DrexTV #4 – Behind The Scenes Video With USS Reliant Model & Last Day Of Voyager Set

Star Trek artist and designer Doug Drexler has one of his very cool DrexTV video blogs up, this time Doug shares some behind the scenes videos, including a close look at the original USS Reliant film model being re-used for TNG, and the last days on the set of Star Trek: Voyager. Check it out below.


DrexTV #4 – Temporal Sonar

Here is the latest video blog from Doug Drexler with behind the scenes video (from Doug Drexler) of the original USS Reliant model being remade into the USS Lantree for the TNG episode "Unnatural Selection". Drexler also shows off video he made with fellow designer Mike Okuda on the last day of Star Trek: Voyager, before the sets were torn down for Enterprise.

Find out more at drexfiles.wordpress.com.

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Way cool stuff… now we know why the Lantree and eventually the Bozeman and Sisko’s Saratoga had no rollbar… the wiring in it was busted!!

Awesome stuff to be sure… Voyager looked like she was ready for her next crew in the video.

ILM sure knew how to build their models.

The modelshop still exists in this age of CGI by the way. It’s now called Kerner Optical and they actually worked on STAR TREK (2009)!

#2 – http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/USS_Brattain

The Brattain had her rollbar as did other Mirandas on the other shows (until they switched to CG).

Many Thanks to Doug Drexler for his outstanding blog, Drex Files and another installment of his Oh So Cool DrexTV…
You Rock Doug!

Always love to see the story-behind-the-story on the old physical, scale models. That’s truly a lost art. Don’t get me wrong, CGI is great, but there’s a special craft in creating a physical scale model ship that can fool your eyes into making you think it just might be real, even though you know it isn’t, when photographed by an expert in just the right way.

I remember the final beauty pass of the Enteprise in ST:TMP at the very end, and the slow turn it took just before it broke into warp – that scene gave the Enterprise an astonishing sense of mass, size, and reality.

Great stuff.

Great stuff Drex!
The ironic thing is that ILM complained about how complex the wiring was on Trumbull’s/Magicam’s TMP Enterprise, vowing to make the Reliant much simpler!

This is so cool! Brings back great memories of TNG and VOY. Damn you Enterprise!

nice use of lens flares.

Its funny how voyager makes me more nostalgic than any other series. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a true fan in that I love all 6 (animated included) series and 11 films of star trek. Do I love all 700+ episodes? well not so much. I think its really cool though that voyager had working turbolift indicators. We just never saw them.

Still partial to the use of models. Sloppy CGI just looks so crappy, as SyFy’s movie of the week is testament to….

#6 – There’s a great interview with Doug Trumbull in CINEFEX #1 about the TMP Enterprise: there were angles and shots they just couldn’t do with a model. Why do you think the industry was more than happy to switch to CG? Modelmaking may be an art, but it can severely limit the filmmaker’s creativity.

#7 – It wasn’t that the wiring was complex, but it only came out of one side and limited where and how they could mount it for shooting.

8. It happens. My favourite show (ENT btw) also had its sets demolished.

The difference being they had 3 more years of usable life left in them.

What a classy tribute!

Makes me strongly consider getting the Voyager series on DVD.

What a classy tribute!

Makes me strongly consider getting the Voyager series on DVD.

Models still look better then CGI.

i guess that explains why no other complex filming models were build at the time… still, TU for the memories, Mr Dx…

Thanks Doug for a beautiful capture of the final moments of the Voyager set and of course the Reliant model. As always I am truly touched by the hard work, passion and artistry that goes into the Star Trek productions. As an automotive designer who has worked at Chrysler, General Motors and Chrysler again I truly understand what it takes to design, model and fabricate to an unquestionable high standard. Thanks again for a pleasant memory.

The Reliant model video was cool. The modeler guy really loved Trek — did you notices he was playing the Horner soundtrack on his stereo in that room!

#18 – Wrong. Bad model photography is obvious.

Are you going to seriously tell me the VFX for Star Trek V look better than STAR TREK 2009?

