Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise

Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise

Paul Olsen’s new E-book Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise. The entertaining Hollywood story of who designed, built, and painted her.

Book Description -

A full-length ebook that tells, for the first time, the complete story of the Enterprise, how the haunting song ”A Whiter Shade of Pale” is directly connected to the artist landing this life-changing gig to paint her in opalescent pearl, shoeing him into wonderful movie business in glamorous Hollywood. Plus a complete modeler’s guide and contributions from the designer and builders of the Enterprise…and much, much more

Paul Olsen gave 5 talks in 3 days at Destination Star Trek London in October.  He said on his website olsenart.com that he was so moved by his experience and the people he met and that he spent the next month writing the book titled “Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise” . Obtaining the input and pictures from Richard Taylor who designed the model, and Jim Dow who built it. There was also the valuable contribution from Mark Stetson who worked with him at the Magicam model shop where the Enterprise was built.

Destination Star Trek London:

Over on Stage C, fans filled the room to hear from Paul Olsen, who’d airbrushed all the surfaces of the Enterprise model used in The Motion Picture. Olsen, who also worked on TMP’s visual effects, recounted that the model was 8 feet long and cost approximately $350,000; it had originally been 4 feet long and constructed for use in a Trek television project, but when Star Wars came out in May 1978, Paramount and Roddenberry took the decision to make a movie instead. They commissioned an 8 foot long model which could be built in time and for the budget they had allowed for the film. Cinematographers liked to have more surface area to work with when shooting models so they didn’t have to get in so close to the structure and so a 12 foot long model would have been ideal, but it would have been very expensive, difficult to build, and take way too much time to construct…the 8 foot model would have to do.

Olsen used an opalescent automotive paint to achieve the luminous quality we see.  The painted surface had to be absolutely smooth — no dust or any other objects could adhere to the paint or the imperfection would show on camera.  The challenge to finding a dust-free environment was complicated even further due to construction on other sets that was going on simultaneously, so in the end the job took more than 8 months to complete.

The model had about 50 to 100 circuits for all the lights. One night, after the model had finally been completed but before it had been shot for the film, someone decided to demonstrate the lights on the ship to a visitor on set — and blew all the circuits on the ship because he turned them on in the wrong order.  The model makers had to repair all the fried circuitry — so Olsen had to repaint most of the top part of the dish! Olsen’s Enterprise was set to be shipped off to the Air & Space Museum at the Smithsonian — but the decision to make a second film aborted that trip.  The model was put back into service for Wrath of Khan, but this time George Lucas’s ILM team handled the special effects and they had a different method for photographing models. As a result, the luminous finish was painted over with a flat paint — and the only evidence that remains of Olsen’s original paint job is in the movie itself.

Paul Olsen only found out after his appearance at Destination Star Trek London and doing research for his book that the model wasn’t painted over completely by ILM, but dulled down, and that, in fact, much of his pearl paint job still exists on the model which is now at Paul Allen’s Science Fiction Museum in Seattle at the Experience Music Project.

Everything you want to know about the Starship Enterprise, is all in this full length, entertaining book, which then gives you access to the accompanying website.

Order the complete, full-length ebook now for $2.99. Visit the website startrek-enterprise.us

Sources startrek-enterprise.us, Star Trek.comolsenart.com

Marc Stamper

Author: Marc Stamper

Trek geek extrordinaire and the TrekMate tech wizard. Always liked Trek but when TNG started here in the UK I fell in love and have not looked back since. Podcaster since January 2012

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2 Comments

  1. Wow! Your page is lovely, the writing superb, and I want to thank you and compliment you on such a great article. Really—thank you. BUT, may I please offer a couple of corrections: the new Enterprise model was originally 4 feet long for a television special, but when Star Wars came out in May of 1978, Paramount and Roddenberry decided to make a movie instead (after all, their success had been on TV and that’s how they were thinking, until George Lucas turned everything on its head), and commissioned an 8 foot long model which could be built in time and for the budget they had allowed for the film. A 12 foot long model would have been ideal, but it would have been VERY expensive, difficult to build, and take way too much time to construct…the 8 foot model would have to do.

    It took me 8 months to complete the model, not 3.

    I only found out, AFTER my appearance at STDL and when doing research on my book as result of appearing at STDL, that the model wasn’t painted over completely by ILM, but dulled down, and that, in fact, much of my pearl paintjob still exists on the model which is now at Paul Allen’s Science Fiction Museum in Seattle at the Experience Music Project.

    Thank you again for such a terrific article…I am flattered and impressed.

    All the best,

    Paul Olsen

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    • Thanks for the for the compliment Paul. I have updated the article with your corrections. Thanks for your help with this.

      Jon

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