Tuesday, April 21, 2009

15 More Minuets

Spent some time tonight shooting an interview about the upcoming Star Trek movie at Space the premier Canadian Sci-Fi channel...The interviewer was Natasha Eloi

My 15 more minuets of fame!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"The Fabulous Cushman Brothers" - Visiting The Paramount Lot In Hollywood!

While we had finished our work on First Contact we were invited to the grand daddy of Trek Cons held every year in Pasadena The Grand Slam! This Con is huge... with thousands of participant every year! On our first day in LA we spent the afternoon on the Paramount Lot. Matt had rented a convertible Mustang and we had a blast passing through the famous Paramount gates on Melrose avenue. Giving our names security ushered us in to the central parking lot. We were then introduced to Doug Drexler who was a big part of the Star Trek Art Department. Doug had won an Academy Award for makeup on the Dick Tracy Movie but was not changing direction and working in design.
Doug took us past the infamous sets to the art department offices where we were able to meet Herman F. Zimmerman, Michael & Denise Okuda, Rick Sternbach and the very kewl John Eaves who imeadiately dubbed us "The Fabulous Cushman Brothers"!

This Art Department had been in continuous use since the late 80's and there were thousands of drawings lining the walls of these offices. To my surprise one very prominent illustration on the back wall above Doug Drexlers desk is my original poster of the Enterprise D! It doesn't even count as surreal to be honest... its just a bizarre feeling of accomplishment and terror!

Returning form lunch with John and Doug it was easy to see these guys had allot of fun doing their work! That day we walked away with some great gifts of drawings and copies of their work.. and full tour of both Voyager and DS9 sets as Jem hadar swarmed around between takes! too cool!

Later that weekend the Art Department came and supported us at our table at the convention! As we closed up our table at the end we gave them the giant foam board cut out of the Enterprise E we had shipped in for the show.... I'm sure it to went on to reside on the wall!

3 & 1/2 Of My Fifteen Minutes Of Fame - Thanks Space!

A Singular Honor - Part 1

Up until this point in our journey my brother Matt and I had basically documented what was. Star Trek design and programming largely completed before we created our posters. Its now 1995 and with the announcement of the production of the new Star Trek Movie First Contact we immediately request the license for the new Enterprise.... The Enterprise D had been destroyed in Generations and the Enterprise E was a chance to be involved from the ground up. It was also an opportunity to directly add our touch as well. Over the coarse of the next several posts I want to construct the work that went into the movie.

Drawings and blueprints began rolling in almost immediately. These drawings were highly classified as Paramount was trying to build suspense on what the new Enterprise would look like.... Our first model was made of foam core but gave us the first impressions of the new design. Laying in front of us was the new Enterprise... And outside of the Star Trek art department knowone had ever seen it! it was a sureal experience.

First Contact was the last movie that used models for the ships. Images of the exterior came almost daily... here are some close ups of the saucer section.

Interior sets were also being constructed though these images didn't come until later in the year.

One of the first areas that i was able to contribute was the bridge airlock. While they had the interior set completed the door to the airlock did not match any of the exterior design. It was here that I suggested a secondary flush door that matched the smooth exterior. Here is the sketch I supplied for the solution.

Another sketch I completed was a saucer separation sequence which while never used can be found in the details of our poster.

While I was working on collecting the details on the Enterprise my brother Matt was working on a small sub poster of the Phoenix which was debuted along side the new enterprise poster. Here is the capsule for the Phoenix... Matt did an incredible job working on the Phoenix including the design of her engines... This will be covered on a future post.

Above and below are the poster and a close up of the poster for detail! The color and internal details used a new technique utilizing photoshop and actual textures from the sets.

Getting product approvals is a time consuming process, drawings were sent back and forth via FedEx. Redlines(corrections) were always hard as the design process was meticulously controlled by the art department. These guys were not just designers they were fans and the keepers of the Trek canon.

1996 Suzie Domnick VP of Paramount product licensing said that SciPubTech was the rare non filmed product that not only was Canon but extended Canon for the show.

In the next several postings I will step through each of these moments in detail. Needless to say helping to design the Enterprise E was a singular honor.

