Oberth Class – the missing link between Enterprise and Reliant

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Robert Comsol, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

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    That´s a really interesting thought :techman: Meditate on this I will ;)
     
  2. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    ^^ Which thought? That Andrew Probert's genuine Enterprise-C does not belong to the Ambassador Class or that ILM may have assumed erroneously that they were doing pre-production work for a prequel? :D

    The problem: The whole "Tauntaun lizard" thing had been abundantly illustrated in Ralph McQuarrie's pre-production work, hadn't escaped the watchful eyes of fans, and required an inevitable and honest answer.

    IIRC the possibility that ILM did pre-production work assuming ST III would be a prequel, is a conjectural theory. Should it turn out to be correct, it would reveal a serious lack of communication (and professionalism) between Paramount Pictures and ILM at the expense of those responsible. Not necessarily the kind of stuff you want to publish, but after 30 years maybe those involved could look back and consider the miscommunication to be an anecdote worth telling (and I'd be listening with interest, of course ;)).

    Bob
     
  3. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's entirely possible the effect was more subtle - the designers could have been operating with a slightly retro mindset. But surely they were going by the script which stated Excelsior was new, fast, and generally awesomer, and Oberth was a midsize science ship?
     
  4. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There would be no reason for their uniforms to change, as the Ent-C crew were the cause of the future timeline change, not the result of it.

    And I have nothing against Probert's ship being another vessel class, if we saw the actual ship on screen. But not for the Ambassador class.

    Wow. No offense Robert, but this is quite the height of supposition on your part, even more than normal. I've never heard that the production for STIII was a secret, other than the usual secrecy for any new production of anything. And I've certainly never heard the idea that anyone thought STIII would be a prequel, simply based on the name of the film. And as far as those study models are concerned, I don't see a single one that looks less advanced than the TOS Enterprise.

    The original intention of creating the Excelsior in the first place was that it was going to eventually be Kirk's new ship, post-TMP Enterprise. So it's highly unlikely that ILM thought they were making ship designs for a pre-TOS period.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  5. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Not the production, of course, but what the story was about!

    I still remember vividly how Eric Stilwell (writer of "Yesterday's Enterprise" and maybe that brings us full circle? ;)) speculated together with many others whether Spock would be ressurected or not, and that was most definitely a big production secret and consequently the story, too. (Eric Stilwell suggested we should pay attention to the mark designation on the photorp casing and compare it with the corresponding passage from The New Testament. He was really on to something :)).

    I also remember how a lot of folks were putting pictures of director Leonard Nimoy under a magnifying glass to look for makeup residue at his ears. It was crazy. :lol:

    Bob
     
  6. Tomalak

    Tomalak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Sorry, but it's bonkers to suggest ILM were designing "retro" ships to make fans think they were filming a prequel. The Excelsior at least was always intended to be a bigger, faster, sleeker, longer, more imposing take on the Enterprise. Nilo Rodis recalled:

    Bill George took the view of:

    It's a movie. Everything's budgeted. You don't waste money on some elaborate subterfuge if you have no intention of using the finished work, so the idea of decoy TOS-like study models is incredibly far-fetched (and as Dukhat says, they don't look remotely retro anyway). Especially given that in the pre-internet days, you'd have to be a very dedicated fan to even hear about study models. And frankly, it doesn't matter if a handful of geeks find out the plot of the story, when you're ultimately going to call the film "The Search for Spock". Bit of a give-away there I think. ;)

    There's a decent summary of the design process here.
     
  7. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Huuh?!?...Who gave you that idea? I was merely speculating that the guys at ILM may have been designing models for what they thought would be a prequel until Nimoy and Bennett told them it would be a sequel.

