Scaling the Excelsior Filming Model

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

  1. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Okay - I can see what you guys are talking about. To me, though, it looks more a couple sets of "grabber arms" from the inside of a Star Destroyer docking bay. That said, I do see why it could look like a propeller to someone else.

    Even though I can see why you would think it was a propeller, I remain unconvinced sir. :p

    I'll dig up some more pictures later and see if we can shed any more light on it.
     
  2. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

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    Please do. But either way, I find it hard to decide what I like less: the bulky Star Wars looking thingamabob, or a ship propeller :rolleyes:
     
  3. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    IIRC, in the later seasons of DS9 where they were moving towards a purely CG fleet, I somehow remember rear views of the various Excelsior's being shown with no chasm at all - more like a massive door placed inside and behind the opening. You could still see the outline of the original opening, but it was totally blocked off with a massive "plate" that seemed a little off-color from the rest of the hull.

    I suspect it was because the CG team building the meshes were also scratching their heads over the purpose of this area, and that it was far too complex a mesh to build for an area that would hardly ever be seen - a valid point now that they were showing starships maneuvering in battle like fighters instead of the massive capital ships that they actually were. I don't have the time at present to scour Trek Core for visual evidence of this, but I could swear that I saw Excelsior variants like this.
     
  4. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Fascinating. I'll try to dig something up later on - I probably have images that might show this in my stockpile for the TM.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    The one good upskirt look comes from "Tears of the Prophets", and features some detailing in there, surrounded with blue glow. (Also note the CGI Mirandas with additional impulse engines in the pod!)

    http://ds9.trekcore.com/gallery/albums/6x26/tearsofthephrophets_474.jpg

    Here's another look with detailing, even though the model itself is relatively crude overall. (This time note the yellow glow on saucer impulse engines on that Galaxy; also, two standards of Miranda there...)

    http://ds9.trekcore.com/gallery/albums/6x26/tearsofthephrophets_479.jpg

    Finally, there's the detailed death scene of the Valley Forge. Despite the lights being out (for obvious reasons!) there appears to be some sort of detail in there nevertheless. Also note the aft torpedo tubes, protruding more clearly than in the physical model(s).

    http://ds9.trekcore.com/gallery/albums/6x26/tearsofthephrophets_513.jpg

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks for doing my work for me, sir. ;)

    So it does appear the chasm doesn't go away. Well, at least we're consistent in something. :rommie:

    The fact that it always stays open has to mean something; even if there's a door, there appears to rarely be a need to close it, whereas the shuttlebay that looks like a shuttlebay is always closed. ;)

    I've never noticed the extra Miranda impulse engines on the pod before. That's just... bizarre.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Well, impulse agility is something the Jem'Hadar smaller ships excelled in. It makes sense that Starfleet's most antiquated assets would need some beefing up in that department...

    Having a rolling door cover a semicircular doorway is physically rather challenging, so that's probably not how Starfleet would close the hole if they wanted to. But the Excelsior was introduced in the same movie that introduced the enclosed Spacedock Earth, supporting the notion that Starfleet sees merit in enclosing vacuum inside walls. With the space station, it's for the purpose of having ships inside, somehow. I'm all for it being for the same purpose with the ship! The Lakota greeblie could well be a utility spacecraft that has two bulky and angular cargo sections - possibly a landing barge for assault purposes, perhaps a deep space self-repair auxiliary.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Tomalak

    Tomalak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    How do we know it's a vacuum? Couldn't it be an atmosphere protected by a forefield, like a giant version of the Enterprise-D's shuttle bay?
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    I guess so. But there's no forcefield glow across or around the Spacedock doors, and the glow within the Excelsior cavity is indeed within.

    Really, with craft as big as those putatively docking inside the Excelsior rear entrance, atmosphere probably wouldn't be necessary or even desirable. The craft would have more versatile means of embarkation than the tiny shuttlecraft do, such as proper docking ports and transporters of their own; no need to provide for people who walk in through the side door.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. Tomalak

    Tomalak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nevertheless, it could have that capacity. Why else seal off a big volume of space like that?
     
  11. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, we could split the hair further. The glow in the Excelsior opening doesn't really seem to come from the opening, but rather from the back area, sort of behind the "gondola." It's possible it's not a forcefield at all.

