Ship sizes: ALL LIES! (big pics)

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by King Daniel Beyond, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Ship sizes: ALL LIES! (big pics)

    I was watching a DS9 space battle music video on youtube the other day, with clips of loads of episodes jumbled together. In some shots, the Excelsior class ships were about the same length as the Galaxy-class (which would fix the deck height, but is still too small for the bridge module), and in others the Excelsior saucers were barely wider than the saucers of the Mirandas.

    Another complication with the Excelsiors is that there have been two noticably different physical models of the ship (the one first seen in "Flashback" has a thinner secondary hull), and a CG one (which seems to have the thinner engineering hull of the "flashback" model) which appeared in later DS9 episodes.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  2. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And there's also the problem of the Galaxy's scaling relative to DS9. Both of them at their true scales, the Galaxy class wouldn't actually fit at the docking pylons and the station has to be expanded several times in order to make that shot work.
     
  3. ST-One

    ST-One Vice Admiral

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    There is some 'magic' going on anyway ;) ... look at the nacelle and the docking pylon

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, we know that VFX didn't like the intended size and used 5280 feet on average, but maybe Rick Sternbach remembers why he originally blueprinted the station at 3600 feet in diameter. Was it approved at that smaller diameter based on size comparisons with certain starships, did the number of window rows enter into it...? The Making of DS9 book has some rough size comparision sketches, but I don't know how the final number was picked specifically.
     
  5. Rick Sternbach

    Rick Sternbach Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The ~3600 foot diameter was a starting point based on the proportions of the structures we were inventing in the core, mostly, like Ops, the Promenade, etc. I wouldn't characterize the station as having been approved at any specific real-world size; the design was approved, and it fit within different folks' mental picture of how big it would be. That is, there seemed to be a range of sizes depending on who you asked. I drew certain features in the blueprints, the model was under construction, and orders came down from on high to add a crapload of additional fiber-optic windows. Not with any technical rationale to back those orders up, just that it looked better to some eyes. I didn't think it made any sense, but it didn't totally kill the look of the thing either. Just like lots of other vehicles and props I/we designed for Trek, once the blueprints left my table, it was outa my hands. The producers, art directors, and VFX all fiddled with it, but in the end it looked 99% the way I detailed it, and I have Tony Meininger and his crew to thank for that, over and over. The final drop dead diameter for the station in my head, as written in the DS9TM, is the 1451.82m number, which was based on a synthesis of VFX composites with other vessels like Defiant and Ent-D (plus some pushing and pulling of how sets fit within the structures), but was not slavishly welded to them. In the end, I really don't care what the station appeared to measure out to because of how it looked on TV with other objects. I don't crucify VFX for what they did with their composite shots; they made effects shots and that was that; done. Why VFX internally labeled the diameter as 5280', I don't know; maybe it was just a nice easy number for them to remember that was close to what the outer rim might be. I don't care; it doesn't matter. Now I'm not being curmudgeonly, just sticking to my own artsy-techy ideas. :)

    Rick
     
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  6. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    Well, one mile wide is an easy thing to wrap your mind around, so...
     
  7. Rick Sternbach

    Rick Sternbach Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It certainly wasn't a Cardassian number, that's for sure, and it probably was for the benefit of the VFX crew trying to get their shots done. Nothing hugely wrong with that; most folks who worked on the show weren't into the logical consistency of a fictional universe; they were doing an industry job. Now if the Cardassians actually had made their station 5280' across, I would have thought I had fallen head first into HHGG's Infinite Improbability Drive.

    Rick
     
  8. Herkimer Jitty

    Herkimer Jitty Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, with the way the Enterprise's nacelle seems to bend impossibly to avoid the docking pylon, I'd describe that as quite probable.
     
  9. Vincent Law

    Vincent Law Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The ship also doesn't move with the rotation of the shot, because it's a composite shot and a pretty obvious one. Personally I just never really cared. I'm sure if they had it to do over using computer models this wouldn't be an issue, but then again most computer models don't quite have the look of realism that can be accomplished using physical models.

    As for the Defiant, I can't help but wonder if there just was never really anything settled on the size, so it got scaled depending on whatever the director of a particular episode had in mind. There is also the inconsistency of where the impulse engines are located in the MSD diagram compared to where they are on the model. I think the Oberth has a similar problem with scaling, and that the size that was finally settled on doesn't quite fit the scaling of the physical model.
     
  10. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Here's a comparison of the Enterpise-E MSD (which does fit nicely, my apologies - I hadn't realized how low the E-E's corridors were), based on early diagrams, and the final ship at the official size of 685m:
    [​IMG]

    Here's the ship scaled to match the height of the MSD, in order to fit the 24 decks, bumping up the size to 794.5m:
    [​IMG]
    ...and that's ignoring the "deck 29" from Nemesis.

    Here's the Excelsior scaled at 622m,n roughly matching the saucer rim deck heights with the very similar saucer rim on the NX-01:
    [​IMG]

    And here's another possible size comparison using these figures:
    [​IMG]

    That's the NX-01 and Enterprise-D kept at their original/official sizes, the TOS Enterprise scaled to Drexler's cutaway, the Excelsior scaled to the deck height of the NX-01 (but not the smaller bridge. A closeup of the tiny and thin bridge module can be seen in EAS' Excelsior size article) and the Enterprise-E scaled to match the 24-deck height of the MSD (ignoring "deck 29").

