Why so little use of the ....?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Gotham Central, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. Gotham Central

    Gotham Central Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 15, 2001
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Olympic, Steamrunner and Norway Class starships?
    Additionally, why was there never a CGI version of the Ambassador Class.

    When you look at most of late Trek, there is a staggering lack of "modern" starships. This is most apparent on DS9 where there were so many Miranda and Excelsior class ships.

    We should have seen quite a few Olympic class ships behind the lines during the Dominion War. I've always liked the design because it sort of validates the Dadelus Class as a genuine part of canon. At the very least, it would have made for an interesting replacement for the Oberth as a new science vessel.
     
  2. Manticore

    Manticore Manticore, A moment ago Premium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2004
    Location:
    Austin, but not Austin
    I seem to recall seeing quite a few Steamrunners during the Dominion War, myself. As for the other two, IIRC the Norway CGI was lost and/or corrupted somehow, and wasn't the Olympic model owned by somebody else?
     
  3. Ziz

    Ziz Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2001
    Location:
    NY
    CG was still getting its "legs" in those years. It was still on the expensive and time consuming side for a TV show, so they had to fall back on the classic model shots. At that time, the main Trek models that were available were the TOS E, Refit, E-B/Excelsior and Reliant. D and Voyager were out in the later years of DS9, but the three movie era ships are the most modular and kit-bashable to create other designs (see "Forbin"). Add in that they were on the order of $15 each, they definitely fit in to a TV show FX budget.
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    DS9 did use fairly massive numbers of Steamrunners in those fleet shots, really. Norway was indeed said to have been lost in cyberspace, not to mention being fairly low-res to begin with. And Olympic might have been shunned in big fleet shots exactly because she wasn't CGI; in single-ship appearances, there would have been little plot demand for her. How many times did we see an Oberth, the dramatic match of the portly Olympic, in DS9? The show didn't often call for Starfleet "victim ships"...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. USS KG5

    USS KG5 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    England's green and pleasant land.
    The Ambassador class seems to have been thoroughly unloved, and the model was probably not in good enough nick to be a decent model for a CGI version, there is probably a good
    reason for not using it somewhere - possibly it got broken?

    The Olympic plain might not be built by the time of DS9, we only ever saw her in the future in an alternate timeline.

    The Norway mesh was lost, and the Steamrunner was seen a gret deal in the big fleet battles, though usually from a distance.

    The only rationalisation I can think of is that the isolation of the Romulans and peace with the Klingons led to a massive expansion in the Federation and an exponential increase in the size of Starfleet needed to police this space.

    The two best designs available were the Excelsior and Miranda so they started building literally hundreds of both to fill as many jobs as possible. Later designs like the Ambassador class while with more bang than an Excelsior just did not justify their extra costs.

    Later Starfleet started to realise that the Excelsior class was no longer capable of meeting everyone else's best ships on equal terms, so they started on the Nebula and Galaxy classes which started to join the fleet in increasing numbers. We also have various other classes, like the Steamrunner, to fit in somewhere. There also seems to be some credence to the Wolf 359 designs in a lot of cases.

    Contrary to fan belief the on-screen evidence really does not suggest Starfleet has dozens of different classes - they seem to mass produce a few different designs by and large.
     
  6. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2003
    Location:
    The Pyxis Unity
    ^ I tend to ignore that personally though, because going only by on-screen evidence, the Klingons use only two or three designs and the Romulans have a fleet composed of mainly warbirds! I understand the real world reasons for it (CGI was expensive as has been mentioned, and recycling an old model is easier anyway), but sometimes it annoys me how there seems to be a "stigma" against new designs have much regularity in the series
     
  7. USS KG5

    USS KG5 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    England's green and pleasant land.
    Ahh - but we know the Klingons use three (four actually) BASIC designs, BofPs seem to come in all sizes flavours and capabilities, we have two distinct types of Battle Cruiser and the attack cruisers seem to vary in weapons and capability.

    As for the Romulans we have never seen a balanced Romulan fleet on screen - it would doubtless include several other classes quite often. We mostly see Romulans in their flag-flying scare-your-way-to-victory pomp, and rarely fighting an actual war.

    It really was a cost thing - I remember seeing a picture of a really nifty "Miranda Style" Ambassador which I think either Rick Sternbach or one of the other guys mocked up to play Pegasus or another ship.

    You can also look at the Wolf 359 designs to see lots of nifty ideas - the "Freedom" class is horrible but the Cheyenne and Challenger ones look quite believable.
     
  8. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2001
    Location:
    Monticello, AR. United States of America
    The Steamrunner, Norway, and Saber class CGI models made for First Contact were all reportedly far lower resolution than the Akira class which was specifically made for closeups.

    The Ambassador class physical model was reportedly badly damaged after its appearance in the episode "Data's Day" limiting it to existing stock footage.

    As one effects person in Star Trek said in Cinemafantastique

    "the one accident set back Starfleet for a generation"

    I think one reason for the Olympic class not appearing is that the Trek franchise never owned the model.

    Reportedly it was a model put together by a person who worked on the ST:TNG effects team that was so well done that it was in filmable condition. He then allowed it to be used in "All Good Things".
     
