What's up with modern ship designs?

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astroboy

Master Member
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I was never a fan of the old viper from Galactica, but when I first the viper II, holy frack......

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Cephus

Sr Member
True, but I'd argue that it cuts both ways. Where as before you were limited to what you could physically create by either scratch building and/or kit bashing it has the potential of keeping you from making a truly outstanding design because it would be too difficult, if not impossible to make. Now that we have 3D technology creators can actually create some truly outstanding designs since they're now free from physical limitations.

Still, I'd argue that the differences that we in ship designs today vs from earlier decades has more to do with changing times than any changes in technology. Face it, as times change so does taste and we think is good looking, all you have to do is look at the designs from old (original) Buck Rogers serials to the designs of TOS Trek a little less than 30 years later. Back in the '30s when the Buck Rogers came out, rocket ships were in vogue so everything looked like a rocket, then come the '60s styles change and we get the Enterprise which looks nothing like the rocket ships of the '30s. I'd imagine that if there were internet forums around back then we'd see people complaining about how the designs of the modern ('60s) ships are so bad compared to those of the '30s, and what's with that new fangled compositing that they're doing, what was wrong with good ol' models on strings shot against a practical background?

But then again, "I like it" isn't much of an argument, is it? If all anyone can say is "I prefer this", what's the point of having a discussion? There is no actual right answer. I still hold that a lot of older ships were more practical because they had to exist in physical form to get them on screen. Therefore they were more realistic in construction because they had to be. But today, because bits and bytes can form anything, creators don't have to worry about what actually works, they can create anything.

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I was never a fan of the old viper from Galactica, but when I first the viper II, holy frack......

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk

Whereas I think the new Vipers look like crap.
 

Riceball

Master Member
But then again, "I like it" isn't much of an argument, is it? If all anyone can say is "I prefer this", what's the point of having a discussion? There is no actual right answer. I still hold that a lot of older ships were more practical because they had to exist in physical form to get them on screen. Therefore they were more realistic in construction because they had to be. But today, because bits and bytes can form anything, creators don't have to worry about what actually works, they can create anything.

Even that's debatable since we don't have any real space ships to base our opinions on. Saying that a design from decades ago seems more practical than a modern one is also a subjective argument with no clear wrong or right. It has little to nothing to do with how or when a design was created as much as the intent of the creators. If they wanted to, they could easily create a design that seems practical, but design philosophies and aesthetic tastes change over time, not to mentions our understanding of things. A spaceship designed today to be as practical as possible would differ from a ship designed 20 years ago because, in part, what we think looks good today differs from 20 years ago, and our technology and understanding of physics and engineering principles is greater than 20 years ago.
 

Cephus

Sr Member
Even that's debatable since we don't have any real space ships to base our opinions on. Saying that a design from decades ago seems more practical than a modern one is also a subjective argument with no clear wrong or right. It has little to nothing to do with how or when a design was created as much as the intent of the creators. If they wanted to, they could easily create a design that seems practical, but design philosophies and aesthetic tastes change over time, not to mentions our understanding of things. A spaceship designed today to be as practical as possible would differ from a ship designed 20 years ago because, in part, what we think looks good today differs from 20 years ago, and our technology and understanding of physics and engineering principles is greater than 20 years ago.

We know what the most efficient designs would be, since spaceships don't need to be streamlined, probably a cube or cylinder would have the most efficient use of space. They can go in any direction anyhow. So pretty much all non-atmospheric ships in movies and TV are absurdly inefficient as spaceship designs. They are built to appeal to the audience, not to be particularly useful.
 

astroboy

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
But then again, "I like it" isn't much of an argument, is it? If all anyone can say is "I prefer this", what's the point of having a discussion? There is no actual right answer. I still hold that a lot of older ships were more practical because they had to exist in physical form to get them on screen. Therefore they were more realistic in construction because they had to be. But today, because bits and bytes can form anything, creators don't have to worry about what actually works, they can create anything.

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Whereas I think the new Vipers look like crap.
I hated the mark 7.

