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Where did Starship "Aztecing" come from !?

There's a lot of
Star Trek to watch.

Seriously, go look up "Star Trek'' on Paramount+ and see for yourself. 

Out of all that content, and perhaps more there is one scene that stands out in my mind as my favorite. Wait...yeah, it's my favorite. No question about it. I love its look, acting, pacing, musical score, everything about it.

It's the moment in the film that we're reintroduced to one of the most important characters in the entire franchise, the original U.S.S. ENTERPRISE NCC-1701.

(and to quote Mr. Scott one more time - "No bloody A, B, C, or D.")

And she's never more beautiful than in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The concept was perfect. To account for the need for a much more detailed ship for the silver screen, the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Original Series had just spent 18 months in drydock being redesigned and refit to bring her back to being THE ship of the line she had always been. 

The Enterprise's introductory scene had to tell an entire story in the 7 minutes of the movie allotted to it. And it does that in style. 

Admiral Kirk is ferried via TravelPod to the ship by Chief Engineer Scott, and along the way falls head over heels in love again with HIS ship (and so do we).

The Enterprise in The Motion Picture is an Art Deco masterpiece based on Matt Jefferies’s original design for the ship as seen in The Original Series with some changes added from the ship designed for Star Trek: Phase II (the unmade 1977 series) by Jefferies and designer Mike Minor. 

But the finished ship in the film owes the majority of its finished look to production art director Richard Taylor, designer Andrew Probert, and Doug Trumbull who had begun to wonder what a ship like that might look like in deep space. 

“The shell of the model existed and it was just a big fiberglass model, and it didn't have much detail to it,” 

said Trumbull.

"And whoever was designing the process of making the visual effects hadn't really thought about what I was thinking about, which was how do you see the Enterprise when it's in deep space, when it's not near the sun or a star or anything?  

 What's the source of light? Where's the key light? Where's the fill light? How are you going to make this thing beautiful? 

And my thought about it was how to make it light itself up, kind of like the Titanic at night. And make it light itself up by having lights onboard the nacelles, shining on the fuselage, and from the fuselage shining upon the nacelles, and make it look like it's self-illuminated. 

So I didn't have to justify a key light because there wouldn't be one. And no one had ever thought of that."

An enormous team was eventually responsible for bringing the Enterprise into its final physical form, but it was Richard Taylor who thought of cladding the starship in its distinctive opalescent skin.  

"One of the things we did with all of the models was to give their surfaces details and interesting designs. A smooth object has no scale so it’s important in model work to find ways of creating scale. Sometimes it’s very subtle but it’s one of the most important elements in model photography. I had this idea of giving the surface of the Enterprise a patterned, plated look and we made masks for the surface to create that surface effect. We did experiments with Crescent Metal Powders and other iridescent and pearlescent paints. So, in the end, we made pearlescent body panels that varied from each other by minute differences in color and reflectivity. "

“There were multiple masks that were used to give the surface the complex texture you see on the screen. The painting was phenomenal." Taylor later elaborated that, "As we worked up the Enterprise it became apparent to me that we needed a special paint technique to give the surface of the ship scale. Literally, the different spectral qualities of paint and the thickness of one coat of paint could make the surface detail of the Enterprise believable. I had done some tests with different paints as a painter and knew of the Crescent Metal Powder paints and their pearlescent pigments. Jim Dow and I looked into them as he had used them as well on his 1935 Ford, did a little test, and decided some combination of those pigments would work. Designing the pattern and doing the actual painting, now that was going to be one hell of a job for someone to tackle."

The intricate patterning which was eventually called the "Aztec pattern" was applied to the model by Zuzana Swansea and Paul Olsen. 

Working for nearly eight months Olsen, with some help from Swansea, applied a high-gloss pearlescent lacquer coating which gave the Enterprise a chameleon-like appearance in the movie, which changed its color appearance depending on the type and direction of the lighting rig used. 

