Visual Effects Artist Dan Curry Talks About Time With Star Trek & Designing The Bat’leth | TrekMovie.com
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Visual Effects Artist Dan Curry Talks About Time With Star Trek & Designing The Bat’leth April 18, 2011

by TrekMovie.com Staff , Filed under: Art,Celebrity,TNG , trackback

Veteran Star Trek visual effects artist Dan Curry is the subject of a new interview focusing on his job with the NBC spy show Chuck, but he also ventures into his time with Star Trek, including discussing how he came up with the icon Klingon Bat’leth. 

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Dan Curry talks Star Trek and Bat’leth

In a new interview with Crushable, Star Trek vet (and 7-time Emmy winner) Dan Curry talks about his current job as Visual Effects Supervisor for the NBC show Chuck, but the interview also delved into Curry’s long history with the Star Trek franchise:

Q: What’s it really like to be associated with Star Trek? It seems like it would be surreal sometimes, because the fan base is so passionate and intense.
A: Working on Star Trek was a profound privilege as all involved recognized that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. The Star Trek fan base is generally very intelligent and technically savvy. Working with such great talents in front and behind the camera was humbling. Seeing the dedication of cast and crew to turn out a great product was inspiring. We all knew how important Star Trek was to our audience and understood that Trek was a global cultural phenomenon that carried with it great responsibility because of the millions of people that would see our work, possibly for generations to come.

Personally, I considered it to be a high honor to be able to contribute to the Star Trek legacy and create iconic images. It’s pretty cool to know that your work is seen by so many people all around the world and entertains and sometimes inspires so many. Many of us were together for 18 years and it came to feel like family.

One of the things Curry is most known for is designing the famous Klingon Bat’leth, which was first seen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Reunion". Crushable talked to Curry about the birth of the Bat’leth (although they got the first episode wrong)

Q: Your martial arts background is really incredible. It makes me embarrassed about all the karate classes I’ve dropped out at at the Y. And of course you designed bat’leth for the “Rightful Heir” episode of Star Trek: TNG. I don’t think there’s a person alive who doesn’t remember that episode.
A:
I had been imagining this weapon for a long time. I made a foam core version bat’leth. I went to Rick Baker [Star Trek's makeup artist] and said we need something unique, fresh. I showed him this thingI wanted to design something ergonomically appropriate. Dennis Madalone, our stunt coordinator, at first wasn’t cool with the idea. Then he became an evangelist convert after showed him what I had in mind.

It was modeled after a Chinese fighting crescent. Now it’s become one of the iconic images associated with the show. Even last week i got an email from some guy showing video of him demonstrating it.

Curry’s Bat’leth lives on

The Bat’leth went on to appear in a total 29 episodes of Star Trek (TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise), plus Star Trek: Generations. Here is Curry’s original design for the Bat’leth from 1990 (via star-trek-voyager.net).

The vicious bladed weapon has also become iconic to Star Trek and has entered the mainstream pop culture. You can even buy one on Amazon ($64.95). Bat’leths have shown up outside of Star Trek, such as the March 31st episode of The Big Bang Theory, ("The Zarnecki Incursion"), check it out in this promo.

Curry even found a way to work a Bat’leth into his current gig, with an appearance on Chuck.


Bat’leth appears in the episode "Chuck vs. The Beard"

Comments

1. jas_montreal - April 18, 2011

PERHAPS TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO DIE.

2. naHQun - April 18, 2011

The betleH is a great weapon.
I have one hanging on my wall.
I also have a betleH necklace.

3. Dee - lvs moon' surface - April 18, 2011

Sheldon “rocks” in this episode of TBBT … loved it! :-) :-)

4. rm10019 - April 18, 2011

Big fan of Dan Curry, one of the great contributors to Trek, the mount rushmore with Mike Okuda, Rick Sternbach Doug Drexler, Michael Westmore Herman Zimmerman and the rest.

5. Newman - April 18, 2011

the bat’leth is awesome!!!!!!

6. dayxday - April 18, 2011

…and who could forget the dude robbing a 7-11 with a bat’leth!

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/18637190/detail.html

7. DS9 IN PRIME TIME - April 18, 2011

K’Plah

8. VZX - April 18, 2011

Wait…Rick Baker? Huh? He worked on TNG? I thought Michael Westmore was the main make-up guy.

9. Dr. Cheis - April 18, 2011

I’ve always wondered about the viability of an army being armed with these and going up against an opposing army of more traditionally-armed fighters (axes, swords, etc.). It seems that with all the movement involved in swinging these around to strike at people you’d be opening yourself up to a lot of attacks. Somebody should do an experiment about this. Sword-master versus Bat’leth-master. Now if only we could find a Bat’leth master…

10. s k Sexton - April 18, 2011

Agreed re: #8 – Michael Westmore was Dept. Head MakeUp Artist for STTNG, not Rick Baker. Misprint or what? Dan Curry surely knew his crewmates…

11. Rick Sternbach - April 18, 2011

Dan sketched up the bat’leth and I drew the thing out full size on tracing vellum for the shop to fabricate the first few copies. After that, the design could be pretty easily modified or improved. I do recall writing up a few notes on the blueprint about the leather hand grips being made from strips of an enemy’s uniform, soaked in blood and tied on, like carving notches on a six-gun.