    And the title "The Search For Spock" was ambiguous at the time. Don't take my word for it, check out the corresponding issues of Starlog, Fantastic Films, Cinefantastique etc. :)

    Bob
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    So these folks would be anticipating the actual, final orders from the people who wanted these study models? How much lead time would they need? Have we ever seen or heard of a study model of any level of detail built before a specific and detailed order for it is given? (Unique hobby models like the one that became the Pasteur are a rather different matter!)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. Tomalak

    Tomalak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Mate, these guys aren't sitting around waiting for the phone to ring from Harve Bennett. They are highly unlikely to have started work before the deal was in place and they had been told what they had to design.

    I also don't get where this whole prequel idea comes from. Maybe that was a rumour going around in fan circles at the time? ILM would have been given a script, or at least a list of stuff they needed to design: spacedock, a futuristic starship, a new Klingon ship, a merchant ship and a Federation science ship.

    Given those parameters, I don't see why you think they might have taken it upon themselves to design original series era stuff. It's just wild speculation, with absolutely no evidence, which fits in with your idea that the Grissom was an old ship.
     
  10. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just to be clear, I don't think Grissom is an older design based on some notion about STIII originally being a prequel (I'm pretty sure it was STVI that was at one point headed in that direction, not III) I just think it's a fun idea for a retcon that rather neatly explains some of oddities regarding that class.
     
  11. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What? Why on Earth would anyone design something and then spend money to build study models before they were told what they were supposed to design?

    Tomalak is right; it sounds more like you're just trying to come up with any kind of validation about your pet theory for the Oberth, to the point that now you're just making stuff up. Well you know what? You're welcome to believe anything you want about the Oberth, and to make up whatever convoluted logic you can think of if it makes you sleep better at night. Just don't expect the rest of us to accept these suppositions.

    Ambiguous? Not really. I remember rumors that Spock would come back to life quite before I saw the film.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
  12. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Exactly. When I wrote the essential analysis one year ago, that was the inspiration, and it's only during the discussion in this thread I gathered further inspiration on behalf of that idea.

    @ Tomalak & Dukhat

    I think the Excelsior prototypes have a noticable retro-look which is rather the total opposite of what the final design looked like on film. And an NCC registry beginning with "14"?

    ILM was a third-party-contractor, so if you want to keep the story a secret, you got to make sure that it's not leaking at the end where you don't have control.

    And last but not least, the "Tauntaun lizard" is a good example that the communication between the people involved in such a blockbuster production is not necessarily as optimal as some of us outsiders do assume or want to believe.

    Bob
     
  13. The_Beef

    The_Beef Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Just re-watched STIII, and as much as I want to see the Oberth as an older design, I don't think that was production intent. The movie tries to sell this idea that the Enterprise is outdated now. The Excelsior gets all the attention there, but I suspect they made the Grissom as a more streamlined design similar to the Excelsior specifically to make the Enterprise look like an old relic in a Starfleet that was leaving it behind.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    The main attribute of the Grissom would be unrelated to her apparent age, familial relations or such: she was simply expected to look unlike a starship so that she could be an all-new thing, a helpless survey ship that can trivially be destroyed by a Klingon ship that in turn stands no chance against the Enterprise. This would not have been easily achieved by creating a ship with any commonality with the starship designs already seen in the movies - but OTOH the Federation identity needed to be made clear so a saucer plus nacelles were called for nevertheless.

    So the study models were made, and the Excelsior evolved towards as traditional a starship as possible, while the Grissom supposedly fluctuated from oddball shape to oddball shape. But study models of the latter are mere rumors at this time, alas...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I've always thought the design of the Grissom intentionally meant to look like a stable-mate of the Excelsior and therefore a modern design. Makes sense from a story telling POV as it's only logical that SF would send the most advanced science vessel available to them to survey Genesis. I suspect the low reg was inspired by the FJ numbering system where the scout classes get three digit reg while the heavy cruisers get four.

    While at the time that made sense, the way things have been developed since means that is no longer the case.
    Hence this: -
    [​IMG]
    I really don't think anyone needs to find more of a reason to speculate. It's just for fun after all, nobody's going to change canon with this idea.
     
