Starship design history in light of Discovery

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Discovery' started by INACTIVEUSS Einstein, Nov 18, 2017.

  1. The Librarian

    The Librarian Commodore Commodore

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    A couple quick points.

    1) The Constitution was the only TOS-era ship seen until the insertion of the J-class and the Daedalus-like Medusan ship for the remaster. The Saladin/Hermes, along with the Ptolemy and Dreadnought, were excommunicated because Roddenberry had a snit about royalties. This means that we have only limited insight into where it fits in the grand scheme of things. It may be the last holdover of the cylindrical style of nacelles.

    2) The Andorian Nacelle Consortium finds your inclusion of the NX but not other pre-Federation starships insulting.
     
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  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You're forgetting the S.S. Huron from "The Pirates of Orion" and the robot freighters from "More Tribbles, More Troubles." Also, we did see one civilian Federation ship in TOS, the original version of the Aurora from "The Way to Eden," even though it was kitbashed from the Tholian ship and an AMT Klingon kit.


    "Excommunicated" is the wrong word to use for something that was never part of canon to begin with. Those were apocryphal designs that simply weren't incorporated into later canon, any more than the various ship designs from FASA, the Spaceflight Chronology, and various fan blueprints and references over the years did.
     
  3. Rahul

    Rahul Commodore Commodore

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    Real world explanation:
    The lack of a coherent design language is obviously a misjudgement of the powers that be. Not quite as severe as the complete klingon re-design, but it's obvious they chose the wrong balance between re-design and honouring what came before. Not too surprising with the guy in charge being the same one responsible for the crappy Lost in Space reboot movie. Since everyone already mentioned Axanar (and since both the fan film AND Discovery are so thematically similar, about a pre-Kirk klingon/Federation war), whatever missgivings I have about Axanar, they got the starship design language of the era right. As did the Kelvin movies, which all fit better with TOS than the DIS ships. (Note: This is purely about production design, not the overall quality of those works)

    In univers explanation:
    The one in-universe explanation I could offer is that the choice of nacelles (round vs. square) has less to do with the actual launching date, and more the tasks of the starships: The Discovery is a mere science vessel, and the Shenzhou was also operating in/near the borders of Federation space. The fleet at the binary stars might be made up of patrol ships. All of them operate near home turf, so they need fast engines, but are in reach for regular maintenance. All of them have square engines. As did for example the USS Grissom. The Enterprise (1701), the Franklin and the Kelvin were all deep exploration vessels. They need longterm reliable, low-maintenance engines. It's more important that they work over years with minimal interruptions, than how fast they are. All of them have round engines.
    So far, my personal theory goes:

    square engines: Used for travel in Federation borders. Very fast and/or easier to mass produce.
    round engines: Longterm durable engines for deep-space exploration

    That is, untill the TOS-movies, where old starships get equipped with a new type of engine, that is square, but still usable for long-term service (Enterprise refit, Miranda). Which is then superseeded my a new, transwarp-engine (the Excelsior's nacelles), which is the basis for the "new" warp-speed scale that TNG used, and a predecessor to the mass produced TNG-engines with red bussards/blue glowing lines on the sides.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think there is a good deal of coherence to the ship designs. As I said, several of the classes we've seen introduced in DSC seem like logical intermediate steps between the NX class and the Miranda and Constellation classes. And the changes in detail are no greater than those between TOS and TMP. I do wish the interior set designs had a little more stylistic continuity with TOS, though.


    If you're referring to Akiva Goldsman, he's not "the guy in charge," he's just one of numerous executive producers and writing staffers, subordinate to Alex Kurtzman and the showrunners Gretchen Berg & Aaron Harberts. And the 1998 LiS movie was directed and produced by Stephen Hopkins, who was probably more responsible for its creative choices than screenwriter-producer Goldsman.
     
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  5. Serveaux

    Serveaux The Man Premium Member

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    Some executive at CBS making decisions in concert with accountants is the "guy in charge."
     
  6. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    What about them, though? I don't see how they substantially affect anything. A few further considerations here.

    They were mentioned in TMP (Epsilon IX comm-chatter) and shown on background screens in TWOK and TSFS. But even considering that, it only demonstrates that TOS-style and movie-style ships can coexist right alongside each other within the same period. Thus, the same can readily be true of DSC-style ships (which actually share some aesthetic cues with the movie ships themselves).

