Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Reimagining the Dauntless

Introducing the Dauntless-class U.S.S. Clarke.

In-Universe Context

Registry NCC-81303
Class Dauntless-class
Type Light cruiser
Active 2376 to 25th century
Decks 10
Length Approximately 236m
Capacity 400 humanoids
Max. Speed Warp factor 8.8
Slipstream factor 0.68
Max. Cruising Warp factor 8.6
Slipstream factor 0.5
Armament Phasers (x6 phaser arrays)
Photon torpedoes (x1 launcher)

While stranded in the delta quadrant, the U.S.S. Voyager first encountered quantum slipsream technology in 2374, a new form of transwarp propulsion that promised travel through space at far greater relative speeds than conventional 4th generation warp drives. Attempts to retrofit the Voyager herself with a quantum slipstream drive in 2375 proved unsuccessful, but data on their attempt was transmitted back to the Alpha Quardrant, and by 2375 the Pathfinder Project hastily began experimenting with their own quantum-slipstream spacecraft. The first experimental Slipstream vessel, the U.S.S. Dauntless, NX-81300, launched in 2376, followed shortly thereafter by the U.S.S. Clarke, NX-81303.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Redesigning the Centaur

Introducing the Centaur-class U.S.S. Chiron:

In-Universe Context

TypeMedium cruiser
Active2373 to 2378
LengthApproximately 450m
Capacity390 humanoids
1800 humanoids maximum limit
Max. SpeedWarp factor 9.2
Max. CruisingWarp factor 8.8
ArmamentPhasers (x11 phaser arrays)
Photon torpedoes (x2 launchers)

Following the successful transwarp experiments of the U.S.S. Ardennes, Starfleet designed the Excelsior to be the first of a new wave of starships built to take advantage of the new four fourth generation warp drive (which necessitated the adoption of a new warp scale). The first ship of the Excelsior-class, the U.S.S. Excelsior, was launched in 2285, and it was the first of many. The Excelsior-class rapidly became the "face" of the United Federation of Planets, as it proved to be one of the most capable starship designs in Federation history and was soon a ubiquitous part of the fleet. The Excelsior remained at the forefront of the Federation's exploratory and military efforts throughout the 23rd and 24th centuries, and the Excelsiors combined participated in more first contacts than any other starship class to date.

The U.S.S. Chiron, launched during the third Federation-Klingon War that precipitated the Dominion War in 2372, was the first Type-D Excelsior-class starship built. Assigned to the Federation's seventh fleet, the Chiron was one of only 14 ships to survive a disastrous counterattack operation in the early months of the war. The Chiron's secondary hull was lost in the battle, and the Chiron became one of the first Excelsiors to be refitted into a Centaur-class starship. As a centaur-class starship, the Chiron served the remainder of the war in a support capacity, and eventually restored after the war.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Redesigning the Excelsior

Redesigning the Excelsior resulted in modeling not just one ship, but three.

Introducing the Excelsior-class U.S.S. Enterprise:

In-Universe Context

ClassExcelsior-class Type-B
TypeCommand cruiser
Active2293 to 2329
LengthApproximately 581m
Capacity1200 humanoids
3500 humanoids maximum limit
Max. SpeedWarp factor 9.2
Max. CruisingWarp factor 7.4
ArmamentPhasers (x12 phaser banks)
Photon torpedoes (x6 launchers)

The third Starfleet vessel to bear the name Enterprise, the Enterprise B more than lived up to her storied legacy. Launched in late 2293 shortly after the Khitomer Accords ended hostilities between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, the new Enterprise--designed for combat--spent most of her service at the furthest frontiers of known space, venturing deep into the unknown. After four decades of service under five captains, the Enterprise ultimately disappeared without a trace in 2329, shortly after completing her last mission: escorting a Bajoran refugee flotilla to safe harbor after the Cardassian annexation of their homeworld.

In 2331 the Enterprise B was officially declared lost in action and presumed destroyed. The following year she was succeeded by a new, Ambassador-class Enterprise.

My Star Trek Modeling M.O.

