to do was to show that these old vessels were somehow uprated, either through conversation, like with Lakota, or through showing us the change visually.
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