July 2nd, 2013

NCC-1701 Regula

"The Enterprise happens to be one of the most unbalanced objects in the history of the universe."

A neat, long interview (and here's Part Two) with Richard Taylor, part of the special effects team that worked (for part of the time) on the 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture. All sorts of behind-the-scenes images of that work. Fascinating and sometimes maddening, like this:

Gene [Roddenberry] would occasionally bring in an astronaut, and the astronaut would always agree with my point-of-view [about how to visualize a certain effect] but Roddenberry would literally tell astronauts, “No, no, no, that’s not what’s going to happen in space in the future. This is what’s going to happen.”

...When the Enterprise jumps to light speed, it goes through that spectral kind of rip. I had gotten imagery from MIT where they had tried to simulate it in some way, what a star or an object would look like if you were approaching it at light speed or if it moved, if anything, moved off toward light speed. It becomes stretched and spectral — and they did this simulated film that I showed to everybody. I said, “This is from MIT, this is what they say it’s going to look like when things go to light speed.”

But I showed this film from MIT and Roddenberry and said, “Well we should do something like that when the Enterprise jumps to light speed. It should have this streak with colors off of it and all that.” He said, “No, no, no. That’s not what happens when things go to light speed.” “Oh I see. So MIT’s wrong and you’ve been to light speed yourself so many times…“ and everybody would just sit there and roll their eyes.

Taylor (who's gone on to do special effects for such films as TRON) also talks about the awkwardness of the Enterprise's design -- and I adore the design of the ship, but he's right -- and the influence (and, when appropriate, the lack thereof) of the original Star Wars, plus lots more.