Our First BIG Con! Star Trek's 30th Anniversary Celebration - The Manned Space Flight Centre in Huntsville Alabama September 1996

Over the coarse of the first couple years we had attended the local Trek Con's in Detroit, more specifically at the Dearborn Civic Center.... There were many kewl moments to be sure... but now it was time to take our products to the con of cons's! The 30th Anniversary Party held by Paramount and NASA at the Manned Space Flight Center in Huntsville Alabama! There was so many great moments that weekend its hard to chronicle them all. A few that stuck out for me included my first time meeting Leonard Nimoy, Kate Mulgrew, Micheal Dorn and several real live astronauts including Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin the second man to walk on the surface of the moon. During the two days we were there we sold and signed hundreds if not thousands of posters, including to some of the trek cast themselves who visited our table. Because DS9 had just been published we got allot of attention from the cast of the show... most notably Rene Auberjonois, Armin Shimerman and the fantastic Chase Masterson who was very down to earth person... I believe I traded a signed DS9 poster for a autographed picture of her!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

DS9 - Getting back on my feet

I needed to get back on the horse after the drama of the 1701D poster. My first Poster with SciPubTech was going to be Deep Space Nine which was challenging given the size of the subject. One of the first unfortunate lessons working on this poster was the disappointing reality that for the first time in Star Trek history the scale of things were being skewed ala something I like to call the Jupiter 2 syndrome. The Jupiter 2 was the ship from lost in Space which we all love but whos insides never fit the outside of the ship. This was disappointing to me as I got some early feedback from Paramount that our original concept sketch was out of scale to what they were showing on TV. Now I had taken all the blue prints the studio had provided and worked out the scale and perspective. As you can see in the drawing below the docked Enterprise D appears quite large relative to DS9.
As you can see in the image from the show the Enterprise D is 30% of it true size. When I asked about this discrepancy the answer I got was a tacit acknowledgment of the truth but that they wanted DS9 to look immense and to do so was allowable under creative license. Disappointed I moved on!

Unlike the previous two projects, with DS9 I received very specific blueprints and floor plans directly from Paramount which made the job of creating the drawings so much easier in many ways. There was a lot about DS9 that was unexplored and unseen which allowed me to create it for the first time. How was the station powered, where was it's computer core... these were all laid out for me in black and white but the rest was mine!

The first drawing was to create the core of the station. I was never truly able to draw the entire station on one piece of paper... with the deck height a mere .25inches the final drawing would have been the size of a wall. The core image below is nearly 30 inches in height when completed. Once all of the conduits and turbo shafts were laid out I was able to start filling in the decks with all matter of quarters and labs.
The Promenade was particularly fun to lay out and explore. (on a subsequent visit to the Paramount lot I was able to walk all of the DS9 sets and one of the little known facts about set construction is that they build them to 5/6th scale. When you are on the set this is not at first fully evident but you do have a sense that there is something wrong that you can't put your finger on. Anouther fact that was interesting to learn was the painted perspective back drops that would handily extend the scope of the promenade set!)

After drawing all of the separate sections of the station the ink drawings were created using different pen sizes so that when some sections were reduced the line quality would match the other sections flawlessly once combined. Another fascinating aspect of this poster was that the station itself was of Cardasian design..Alien to most Starfleet designs and there for more interesting a project creatively.

At one point there was going to be a fairly large secondary cutaway of the Rio Grande, one of the 3 Runabouts on the station. The drawing below is the final line work of that ship with all of the detail corrected to Paramount's approval. The final use was scaled down considerably showing the Runabout secured in one of the DS9 landing bays... the detail was all but lost in that version.

Desiding on the format of a poster is not at all easy. It was clear that we could not have the poster as originally conceived as it would have been to large and expensive to print. Breaking sections down and showing them enlarged was the key to the posters design... the first draft of that idea is seen below.

The design was modified later to look more like a Cardasian computer display which was taken one step further when we added the copper metallic ink used to frame the individual illustrations. Again Bob Kayganich was tapped to complete color work and his color scheme was simply amazing as he not only captured the brilliant lighting of the open wormhole but also the refection of that lighting on the hull of the station... its a subtle yet fantastic example of his talent. As the poster neared completion a new season of the show had begun and the addition of the Defiant. I lobbied pretty hard to get a cutaway of the defiant on the poster, but timing would have put the poster off for atleast 4 months and so we added an exterior illustration which fit the bill.

The finished product was stunning and we made a more formal debut of the poster at the 30th Anniversary celebration at the Manned Space Flight Centre in Huntsville Alabama where NASA and Paramount put on a 3 day extravaganza to celebrate the milestone. During that show we were able to give copies of the poster to several of the stars of the show but the biggest honor came when we met Joel Williamson the lead NASA engineer for the International Space Station who purchased a Deep Space Nine Poster signed to the space station team. The poster was launched with the station in March of 1997. Now I don't know about you but having one of your drawings hanging in the Smithsonian was a hard act to top but I think this took the cake!