Guest Blog: John Eaves - September, 2011

By John Eaves - September 29, 2011

Way back in September of 1966, a new television show called  Star Trek aired, and the world was introduced to what is now an international icon. We were introduced to the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise and her five-year mission to explore and seek out new life forms. We met the Klingons a few episodes down the line, and next to the design of the Enterprise, the Klingon ship was the coolest thing I had ever seen. As a matter of fact, it was the first Star Trek model kit I built as a young model maker growing up in Arizona. The ship is best known as the D7 Battle Cruiser and was designed by the legendary Matt Jefferies, who also designed the Enterprise. Twenty-three years later, Star Trek: The Motion Picture has its theatrical release. We see a newly refurbished version of the classic D7, and the screen was filled with the magic of motion control and the incredible rolling shots of the ship filmed at Apogee by VFX cameraman Doug Smith. That opening of the three Klingon ships engaging the V'Ger, accompanied by Jerry Goldsmith's bombastic score, left an indelible image in my mind that is still there today.

Fast forward 10 years, and I'm working on my fist Star Trek film -- The Final Frontier -- at Greg Jein's model shop in Marina Del Rey. One of the assignments was to draw up the details of the Klingon Bird of Prey wing tip cannon. This was not only a fun art project, but an even more enjoyable model to work on. Next came DS9 and then Enterprise, in which the Klingons were once again series regulars. And with this came the opportunities to design new ships in the architecture styles set by Matt Jefferies and Nilo Rodis. DS9's season-four episode "The Way of the Warrior" opened the door for a new Bird of Prey design that was realized on paper, then written out of the script for budgetary reasons. The design would rise up for possible approval in both Enterprise and in J.J. Abrams' 2009 film, only to be used as a guide for other designs. 

Enterprise immediately had Klingon ships in the scripts, and the first ship to be conceived was a single-pilot shuttle-sized ship that crashes in a corn field. The next ship called for was of a battle-cruiser-sized vessel. So the first pass was of a retro version of Jefferies' D7 that was approved, built in CG, and at the last minute got scrapped for a slightly revised Motion Picture version of the ship. Next came the Raptor, a sleek, fast ship built to attack and run. Later episodes called for a retro Bird of Prey that was one of my faves of the ships, and this one was seen in several episodes of the show. A Klingon cargo/tanker ship was followed by a big shuttle equipped with escape pods. Klingon ships were always a highlight to work on and we always looked forward to episodes that called for something new from Praxis. I've included lots of cool art to go along with this article, such as one beautiful picture of The Motion Picture shooting miniature from the Apogee archives.

And it's time as well for the latest installment of the Red Dress Series. The beautiful Miss Kendell Clements stars in this series of shots taken in the rocky hills north of the town of Rosemond, California. Kendell is on her way to stardom and I was so glad she took the time to tackle the Star Trek theme. She did so with a grace and elegance that makes your jaw drop. Kendell is one of my most favorite models to work with and we have done at least six shoots together. No matter what the theme is, she matches the ideas with a new style and attitude that pushes the limits with  wickedly stunning results. She is one awesome lady and after seeing some of her pictures I am sure you will agree.

With all that said, it's time to wrap it up. So until next time, have a good one and thanks for stopping by -- John Eaves

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John Eaves is veteran artist and illustrator who has lent his talents to too many films and television shows to count. Actually, he's at 60-plus and counting. Over the years, he's made a tremendous mark on Star Trek, as he's worked on The Final Frontier, all four TNG films, DS9 and Enterprise, Star Trek: The Exhibition, Star Trek Online and the recent Star Trek reboot feature. 

Click HERE to check out John Eaves' website, Eavesdropping.

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