The rumored new old Enterprise is not the real McCoy (good, because that will keep the surprise). It's the work of CG artist Gabriel Köerner, who is the author of the video above and the gallery after the jump. However, they may not be far from the truth, according to the new Star Trek's co-writer and executive producer:
[UPDATE: turns out Gabriel is a Gizmodo fan. He sent us even more pictures and answered a few of questions about his Star Trek artwork as well as his current job: special effects for another "remake", the new Wachowski Brothers movie Speed Racer]
According to Roberto Orci, writing in the Trekmovie forums where the story was debunked, "they [Köerner renderings] are quite beautiful. A lot of nice work. You just can't deny the shape of the ship, which is so great—so elegant. Can't wait to show show you ours. With flames."
We can't wait either. Specially if Jimmy's warpster comes with sprayed flames. Here's a gallery of Gabriel's work on the ship:
UPDATE: mini-interview with Gabriel
Jesus Diaz: So how much time did it take you to model the Enterprise?
Gabriel Köerner: It's still evolving. Labors of love do that. I had the idea in fall of 2005, and it became a paid commissioned piece for publication around Christmas and was delivered in March of 2006. I worked on it off and on after work. I'm rethinking the design and am working on a smoother, more classic faithful that I am still working on. It gets done whenever it gets done, I intended to pitch it for the movie but perfectionism kept it from being ready before Ryan Church finaled their ship, which I still have not seen. I root for this project, I'm not a vitriolic forum fan, so I'm hoping to love it. But I'm as opinionated about Matt Jeffries' design as those who have criticized mine.
JD: So it ended in a calendar...
GK: My friend Doug Drexler, friend of ten years with whom I've worked on Battlestar Galactica, edits a calendar called 'Ships of the Line' that features 12 months of artwork from Star Trek visual effects and art department alum. CG and traditonal art are represented. He gave me a spot after I worked on Enterprise, it was a paying piece and I was giddy about getting to finish my fanwank for a check.
But then there are the people who actually bought this rumor and considered it a viable candidate for a 100+ million dollar feature film re-introducing a pop culture icon.
JD: What where your inspirations for this version?
GK: I took inspiration from old Chryslers, women, Starship Troopers, women, art deco, and Jonathan Ive, and mid century modern design. I'd have given Kirk a cap'n's chair version of a bolstered Eames recliner, for example.
I wanted a flying Jayne Mansfield, Captain James Tiberius Muthafuckin' Kirk's Flying Sex Machine. His hot rod. The only lady he keeps around longer than a beamdown to the planet of the week.
The prongs on the front of Syd Mead's Sullacco from 'Aliens' gave me the idea for the deflector dish. If the rest of the ship was graceful curves, the deflector is the 'asshole' of the ship, the part that no matter how sexy you are, you still have an asshole. In retrospect that feature doesn't work, its where the 'Borg' comparisons I've received were drawn, and my next iteration brings it back to the classic satellite dish, albeit a thinner antenna and the addition of a smaller 'sub dish' to give it scale and detail.
After the calendar, which was a rush job with an ugly bare metal surface, I tried to matte the ship down and bring it further along. Then I decided its chunkier lines doesn't make it Flying Jane Mansfield. Its more of a linebacker. The lady is still there but she's wearing a bulky 80's shoulder-pad suit. I posted those pictures on myspace and on forums, and they got mixed response. Some love, some feel mad enough to email a guy they don't know to shit on his work without offering advice or a take with better design sensibilities. I laugh that off, and am just happy its inspired enough bile in people to actually be upset.
Which is crazy because I didn't do this by committee for fandom, that'd be the same hindrance as doing it for producers. I was free to approve it as I saw fit. It was for me. It was my love letter, not theirs. And its not going to go up on film (unless they wanna blow their ship up and make mine 1701-A on their 3rd film!), so why be so upset? Its like I raped their cat or something.
My next iteration loses the hard lines, tones down the recesses and gives her back her ladylike sex appeal. I haven't painted her up but the shape is there.
I took the art deco cues further, and made chrysler and vintage radio style metal grills of horizontal metal lines. Can't do chrome in space but it'll be a very specular metal.
This is how this got started. I have been a lifelong fan, and I had two big creative dreams about Star Trek projects I'd have liked to have done. One was a series set well before the original series that would ask the question, "How did we get from here to utopia?" and could see in my mind's eye what the show would look like, in terms of contemporary acceptability and an aesthetic arrow pointing to the original show.