#22- Are you going to tell me that the Enterprise, and other models from TMP ever looked better? Honestly, when done right, they look great, and the ships never looked better than TMP


Not much of a contest between those two. Plan 9 From Outer Space looks better than Star Trek V.

On the other hand, the TMP model Enterprise from all the other movies—I’ll take that over CGI any day.

if only they tore the voyager set down for the start of DS9…

@23. Agreed, the Enterprise model in TMP in 1979 looked better than the Enterprise CGI in Trek 2009…and it is not even close!

I watched Star Trek III: The Search for Spock the other night. I was really impressed with how crisp and beautiful the Enterprise looked, going in and out of spacedock. Also the E has such mass when Rand and others come see the battle-stared Enterprise from their lounge windows. No one talks about it, but it looks great.

#26 – Wrongo, the *design* may be inferior but the photography is superior in CG.

Watch TMP sometime. The ship can’t manuever. She slides back and forth in the frame, or glides by, or banks (like in the wormhole). She never actually does anything. It wasn’t until Star Trek II that the Enterprise could move properly.

#27 – The E looks good in STIII if you ignore the fill light and blue spill. The ship was overlit to compensate for the paint job. VFX supervisor Dennis Muren HATED the model and was all to glad to “destroy it”. He was not a happy camper when they decided to make it the “A” in IV. They figured the Excelsior would be the next ship.

PS: because it wasn’t a model and therefore no bluescreen photography the CG model of ST2009 returned the reflective qualities of the original TMP model.

@28. I am sure you are correct about the details behind this, but I know what I like on screen, and I like TMP and early Trek movies E better than the look of the new E in Trek 2012. The original movie E looks more real to me than the new one, bad moves in space or not.

@28 “VFX supervisor Dennis Muren HATED the model and was all to glad to “destroy it”. He was not a happy camper when they decided to make it the “A” in IV.”

So he had to work hard with a model…I would kill for a job like that. What a whiner…he got to work with the most classic Enterprise Model in Star Trek movies…boo hoo for that malcontent. :-)

I always loved the design of the ‘Reliant’ ship.

I’d have even preferred THAT design to have ended up the ‘alternate timeline’ Enterprise instead of J.J. eventual monstrosity!

I so hope that AA/DST make a Reliant model…. Its the one ship that truly deserves to be made..


@28: Was it really Muren? I thought it was Ken Ralston as supervisor who voiced his grievances with the model/design.

I very much enjoy the Reliant’s overall design (can’t fathom it being any better “upside down” the way it was originally oriented) but I’m always irked by the greebly details on the dorsal and ventral surfaces towards the rear. It just seems contrary to the uncluttered appearance of the Enterprise, a “sister” ship. But it was very interesting to see the model’s mounting points uncovered.

Excellent historical footage.

What always bothered me about the Miranda class, was: So, where is it’s deflector dish?

And this variant, especially: So, it has no way to defend itself with torpedo’s?

A very vulnerable ship at warp, to say the least.

#16 Now is a good time to get Voyager on DVD. I’ve seen it for as low as $25 for an entire season. Makes me feel like a real chump for paying $100 for each season as they were released. I’ve got almost 3 thou invested in my trek DVD sets, but I’ve enjoyed em.

#34 – It was indeed Ken Ralston! (Forgive the brain fart) Dennis was supervisor on “ET” and Richard Edlund was supervising “Poltergeist”. All 3 ILM units folded back into each other for “Return of the Jedi”.

#35 – Can you say “science ship”?

I really like its successor: the Akira class. That ship has absolutely no problems defending itself (unless it’s against Cardassian weapon platforms with unlimited shields).

#30 – I’m betting because you knew ahead of time it was CG and not a model. Well, guess what? There were model shots sprinkled in there (the models were provided by Kerner Optical). I’m also betting you can’t tell me what was model and what was CG.

The Reliant works, but it’s such an obvious reconfigure of the TMP-E.