    Agreed, except I don't really find anything lacking about the DSC set designs. We have to remember that Discovery is a ship designed and built (or at least re-designed and re-built, if we want to believe that the teaser version was the original configuration of the class) decades after the Enterprise, whose overall design (minor tweaks and upgrades such as those between the pilots and series excepted, naturally) was supposed to be "about forty years" old per The Making Of Star Trek (1968), even if she herself may only have been launched a little over a decade before DSC (in 2245) per later background materials.

    -MMoM:D
     
  7. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Noticing an absence of USS Franklin in this discussion, which seems to be a good example of variation in the 22nd century as well.
     
  8. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    True, although I think the Franklin looks perfectly at home coming directly in between the "Warp Delta" and the NX:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    (I think the Franklin and NX are at least roughly in-scale to each other there, but the Delta probably isn't.)

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
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  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Who said anything about their effect? It's a simple matter of fact. You said no other TOS-era ships were seen until TOS-R, and that's an incomplete statement.


    Background details like that aren't meant to be binding canon. They're just texture that was meant to create a passing impression and not be examined in detail, and it was convenient and time-saving to lift some references from an existing book that would sound or look like the sort of impression they wanted to give. I mean, they passed off FJ's deck plans of the TOS ship as plans of the movie refit ship, so they weren't intended to be taken literally, just to fake it for the sake of getting the shot. So it's no more canonizing those ships than, say, the use of the Mayberry backlot in "The City on the Edge of Forever" was canonizing The Andy Griffith Show as part of the Trek universe.


    It's not a matter of credibility or continuity or whether it can be "explained." This is fiction, after all, not a documentary. I just wish the set designs felt more like Star Trek. The ship exteriors do, the prop designs do, even the uniforms kinda sorta do, but the set designs are just so alien to me, so unlike what I think of as a Starfleet aesthetic.
     
  10. XCV330

    XCV330 A Being of Pure Caffeine Premium Member

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    Someone else posted this link months ago in my lurking days but as far as I know the only round nacelle ship to show up in the movies is oddly enough,

    [​IMG]

    (over on far left), B-24-CLN, Discovery's spiritual dad.

    More proof that cylindric nacelles were still around. (And of course it's in TNG though in a scrapyard)
     
  11. INACTIVEUSS Einstein

    INACTIVEUSS Einstein Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    @Christopher - Although I understand why you might not wish to speculate, as it closes possibilities to place them in history, and they were as you say perhaps never intended to follow an iron rule - where would you place the various ships if you were to guess the order of their production? I'm guessing you thought about it a lot when writing Rise of the Federation - how would the Kelvin fit in with Starfleet's history in your imagination - or the Crossfield-class, Walker-class, etc?

    @Rahul - That's an interesting idea, I would like to see a diversity of different nacelles. I think Tuskin or someone else suggested the reason they were all quite similar at the Battle of the Binaries was they had all been refit to the latest standard - which means maybe the ships were not as contemporary as they seemed. I would like to post more ships for comparisons but there is a 20 image limit per post unfortunately.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I haven't really gotten that far ahead in my thinking, since I'm still in the 2160s, so there's a way to go yet. But I'd been assuming that the "flat" designs like the NX class would give way to primary/secondary/nacelles configurations like the NX refit and the Daedalus class pretty quickly, and that those would be the primary configuration of Starfleet ships from then on, as fandom has been assuming for decades. Clearly Discovery requires me to rethink that, since there are a lot more "flat" classes populating the 2250s fleet than I ever expected. But whether my book timeline gets far enough ahead to actually acknowledge that remains to be seen. Heck, I haven't even had the chance to address the Franklin yet, aside from a subtle allusion to its uniform style, because Pocket didn't yet have the license to use elements from the Kelvin films (though word is that's about to change).
     
  13. INACTIVEUSS Einstein

    INACTIVEUSS Einstein Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    @Christopher - I just started book two, so look forward to see what you think up in future :)

    [​IMG]

    There are quite a few flat looking classes as the Battle of the Binary Stars - I remember a forum member a while back said they would like to see like a mini-constitution-shaped vessel in DSC like John Eaves original design for the NX-01 - acting like a smaller support vessel for Discovery's fleet - it struck me as a nice idea since the classic layout is so often associated with the best/biggest classes of Starfleet - it could be cool to see a smaller ship.
     
