# Scaling the Excelsior Filming Model

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Praetor, Aug 18, 2013.

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Prepare for more fuzzy math!

I have a great image of the Jein Excelsior that I used to estimate the decks based on the window rows. It doesn't exactly line up because I was attempting to account for perspective.

So, that gives me about 12 decks in the engineering hull. Using another great side-on image, I estimated a total of 26 decks in the ship, with the top of the saucer sensor dome being about a half-deck tall.

Using the 3.277 meter deck height figure (10 feet, 9 inches), we have here an Excelsior that is roughly 85 meters high and 528 meters long.

So what the hell does this mean? Well, to me it means Jein was aiming to make her a smaller scale than the ILM model, and was probably aiming for the official 467 meter range, but ended up making a slightly bigger ship.

As a refresher, using this same deck height, and using my previous screencap based window analysis, we end up with an ILM Excelsior with 35 decks that is roughly 114 meters tall and 709 meters long.

(By the way, a 467 meter long Excelsior would be about 75 meters tall and have about 23 decks.)

So here, it appears, are our choices, using the 3.277 meter deck height:

1. ILM scale: 709 meters long, 114 meters tall, 35 decks
2. Jein scale: 528 meters long, 85 meters tall, 26 decks
3. Official scale: 467 meters long, 75 meters tall, 23 decks
In any case, we have to ignore the bridge module, or pretend it's round rather than eliptical at the larger scale, at least. And, the similarities between Jein scale and official scale may be such that we wish to pretend the Jein model is "actually" 467 meters.

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I hate having to ignore any evidence. I believe you'd also have to ignore the module added to the rear of the model (identified as the "aft crew lounge" on the MSD) at the same time as the bridge. It looks to be about five or six decks tall going by window rows.

A thought just occurred to me - in DS9's "Emissary" we see an Excelsior-class ship have the entire front of the saucer blasted away, in a manner not too dissimilar to the Enterprise's fate in STIII. I know that for the Enterprise an amazingly detailed wreck model was created, only for all that detail to be hidden beneath animated fire in the movie. Has anyone seen pictures of the wrecked Excelsior saucer model from "Emissary" (which IIRC was also used in the Star Trek: Borg interactive movie game)? It would he interesting to see how many decks or details are visible.

Oh, and Scotty and Chekov standing in the Enterpise-B hull breach from Generatons may be a useful size reference too.

3. ### UnicronContinuity SpackleModerator

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That's a good question. I'm not sure what would have happened to the Excelsior class Melbourne after filming was done, and it would be a very interesting reference.

4. ### SicOneCommodoreCommodore

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I remember an analysis write-up on that scene that suggested a 700-odd-meter length for the ship, but was also inconsistent with the "Decks 13, 14...and 15!" dialogue.

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That's fascinating about the Melbourne, King - I never knew there was another model. It would be great to see it. And I don't like to ignore details either. I'd forgotten about the damn crew lounge!

And, great point about the Enterprise-B. At your suggestion, I've conducted an analysis. For those who haven't seen it, this is the model used to represent the damage in the famous close-up flyby:

One can clearly make out three decks in the leading edge of the hull "flare." I confirmed this assumption by analyzing the following screencap:

You can very clearly make out those three decks there, as well as Chekov and company against them.

Working back from that, I came up with this:

There are 36 decks that fit pretty well. If we assume each deck is 3.277 meters tall, she's 728 meters long and 118 meters tall, excluding the nacelle fins.

However, it's complicated if you take a closer look at this screencap.

Walter Koenig is 1.68 meters (5'6") tall. He's right at 56 pixels. The deck is right at 88 pixels, so that gives us decks that are approximately 2.65 meters (8'8") tall... which is noticeably shorter than generally accepted deck heights.

Since the 728 meter length figure is so good, we may simply wish to assume that the compositing Chekov, Scotty, and Harriman is somewhat off. We may also consider it safe to assume that the hull extensions were constructed at a scale to match the size of the ship since ILM made the modifications... so this scaling may in fact be quite definitive for the ILM model.

As a side note, the lovely image below is currently my wallpaper on my three-screen setup at work to encourage me to think about all this more. Beautiful shot of a beautiful ship... though, zoom in on the lower part of the secondary hull. You can clearly see that the hatch covering the ventral mounting point, which I earlier realized is the real-world reason for the secondary hull chasm "pod." It appears the hatch was slightly misaligned when this pass was done.

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Just a breif preview, I've decided to pursue the 728 meter version a bit and see how things end up. I began by field stripping my original cutaway.

