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Archive for August 2nd, 2018

Not to get confused with our buildup series from Jim Small, Jamie Hood has returned to share his research into the paint colors of the Klingon K’t’inga filming miniature featured in STAR TREK: The Motion Picture. Here is the first of three parts…

Who remembers this from a few years back…?

The world cracked in half trying to decipher the real color of this dress. Was it blue and black or white and gold…? (I guessed wrong, but who cares?) I have spent the better part of the last six months studying a similar conundrum in the paint guide for our upcoming 1:350 scale STAR TREK Klingon K’t’inga model kit. The goal is to supply a paint guide that would represent the look of the filming miniature on its first day on set. Why do we have to get that specific? Well, because changes were made to the miniature immediately before, during and after filming. Therefore, the way it looked the day it was first filmed is most likely the way it was intended to be.  This story is a long and winding one, but I’ve learned too much not to share. Besides, I fear that without giving this complete explanation we will get letters about how we got it wrong. The truth is we can’t know exactly what it looked like that day AND no one says a modeler HAS to paint his model to match. You do you. Paint it however you want, but the decoration notes in the kit will be our best advice to this end. I’ve looked at this thing every which way, and though I am confident on the direction we will supply, I just changed my mind about some of these colors again yesterday. Besides determining the design of the small clump of detail that sits on top of the bridge dome, figuring out this color situation has been one of the biggest time sinks of this whole project for me. I’ve spent days (weeks) on both…

Let’s start with what we have to work with. Some of it you may be well aware of, some bits have just been revealed as our team has offered their best evidence for the paint colors that were actually used on the model. I’ll start with what we’ve been aware of for the longest time.

STAR TREK : The Motion Picture – The advent of HD makes it easier than ever to get a decent look at the ship in its appearances on screen although the color of the model was very washed out in some of its appearances. It isn’t the best we have, but it will become apparent how much it offers as I go. Photoshop helps too. It can punch up colors, adjust contrast and even sharpen images. It can actually pull hidden details out of shadows in some cases.

Cinefex 1 & 2 – These classic issues featured behind the scenes info on the effects process that shed a little light on how the model was handled.

Bill George Photo Survey – A few years back FX production artist, Bill George, posted the series of photos he took of the miniature when it was uncrated for the ST6 redressing. I have had a chance to get further info directly from Bill as I’ve been studying the model. He did a great job IMO of photographing the model, but he stated they weren’t taken under the most ideal of situations. Shooting in tight quarters made the color wash out in some images. He said the color temperature of the images matches his recollection of the real model and this statement stood up when I took the step of checking the color balance in Adobe Photoshop. One mystery remains about the model as we see it in his photos though. You will notice a white substance that clings to the panel lines and other details on the model. Some might think it is dust that settled in from storage, but dust wouldn’t have settled just as much into the bottom of the model as it would to the top. This white substance is evenly distributed over the model. Bill said that it wasn’t powdery, but would come off when touched. The best theory we have about this was that it probably had to do with some of the “lightning” effects shown when the ships were destroyed by V’Ger. We have all stared at these great photos for so long, we are used to it and we see it as weathering. It really ties the whole ship together. But if it was used for special effects, was it there the first day of shooting? My working conclusion is “no”.

Michael Middleton Photo Survey – This set of pics was taken outdoors and in one case has an Apogee logo on them. (As I understand it, Magicam built the model and Apogee filmed it.) It is immediately apparent that the model was modified by Apogee after this survey, because details were added to the bridge dome including lights. The greater mystery was what more was modified after this set of photos was taken? Some of these pics have been floating around for a while, but they were low res and the color temperature seemed significantly different than the Bill George series. Trek Production Designer, John Eaves, recently shared high res versions of these images and more. However, they all had the same color temperature problem as the low res versions. These higher res images were released pretty late in the game relative to developing the kit. I wish we had them earlier, but they helped check our work and they also helped determine our color research once the color balance was corrected.

Various other photos of the miniature – These range from a lower rear shot that had been shared online by one of the guys that helped design the ship, Andy Probert. We also found an uncredited photo of the ship literally sitting on its crate after being taken out of storage. There is also a survey of black and white photos. They are relatively low res and they hold little value in determining color. I have been shown a few images that couldn’t be shared (Hey, this is sci-fi modeling… These things happen), but I think I can work around them and still make my point.

“Real” paint swatches – This is the latest and greatest! This was shared by Gene Kozicki who was working with Virgil Moreno’s estate. This is a scan Gene took from the original swatch card. Although it does not show every color used on the ship, it provides notes on a few specific model paints that were used. This lined up with additional information from Paul Newitt that Russ Simpson had brought his own full rack of Floquil paints to use on the miniature. In addition to this, Bill George received a couple paint matches from John Goodson who had run paint scans through the Smithsonian Institution’s database like they did on the ST:TOS U.S.S. Enterprise restoration. Although those results were a bit head-scratching, I think I know how and where they were used. More on these as we go.

In the beginning of my study, I had to consider the possibility that the model may have been completely repainted at some point because the color in the oldest photos looked nothing like the color in the newest photos. But none of the reference photos we have were native digital files or even scans from slides or negatives, but scans of prints. In some cases, old-school photograph color integrity degrades. The original photos (or negatives even) could have color shifted significantly in some cases. So, was it repainted or was it just bad color balance in the reference? “Real” paint swatches helped, but they didn’t solve all the mysteries…

More to come…

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