The Enterprise's Aztec pattern was only visible if the light hit the model at an oblique angle.  Olsen later remembered; 

"I used four pearl colors that were transparent: a blue, a gold, a red, and a green. They all flip-flopped to their complements when the viewing angle changed. Beautiful. 

By varying the amount of color, and the mixture of several colors on top of each other, I obtained myriad colors and depth of color."

While acknowledging Taylor, Olsen, and Swansea for the "Aztec-pattern" design, Andrew Probert is also credited for its creation saying, 

"Richard asked me to come up with an overall scheme of surface paneling to give the ship another level of detail. I agreed that it would give the Enterprise more credibility as a manufactured spacecraft, even though panel lines wouldn't be visible at the scale distance needed to encompass the entire ship in a shot.

Richard thought a subtle differencing of the paint scheme would accentuate those panels and that worked really well. For the saucer, he came up with "Aztec Pattern" panels providing a series of interlocking edges in order to reinforce the ship's surface tensile strength.

So it is unsurprising that the refit was one of the key inspirations in the redesign of Star Trek: Discovery's U.S.S. ENTERPRISE in 2017. 

John Eaves’ reinterpretation of the "original'' Enterprise took elements from three ships ("The Cage," "Original Series," and "Motion Picture") and melded them into a fresh take on the ship for the 21st century. 

From the Motion Picture ship, the Star Trek: Discovery art department took the swept-back nacelle struts, and the "Aztec Pattern" hull detailing seen on almost all Starfleet ships since 1979 (2271?). 

In a way, it reminds me of a child born of Matt Jeffries and Andrew Probert's Enterprises.


We've spent a considerable amount of time training and mastering these fantastic new methods to replicate Captain Christopher Pike's beautiful U.S.S. Enterprise for our own Studio Scale Miniature program

From new printing techniques, new miniature construction & lighting rigs, to painting the intricate Aztec Pattern on the starship's hull. 

And we tested those skills by working on The Motion Picture refit of the ship.  If you want to know how to do something right, you gotta start at the beginning.  The Aztec hull patterning seen on nearly every Starfleet ship began with Admiral Kirk’s refit Enterprise. 

Here again, Star Trek’s most beautiful ship has things to teach us about the future.  

We'll have more on our latest iteration of Star Trek: Discovery's U.S.S. ENTERPRISE and other studio-scale miniatures in the future, but until then remember...  "The Human Adventure Is Just Beginning..." 

LLAP,
John

ABOUT ME

John Cooley

John is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS

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How Discovery compares to Original Series


How Discovery compares to TOS

I was talking to a Star Trek uniform fan the other day, and he commented that the asymmetrical collar on the Discovery uniforms really drove him nuts. I thought that was really funny and I told him so, because to my eye the collars of the Discovery uniforms were one of the most "Original Series" aspects of that entire uniform. A uniform incidentally that is filled with little homages to the Starfleet Uniforms worn up and down the timeline of Star Trek.

As those uniforms were introduced in 2256 (a couple of years before "The Cage'' and about a decade before Jim Kirk takes the Enterprise on his Five Year Mission), I really want to compare them with their Original Series counterparts. At a glance, they might appear radically different, but they have more in common than you might have realised.

First, let's acknowledge right up front that they are in fact blue, very blue. A specific color called "Federation Blue," that was intended to recall the blue flight suits of Captain Archer's crew aboard the NX-01. While the color of the uniforms was different, the ensemble itself returned to TOS' familiar tunic and pants combo. The proportions are even similar with a form fitted short tunic over the unifom's pants, and the similarity between the two outfit’s silhouette becomes especially apparent when looking at Star Trek: Discovery’s uniform pattern, made with TOS’ color scheme. 

But, the real similarities are found in the uniform's details. The collar for instance is a direct homage to the folded over collars worn by female Starfleet officers in "The Cage" and “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Discovery costume designer, Gersha Phillips took direct inspiration from Star Trek's original pilots episodes for that aspect of the uniform's design.