When I present my Star Trek models, both the original designs and my interpretations of classic designs, I'm often asked why I do some of the things I do. Well, here's my answer!

This may be heretical to some of my fellow fans, but I really don't care about Star Trek canon. What I do care about is consistency, and Star Trek is typically anything but.

When I build a model of a Star Trek starship, my goal is not to perfectly adhere to the original design of the studio or CGI models. Rather, my principal goal is to be as faithful as possible to the intent of the original design. Generally this means taking and maintaining the overall shape and profile of the original design, and altering (sometimes inventing) the details.

While modeling, I ask myself the following questions:
  • What is the historical context of this design? EG when was it built, and for what purpose?
  • What flaws with the design might lead to it serving a different purpose, or being replaced prematurely?
  • What feelings was the design meant to evoke in the audience?
  • (With a redesigned ship): what aspects of the original design are absolutely necessary? This is usually how I determine an appropriate scale.
  • (With a redesigned ship): what aspects of the original design are most problematic? This is how I determine the most radical changes.
The most common problem with classic starship designs is that the scale tends to be wildly inconsistent. Producers, especially in this CGI age, constantly tweak the size of a model in order to come up with something that looks "better" in-frame. Scriptwriters also often create story elements that require the size of a model increase or decrease (EG the B'Rel-class Klingon Bird of Prey needs to be able to be large enough for its cargo bay to accommodate two adult humpback whales). Canonical information derived from props (usually computer screens) and data books is often contradictory. Visual details, like window rows, are often placed haphazardly (too near or too far apart); sometimes the design will "cheat" by using skylights to give a single deck two rows of windows on the hull, creating the illusion of additional decks. Ex Astris Scientia is an excellent resource for cataloging all of the many scale problems and inconsistencies of Star Trek starships. When I re-imagine an classic design, my goal is to fix those issues and create a models that are wholly consistent with each other. To that end, I use the following standards (based off of the dimensions established by Andrew Probert and Rick Sternbach):

  • Average deck height is 2.5m with 0.5m between each deck.
  • Average deck height of large TNG-era craft is 3.0m with 0.5m between each deck.
  • Average (small) window is a circle 0.65m in diameter.
  • The top edge of a window is no lower than ~0.58m below the deck ceiling.
  • The top edge of a window on a large TNG-era craft is no lower than ~1.08m below the deck ceiling.
  • A photon torpedo's dimensions are approximately 3m by 1m by 0.5m, and each torpedo port should be able to accommodate these dimensions.
  • A turbolift shaft is approximately 2m in diameter.

And while I typically less careful when modeling interior components, I do scale everything around my uniform silhouettes to create an accurate sense of scale, which are sized to reflect the current average heights of a human male and human female (even though you may notice my female silhouette is vulcan)--approximately 1.71m (5.6ft imperial) and 1.59m (5.2ft imperial), respectively.

(Please note that while I've always aimed for consistency, I experimented a fair bit, and these standards only finalized with the 2nd version of my Excelsior-class Type-C model. IE older models may not necessarily meet all of my criteria after deck heights.)

You may notice that while I typically try to model most of the necessary external hull components (torpedo ports, phasers, impulse engines, warp coils, bussard collectors and so on) sometimes the RCS thrusters or escape pods and often the transporter emitters are absent. Honestly, sometimes I just get tired of a model and want to move on. Er, what I mean to say is that all of those components still exist, they just aren't modeled because they're hidden underneath hull panels.

On In-Universe Context

When I build a model, it's helpful for me to consider the in-universe context. My overall approach to continuity (or "canon") is too complex to explore here, but in general I view Star Trek media as historical fiction rather than historical fact--in other words, while the larger events are likely "true" in the continuity, the details are not necessarily true. This approach is handy because it gives me the wiggle-room to "quibble over the details," accepting most of what's seen on-screen into my headcanon, but abandoning aspects that I do not like or which cannot be coherently reconciled with the rest of the continuity.