But to me, the mark 2 was a perfect tribute

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PrincessJ

Member
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lol.....I agree that a cube or cylinder would have the most efficient use of space but the spaceship in Firefly just looks so different that it's very unique...when in Vancouver, I saw someone carrying a model of it. That was cool to see that someone would make a model of it to carrying around.

http://www.fireflywiki.net/img/Logo-Serenity.jpg



We know what the most efficient designs would be, since spaceships don't need to be streamlined, probably a cube or cylinder would have the most efficient use of space. They can go in any direction anyhow. So pretty much all non-atmospheric ships in movies and TV are absurdly inefficient as spaceship designs. They are built to appeal to the audience, not to be particularly useful.
 

astroboy

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I often said that I would love to see a space sitcom that takes place in an office-style space ship. Cube shaped, cubicles, ..The whole works.

And they land on different planets but they aren't really adventures. They're just operating their dunder-mifflen styled business

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The Mad Professor

Master Member
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I often said that I would love to see a space sitcom that takes place in an office-style space ship. Cube shaped, cubicles, ..The whole works.

And they land on different planets but they aren't really adventures. They're just operating their dunder-mifflen styled business

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So... An Interstellar Alliance Tohoku-class cruiser crewed by the guys from Initech?
 

NormanF

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
The thing I don't like is you either get pipes, conduits, and other maintenence nightmares all over the ship or you get the Aztec pattern. The biggest problem for me with the aztecing is that I could understand slight color differences in the colors on the hull, but they always use a geometric pattern that is mirrored left to right.

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somerset fox

Well-Known Member
This bump of an old thread is due to the current awful ship designs being pooped out by Star Trek Discovery. Every ship on that show is sooo awful and bland. all the space ship shots,look like they were shot under water. Can anyone describe any of the ships in the new Starfleet base? The Nog? The Voyager J? This week the Emerald Chain warship rocked up and I couldn’t describe one feature of it. Books ship too seems featureless and boring. Bring back model makers who crafted models out of wood and plastic, rather than pixels.
 

joberg

Master Member
Let's talk about designs/ideas and the fact that the epoch/time you're living in right now influences your ideas. Let me explain: look at how the car designers (GM, Ford, etc) would come up with concept vehicles each year and choose any year (let's say the '50s for this example) and look at how the car is designed...well, it look like a car from...(wait for it) the '50s!!
Same with Sci-Fi movies from the same era: a Flash Gordon type of design: rocketships (that was cool), then the whole U.F.O. craze with "Forbidden Planet" and other same kind of designs. Alien + Outland: same model makers and same look (Alien franchise has a look). 2001 A Space Odyssey was a "radical " shift in design, for the fact that the production had real engineers from NASA, IBM, Bell, etc...They had already envisioned a future with personal computer, and an Orion space shuttle that would be later built by the Space Agency (albeit not in the exact form) Moon base (same design as Space 1999), etc...We can also argue that there's a U.K. school of model makers/designers and a U.S. school. Different style of course. The "StarWars" style has endured also (more greeblies were also added, not so much on those sleek rockeships from the '50s)...
These designs are basically the product of their respective era...it talks to you, or not. Same with Star Trek, the Enterprise is sleek, simple and a mix between a '50s saucer and other add-ons. Not to forget the Blade Runner look in this discussion; also a shift to the sleek vs. the greeblie O.D. in that Cyber Punk iconic movie;) The list is too long, but each gen is appropriating the design ideas of the previous ones and making variations on those ideas to come up with new stuff...as any artist/designer/model maker would do and does all the time.;)
 

PoopaPapaPalps

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I'd like to add to my previous comment from when the thread was originally posted that one detriment to concept designers now, beyond using staples from what they've already seen, many of them don't have other technical experiences beyond illustration. Case in point: Ralph McQuarrie is a traditionally trained painter but for much of his life, he was an industrial artist. He painted planes and machines for much of his career, so while he may not have understood exactly how the things he painted worked, he knew how to make something look like it worked.

That was something that underpinned all of the work ILM at that time put out and influenced the kind of people hired. A lot of the designers brought on ESB and RotJ were traditionally taught and trained artists but all had to find commercial/industrial work to pay the bills (as talked about in the Empire at 40 ILM special on Youtube). Star Wars concept work on ships were all based on a "boiler plate" aesthetics and that started at the concept designers and worked all the way down to the model guys brought on to do the work; there was a unilateral understanding of machines, top-down.