More than that, the shape of the collar is taken from all over the Original Series itself. TOS' famed costume designer William Ware Theiss used asymmetry to great effect in a lot of his uniform and costume designs seen throughout the Star Trek series he designed for. 

Even the uniform's diagonal zip closure recalls similar closures on a number of TOS era uniforms and costumes including Captain Kirk's distinctive Command Green wraparound tunics.

The first thing I want to know when a new Star Trek series is on the way is - what are the uniforms going to look like? Will there be something I like about them, something I don't? Will I see something of the Starfleet uniforms I have loved in them? With Gersha's Discovery uniforms the answer is a resounding "yes." It's funny. Some look at these uniforms, and only see what's different about them. I look at the same outfit and see echoes of The Original Series uniforms I grew up loving.

The Original Series was only the first influence in the development of Discovery’s Starfleet Uniforms, and we’ll explore that in future blog entries. 

Until then...live long and prosper. 

-John

ABOUT ME

John Cooley 

John is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS 

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Original Series Gold - A Reply to Screen Rant

ANOVOS’ STAR TREK Original Series Season One Starfleet Insignia on a Command Division Gold Velour Tunic. 

On Tuesday a friend sent me a link to an interesting story...

It was from SCREEN RANT titled, "Star Trek: Kirk's Iconic Uniform Color Was A Mistake." Well I'm never one to pass up an opportunity to see someone else’s take on the never ending debate about the color of Captain Kirk's Tunics - So I ran to check it out!

   Original story and photo alteration by Zac Kellian for SCREEN RANT. * Click Image for Link

Written by Zac Kellian, the blog entry's first statement is absolutely correct. The evidence is overwhelming that The Original Series' famed Costume Designer William Ware Theiss absolutely intended Starfleet's Command Division to wear some shade of green. He quite correctly points out that Captain Kirk occasionally wore darker green colored wraparound tunics, but strangely he seems oblivious to the presence of Kirk's green Dress Uniform tunics, or the Command Division's green coveralls which would have further backed up his "theissis." BUT, his story completely falls apart after that one statement with his next line. 

Command Division Green from TOS. A crewman in coveralls, Kirk in his Season 1 & 2 Wraps, and Dress Uniform. 

He says, “Believe it or not, all of the original series Command uniforms were originally lime green.” 

It's not really his fault. Mr. Kellian means well enough, but falls victim to something that has plagued everyone who only dips a single toe into the deep ocean of what’s become a debate without end, “The Great Kirk Tunic Color War.” 

Misinformation. The interwebs are full of it. 

A cursory Google search just can't impart a lifetime of research, but Mr. Kellian's blog is written with all of the certainty of someone who has read just one line of a PhD dissertation, and then puts all his journalistic weight behind his shocking discovery. 

He is, of course, incorrect.  

Captain Kirk in his “Avocado Gold/Green,” Command Division Uniform in season 3’s  “The Paradise Syndrome.” 

No Zac, they weren't “Lime Green,” or “Apple Green,” or any other shade of Green. Captain Kirk's Regular Uniform Tunics were Gold. 

It's an easy and understandable mistake to make. 

Many have. Many still do. 


About twenty years ago in the earliest chat rooms and message boards set up to discuss Star Trek's uniforms, someone would inevitably come along and say, "Guys! Did you know Captain Kirk's yellow shirt was really green?!?" 

Rage Mode Activated

New people in the hobby would gasp & say, "No way, that’s amazing" while more experienced people would simply say "Here we go again." Sigh. I guess it's my turn. 

ANOVOS’ Premier Line STAR TREK Original Series Season Three Command Uniform Tunic. 

What people were referring to was Captain Kirk's 3rd Season nylon, Command Gold Uniform Tunics. They’re tunics that we’re all incredibly familiar with at ANOVOS. They’ve been one of our most accurate and popular replicas since entering the marketplace over a decade ago. 