  9. AstroSmurf

    AstroSmurf Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Location:
    Over the Blue Moon
    ^ The Olympic class was designed and built by Bill George at ILM. He also designed the Excelsior. :bolian:
     
  10. All Seeing Eye

    All Seeing Eye Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2000
    Location:
    The Astral Light Realms
    Well trek-universe wise these two designs are probably so fresh that theres only a couple of ships of each class in Starfleet OR they were prototypes and Starfleet decided that after the construction of a few ships the designs wern't as good as the Akiras and Sabres so concentrated on building the latter, the Akira and Sabre classes as seen in DS9 Dominion battles make up the bulk of the fleet along with Excelsiors, Mirandas and Galaxys.
     
  11. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Besides the Defiant, there were only seven other ship classes present during the Dominion War: The Excelsior, the Miranda, the Galaxy, the Nebula, the Akira, the Steamrunner, and the Saber. Obviously, the Akira, Steamrunner and Saber classes were used because the CGI models for them already existed from Star Trek: First Contact, and CGIs of the Galaxy and Nebula classes already existed as well.

    So why were the majority of the ships the Excelsior and Miranda classes? Because the extremely detailed, physical models from the movies existed for the SFX guys to scan into their computers to make CGI versions. They probably would have scanned the Grissom model as well, but they obviously felt the Oberth class was in no way a combat vessel. If you have a very detailed CGI ship, it's going to be seen more prominently than a lesser detailed one.

    The Ambassador class physical model had been dropped and damaged, so they couldn't scan it. They probably could have fixed it to do so, but they probably felt they had enough CGI models that they didn't need one more. Which is a shame, because I love the Ambassador class and would certainly have rather seen a whole slew of them instead of Mirandas and Excelsiors, which quite frankly I'm sick & tired of seeing. (Note to guys who assemble the SOTL calendars: NO MORE EXCELSIORS & MIRANDAS!!!)
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    To be sure, Steamrunners have the lowest registry numbers of the lot, and may thus be the oldest designs. And they are actually the most commonly seen ship type in DS9 after the two TOS movie ships, edging ahead of Akira and outnumbering things like Galaxy or Nebula or Saber. It's quite a trick to spot a Saber in the fray, really...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. lennier1

    lennier1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    May 3, 2004
    Location:
    Germany
    :wtf:
    Maybe stick to commenting on things you know something about.;)

    CG models on Trek aren´t scanned but built based on available concept sketches and (in case of existing physical models) reference photos!

    The closest thing to scanning something was when they used photographs of the filming model to create the textures for the CG Galaxy in Generations (the one seen in the Starship Spotter book) which was used throughout the latter seasons of DS9 because it was fairly low-poly and thanks to the photo textures still convincing enough to be used for quick zoom/pan shots (the fleet Galaxies that behave like fighters).

    Norway and Steamrunner have always been low-poly models for distance shots and when the Norway data bit the dust all only her sister survived. The Akira was designed and built with those quick close-ups in mind, which is why she doesn´t appear that high-poly on still shots but is quite convincing when you animate it and add some blur effects into the mix.

    In those fanboyish fleet battles there simply was no use for a CG model of an Oberth class science ship, which is why we never got one.

    It´s a shame they never got around to doing a CG Ambassador but I´m already grateful that the guys around Robert Bonchune built a CG Nebula.

    Don´t forget that these shows are/were done mostly on a tight schedule/budget and the first consideration will always be whether stock material or existing models or even designs can serve the purpose as well (a good example is when they tried to revive the Orbital Shuttle / Jenolen shape for the Runabout).
     
  14. B.J.

    B.J. Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    If you want to see exactly how low-res even the Akira is (at least compared to today's models), take a look here: http://www.resinilluminati.com/showthread.php?t=1005
    It's a set of renders from Foundation Imaging's model, which I'm fairly certain is a copy of the model used in First Contact.
     
  15. lennier1

    lennier1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    May 3, 2004
    Location:
    Germany
    Foundation´s version is nothing but a minor clean-up of the one built by ILM. As great a shop Foundation Imaging was, their render farm was no match for the power behind ILM. ;)
    Nutsy over at SFM once built a replica with the same basic parameters (even down to the number of segments on the saucer). Only difference is that his version was cleaner and appeared better on close-up stills because unlike ILM he didn´t have to work under a fixed schedule.

    And CG models don´t have to consist of millions of polygons to be convincing. It depends on how they are used in a scene. High-poly models can actually be detrimental to your cause because they´re a much higher burden on the system and will take longer to render, which in turn costs time they might need somewhere else.
     
  16. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Lennier: I think you might have misunderstood me, although I admit I probably didn't explain myself clearly. What I meant was that it was easier to make detailed CGI models of the Excelsior and Miranda classes precisely because they had the physical models to get a million reference photos from (I didn't mean to imply that someone hovered a magical "scanning wand" over the models and they instantly appeared on the computer :-)

    Correct me if I'm wrong: Isn't it easier to make a more detailed CGI model if you have a physical model to work from, as opposed to just making a CGI design out of thin air?
     
  17. lennier1

    lennier1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    May 3, 2004
    Location:
    Germany
    There are devices which are able to scan solid objects but they require some heavy clean-ups and the whole process can be quite time-consuming since the machine doesn´t care about things like polygon flow or adaptive level of detail..

    Basic idea: http://www.vision.caltech.edu/bouguetj/ICCV98/
    Examples:
    - http://www.cyberware.com/
    - http://www.metris.com/handheld_scanners/modelmaker_d/

    It´s easier to build a model based on existing reference material and with access to a physical model you can always look at it from different angles if you´re unsure (like when Foundation Imaging built a CGI Connie for the TMP Director´s Cut) although detailed blueprints can do the job as well (e.g. Rick Sternbach´s Voyager plans).