Aping and cherry-picking elements from real-world machines to base the art on only goes so far; there's a verisimilitude that I think gets subconsciously picked up on when something, especially mechanical, shows some technical understanding dictating it.
 

joberg

Master Member
I'd like to add to my previous comment from when the thread was originally posted that one detriment to concept designers now, beyond using staples from what they've already seen, many of them don't have other technical experiences beyond illustration. Case in point: Ralph McQuarrie is a traditionally trained painter but for much of his life, he was an industrial artist. He painted planes and machines for much of his career, so while he may not have understood exactly how the things he painted worked, he knew how to make something look like it worked.

That was something that underpinned all of the work ILM at that time put out and influenced the kind of people hired. A lot of the designers brought on ESB and RotJ were traditionally taught and trained artists but all had to find commercial/industrial work to pay the bills (as talked about in the Empire at 40 ILM special on Youtube). Star Wars concept work on ships were all based on a "boiler plate" aesthetics and that started at the concept designers and worked all the way down to the model guys brought on to do the work; there was a unilateral understanding of machines, top-down.

Aping and cherry-picking elements from real-world machines to base the art on only goes so far; there's a verisimilitude that I think gets subconsciously picked up on when something, especially mechanical, shows some technical understanding dictating it.
Right, I agree that an artist painting planes and machines for much of his career would be more apt at designing a space ship; that's called a specialist. As those NASA engineers consultant explained to the artists of 2001 A Space Odyssey...Lucas did used car designers for his flying cars in the first SW episodes for example.
The question is: do you have to have experience/a specialty designing cars, to design Sci-Fi cars? I think the answer is no! Look at Syd Mead and the work he did for many U.S. car companies (in Blade Runner and countless other movies) and other objects he created during his career.
Any good artist/designer can capture the idea of Form & Function...is just that some of the viewers are used to a certain design/form and cannot accept that another one could work as well.;)
 

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PoopaPapaPalps

Master Member
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The question is: do you have to have experience/a specialty designing cars, to design Sci-Fi cars? I think the answer is no! Look at Syd Mead and the work he did for many U.S. car companies (in Blade Runner and countless other movies) and other objects he created during his career.

That's true the answer is no, but you proved my point again with Syd Mead as an example: he was an industrial artist well before coming into film work. For the majority of the 60's and 70's, he worked for car companies (Chrysler and Ford) and major industries, eventually setting up a design firm for tech and architectural consultations. People sought him out for his talents in these areas; they wanted his eye because his experience lent a credibility to works of fiction.

It's not specialties that inform the work solely, it's experience is what I'm getting at. Multiple disciplines feed other things. If anything, now, it's single-lane specialities that are stagnating innovation and creating a very homogenous, shallow pool of talent.
 
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joberg

Master Member
That's true the answer is no, but you proved my point again with Syd Mead as an example: he was an industrial artist well before coming into film work. For the majority of the 60's and 70's, he worked for car companies (Chrysler and Ford) and major industries, eventually setting up a design firm for tech and architectural consultations. People sought him out for his talents in these areas; they wanted his eye because his experience lent a credibility to works of fiction.

It's not specialties that inform the work solely, it's experience is what I'm getting at. Multiple disciplines feed other things. If anything, now, it's single-lane specialities that are stagnating innovation and creating a very homogenous, shallow pool of talent.
Sure, multi-talented is something I appreciate, but movie business is...business. If I'm getting ideas for cars, at the pre-production level and I want fast results, (many designs to choose from) I'll go to the guy who specializes in cars! Not the one who's going to take weeks to come up with a bunch of choices.
 

Lear60man

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Was there a Ford Ranger in that film, or did you mean to say Interstellar? ;)
No you had to freeze the film at 1 hour 33 seconds and its flying in the background hahahaha. Yea....I meant interstellar. The drop ship from Aliens is also a great design along with most of the ships from Avatar. IIRC, Cameron is a quasi designer/artist.
 

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