San Diego Comic-Com in San Diego was bustling yesterday with huge stars, film and TV show previews, memorable panels, entertaining events and more. Star Trek took center stage at one particular panel and one particular event.
The panel was the Ships of the Line panel, in which several of Star Trek's most-respected designers -- those whose art graced the Trek shows, movies and, of course Ships of the Line calendars -- reminisced about their work and contributions to the franchise. Several hundred fans, and StarTrek.com, were on hand for the panel, which felt more like a reunion than a typical panel. Andy Probert was not there, as he's under the weather but expected to be fine soon. So the stellar group included Mike Okuda, John Eaves, Doug Drexler, John Goodson and Greg Jein, with Ben Robinson of Star Trek The Official Starships Collection, serving as moderator.
Drexler shared many images from his personal collection, including files of the models. Okuda noted that "Matt Jefferies was the father of Starship design" and that "Everything started with the Enterprise," prompting Drexler to add, "There hasn't been one Star Trek starship that hasn't been derivative of Matt's original ship. Matt's was the only original."
Drexler also talked about the NX-01 Refit. "From the first time we started to put the NX-01 together, it was designed to go out for a few years and it would come back and be pumped up," he noted. "The NX-01 was more thought-out than any other ship. The entire engineering compartment could be pulled out and replaced. It was on tracks. Many things you never saw on air. There were tracks all over the ship so cars could go around the ship to work on the ship."
"A lot of what we did was from 'central casting,'" Jein stated. "We took things from other ships and just put them on new ships." Noted Goodson, "To design the J.J. ships, we started adding detail to the ship. A lot of the design was based on the first movie (The Motion Picture) ship. The only time they freaked out was when I put a red stripe on the cells."
Jein remembered creating another version of the Enterprise for Deep Space Nine. Putting it succinctly he said, "Rebuilding the Original Series ship for 'Trials and Tribble-ations' was a labor of love."
Many ships had a lot of in-jokes. It was a fan in the room who explained that he worked in the industry and talked about opening the E model. "When we cracked open the hull of the E model we found an outline of a dead body," he said. The comment was met with laughter from the panel and several knowing looks between the designers.
Okuda then noted that Gene Roddenberry "wanted the bridge to always be identifiable," which led to a conversation between the artists about the evolution of ships from models to digital FX. Goodson noted that there were no miniatures in Star Trek (2009) or Star Trek Into Darkness. "Everything was digital," he explained. Additionally, he said, "A lot of (designers) today don't really know how things are really made. We are going to lose some of the traditional things, but we are going to get so much more. Digital designers and 3D designers are not limited by the 'box' I had to work with."
Eaves went on to stress that, old or new, models or digital creations, Star Trek ships and the design of them are a team effort. "Star Trek is unique," he asserted. "It's not one person that designs things. It's a whole group of people. Sixty to 70 people built the E. Our art department had a piece of everything. It was a camaraderie. We all loved Star Trek and are blessed that we have been a part of it."
Another topic of discussion? The Ships of the Line Design Contest. It's underway now, with fans invited to submit designs that could wind up in the Ships of the Line calendar for 2016 -- the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Click HERE for our StarTrek.com story about the contest.
As the panel drew to a close, Ben Robinson confirmed that Eaglemoss's Star Trek The Official Starships Collection will soon include the Enterprise C and J. And, lastly, all attendees received an Enterprise D from Eaglemoss.
As for the particular event that put Star Trek in the spotlight, that'd be the Her Universe Fashion Show, held in the evening at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel. Her Universe co-founder Ashley Eckstein served as host. The fashion show opened with highlights from the new Her Universe collections, among them a new Star Trek sweater. Eckstein then welcomed the packed house and all of the partners, including Hot Topic and Nerdist. She also introduced the judges, among them Chloe Dykstra (Chaotic Awesome), Justine Ezarik (iJustine), Hilly & Hannah Hindi (The Hillywood Show), Cindy Levitt (Hot Topic), Lacey Prince (Lucasfilm), Tara Sinclair (Lucasfilm) and Tarina Tarantino (accessory designer). The standing-room-only crowd roared its approval for design after design, 36 of which were by fans, with inspirations spanning from The Hunger Games, Divergent and Star Wars to Doctor Who, Harry Potter and The Walking Dead. Game of Thrones and, of course, Star Trek were represented as well. The winners included Amy Beth Christensen for her Back to the Future-inspired design, "Great Skirt, Marty!" and Andrew MacLaine for his design, "Regina's Curse."
Laura E. Desch presented an eye-catching Mirror Universe-inspired Star Trek design called "Starfleet's Finest," modeled by Michele Morrow. Desch is a recent college graduate from Illinois whose bio reveals that "Fashion may have been her major, but her heart belongs to fantasy and science fiction," and that she is "most often found marathoning Star Trek on Netflix with a sketchbook or sewing project in hand." She's broadened her horizons to jewelry design as well, and you can find more of her online at cargocollective.com/lauraedesch or follow her on Twitter at @wandering_laura. And you can follow Michele Morrow, too, at @MicheleMorrow.
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