Big Reaction To New Enterprise – New Designer Responds

The new USS Enterprise released yesterday has spawned dozens if not hundreds of articles across the globe in the mainstream press and the geekosphere. Reaction here at TrekMovie has been running at one comment every 49 seconds for 24 hours straight. In that deluge are a few notables, including former Star Trek designer Rick Sternbach and the designer of the new ship, Ryan Church.


Sternbach and Church on the new E
Rick Sternbach was a senior illustrator and designer for the Trek franchise going all the way back to star Trek The Motion Picture, working mostly on the TV series in the TNG era (Next Gen, DS9 and Voyager). He designed dozens of Trek ships and stations, including Deep Space Nine, the Klingon Vor’cha battle cruise, the USS Voyager, and the USS Enterprise C.

I get the distinct impression that to do the nacelles and secondary hull, someone stared at the USS Pasteur for a while. Just a thought. But even the Pasteur’s Bussard collectors had line of sight to open space, which the nacelles on this new ship don’t seem to have. Perhaps the designers didn’t know exactly how the different hardware bits worked (I violated this rule a little here and there, but I knew when I was doing it). Now I’m not being a whiner, just an informed critic. There’s room in this Trek world for healthy design criticism, as well as simply sitting back and enjoying a well made SF film. I -hope- the film is well written and clever and has good proportions of action, humor, tech, etc. but I’m also prepared to analyze the design work to see, perhaps, how far the shapes and colors and functions stray from 40 years of evolved gear.

This and the many other comments got the notice of the designer of the new Enterprise, Ryan Church, who has worked on the Star Wars prequels, the Transformers movies and the new James Cameron film Avatar. Church wrote in the TrekMovie comments:

I’m not going to get involved in the mud slinging, here, but needed to assure you guys and gals: we’ve built you a fine ship. To clarify: there’s a slight optical illusion occurring here, consequence of the “camera” angle. For Rick and others who worry the nacelles don’t have a clear line of sight over the disc — they, in fact, do. We were hardly working in a vacuum. I raided ILM reference photos like a madman. We were deferential to “inviolates” of Star Trek design vocabulary. Additionally, the profile here isn’t 100% representative, because, as you’ve noticed, the Bussards are dimmed. The true profile of the nacelles may or may not be revealed here, and that’s all I’ll say.

Sternbach replied back, noting that he has since had a chance to see a new angle of the Enterprise (lucky Rick!)

I went back and checked the Bussard clearance, and yeah, it works. I’ve seen a port side ortho[graphic] elevation, and I don’t have a problem with the mechanics of it, it’s the proportions and flows of the basic parts that look odd to me. Granted, no ship ever looks perfect in every ortho view, nor in every perspective view. We who have done this stuff in our sleep know that most vehicle and prop designs have their “best” faces. I’m not going to bore people with excerpts from my classical art and architecture books, though I will probably thumb through them here just to see if I can glean anything relevant. Like I said, I’ll wait to see how the film looks as a whole effort.

Which all just goes to show you that even the pros can take different views and even modify their views, especially when given more information. So far we have only two views of the new Enterprise and we have yet to see it in motion, that is worth considering.

Fan comparisons and mods
One of the great things about is our community of Trekkies and their creativity. Here are some comparison and modification images from our members (click to enlarge).

Comparison of new with TOS and TMP Enterprises by Kirky

Tongue in cheek critique via comparison to 50s cars by RedSpar

Modded primary hull and nacelle cap plus strut comparisons by Aqua and Jochen G.

‘Filled in’ by Mark T.

modded secondary hull by Spockboy Paul

modded in secondary hull and TMP struts by Ben

another secondary hull and nacelle mod by Daniel Broadway

And this for a little fun
The current poll shows that fans are split on the new Enterprise, with a bit over half ‘loving it’ or ‘mostly liking it.’ Although less than 1 out of 5 are voting that they don’t like it, it appears that some of that group are quite vocal to be sure. Our pal Spockboy Paul also put together this little video that encapsulates some of those fans reaction to the new Enterprise

Note on new image: it is not in the trailer
The new image released this week of the USS Enterprise is not a shot from the trailer. The Enterprise is seen clearly in the trailer being constructed and also going to warp. It may also be seen briefly in some of the quick cut battle scenes, but the specific shot released yesterday from Paramount is from a different point in the film.

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