For practical purposes here, I place my models within the "prime universe" continuity, including the expanded "LitVerse" continuity--which is where I place the "present day" of the setting. I do not include the 2009 reboot continuity or the Discovery continuity, though I may borrow certain elements in my imaginings.

On Style:

The other most-frequent question I receive is, thankfully, much easier to answer: what's up with my style? My earliest models don't have a discernible style because they were my earliest models, and I was learning how to model as I built them. My skills have improved, but I am still very much an amateur. I do not have the skills or the patience for a realistic modeling skills, nor am I sufficiently familiar with the software needed to render realistic models appropriately. Further, many other people, far more skilled than I, are already making very realistic models.

So I've attempted to establish my own, unique modeling style. I consider it a stylized/minimalist style, but others have compared it to animation (which I cannot deny is is an influence, hence the URL).

This aesthetic has several advantages: it makes my models more uniquely mine; it requires less detail, meaning I can produce models more quickly (and I am therefore less likely to get bored with a model and abandon it); it uses less geometry, making it easier to create, modify or view on less-powerful computers.

And on a final note:
  • If you like my work and would like to show your support, you can buy me a coffee at Ko-Fi! I'm sorry, but I do not have a Patreon account.
  • All of my models are created using Google SkectchUp and are freely available for download at the 3D Warehouse.
  • If you don't have SketchUp, you can download the free 3D Viewer. You can also use the web viewer at the 3D Warehouse (select 3D view) but it is very limited and often produces errors; alternatively the .skp files should be usable w/ other modeling programs, and relatively easy to convert to other formats.
  • Anyone may use and/or modify my models for their own projects only if they credit me (link to either this blog or my 3D warehouse page). I'd also appreciate an email/message/comment, just so I can see what you're doing! I do, after all is said and done, love starships.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

2019 Blog Reorganization

In an effort to consolidate my work, I've begun reorganizing this blog which will (finally) be regularly updated starting 2019 with various essays, artworks, and the occasional diatribe. You may have noticed that I've pruned a little over 100 posts--that content has been deleted forever. From now on, I hope to make this blog much more focused.

I've accrued a sizable backlog of 3D models I will be uploading shortly, along with a handful or relevant essays. Hopefully I'll (finally) get everything up-to-date and current this week.

You may also notice that there's a new banner (whose background includes many of my models). Here's the full-sized version of the banner image:

I've also gone ahead and properly set up a Twitter account for this blog (@ShoulderRed). Because of course someone else claimed the RedShoulders handle, nearly a decade ago, tweeted three times and then abandoned the account. I am not familiar with Twitter, I do not interact much with Twitter, so I don't know how this is going to go (I am so, so late to the Twitter party) but I imagine I'll mostly be using the account as a kind of micro-blog since it shows up in the sidebar.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trails / Kiseki OST Tracklists (Updated)

A while ago I posted some translated/localized tracklists for the Trails in the Sky and Cold Steel OSTs. Well, I'm back, and since I can't edit the title of the old thread, I'm making a new one. I now have translated tracklists for every OST in the series, sans the EVO ports.

I've currently translated the Soundtracks of Trails in the Sky, Trails in the Sky SC, Trails in the Sky the 3rd, Trails of Zero, Trails of Blue, Trails of Cold Steel and Trails of Cold Steel II into English. Sometimes this involved translating Japanese-to-English; just as often it meant translating Engrish-to-English. I've included links to the Amazon.com and Amazon.co.jp listings for each soundtrack; if you'd like to see the original Japanese track titles, that's where you can find them.

I have tried to make these translations as consistent as possible with XSEED's phenomenal translation. If you spot any errors (mistranslations or misromanizations) please let me know! For the case of the tragically unreleased Zero and Ao, I've romanized the "original" katakana nouns without changing them rather than try to guess at how they ought to be romanized. Some translations are fairly literal, others are... not. If you know how to render something like 空の謎は軌跡でポン!without it sounding really silly, please, lemme know.

I will of course be revising these lists in the future to maintain parity with XSEED's localisations as-they-appear (The 3rd is coming when!?!?) as well as to add tracklists for subsequent games: bring on Cold Steel III!