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  14. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    Well, it wasn't me you were initially responding to, but I've made similar statements elsewhere and needed reminding myself, so that makes little difference. I do take your point, but must pick a few nits. Nothing was really meant to be "binding canon" during that period. And FJ was specifically asked by Lou Mindling of Paramount to be a consultant on TMP when the project was in development, and only declined any active role because he didn't want to step on Roddenberry's toes any more than GR already felt he had by his—quite properly, in fact—dealing directly with Paramount to have his works licensed and published through Ballantine under his own copyright rather than through Roddenberry's Lincoln Enterprises. Those works only came to be considered "apocryphal" later by Roddenberry—who was already being marginalized in the creative process for entirely separate reasons, i.e. his script efforts weren't considered good enough—out of revenge. And guess what else the Great Bird declared apocryphal? TAS!

    I might also point out that the original intent wasn't even to have freighters and cargo ships like the Antares and Huron be part of Starfleet proper, anyway, but more akin to merchant marine. That's why she was S.S. Huron in the script and dialogue in the first place, even though the animators contradicted that by giving her Starfleet pennants and "U.S.S." painted on her hull. Not that I'm actually arguing she should be ignored, here, of course. I'm just saying that the Connie was originally supposed to be unique and different, and the longstanding tendency to take her as being representative of some default "Starfleet aesthetic" of the period was always somewhat reductive and bolted-on. And like Spock being taken as the quintessential Vulcan, more a result of having had few other exemplars than anything else.

    And I still don't get what you find "alien" about the DSC sets, particularly. But taste is taste, so I can't very well argue with yours. Please forgive me, if I've given any offense. It wasn't intended.

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017
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  15. Ithekro

    Ithekro Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That was more or less my rational for the wide range of registry numbers for the Constitution-class. My suggestion was based on the first digits being either the star system to shipyard the ship was built and the last set of digits being the numbered hull constructed there. Like say Earth has the 10s and 17s while Andoria had the 09s and 16s, Vulcan had the 13s and 18s. Thing like that. So that both NCC-1031 and NCC-1701 could both be built in the Sol System, while NCC-938 and NCC-1664 could be built in the Andorian System, and NCC-1331 and NCC-1864 could be build in the Vulcan System, as potential examples. If for no other reason but to make the hull numbers actually mean something as an identifier, instead of a random license plate number they just put on the hull for some reason. Even aircraft numbers have some reasons behind them, and you wouldn't think Starfleet would just plaster on a huge letter/number combo all over their ships for some Federation regulatory agency, because the other powers aren't going to care aside that they can easily identify which ship you just put in front of them....something the other races don't seemingly do.

    Hull numbers on warships, historically, vary depending on the country. The Americans put a number on the hull for each separate type of ship from 1 forwards. You will have multiple ships with the number 4 or "04" on it since you could have a aircraft carrier with the number, as well as a battleship, a destroyer, an ammunition ship, an oiler, a radio intercept ship, or whatever. Sometimes they put on the letter part of the hull number and sometimes they do not. The Carrier would be CV-04, the Battleship, BB-04, and the oiler would be AO-04. But other counties do different things. The Japanese, in peacetime, would put the name of the ship in large characters on the side of their destroyers and the division number on the bow. Must of these divisions had maybe four ships in it, so you'd have four destroyers with say the number 7 on them. The British did something else with just pennant letters, number and even funnel bands all across the 20th century (its a mess).

    So Starfleet should have a reason to plaster a full registry number of all their starships from NX-01 to NCC-1031 and NCC-1701 to NCC-74656, with very little deviation on screen, but no clear chronological path for these numbers. If USS Discovery is new in 2256 at NCC-1031 and USS Shenzhou is old in 2249 at NCC-1227 and USS Enterprise is potentally older that one or both ships at NCC-1701....there should be something going on with that so it makes some sort of logical sense....even to the humans.
     
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  16. Brainsucker

    Brainsucker Captain Captain

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    Do you guys remember about how the film makers said that the Constitution Ship will appear at the end of season 2, but won't be the same as the JJ-abram movie version? It said that because of the copyright. And then the ship designer (Evan?) said that he was ordered to not draw a cylinder type of nacelle.

