Wednesday 16 April 2014

Drex Files: NX-01, Enterprise class

Enterprise NX-01, rendered by Rob Bonchune.
For the second instalment of the Drex Files in Exile I thought it fitting to have a good look at what is perhaps Doug Drexler's most significant contribution to the world of Star Trek, his great starship design, the NX-01. This file gives us a good look at the final NX-01 model, built by Pierre Drolet, with Doug guiding us through some of the details via orthographic views produced by Eden FX. So here's Doug on the NX-01:
I had a field day detailing out the NX, and every nook and cranny is accounted for. Pierre Drolet did an incredible job implementing them in this high rez build.
I added details that I hoped would allow for cool ideas later on, if and when the opportunities presented themselves. But I had to be cautious about obvious details to the ship that were not approved, because they could get me into trouble. Yes, The chain of command was heavy on Enterprise. Herman Zimmerman, our stalwart production designer was once balled out because I labeled a nacelle as a nacelle on a framed blueprint in the drydock observation room. He was told that it wasn’t a nacelle until the front office said it was. So I tucked gear behind doors and hatches, and then wrote up notes “suggesting” the vessels potential.

The dedication plaque refers to the class as NX (This was a request from on high), but according to naval tradition, the first ship of a new contract is what the class is named, so Enterprise class. My main mission was to inject as much of the original Enterprise into this ship as I possibly could, and I made sure that the basic dynamic between the saucer and the nacelles was the same. To a person with a sharp eye, the NX-01 is loaded with TOS Easter eggs

This is an unusual render of the Enterprise in that there is a lot of ambient light. It really shows off the panel detailing. Like Andy’s “D”, every panel was designed and fitted painstakingly to the function and form of the ship. All sections have their own distinct personality and are not simply cloned and repeated. It was designed by someone who full well knows how close you guys like to look, because I’m one of you. Something you probably never heard before, is that the nacelle struts were originally much finer, like the TOS ship. Dan Curry thought that they didn’t look like they could support the nacelles, and that it looked silly. All due respect to Dan, but that is one of the things I loved about the TOS ship. It suggested a technology beyond our own. On the original show, the nacelles defied gravity. I was sorry when the TMP shp heavied them up. Don’t get me wrong, it still looks great. Just not what I wanted for the NX. Ok… look at the struts, notice that there  is a tapered fairing on the leading edge. Those were the original struts, well…  a  little heavier than that. A third more. But everything behind that was add on. I emphasized that front fairing so that in some light conditions it would be all you would see, and feel more like my beloved TOS Enterprise.
Continue after the jump for many more views of the NX-01, and more of Doug's notes on the design:

Here is nearly the same angle but with the ambient turned down, the the  key turned up, and a bigger lens. Notice how the larger lens stacks things up a bit, and flattens them out. These lighting conditions push the plate detail back, and emphasize the ship’s self light and luminosity. Truth be told, the fronts of the bussard collectors are too red and lazy for my taste. I would have pushed to the orange side and had a much more volatile and seething kinetic look there like TOS. It was not to the taste of our bosses. I found (and all due respect), that during the Berman years, anything brassy, meaning what they perceived as loud, was pushed into the background. The musical score became wallpaper, and colors were desaturated. One day I came into the living room, and Enterprise was on… Hey! What’s wrong with the TV? There’s no color!…  Then someone walked onto the scene in the blue uniform. Oh! The color IS on! It’s just that Enterprise was shot in all blues and greys. Very monochromatic. Anything colorful was crushed out of the picture.

Here again is nearly the same shot with a lot of ambient light, and no clear key. I wish that the brightness of the ship had been a little more like this, closer to… you guessed it, the original Enterprise. The NX appeared dark and dingy on actual show. Against space it was often hard to see. Not to my taste. An Enterprise should not be pushed into the background, it should show boldly. It’s gallant and bright, and wears a white hat. But that was all part of the Berman look. If it stood out too much it was pushed back. the logic was that this would bring the characters to the forefront. I understood, but did not subscribe to that theory, although it was an interesting one.

From the above view you can clearly see the original nacelle pylons. they would have extended a bit on the Z axis, but would not have encroached upon the aft impulse engines. One thing that I would have loved to have seen were those square cargo doors on top and bottom of the saucer open. That would have created a zero G tunnel though the ship. Catgo containers would be floated into the tunnel, then pushed onto receiving decks where they would be processed and stowed in fitted wells.

If you examine the saucer inpulse engines mounted in those prominent notches at the back of the saucer, you will see that if you took just the aft half of the exhaust cone, and pushed the stbd and port pieces together, you would have the TOS impulse cone. Another fun reflected detail is the airport style control tower dome at the back of the saucer. I don’t think an Enterprise is an Enterprise without that. The boys who designed the original ship came from an aviation background, and that is a prominent feature on the that ship. The top obs dome is primarily a command center for supervising  the frequent engine tear downs  the ship should have experienced while deployed. The bottom dome would have served a similar function, but would have had a secondary function as flight control for the shuttle pod drop bays. The top and bottom dome would be connected by a tunnel containing a ladder and a small lift, similar to the lift in engineering.  The gravity orientation in the bottom dome is inverted, so anyone in there would be standing upside down in relation to the rest of the ship. Another interesting note is that the lower sensor dome was lifted intact from the TOS Enterprise.

Speaking of lifted intact, the forward deflector dish is the dish from the original Enterprise, squeezed on the Y axis. Another carryover finger print is that the nacelle pylons when seen from the front, do not line up with the centerline of the nacelles. The pylons insert into the bottom of the nacelles, just like you-know-what.

On the original Enterprise, the ends of the nacelles with their hooded cones suggested exhaust. That was remedied by adding spheres. That was a cool solution,  suggested a different technology, and did away with the possibility of thrust coming from them. I kept that for the ends of the NX nacelles, but split the sphere in two. Now Dea, cover your ears. If the fronts of the nacelles look like penises, I compounded that by making the ends of the NX nacelles look like a girls butt in a thong. I thought that was fair.

Here are a few more beauty shots of the Enterprise, rendered by Doug:

In future posts we'll take a closer look at some of the details on the Enterprise, as well as Doug's refit design, a look at the interiors, and much more. You can find a lot of that already in Doug's NX-01 gallery on Facebook; one of many albums highlight his work and love of Star Trek. And for more of the Drex Files in Exile, check out my index page to find listings of previous reports.


KentButabi said...

Awesome. Thank you.

Dan said...

Great article!

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