How do we know they’re accurate? We use the original materials, and most importantly - the original color dye formula, from the original dye house, which was developed & used for Star Trek in 1968 & ‘69. 

We know they’re right because we’ve been granted access to examine and compare original Star Trek uniforms that survive in the archives maintained by ViacomCBS, and in private collections.  

That's me with a couple of Third Season Command Tunics, corrected to demonstrate the fabric’s  “avocado” color. 


The third season Command Tunic has always been a very peculiar color. It was described by Bill Theiss as an "Avocado Gold/Green'' which is to say that it’s a shade of yellow with a touch of green to it. It's certainly NOT "lime green" or anything even approaching that shade.


It's a weird color to be sure. 

To the naked eye, in natural light, it appears to be almost more green than gold, but when photographed...it turns gold. 

Now there are a number of reasons for this color shift. 

A bisected avocado for reference

From the particular Eastman/KODAK 5251 color negative film used for TOS, to how it was processed, to the various colored gels used to light the interior of the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE. But, I've found (and demonstrated to countless people at conventions over the years) that something about photographing these tunics - even just looking at them through a camera's shutter - turns them gold. 

Every damn time. Weird.

Season 3 Uniform tunic as originally televised, and color corrected for the remastered “Requiem for Methuselah.” 

The 3rd Season Command Tunic is the origin of this particular color phenomena, but Zac compounds his mistake - like so many others before him, by assuming that same information must apply to all of Captain Kirk's gold uniform tunics (and of course Sulu & Chekov's) worn throughout the series. It's probable then that he's simply unaware that the velour (actually brushed tricot) fabric used for the first two season's uniforms was a different shade of gold altogether, and unquestionably yellow (no matter how green he photoshopped Captain Kirk's tunic for his blog). 

The original image of Captain James T. Kirk from Season 1 -- The gold velour tunic in “The Alternative Factor.” 

In the first (and best) two seasons - the tunics worn by Captain Kirk and others belonging to the Command Division were a warmer citrus based yellow that under certain lighting conditions picks up the faintest greenish twinge. But they remain an almost perfect yellow on a Pantone Color chart. A yellow we copied from original references in the archives & allowing for color drift over the course of five decades.  

ANOVOS’ 50th Anniversary Season 1 Velour Tunic laying on a Season 3 Premier Line Tunic, in sunlight.  

The truth then is far more involved than just saying all of Kirk’s shirts were “originally lime green.” The fact is that none of them were. Even the wool wraparound tunics which WERE green were different shades entirely. You can see that yourself by simply watching the remastered Original Series. The Season 1 wrap was almost olive, while season 2 was colored more like Kermit the Frog. 

ANOVOS’ Season 1 & Season 2 Captain Kirk Wraparound Tunics 

In any case, the shirts he was trying to talk about were conclusively yellow/gold (with maybe a hint of green). A better headline for Zac’s blog would have been “Captain Kirk’s Iconic Uniform Color Was Complicated.” But I guess that's just not as buzz worthy. 😒

Captain James Kirk wearing his Second Season gold velour Command Tunic on Pyris VII, in “Catspaw.”  

Honestly on my first readthrough of Zac’s blog, I just wanted to ignore it. I hoped I could. I really didn’t want to write about it at all. I just wanted it to go away. BUT, I’ve been in the trenches too long. I’ve been a soldier in “The Great Kirk Tunic Color Wars” (from both sides of it) for decades. 

Mr. Kellin’s blog entry - as harmless as it might seem - is a new front in that fight. Already it’s being fired off to different corners of social media and paraded around as “proof” for the green side in this never-ending hellscape of debate. 

For example, recently it was reposted by the Roddenberry Entertainment facebook page, and just from there it’s been shared 208 times. 208 people spreading nothing but misinformation to who knows how many people, and that’s just from one post! 

Imagine the damage it’ll do by the weekend.

That was nothing compared to the bloody, open warfare of “The Great Kirk Tunic Color Wars.” I have seen mild mannered costumers turn into wild berserkers on virtual battlefields. 