    So my conclusion is that we won't to see the ships from Star Trek TMP and other movies. Specially from JJ Abram's Kelvin-verse. Because of the same reason. Copyright. Well, somebody here said long time ago about the right of Star Trek show. Didn't the owner of the movies was Paramount while CBS owned the TV series right? So what would CBS do if they want to make the same artist design of the ships from JJ Abram Trek and other movie ships appear to Discovery? Well, I dunno. You can guess it, or maybe ask CBS yourself.

    And then, I'm curious, who own the right for the characters of James T Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc? Was it Paramount or CBS? If it's Paramount, and specially JJ Abram's team, then don't expect to see those characters in Discovery. That's why I think that it is the real reason of the different Klingon etc in Discovery from the JJ Abram version. But then again, I can be wrong.

    Hopefully someone can confirm this matter. If it's true, then we can't complain if the USS Enterprise or other Constitution ships will have different design from the ship that we have known for long time. That's simply because... copyright. The only Constitution ship design that CBS has is the TOS Constitution design. TMP? Star Trek 2 - Star Trek 6? JJ-Abram version? A big red cross.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Not what I meant. It makes no sense to treat any of this as a value judgment or some standard of "right" and "wrong" -- it is pointless to argue over which of two entirely fictional concepts is less fictional. It's simply a matter of origin. TOS and TAS were the original works; the Star Fleet Technical Manual was a derivative work. The ship designs in the SFTM were never actually part of the original works, aside from a passing bit of background detail that most viewers were never even meant to notice. So it is misleading to talk about the SFTM designs as if they were somehow integral elements of TOS that got retroactively removed. They were not. They were somebody else's independent creations that got passingly alluded to a couple of times and then weren't alluded to again.



    Well, what The Librarian said, and what I was responding to, was "The Constitution was the only TOS-era ship seen until the insertion of the J-class and the Daedalus-like Medusan ship for the remaster." They didn't specify that they were talking specifically about Starfleet ships.


    The Constitution class was supposed to be the elite class of the fleet, but I don't recall coming across the idea that its specific shape was meant to be unique. Of course, TOS doesn't give us enough information to judge one way or the other.


    They just don't feel like Star Trek designs to me. They feel like they belong in some other space franchise like Battlestar Galactica or something. I don't mean "alien" as in extraterrestrial, I mean it in the literal sense of foreign, outside, unfamiliar. The bridge sets are reasonably bridge-y, aside from the dark lighting and the windows, but as for the rest of the sets, like corridors and quarters and shuttle interiors and such, there are just too few familiar points of reference. If I didn't already know they were from a Star Trek show, and if I saw them without being able to discern insignias and text, I don't know if I'd be able to tell they were meant to be Starfleet interiors.
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    A fun exercise: list the ships in rigid registry number order after all.

    If NCC-1701 can be refitted from one "look" to another, then feel comfortable smoothing out the results with "refits" where absolutely necessary.

    See if there's anything surprising there.

    Putting the Oberth in the early years of the Federation shouldn't change much, as she's not exactly frontline material. The Daedalus can be a similar sideshow ship in just about any era. Ships likely to show "lineage" would be the cruiser-sized ones. And there our biggest issue would be the distinct types of saucer:

    - Shenzhou, much like the old ENT school of design
    - other DSC sidekick ships, a bit like TOS and Franklin
    - Kelvin, much like Baton Rouge

    In the 2270s, we get the TMP type saucer, which we know is a refit in at least one instance.

    Can we take the three main saucer "themes" listed above to also be refits of each other? Or is that too much to take?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. cultcross

    cultcross We truly were a song of ice and fire Moderator

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    No. CBS own the copyright to all of Star Trek IP. Others can license it out for use to make movies (e.g. Paramount) or books or video games.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Also, the company that's now called CBS Studios is the same one that was called Paramount Television before Viacom split apart its film and TV properties in 2006. That meant the Paramount Pictures movie studio was now separate from the corporation that owned Trek, so it got to keep a license to make Trek movies as compensation. But that applies only to new movies made after 2006. The original set of movies are CBS property. (You can tell this by looking at the copyright and trademark notices in the fine print on tie-ins. Books and comics based on the Kelvin timeline have a joint CBS/Paramount Pictures coypright, but ones based on characters or plots from the original movies are under CBS alone.)