I don’t know, as hard as Trumbull worked (dental mirror pools of light) to shoot
the TMP-E, it still slips up in a few shots, despite their efforts to give it scale. (Spacedock sequences.) But a lot of this WAS due to Paramount’s time constraints. (Though Trumbull is still “God” in my book.)

After ILM matte-sprayed it for TWOK bluescreen, it just got worse.

But after seeing Trek 2009 a few more times, I’m REALLY impressed with the look/lighting/detailing on the CGI model. WAY beyond ILM’s previous efforts- artistically.

Still, I HATE the red squirty phaser “beams.”
Gimme BLUE CLASSIC beams, please.

36–I feel your pain. I thought I was doing a good thing, getting a season for $100 because it worked out to what, about 5 dollars an episode (instead of $15 for each individually on VHS). But that’s not the worse of it. I bought the first 5 seasons of DS9 through Columbia House. I’ve been replacing them with the DVD’s but am left to try to sell my old videos. I am to the point I am selling a whole season on video for about $10 dollars. I spent $20 for one video. I still remember when Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out on VHS for a whopping $39.95, and that was cheap (most videos back then were close to $100).

30–I agree that there just seemed something more realistic about models. I think it has to do that you are looking at something real, not created on a computer. It has texture and dimension. CGI, no matter how well done does not. I noticed a difference between looking at the Enterprise-D on TNG and Voyager, which started using CGI. There was something lost in the fine details. CGI has gotten better. Details were better on the Enterprise NX-01 and of course Abrams Enterprise, but they still are CGI.

Some great design elements for that Reliant model.
IMO it looked better with the top piece off.
I really like the saucer section.
The finished product though?
IMO its a butt ugly ship.
Great to see the video though.
Thanks Doug.

Miranda Class
Soyuz Class

difference ?

a wire that shorted out…. lol

Thanks Drex another great vid :)

CG is only just out of it’s teenage years of “mass production” as such, and is still developing at a heck of pace.
But I’d challenge any CG house today to make an effect as good as the fly pass of the new E at the end of STIV, or as said earlier, some of TMP shots. The realism of real light hitting the ship picking up subtle (or not so) imperfections, CG just isn’t there yet. No CG Enterprise to date has looked real to me.
That said in background work or fast moving action, clearly it can be better than models. But for the big sweeping full screen entrance, models still have the edge. Shame it’s now barely an option for film-makers!

well done man, really nice video thanks

Finally delurking after three years!

I really dig this sort of stuff. I wish Paramount understood that this historical footage is the sort of stuff I want to see on bonus DVD’s, not new featurettes about Klingon operas and such like.

Notice near the end of the Voyager set tour, the camera pans up to the top of the transporter chamber. The discs in the ceiling are from the floor of the original TOS transporters set (IIRC). I wonder if those historical set pieces got saved when the TNG-VOY era sets finally got trashed?

Anyone else notice Mr Drexler has just disproved a long-standing myth? Saratoga was not NCC 1867 as per the encyclopedia, nor was it 1937 – it was NCC 1887.

I await the re-write of Memory Alpha and other site and memorabilia…

@43 “But I’d challenge any CG house today to make an effect as good as the fly pass of the new E at the end of STIV, or as said earlier, some of TMP shots. The realism of real light hitting the ship picking up subtle (or not so) imperfections, CG just isn’t there yet. No CG Enterprise to date has looked real to me.”

My thoughts exactly!

I’m with #30. To each his own.
I like how the E looks in ST: III and the early Trek movies. CGI, even in the new movie, still looks to me like it has no mass; it just doesn’t look real to me. It seems like a really fancy cartoon, or a really fancy computer image. Which it is.

@48. Also, there is a reason why Peter Jackson tries to use models whenever possible in his movies — he knows they look more real. That’s why Gandolf’s rid up the city of Minas Tirith is one of the best moments in the trilogy — it was a model, not CGI (despite the fact that Jackson could have done in cheaper in CGI).

43–Agreed, you can’t replicate the detail of something “real” and not on a computer screen.

The Reliant was a great ship. And to think it should have been upside down, but as luck would have it someone shipped it upside down and that’s how they ended up filming it.