  16. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I dig that, Reverend. The Vulcan Science Academy would no doubt approve.

    I'll agree that the reason I bought into the Oberth being older was primarily the fact of the registry number, and really wanted registries to have some semblance of sequence... however, you are probably right. They were probably inspired directly by FJ's depiction of registries.

    And, maybe there was some element of making it sleek when it came to designing her - but I feel like it might be more likely that she was meant to be a simpler, Federation non-Starship. She came about in a unique era - from TOS, we only had the Enterprise-type ships. It was really the movies that expanded the fleet. TWOK gave us "frigates" in the Reliant, and TSFS gave us a science ship and the ship of the next generation. As popular as FJ was, surely he was a strong influence? I mean, they did go to all the effort to use his schematics on screen.

    And it's worth noting, in early TWOK storyboards, the Reliant was the same type ship as the Enterprise.
     
  17. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Said ship also had the name Alka-selsior. That shows just how seriously we should take whatever was printed on them.

    Whether or not they knew what the film was about is irrelevant. The producers would have told them specifically what they wanted built, which in this case was a ship newer than the TMP Enterprise, a Romulan Bird of Prey, and a science vessel. Just the fact that they knew the Excelsior would be new precludes that the other two ships would be new as well. I see no indication with either the study models or the finish products that ILM was trying to design ships from pre-TOS. You can call them retro-looking all you want, but that doesn't make it so.

    As I stated before, I don't even think it was that complicated. I truly believe the Grissom's 3-digit registry was given simply because it was a small ship.
     
  18. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    I wasn't aware that "canon" had established the origins of the Oberth Class beyond doubt. :)

    Bob
     
  19. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Really? It’s obvious that the FJ blueprints made it onto the screen displays of TMP and ST III, with the latter one being the worst offender because it clearly showed the TOS Enterprise with her distinctive warp nacelles. Of course, they could have used Kimble’s TMP Blueprints instead, but apparently the outlines were too thin to be simply transformed into an accurate display (Andrew Probert in his trekplace.com interview: “sheer laziness”). I doubt that the art department at Paramount and ILM were really concerting their contributions.

    Had the ILM model makers truly relied on FJ’s Technical Manual, then giving the Grissom a registry of “638” was somewhat unethical as it pushed FJ’s concept of one-nacelled scout ships over the cliff (they should have rather gone with a prefix beginning with “4” or “7”), IMHO.

    I’m not sure that’s truly the case. I think it’s rather probable that they knew the Epsilon Nine subspace chatter:
    “Scout Columbia NCC-621 to rendezvous with Scout Revere NCC-595 on Stardate 7411.4”

    So here we did have a “Scout Class” vessel (Ken Ralston) and the ILM model makers probably and simply added an iconic “17” (!) to arrive at their registry number “638” for the Grissom. :)

    Bob

    @ Dukhat

    Yes, the “Alka-selsior” is a funny inside joke, but frankly I found it to small too read on the study model in contrast to the “14” (good thing they didn’t put an “R2” or “D2” there). Now, do we apply the same line of reasoning for all okudagrams containing little jokes or do we just ignore the indiscernible small print?
     
  20. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You're right it hasn't and nothing we discuss here will alter that state of affairs, which was exactly my point. ;)

    As for the FJ stuff, I'd say it took anything BUT effort to include those diagrams. On the contrary it was certainly much easier and quicker to use those existent materials than produce something new. After all, it's just back-chatter and set dressing, it's not like people will be scrutinizing such trivial details for the next 30 years...right? :p

    Seriously though, while I do think the Grissom's reg was inspired by FJ's system, it was probably only because it was the only published reference source around at the time and IIRC at that point GR hadn't disavowed it yet. That's the nature of retcons though. Things are done a certain way because they made sense at the time but then something else is done later that (mostly unwittingly) contradicts it so a new explanation is needed. That is to say "needed" by those who care about trivialities.