Matt Jefferies, creating a world...

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Warped9, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Matt Jefferies created a world. More specifically he created a future starship and much of its related tech. He wasn't the first to actually do this given science fiction film and television had already been around for decades. And he certainly wasn't alone during the 1960s era when there was quite a bit of sci-fi on television and film. But it could be argued that MJ stands above them because what he created resonated in a particular way. His future world, his starship, was portrayed in such a way that it all seemed so believable. And it can be argued that his creation has become the most iconic and most widely recognized piece of science fiction hardware: the starship Enterprise.

    Of course, MJ wasn't the only creative force in Star Trek. There were other very talented people who contributed either in ideas or in bringing ideas into physical form. But I think a lot of it took their cue from the conceptual template MJ lay down. It wasn't enough to make a new bit of sci-fi hardware look cool but also to make it seem believable.

    There are other popular sci-fi vehicles of that era such as the Jupiter II and the submarine Seaview, but they are largely cool unto themselves. MJ's Enterprise and other designs conveyed so much more "beyond the hull" so to speak. They suggested a whole world, a complete albeit yet to be revealed universe we tuned in every week to catch another glimpse of. Much of this, of course, was due to the writers and creative staff, but the Enterprise and its technology was so representative of all that.

    Gene Roddenberry stressed that the audience had to believe in the Enterprise to buy into the future and the stories the show presented. He charged Matt Jefferies to create such an object the audience could near immediately latch onto. And MJ delivered in spades.

    This isn't to say others didn't contribute significantly---they most certainly had. Much of the Enterprise's appeal, and in extent the world we saw, was enhanced by how they were presented in terms of lighting, photographing and accompanying music, and additionally by the references spoken by the characters.

    But I think there was still something about MJ's approach to design that telegraphed itself to others contributing to what made Star Trek work.


    Just my two cents.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2013
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm glad they changed that bridge dome. It made the proportions of the ship seem odd.
     
  3. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    In the 60s, it took a while for me to get used to the look of the ship, because it was so different than everything else seen. The only familiar part was the saucer. Any time I later found a Jefferies sketch of a ship, or a set, I'd study the designs. I even did a 3D model of the main corridor, using that stage blueprint as a guide. Mine wasn't intended to be scale accurate though, and I later used it in my animated parody.
     
  4. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Getting rid of those silly spikes on the nacelle domes and shrinking the deflector dish were also improvements.

    Part of MJ's genius when designing the Enterprise was the "Hornblower effect" -- evoking subtle impressions of an 18th-century sailing vessel on a spacecraft from hundreds of years in the future.

    With a bit of imagination, the warp nacelles atop those tall, slender pylons suggest masts and sails. The briefing room's angled bulkheads and curved beams are reminiscent of an old ship's cabin. And why the elevated outer ring of work stations on the bridge? Partly to create visual interest, but also as an excuse to put a railing there.

    And then there's the obvious.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    I really don't understand why people have trouble understanding the reason for the different bridge levels. It's a stage set, and different elevations allow for interesting blocking of actors.
     
  6. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Captain Captain

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    The fact that the original Enterprise design still evokes a sense of awe and fires the imagination all these many years later is a fitting testament to the man's genius.
     
  7. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I think Jefferies well understood the requirements of designing a set for film or television, but he managed to design things that managed to transcend those limitations. He obviously went beyond "slapping some paint and blinking lights together" for a sci-fi look. He did it well enough that he's been emulated for decades afterword.

    He reasoned out where things were, where things should go and how things supposedly worked even if it was all fictional.

    Didn't he design the phaser pistol? That design looks like nothing that had ever preceded it in science fiction in the visual mediums and it's still a very cool and distinctive bit of SF hardware. I'd have loved to see him create an updated version of the phaser rifle for the TOS era.

    His design of the Klingon battle cruiser was another inspired work. The adversary's character was instantly telegraphed in this beautifully menacing design. Before the Klingon warship menacing enemies in sci-fi flew simple flying saucers or versions of rocketships like in Flash Gordon. The Klingon ship was a first just as much as the Enterprise was.
     
  8. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Masts and sails? Sorry, just don't see it.

    [​IMG]


    :)
     
  9. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think MJ was consciously thinking of 18th century sailing ships when he designed the Enterprise. I've certainly never heard of him alluding to such. GR was the one who used the Hornblower analogy, but I never heard it in relation to MJ's design approach.
     
  10. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    I think MJ's inspiration for the aft section of the engineering deck were aircraft hangers. As a kid, Hanger One at Moffett Field always reminded me of E's hanger doors.
     
  11. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Out of curiosity I just had to look that up. Yep, I can see what you mean.
     
  12. Push The Button

    Push The Button Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Did the Mythbusters ever use that hangar for any of their segments? It looks very familiar.
     
  13. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    It's in the San Francisco Bay Area where Mythbusters is based, so they very well might have.
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They tested the helium football myth in one of the "smaller" hangars, not Hangar 1. Not sure if they ever used Hangar 1 in any other segments.
     
  15. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Absolutely! Although I'm still in the dark whether Doug Drexler's Star Trek Posterbook article, where "Hornblower Effect" popped up, was an actual Jefferies quote or a personal conclusion of Mr. Drexler (apparently he did interview him at some time when he asked Jefferies about the location of engineering...;)).

    We also have the obvious sailing vessel allusions in the TOS briefing room (support beams) and in the early "Deck 12" location of Kirk's cabin with windows ("Mudd's Women", "The Enemy Within").

    What never ceases to amaze me is how Walter Matt Jefferies, despite his strong background in aviation, combined aviatic and maritime elements into something completely new and different.

    Bob

    P.S. Nice stern shot of HMS Rose, redressed as Jack Aubrey's HMS Surprise (in San Diego).
     
  16. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think a lot of people are sometimes cynical about Mr. Jefferies' genius, simply because they think that the sands of time have puffed his talents up as they have some others, but I couldn't disagree more. His thoroughness and common sense approach to the design work on Star Trek IMO is what helped set it apart, and helped the design concepts stand the test of time.
     
  17. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

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    Indeed. I couldn't agree more.
     
  18. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, that Star Trek Giant Poster Book article was my source for stating that Jefferies consciously incorporated the "Hornblower Effect" into the design of the Enterprise. Unfortunately, I no longer have my copy of that issue. I didn't know that Doug Drexler wrote that piece -- not that his name would have meant anything to me back in the '70s!
     
  19. SpHeRe31459

    SpHeRe31459 Captain Captain

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    Seconded.

    On the Doug Drexler note, Doug is a huge fan of MJ's work and eventually became friends with him.
     
  20. neoworx

    neoworx Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I couldn't agree more. His work was light-years (pun intended) ahead of the science fiction of the day and set a tone that still inspires to this day. Forget the details, the Enterprise in the JJ Abrams movies is Jefferies', as is every starship ever made for Trek that used the saucer & tubes design that he established.

    The phaser, Klingon ship and more all reflect his outside-of-the-box thinking. Look at the Botany Bay – totally unlike anything else ever shown before, and even unlike his other ship designs.

    I recently re-read the TOS Sketchbook which features lots of his sketches. He was in a league of his own. "Genius" is not an overstatement when it came to his work. Too bad he was never given an opportunity outside of Star Trek to create even more cool stuff.