    On the tangent, though, Spacedock really doesn't make much sense to me without that capability. YMMV, of course.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Well, why not? Starships have really funny shapes sometimes - why the curved pylons on the E-D when there could be simple straight slabs instead, say? Possibly exterior shape does matter (warp dynamics or some such nonsense), and one just must have that beautiful undercut in the secondary hull. So what's one to do when there's not enough stuff to fill the hull with? Create the undercut shape with hollow, walled space, I guess.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That was more or less what I originally theorized too, even when I thought it was a shuttlebay.

    By the way, I think the AMT kit instruction sheet specifically calls the piece in there a shuttlebay, but I'll have to check. Not that it really means anything.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    It's not as if the idea of two dissimilar bays, one atop the other, would be particularly bad or even unprecedented. The "upgraded" Ambassadors have a clamshell-door bay at upper stern, but also another bay at lower stern - and upside-down Excelsior bay in fact. There might be merit to having a separate bay for the workbee trains or lighters that bring consumables aboard, so that the tactical or scientific errands of the shuttlecraft aren't inconvenienced or vice versa.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm truly starting to again see the lower bay as a prototypical precedent for the larger bay we seem to see on the Enterprise-C and certainly see on the D..
     
  16. Workbee

    Workbee Commander Red Shirt

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    Makes sense. We know the D had at least 3 shuttlebays, and the C may also have had multiple bays. No reason the Excelsior couldn't have two. Each bay may be more specialized for different types of craft -- the upper bay for the crew shuttles, with the lower bay for more industrial transport crafts. I envision workbees towing cargo containers, like here and here.
     
  17. Workbee

    Workbee Commander Red Shirt

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    This is OT, but I never noticed before that those excelsiors in DS9 had the "correct" coloring of the blue highlights. Even though that's how the model was always painted, in ever movie appearance I can think of, they shot it in such a way that those blue highlights looked grey onscreen. Was always curious why that was. Since they kept that paint scheme on the model even in its various configurations though the years, I have to imagine it was a very deliberate and conscious choice. But it seemed like there was an equally deliberate effort to conceal this effect onscreen. Is this another thing like the gold uniforms that were actually green-ish? Or the R2D2 with black paneling? Anyone have any insights on this? So many mysteries surrounding this ship.
     
  18. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Possible behind-the-scenes (ILM) design approach

    I think it’s fair to say that ILM is almost automatically associated with Star Wars and therefore it must have been quite a delicate matter (not without controversy back then) that the same guys who designed the spaceships for SW (e.g. Steve Gawley) were given the opportunity to design new spaceships for Star Trek.

    At first glance the Earth Spacedock looks like a Star Trek version of the Death Star and the chasm of Excelsior like the hangar bay of an imperial Star Destroyer.

    But the romantic in me says that this is just a deceiving appearance while instead the ILM designers and model makers possibly approached their Star Trek III creations rather with the intention to feature these as “counterparts” to their “cousins” in the SW Universe.

    I.e. while the Death Star obliterated planets with antimatter, the Earth Spacedock was designed to protect Earth from antimatter-loading accidents and lethal fallout (I wrote a yet unpublished treatise on the “orbital mushroom” last August), and while the hangar bay of Lord Vader’s Devastator had a facility to “vaporize” Princess Leia’s ship (deleted piece of dialogue), one design purpose of the Excelsior’s hangar bay could have been to enable the “repair” of smaller vessels since it appears to have essential characteristics of a miniature onboard spacedock to substitute the lack of such facilities at the outermost borders of Federation space (“Star Destroyer” vs. “Star Explorer”).

    In-unverse rationalization approach

    According to the context of ST III the Excelsior was still “the great experiment” “ready for trial runs” and hadn’t been tested under normal space flight conditions, yet (“Looking forward to breaking some of Enterprise's speed records tomorrow.”), and shrouded in classified mystery (“She’s supposed to have transwarp drive”).

