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Old August 22 2008, 08:22 PM   #1
Shaw's Avatar
Location: Twin Cities
Revisiting the Constellation

I doubt many remember, but about a year and a half ago I had done a small venture into the world of CG modeling and animation. The goals and motivations were pretty straight forward...
  1. See what it took to actually do 3D modeling (so I could better judge what it was that I was seeing from others),
  2. See if I could make anything worth looking at, and
  3. Curiosity about how well this type of thing could have been done in the mid 90's (considering that most decent CG models of the TOS Enterprise didn't start surfacing until around 2000 or so from what I can tell).
I had given myself a pretty strict time table (from between 3 to 6 months), and had worked on the project pretty consistently for about 4 months.

I was very aware of my limitations. First of all, I couldn't bring anything resembling clear guides into the program I was using, so much of the shapes were done by hand rather than matching the best shapes available. Second, I was starting from scratch with no previous experience in either 3D modeling or use of this application (Strata Vision 3D 4.0 and later Strata Studio Pro 1.5.2... both from 1994). So given that I would have to say that any shortcomings in what I produced were more a reflection on my lack of ability rather than the tools I had at hand.

The following movie is a pretty good representation of what I was able to make in the way of animation (and includes a model of the Republic and a K7-like space station).

Click to view

(Quicktime, 105 sec., 6.5 MB)

As with the original model of the Enterprise, one can hide deficiencies by choosing angles and lighting, so to give you a better idea of what the model I made actually looked like, here is a set of orthogonal images and a shot in the harsh light of day.

I was (relatively) happy with the results, and as such moved on to other things. But with recent research on the original models, I have been wanting to take some time to apply what I've learned into making some new models, and this time I was considering learning Blender for the task.

Unlike the previous project (with a strict time table) I'll be extending this one out quite a ways. And at the same time I'll be attempting to avoid errors that I was willing to forgive myself for in the previous project.

So in other words, what I just posted is a benchmark of sorts. And I would hope that anything I produce in the future will be better than what I've shown here. I don't think that is an unrealistic goal, and is far more reasonable than attempting to match the quality of the models of some of our members here (which in most cases even CBS couldn't do with the remastered episodes ).
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Old August 22 2008, 09:57 PM   #2
Re: Revisiting the Constellation

Well, the lighting definitely could use work but, I'd say you did well here.

I've never heard of Strata Vision 3D before. The standard 3D packages for TV, Film and Games would be either 3ds Max, Maya or both. Some also use ZBrush and Mudbox to supplement Max and Maya for creating character models.

Last edited by msbae; August 22 2008 at 09:58 PM. Reason: Correcting grammar mistakes...
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Old August 22 2008, 10:56 PM   #3
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Location: Lat: 40.1630936 Lon: -75.1183777
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Re: Revisiting the Constellation

I remember your project Shaw! It's a pity so much work here disappears into the abyss. Good choice with Blender ... it's tools are quite advanced now. It's finding increasing use in professional jobs, and the low cost of ownership allows rendering farms to offer Blender subscriptions at significantly lower costs than alternatives. The interface is set to change with the next release, I believe, but there's a huge amount of material on the web to help before that change happens.

There are a number of Blender-heads here, too, so speak up if you're having trouble with any of its features.

Like you, I too am disappointed with the quality of the remastered TOS episodes. Some episodes show artistry, but many fall short and turn in a high-res image that lacks imagination.

Good luck and happy rendering.
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Old August 23 2008, 02:43 AM   #4
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Location: Twin Cities
Re: Revisiting the Constellation

I figured Blender was the best route considering that I had a total of $50 (for both hardware and software) invested in the original project. Plus I know there are versions for the two platforms I use the most (Macs and SGIs), so that makes it an easy pick for me.

And as you pointed out, it is nice to know that there are people around that can help if I get stuck!
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Old August 23 2008, 03:18 AM   #5
Professor Moriarty
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Location: System L-374
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Re: Revisiting the Constellation

Poor, doomed Constellation... tsk tsk tsk

Looking forward to seeing what you do with Constellation Mk II!
My crappy blog
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Old August 23 2008, 04:01 AM   #6
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Location: Beyond the Farthest Star
Re: Revisiting the Constellation

Blender? What's a blender?

-- Bill "Tallguy" Thomas
"All I ask is a tall ship..."
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Old August 24 2008, 09:49 PM   #7
Captain Robert April
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Location: In selfless service to fandom, on the road to becoming a Star Trek trivia god...
Re: Revisiting the Constellation

The weathering looks almost like a camophlage pattern.
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