2010-02-22

Blender Volumetrics and the Type-7

"Axeman" at Flare and TrekBBS has been working on a model of the Type-7 shuttlecraft that I really wanted access to . . . the Type-7 remains one of my all-time favorites, and I wanted to be able to check the volume and just size it up against other vessels.   After all, the poor things were largely forgotten, and really . . . comparing a Type-7 to any of the ugly Eaves-designed monstrosities (like any of the Enterprise-E shuttles) makes it clear that Probert's little babies are the best, right?

Holy cow, what have I done?

Axeman's Type-7 was a LightWave ship, and though I'd seen that there was no direct import function in SketchUp, and while I saw that there were costly solutions for converting the file, I decided to look once again for anything free that might do it.  Turns out my Google-Fu failed me last time, because this time I finally found Blender.   It's apparently a kickass freeware raytracing and mesh-making cross-platform and free program, and it will import and export to the two major formats of interest.  And, I saw reference to a volume calculation script.

 . . . Or so I thought.  Holy sweet crap what a funky UI that thing has.  SketchUp was sufficiently simple that I was able to get up and running pretty quick.  But Blender looks like a Linux programmer just saw Windows 3.11 and decided to try his hand at a UI.  I finally got the Type-7 to import to where I could see it, but then the funky Python script-running in Blender did nothing at all when the script finished.

But no matter, I simply exported that puppy to a .3ds and imported it within SketchUp. 

(3D Studio Max has a stupid proprietary file format, by the way, a .max that nothing else can read.  The older and more open 3D Studio format is .3ds, and is preferred.  However, there is the suggestion of a free version of Deep Exploration from years ago that might help with .max files here.)

When I rescaled the Type-7 (which was the size of the default dude's big toe), I got her up to 8.5 meters or so, which EAS has as the correct length.  I ran the volume ... and the program seemed to lock.   So I killed it, restarted, and tried again at 10% accuracy. 

The result?  59.436 cubic meters.  

But that blew my mind, because the Type-6 is somewhere in the 26 range.   (Here's a SketchUp model that reads 22, but I think that might be a tad low.)  Turns out, though, the figure is probably correct.  I had no idea, but the Type-7 is really quite huge compared to the now-puny-seeming Type-6.  I noticed the 8.5 meter EAS length for the Type-7 compared to 6m for the Type-6 (is that right?), but didn't think much of it . . . but in concert with how wide that big girl is, she really overwhelms the Type-6.




I have to say, now, after pondering the use (from an in-universe sense) of the Type-6 and derivative Voyager shuttles . . . what the hell?  Unless they're little mass-produced sports cars by comparison to the curvilicious but large Type-7, it doesn't make sense to me why they'd always want to fly those wee things.

But then again, these are the same people who often took Type-15 shuttlepods, which you could almost park in the rear of a Type-6 were it not for the wee impulse nacelles, so nevermind:



(And yes, I found a .3ds Type-15 that I was able to snag off of a web archive version of the old Star Trek: Australia site, may it rest in peace.  But the volume function in SketchUp doesn't act correctly on it.)

8 comments:

  1. Axeman's LightWave plugin shows 61.1 cubic meters, so chances are when I update the Volumetrics page again it'll read 61 meters.

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  2. Well, as much as I share your general opinion about Eaves, I must confess that I actually like his Enterprise-E and her shuttles. I think that in this case he has managed to capture plausible look of the next-gen Starfleet :)

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  3. The Enterprise-E is beautiful, but I have to agree with G2k on this one: her shuttles are hideous.

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  4. Anyway, it would be interesting to see the volume of aforementioned type 11 shuttle :)

    If there's no available model, I believe I could extract low-poly model from Elite Force 2. While not perfect, it could give us at least a rough estimate.

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  5. Wouldn't it make sense for a smaller ship like Voyager to have smaller shuttles too?

    No sense filling the hold with things you don't use too much anyway ;)

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  6. I have a Type-11 that I need to work on . . . I think it's reading low.

    And the Enterprise-E has some nice qualities, but I dislike it:

    1. Design-wise, the bridge size is screwed up. Sternbach and Zimmerman made the Intrepid perfectly in this regard.

    2. Continuity-wise, I see no reason for the ship to have such excessively long nacelles.

    3. Continuity-wise, the nacelle glow area is all wrong. It should be on the sides.

    4. Aesthetically, it seems like Eaves never figured out what was going on on the topside where the saucer meets the engineering hull. It's a kludge there.

    5. Aesthetically, it's a complete throwback design that doesn't befit the TNG-era starfleet. In the saucer and engineering hull (and nacelle length) it would better represent the Enterprise-B.5 or C.5 rather than the E.

    My personal favorite would be something like this:

    http://flare.solareclipse.net/ultimatebb.php/topic/7/1540/2.html#000022

    That looks kind of like what a Probert or Sternbach might've done with the idea had they been tasked with revamping the TMP ship in a TNG-future way.

    *****

    Basically, it's just another clumsy and ill-considered Eaves design, in my view. It's very rare for me to see an Eaves design that is either notably distinct or remotely plausible.

    Compare that to the Sternbach or Probert designs, which are usually the above and then some.

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  7. And yes, where the hell were the shuttlepods on Voyager, anyway? It would've made their shuttle losses a little more plausible if most of them had been those cheap little pods.

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