I’ve seen heads explode like watermelons and people compare the color of the rind to one of Kirk’s wraps. Dark stuff. You wanna be a hero? Spread this response instead. Anywhere you see that insidious Screen Rant story, retort with this. 

Maybe, just maybe we can spread some truth out there. 

Doctor McCoy, Captain Kirk, and Commander Spock of the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE in Season One’s “This Side of Paradise.”   


Stay Safe, and Live Long & Prosper, 
-John

*Screen Rant Article Reference  https://screenrant.com/star-trek-kirk-uniform-tos-original-series-green-yellow/


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Cooley

John is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS

(P.S. Now that’s a green tunic 😃)

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Captain's Alternate Uniforms | Wraps

Did you know that from the very start of STAR TREK, a captain has always had the option of wearing a different uniform of the day from the rest of the crew? 


During TOS, Captain James T. Kirk often wore one of two Command Green Wraparound Tunics. The First of these (and my favorite) can be seen in episodes like "The Enemy Within” and “Court Martial”. 

I always thought it looked sharp. It's more structured and detailed than it's brighter second season counterpart. 


I especially loved it's early first season “reverse helix” captain's rank braid on the shoulders. 

Original Series costume designer William Ware Theiss was an absolute genius when it came to details and the braid on the shoulders is a perfect example. 

On one level you can see where the shape he's chosen resembles the gold oak leaf clusters (sometimes called "Scrambled Eggs" by military service members) that adorn the bills of Command grade officer's service caps in the Armed Forces. 

On another level Mr. Theiss is playing with a shape he used time and again and would eventually influence the design of the shoulders on his first season Next Generation uniform jumpsuits. 

STAR TREK™: THE ORIGINAL SERIES  

Captain Kirk Green Wrap - Season One

The green wraparound tunic Captain Kirk wears during the first season of Star Trek™: The Original Series is an optional tunic Starship captains are permitted to wear while on duty. The uniform displays his rank braid around the collar, and fastens using his Starfleet command division insignia.

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The Season two wraparound tunic is a bit less structured and so more form fitting than the season one version. It's also a slightly different weight of wool, and a lighter, warmer shade of green than the earlier version. 

This style was worn in a number of episodes including "A Journey to Babel" and "The Trouble With Tribbles." Our replica of this famous uniform was designed with the invaluable assistance of the amazing Greg Jein. 

Jein was gracious enough to allow us to examine an original 1967 wrap from his incredible collection. From this original William Shatner screen worn tunic we were allowed to take measurements, photos, and patterns, which enabled us to reproduce an extremely exacting replica that matches the original in every way including fabric weight and color.

STAR TREK™: THE ORIGINAL SERIES 

Captain Kirk Green Wrap - Season Two

This tunic uses custom-milled and dyed wool fabric and features second season captain's rank braid on the cuffs, Starfleet Insignia on the wraparound hook and loop fastener, and even utilizes the unique system of elastic “hook and eye” straps that attached the hem of this high waisted tunic to the uniform’s pants.

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We worked hard to capture the essence of these screen-used original uniforms, so no expense was spared in faithfully recreating both of Captain Kirk's wraparound tunics.  

 We had the fabric custom milled & dyed, and discovered that the only way to attain the correct look and complex cornering was that each piece had to be hand stitched. A process requiring no less than three workers to complete each replica.

Of course the tunics feature Captain Kirk's Starfleet Command Division Insignia on the wraparound hook and loop fastener of his belt. And both of them utilize a unique system of elastic “hook and eye” straps that were used to attach the hem of this high waisted tunic to the uniform’s pants.

I love these uniforms! Command Green, and ready for anything. 

Whether Captain Kirk was fighting himself, or trapped in a mountain of tribbles - he always looked cool in the final frontier!


🖖 LLAP,

 John

John Cooley

John is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.


Season One Size LARGE

$750

Season Two Size LARGE

$675

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