    As with everything I've posted here, take it with a pinch of salt, please.
     
  11. Gepard

    Gepard Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I like it. It shoes a very nice progression of sizes with each generation of ships. (And I like that the NX-01's saucer is smaller than the TOS Enterprise's. Never felt right that they should be the same size.)
     
  12. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    The Enterprise E was gorgeous, wasn't it?
     
  13. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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  14. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    Because I enjoy making more work for people, how different is the E-E scale if you compare the MSD to the Nemesis silhouette instead of the First Contact version?
     
  15. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    ^^ Or should MSDs be used at all since they're more of a symbolic representation of the internals and not necessarily accurate to the exterior of the ship?
     
  16. Rick Sternbach

    Rick Sternbach Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    While the MSDs were put together using pretty clean drawings and sometimes ortho blueprints for their basic outlines and deck lines, they can not the final arbiters of absolute dimensions in any sense. None of us on the show had any kind of time to work out the internals or reverse engineer the drawings to match filming miniatures or CGI renders, so we end up with pretty diagrams that look cool on television and at the theaters. I wish I had the time to "accurize" a lot of this stuff; in the meantime, I have my own ideas of what ships and stations should look like, and they don't always match up with what got recorded in the "historical documents."

    Rick
     
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  17. Vance

    Vance Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's one thing that always bothers me about threads like this (ignoring the obvious tone set at the beginning). Of course the sets, models, etc. won't line up. They were never built with the "reality" in mind - they were built as props for a television show or a movie! The fact that Star Trek even came close is a testament to those who have worked on the franchise.

    For an example, anyone here watch Big Bang Theory? If you look at the sets involved for the apartment building, Penny's apartment cannot exist because it should be open air, thanks to where the lobby is shown and thanks to our exterior shots of the building. At most Penny's apartment is about 5 feet wide.

    How about the Brady Bunch house? It in no way matches between the interior and exterior shots. The hallways shown are impossible even sticking to the interiors, and the backyard is clearly in a different neighborhood!

    I've already cited the apartments in Friends. How about Scrubs, where we're shown an entire hospital wing that clearly doesn't exist on the actual hospital building used!

    Obviously the fix in all these cases is to assume that the exterior shots are for buildings that are 50 percent larger than we think, or something. Or we assume that we're dealing with Hollywood here.

    Its a fun exercise to make things fit into our favorite starships, but this constant need to hammer-home how right someone's particular take on this stuff is just off-putting, to say nothing of the need to 'correct' someone else that is doing their own take, particularly people who worked on the show and movies themselves.

    I mean, it is never going to be perfect, no matter who is going to be doing it.. until we actually build the real thing. :)
     
  18. BlobVanDam

    BlobVanDam Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm not even building interiors on my CG model of Voyager, and yet I still had to deal with issues of making the interior and exterior sets work together.

    The issue on Voyager is that the captain's quarters windows are curved from the inside, yet totally flat on the model. I initially made them curved to match the interior sets, but I ended up settling on a sort of compromise and keeping it pretty close to the original model, but with a very slight curve.
     
  19. Saquist

    Saquist Commodore

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    Historical Documents...I love that movie.

    That's one of the reasons why I just can't take the Defiant MSD at face value.
     
  20. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Commander Red Shirt

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    No, the Defiant represents a different scenario.

    In case of the Enterprise-E, for example, we're comparing Doug Drexler's MSD with Rick Sternbach's final blueprints (reproduced in TNG Sketchbook) and then the miniature as built. As far as deck lines are concerned, there is no contest, really--the blueprints make more sense for the ship, while the MSD can be used only as a rough guide to the interior. The blueprints map precisely all 23 decks to the miniature exterior, and only within that framework should we begin to think about Decks 24, 26 or 29.

    The same applies to the Equinox, Prometheus, and a number of other Voyager-era ships--the MSD is drawn first using close-to-final designs, then come the final orthos and CG models. In case of the Defiant, however, the MSD came after. There were no detailed orthos, no overall plan, only a number of generalized and/or just-in-time decisions by the modelmakers, VFX people, scenic artists, writers and whoever else worked on the Defiant. Doug Drexler had to synthesize all that, especially for the deck plans in the DS9 tech manual, almost as if he were designing parts of the ship himself.

    Yes, these diagrams could be "accurized" a bit, but they must absolutely be taken seriously, because we have no better canonical reference. There is no miniature detailing to contradict the MSD over and over again, as with Rick Sternbach's designs, only the occassional "Deck 5" reference which only features in individual episodes, the turbolift map which is practically invisible, or the rows of "windows" which haven't been proven as such. These don't stand a chance against the ubiquitous MSD.

    The only evidence which is nearly as serious as the MSD in terms of nailing down the size are the Defiant's appearances next to DS9, but as we've just seen, the station itself has varied in size, so we can't really give more weight to those shots than to a detailed interior layout which features over and over again. For every ship it's different, and all of them require detailed research--identifying very specific problems and fixing them. Any sort of generalization isn't really possible.