7. ### Robert ComsolCommodoreCommodore

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Yes, this image keeps permanently penetrating my mind, too, even though I'm at full deflector power.

Possibly a passenger module for these members of the Federation and those of the same species as Balok. I mean seriously - and with the apparent majority of humanoid species having an average body height of 6' - these Federation citizens would otherwise be constantly at a disadvantage using a starship's facilities.

Bob

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Well, just like the bridge module, I think I'm going to just have to ignore it. In the case of the "lounge" (which I consider it, too, although moreso for flight crews and the like), those don't necessarily have to be windows. In the case of the bridge module, I think Jackill had the right approach: make it round, and scale it up juuuust a hair.

Part of my personal philosophy is that the "real" starship in the Trekverse is more than the sum of its parts; more than the models, sets, and props used to represent it. It is only natural that the often rushed nature of production will throw the odd monkey wrench into the mix. Further, different fathers of different designs are likely to have different opinions, and not always agree.

So if we are to act like anthropologists and treat the Trekverse like a real place we're trying to understand, there will come times when we as Treknologists simply have to squint and pretend that something makes sense, simply because the preponderance of evidence points to it, even if some of it doesn't.

YMMV of course.

BTW, sorry I made the image above so dinky. I'll provide a somewhat better one later. I'm also still working on the 467 meter version. I may wind up completing both for fun. Depends whether my enthusiasm holds out. I actually completely redrew the outline of the ship after using a couple of good side images of the ship to realize a few of my proportions were out of whack. Most of the guts are still there, but hidden, and will have to be rescaled for this version. I've decided to make an LCARS-style version first, but will probably also make a simple black and white later. (Easier to go from color to black and white than the other way, at least for me.)

Does anyone have any opinions about the warp core placement? I took a page from Jackill here too and aligned it to the deflection crystals, centering it about to the center of the TSFS big one. Also, the computer core is patterned after the one shown in Mr. Sternbach's Constellation cutaway.

9. ### Robert ComsolCommodoreCommodore

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So you think that little of the Federation members of Balok's species and our golden-skinned buffet grabbers?
You know, I'm gonna tell Balok and then the Fesarius will reduce the Excelsior to tiny pieces of equal height.

Or is that actually what you're trying to accomplish here so you can study the Excelsior remains in detail?!?

Bob

10. ### Nob AkimotoCaptainCaptain

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Maybe it's just an ILM length thing. Everything they do seems pretty big. (Perhaps their sense of scale was affected by doing Star Wars films.)

Didn't ILM also do stuff for the 09 Trek and Into Darkness? Maybe they have anatomy issues there.

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Oooooh, yes, and there has been no end of debate on the size of the NuEnterprise. Some say it's about the size of the prime-universe refit. Others (such as myself) believe that it's considerably bigger, mostly based on the bridge dome area and several other surface details, with more mass than the Enterprise-D and physically longer than the Enterprise-E. Seems that working in the CG world has not mitigated ILM's scaling problems from the old modeling days...

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You know, Balok's people may've been overcompensating with the Fesarius.

Also, check out this little nugget. I daresay the guy selling it has the details pretty close to right, so the image is somewhat helpful in imagining the space further.

Also, I enjoy (and agree with) his writeup:

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Guys over at the RPF have iIDed the primary component of the grabber as a kit part from a Tyrrell P34 six-wheeler. You can see the part here.

Last edited: Sep 11, 2013

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Holy crap, Maurice. I'll be damned if that's not it. Thanks a million.

15. ### AlberteseCommodoreCommodore

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So, that fellow is scratchbuilding the Rebel Transport from The Empire Strikes Back. Are you saying that the same part was used on the Excelsior model, too? Could make sense, as the two movies were only a few years apart.

--Alex

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If you read the RFP forums you quickly discover that various effects houses had particular sets of kits they used over and over again for detailing on models, and you can see dozens of boxes of the same kits in photos of the shop. Given that, it's utterly unsurprising you'd see some of the same parts on models for different films.

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I'm trying to decide if the fact that it's an engine part changes what that bay "really" is...

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Apologies for the double posting, but here's a link to a collage of reference images of the model (taken by John Eaves during its Lakota state) along with the newly discovered part.

Clearly there were some modifications, but indeed it most certainly looks to be it. They added some embellishments, and it looks like they built the box that receives the mounting arm onto the flat, wider part.

Perhaps most interestingly, left off the cylinder part that screamed engine.

Whew. That was close.

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The photo I posted shows the part in question but it has other parts glommed onto it in that example.