Latest WIP image:
Starting a new ship project this week. A few weeks ago I came across this video of an Ambassador Class model, and the design has been on my mind ever since:
In the past I've been ambivalent about the Ambassador Class design. It looked good from some angles, and others it just looked downright awkward. This particular model suffered some damage to one of the nacelle pylons, and as part of the repair, they lowered the height of the nacelles. This might just be me, but I find it remarkable how that small change massively improved the look of the ship. Before, the nacelles were jammed up against the saucer with no forward line-of-sight, and the pylons were long and ungainly. After the repair, I think it's a solid, well balanced ship that's elegant, but unfussy.
I want to attempt to further refine the design and put my own spin on it, so I created a very low res blocking model of the Ambassador, and started playing with the shapes to see where I'd end up. First and foremost, I wanted to shrink the deflector size, because it prevents an elegant taper to the secondary hull. Along with a few other tweaks, I seem to have arrived at a half-way point between the Ambassador and the Excelsior classes. The new ship is in a rough very low-res form, but the proportions are about dialled in now.
I want to create some well thought out diagrams next, and really plan the modelling process out. Hopefully by the end, I will have a ship that I can get really close up to, without the mesh detail+textures letting it down - something my old Reliant model couldn't really achieve.
That's interesting, I haven't heard about that before. I'm guessing that since the model looks like it's been built for standard definition screens, perhaps they thought that it wouldn't stand up to movie resolutions. Where did you hear that they were thinking of using it?
"After what turned out to be its final production use, the model was briefly considered to make an additional appearance in Star Trek Generations. When the model was residing at Okuda's art department for evaluation to that end, art department staffer Doug Drexler took photographs of the model at that particular point in time which showed damage to the port nacelle strut, conceivably incurred after its final production use, and its shortened repaired one. (X) Its use in the film never coming to pass, the studio model still bore the markings of both the Excalibur and Yamaguchi at the time of its definitive retirement."
I'm not sure, but I believe preparation for Generations is when the nacelles were lowered due to model damage. For whatever reason, they ended up not using it.
One reason the ship may not have been used in Generations might have been due to the generally lower quality of the model and the more simplistic paint jobs. The three models they wound up using were definitely made better, as the Reliant and Grissom models were made for movies and the Nebula class was made using molds from the 4-foot Enterprise. It was also painted similarly to the Enterprise.
Also, that bit was added after its appearance as the Enterprise-C. Before it was used as other ships, (excluding stock footage) the model went through a bit of a refit and various bits of detail were changed or added, such as that bit.
Also, FYI there _are_ two models of the ambassador studio model, regardless of what you might see on some sites incorrectly attributing there being one model to a quote by Doug Drexler (including memory-alpha). So keep that in mind. The E-c model was only used in yesterday's enterprise, the remaining Ambassador model was used for the Yamaguchi, Zhukov and Excalibur. So keep that in mind when filtering out reference material for your work
That actually makes a lot more sense, because the secondary hull is a slightly different shape on the Yamaguchi, Zhukov and Excalibur. That never really fit with the one model that was modified explanation. There are also various other differences, such as the saucer being farther forward. Plus, the Ent-C model was pretty badly battle damaged for its episode. It would probably make more sense to make a second model, rather than "fixing" the Ent-C model, given that Greg Jein's model shop would still have had the molds.
There may have been another reason.
If you never saw the movies and had no idea the Refit and Excelsior existed…and you were asked to imagine a ship half-way between TOS and TNG…the Enterprise-C is what you get….a plain TOS-like lower sensor dome without the Refit’s blocky protrusions, but lowered nacelles like Picard’s ship.
Probert’s Ambassador was TOO good…looking more like a contemporary of the -D in my eyes.
Of course, the -C was an easier build.
This vessel here looks like a Yamaguchi follow on. I’d call it Horatio.
The Council class was closest to the wall art:
That deserves a model. Scroll down:
What Probert’s wanted:
A good future project?
I did an updated version of the Ambassador-class myself, but I left the nacelles fairly original and went with putting an angle on the pylons instead of the 90-degree corner. Sort of wishing I'd been more adventurous with the nacelles now...
I'd be interested to see what your take on an Ambassador update looks like. It's an interesting era to look at because it's not as heavily depicted in episodes as the late 24th century. It gives some leeway as to how you go about designing for the period.
As for how this design is shaping up: Well... It's definitely starting to take more and more Excelsior elements as I further work into the design. Here's what I'm planning for the nacelles. The bussard collectors are also getting influenced by what's on the Enterprise-B. I think it's going to evolve into a mish-mash of Lost Era elements.
The thread for my finished Ambassador-class is here:
There's a WIP thread buried somewhere on the site, with all the slow, gradual progress as well as some close-ups of things like the shuttlebay and navigational deflector.
Those straightened pylons work really well with the rest of the Ambassador Class shape. I think you've made a great update to the ship there.
I've had a bit more time over Christmas to work on my own plans. It's even more of a combo of Excelsior and Ambassador now:
Definitely loving all the Excelsior-ish bits in there. Makes the Ambassador feel like more of an evolution. Are you sticking with the saucer impulse assembly, or are you going to have an engine on the neck as well?
It will have an impulse engine in the neck, because I'd like to make the model with saucer separation capability.
I haven't had much time lately to make progress with this project of late, but I've made a little more of the diagram:
That's also obvious in the episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" in HD. It's an odd choice to have them raised like that and to have so many panel separations. Also, only the saucer is that way, the engineering hull actually has really fat grid lines and not that many of them. My guess on the saucer is that Greg Jein was trying to give the design more detail without doing complex Aztec painting, as that's likely a process that would have taken time he didn't have. The ship was originally only intended to be seen from a distance, but the script was one that was a pain to get together, and it took at least up till shooting to get it together. So, the needs of the model probably changed with each script revision.
As for anyone doing that in CGI, I've never seen it either. It would be interesting but also an anomaly as all other Starfleet ships have the lines sunken in, not raised.
Glad to hear I'm not the only one. If you do yours this way SCE2Aux it will be interesting to follow.
When I did my Ambassador-class variation, it was a very conscious decision early on to toss out ALL the existing grid lines and go with something that better fit what we see on other ships. Saucer and neck were fairly easy...the lines on the engineering hull were a nightmare. I wanted them to follow the shape of the hull, but that looked awful once all the window were added...so I had to change them to horizontal so the windows fit.
fun fact, on the original blueprints and even the yama refit, Sternbach clearly noted the lines were meant not ment to be actual cutouts, the original shield lines on the ambassador were practically identical to the excelsior.
If you look a smidge closer on the C, the shield lines are actually in the centre of the blue strips, they aren't outlining the blue. Just the paint detail gives that impression. The c model itself just has the single lines like the D.
Ah, I see. Yeah, the paint job on the ship is definitely very interesting. Greg Jein seemed to like multi layer paints to give an impression of depth. His model of the Enterprise-D had a layered paint to make the panels stick out more, as opposed to the very flat paint on the ILM model.
I've altered the nacelle struts on the blocking model to look a bit more forward-swept.
I would suggest adding a 2,3, or 4 to the registry number when you label her. Unless she was commissioned around the same time as the Excelsior, and we are merely looking at her refitted form.
The Ambassador class is another of those designs I want to do, and given how many variants there are, I'd probably like to do more than one.