    (This is how I imagine an early session of the Starfleet admiralty board under its chairman and veteran Robert Comsol, conjectural but inspirational, I hope)

    “Mr. Thorndike, while you know that Starfleet and the Federation Council approved your orignal new starship class design, you’ve fallen far behind schedule because of this overambitious desire to reinvent the wheel [transwarp drive]. You’ve stated, I quote from your latest progress report, whose number escapes me because there have been way too many, that it is impossible to evaluate the performance and potential of transwarp based on computer simulations.
    You’ve further stated that it is therefore inevitable to test transwarp drive under real space flight conditions but cannot assure that the outcome will meet the expectations.
    Looking at your construction design plans, correct me if I’m wrong, you intend to integrate the transwarp drive components irrevocably into the ship.
    But should transwarp turn out to be failures, Starfleet will, in essence, end up with a new starship carrying redundant dead weight.
    This is unacceptable.
    It is the opinion of this board that the transwarp components should be implemented in a modular fashion in the engineering hull of the 20th starship design. Should the transwarp experiment fail, the space allocated to such components can and will be put to other uses.”

    I’m definitely not suggesting that transwarp was a failure (just because Scotty had sabotaged the T-drive before it even got a chance to be tested :rolleyes:) – and in the early TNG phase Andrew Probert considered the Enterprise-D to use transwarp drive where merely the “trans” had been dropped – but the modular nature of the components inside the chasm, from ST VI on, is rather evident, IMHO.

    These modules look like they might perfectly fit into other Federation vessels, but stick out like a sore thumb inside the chasms of the Excelsior Class: A module designed exclusively for the Excelsior Class would fill the entire available chasm space, but what we see leaves plenty of unused (and wasted) space port and starboard of these modules which begs for explanation.

    Bob

    P.S. In ST VI the Excelsior had been studying "gaseous anomalies" and I wonder if these studies required physical contact. I won't exclude the possibility that the Excelsior literally "vacuum sucked" gaseous materials (here we go again, not too dissimilar what the chasm of Bespin's Cloud City in SW had been designed for...) for in-depth analysis into the chasm. The blue light visible in the chasm could be a part f it (though probably not a Cerenkov glowing effect).

    Another hypothetical question would be how to resupply Constitution Class starships like NCC-1701-A operating in deep space with antimatter pod assemblies as illustrated in the Kimble cross-section drawing. Looks like the chasm has the right proportions to transport such antimatter pod assemblies for other starships (and in case of confinement failure could just "spit" these out in a manner of speaking).

    In general I feel that the cargo transport capabilities of other starships next to the Enterprise (i.e. Miranda and Excelsior Class) still merit further evaluation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  19. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    ...and one more thing (scale debate related):

    Where was Excelsior assembled? Given the apparent shortness of time between ST II and III obviously not in the orbital San Francisco dockyard because this one had been occupied by the Enterprise at the beginning of ST II (and seems to small to accomodate Excelsior).

    If it had been constructed at Utopia Planitia would it not have at least required an impulse drive "trial run" to travel to Earth?

    Can we exclude the possibility it was assembled inside Earth Spacedock? Our protagonists seem rather surprised to see her there at the beginning of ST III, as if they had been totally kept in the dark that Excelsior was soon to be ready (plot hole?). Or was that the "public restricted" section, accessible only to Excelsior personnel (e.g. Janice Rand) which exclusively witnessed the return of the battle-damaged Enterprise from the Mutara sector (another delicate topic).

    Of course this may explain a few things. They assembled the ship inside Earth Spacedock but totally forgot that it wouldn't fit through the spacedoors. :lol:

    Bob
     
  20. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    Look like I'm a little late to the party, but I wanted to get a better look in the chasm of the Valley Forge so o messed with the levels a bit. Here you go, in case you wanted to see too.

    [​IMG]

    Also, as to R2-D2 having black panels, it's the same reason as why the Imperial officers sometimes have black rank insignia instead of blue: the blue color gets chemically stripped from the film stock when they used blue screen to optically composite images. In fact, that's why blue is the color for bluescreen; blue was the top layer of film color, so most easily removed, also, there is very little blue in a human face, so it's the easiest color to work around. But little blue panels like on R2 and those rank pips, become transparent on that film layer and the black space background shows through. If you read George Lucas's novel of Star Wars you may notice that Luke's X-Wing was originally supposed to be Blue 5 rather than Red 5. But the compositing process using bluescreen would have not worked with blue striping on the model, so they changed it to Red.

    I imagine this is why the Excelsior was photographed to appear as gray as possible also, for fear of the blue parts turning transparent (and therefore black) in the final print.

    --Alex
     

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