THIS is why Enterprise was not an inspiration at ALL:
They did my dream show, and closed the book on doing a good take on that concept. It was essentially a surrogate Original Series, and if it never paid lip service to the classic, it's a prequel to The Next Generation. It shared TNG and Voyager's look, feel, scoring, pacing, dialog, storytelling that centered around a white male Captain, a logical Vulcan to be his judgement, and a southern man of bold feelings to be his conscience. Nothing about it was daring or different. An awful vocal soft rock theme, taking 'Star Trek' out of the title, guys in button-down shirts and ties, little more rough language and whipping up 'prequel' words for all the same luxurious technology does not make a 'Proto-Trek'. Its producers blamed its premise for being 'too different to accept' for its demise. It was that it WASN'T different. You can turn on the modern spinoffs and identify them by production value/style in five seconds. "This is Star Trek??!!" would've worked. Not treating the premise as superficial candy coating that if stripped makes it yet another 'Star Trek Colon Something' show.
The other dream project was precisely what J.J. Abrams is doing now: A re-conception of the original series. I thought Enterprise's maybe 10 years after Enterprise's run I'd have had a shot to pitch it, I'd love to make a couple genre films and get a rep enough to be taken seriously. It was my dream film, and I would've tried as hard as possible to piss off the fans by kicking it in the ass and flipping it upside down, including the look. Think about it, you're defining Star Trek for new audiences, because Kirk, Spock et al are timeless archetypes and the Enterprise is a lady. I was a bit melancholy about someone else having the chance that not only sets the stage for this film, but future foreseeable Star Trek projects.
So before J.J. Abrams announced his film, I began a hobby project to define what I'd do with the Enterprise: Retain the shape, retain the proportions, pay homage to its strongest features, and pretend in my mind's eye there is no Next Generation, Deep—okay, DS9 can stay, Voyager, Enterprise... see it from the same blank page that Andrew Probert had for 1979's beautiful updated Enterprise, which I love and did not care to try to imitate.
There have been speculative misconceptions about what inspired me. Some have called it 'Battlestar Enterprise' because they think my on-again-off-again freelance relationship with that show influenced me. Not my intent. Its also been called 'Borgified' and a step between spinoff Star Trek: Enterprise's title ship and the original, which is not my intent. I don't care at all for the Enterprise spinoff's choices, despite the fact that it's designer is a very good friend. People are too quick to blame the artist, who is solely a conduit to visualize their boss' vision. Sometimes the boss' lack of aesthetic sense can cause some bad lines and intrusive features to hinder its silhouette.
JD: What did you think about the reaction that the picture got? Some people loved it, others hated it...
GK: I was amazed that someone spreads this picture and it creates huge impact, gets all over high-traffic sites like Ain't it Cool News and Gizmodo which I read daily, and even Entertainment Weekly got in touch with me, telling me jpg's of mine floated through their offices months before and asked if it was indeed hijacked for the film. Its very flattering, and I promise I was not the one who planted this!! My imdb entry gets updated by others besides myself, someone else did a wikipedia entry for me and even corrected some of my corrections! Some people have way too much time. If you met me for five minutes, you'd know I'm not a human being who deserves the attention.
JD: What are your current projects?
GK: I have been on the Wachowski's "Speed Racer" for nearly a year, creating digital car models and doing lighting / look development on shots. The script is solid! Our trailer, which will be on Golden Compass, turned out great, and I think, despite a very kid and family friendly feel, will be a movie that kicks ass, makes money, and sells toys.
When it slowed down I had the oportunity to head to Universal for six weeks to return to the BSG fold. I had worked on it for Zoic, but they're not on the show anymore and its being handled all in house at Universal, with some of Zoic's artists. I got to create a fully rib-covered version of Galactica for the flashback war sequence, animate some very cool space battle shots, and FINALLY get to animate the Viper mk2 I modeled for the miniseries (albeit updated and in my opinion improved by their in house guy, same guy that modeled Enterprise's NX-01).
As for personal projects, I am getting ready to launch a huge website, which I will not talk about yet because releasing something unfinished (despite including work in progress. But it is Star Trek themed and the first time I've ever partnered with a software company to create the most ambitious web project I've ever been involved with. I have a lot of faith in it.