12. Tiberius Kirk - April 19, 2011

Nice, Rick!

13. Thorbury - April 19, 2011

I’m not hating on the Bat’leth, but everyone I’ve ever seen try to use it has been dumpy, slow, and open to at least 8 different kinds of ass-whooping. I’d like to have the actual practical use of the thing explained sometime, because the fights on the show were laughable – entertaining, but very silly.

14. CmdrR - April 19, 2011

Always loved the Bat’leth fight scenes, with their ‘meat on meat’ sound effects. If the fighting were actually happening, someone should be walking around with half his face hanging off. Was it really not until season 6 that we saw these bad boys? “Rightful Heir” ? OK, it’s one of those things I thought ran all through the series.

15. Lt. Dakin - April 19, 2011

The article states “Reunion” as the first bat’leth episode (season 4) while the interview question says “Rightful Heir” (season 6).

Duras died by bat’leth in “Reunion”, so I would say that is correct.

The fact that it was on “Big Bang Theory” is crazy!!

16. The TOS Purist aka The Purolator - April 19, 2011

Eh, it wasn’t in TOS.

*snore*

17. I'm Dead Jim - April 19, 2011

@10 That was my reaction to the mention of Rick Baker as well. Baker’s one of the best but I don’t ever recall hearing his name mentioned with Trek. Can anyone clarify this?

@6 Ha ha! I remember that story and especially love that both store clerks recognized the weapon as being Klingon!

18. Darkowski - April 19, 2011

This is my Bat’leth. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My bat’leth is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My bat’leth, without me, is useless. Without my bat’leth, I am useless.

Not bad :-P

19. VZX - April 19, 2011

11. Rick: That’s mega-cool. How would you show that onscreen, though? The ripped uniform/soaked in blood thing.

20. Mouse_Pad - April 19, 2011

Does anybody make a decent bat’leth replica? Every one I’ve ever seen (including the one on Amazon linked in the article) is too flat along the back.

21. Ryszard Gold - April 19, 2011

When I was 12, I mailed a letter to Dan Curry asking how I would build a Bat’lerh, much to my surprise…he wrote back!!! Not a generic typed letter, but a personal written letter explaining the whole thing to me! The next month my industrial Ed teacher helped me make one… Dan Curry is a swell fellow in my books!

22. Lt. Bailey - April 19, 2011

My wife and I were on a tour of Walt Disney studios a few months ago. When we were walking towards the archives building, I looked up at a second story window for a persons office or cubicle area…. in the window was a bat”leth. Someone at Disney is a Star Trek fan, either that or a Klingon.

23. Frederick - April 19, 2011

Re: #13, I think the Bat’leth is like Kirk-Fu… beautiful to watch and wonderfully effective on fictional enemies… but would get you killed if used in real life.

24. CmdrR - April 19, 2011

I’ve seen bat’leths at Rennaisance Fairs. They claim they’re based on older weapons (as alluded to in the article) but the fair guys make it sound as though the Klingon version is not all that different. Does that go along with Klingon Tai Chi? (Always found that funny, for some reason.)

25. NCC-73515 - April 19, 2011

We never actually saw a betleH in the movies, right? Worf used a meqleH in FC… so please show us a betleH in the next movie!

26. Thorbury - April 19, 2011

#23,
Ha! I remember Shatner telling the story of how he tried to use his flying Kirk kick on some guys in front of his daughter, wound up hurting himself pretty badly and not really inflicting any harm at all.

27. Corinthian7 - April 20, 2011

I’m amazed it’s only appeared in 29 episodes, I thought it was much higher than that,

28. Markonian - April 20, 2011

Offt topic:
There is a Star Trek Exhibition in Babelsberg, Germany (until October)!
http://www.startrek-dieausstellung.de/

29. Lore - April 20, 2011

#23 Its just because you haven’t read the instructions that come with the weapon. It clearly says on the back of the box:

STUNT DOUBLE REQUIRED

30. T'Cal - April 20, 2011

I have three Bat’leths: one that my father-in-law made me that is very cool because it is not shiny and looks somewhat rough and battle worn. The other is a pristine Sword of Kahless, which hangs above my wife’s and my wedding picture in our dining room. The third is a Sword of Kahless letter opener and is about 5″ long; I have that on my desk at work. Qa’Plah!

31. Polly - April 21, 2011

2. i love the necklace idea, where did you buy it?

32. TrekMadeMeWonder - April 21, 2011

Kudo Dan!

I was just thinking of the ()your) Batleth the other day. Funny how popular the Bathleth is, and how it comes into daily thought,

Great design! Thank you!

33. wi-kiry-lan - April 21, 2011

There were some batleths visible in the bar scene of this movie
http://www.sainteuphoria.com/dos.html

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