LEDs and Building Workbees

One of the reasons why I anticipate the building of the kit for my Enterprise project taking quite a long time, is that a lot of researching and exploration on some of the intricate detail and lighting of the model has to be worked out. How those minor details, even about parts of the overall final display which are some of the “secondary” detailing, have a large impact on how the model is built, painted and assembled.

For example the “carried vehicles” in the shuttle bay and “around” the Enterprise are going to be detailed, and lit as well. Things such as the one-man workbees, shuttlecraft, and travel pods.

These are extremely small pieces at 1:350 scale. And almost nobody has even attempted to make them internally light as well so that they appear flying in and around the Enterprise model itself as they did in various scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

To further complicate the matter, some of the included parts for these carried craft in the original kit are not accurate in shape. Specifically the travel pods and workbees. Even painting and detailing these parts are very difficult even if they are used as is, and not further modified to include lighting.

While it may seem like these can be addressed after the Enterprise part of the model is built, you have to work backwards to achieve the level of results I am shooting for. How I approach correcting and hyper-detailing these, and more specificlly lighting them, has a large impact on how some of the subassemblies in the kit that need to be pre-built and painted before being put into the model.

leds-01For example, the workebees are so small, that they will require an lighting method external to themselves. Either through a small wires powering 1.8mm surface-mounted-device light-emitting diode (SMDs LEDs), or an LED light source hidden elsewhere within the model and feed into the worse through something like single-filament 0.25mm diameter fiber optic threads.

So that needs to all be throughly worked out before you can approach building the shuttle and cargo bay area subassemblies.

The same level of consideration goes into some of the cabin and interior spaces within the Enterprise which are viewable through even the small portholes in the hull. Particularly the larger windowed areas such as the botanical garden, officer’s lounge. These have their own parts such as trees, furniture and such, which need to be hyper-detailed before being placed within the model.

One of the things that seems like a lot of modelers stumble over, for those who even attempt interior detailing and lighting, is not understanding the “stage-lighting” aspect of setting a scene. Many seem more concerned about blasting as much light into these subassemblies to light them up With little consideration or care it seems about the “natural” way interior spaces and rooms are lit in the real world. Even large more “industrial” areas such as cargo bays which are more akin to the lighting inside a warehouse.


Officer’s lounge on the Enterprise.

Areas such as the officer’s lounge are particular vulnerable to this issue. In that the purpose of those interior spaces if the Enterprise was real, needs to be considered and factored into how they are modeled. Also factoring into it how the real-world sets and a real lounge space would and are lit for the camera and how they ended up looking onscreen has an impact. The key is to get “in-scale” lighting to be produced within the model in the same or similar manner that actual lighting in a room or interior spaces are lit in the real world.



Real world example of indirect lighting.

This calls for installing throw lamps and other in-room lighting methods which is indirect. Even table and floor lamps are almost always indirect in that a lampshade or the bulb being recessed in a lamp enclosure make it indirect lighting. Even ceiling-can lighting means that 90% of the time you never actually look at or see the bulb. But the softer cast lighting of the “thrown” light reflecting in lighted puddles or areas on the floors, walls, furniture, etc. within a space.

So in order to get that worked out, and in-scale, poses a real though challenge as well as a design and model-building exercise in micro fabrication. That also means how to detail and scratch-build the micro furniture, wall hangings, the wall and floor coverings, etc. all of which need to be considered, fabricated and worked out in advance.

The upshot of this (and a lot more) as to correcting and making accurate to what was seen not he screen, in micro-scale to the naked eye, requires digging around for the set drawings, the fan-based and created blueprints, watching video and doing endless screen-captures, pouring over second unit photography (where they can even be found at all) and more.

Hence why an inordinate amount of time is being invested before any of the model actually starts being built, painted, etc. This is also one of the other aspects of why I am documenting and blogging about it all. To both keep a record of it all, but also as a sort of workspace as I go through this in-depth, often maddening process.

Hopefully it will also help convey to others, particularly people such as my better-half, who are left with having Mitch lost in his mania and geekdom. Hopefully it will provide a little insight into what he is doing and why. I know for most it may seem going down a rabbit-hole of fan/geekdom. But I also have confess I really do enjoy it all.

Anyway, enough for now while I correct a few scans I made of some blueprints and production art which will afford me the ability to make some 3D scale mock-ups in the coming days and weeks in SketchUp to help me work out some of the things I described above.


2 thoughts on “LEDs and Building Workbees

  1. Pingback: More Website Tweaking | Third Wave Design

  2. Pingback: Acetate Workbees and a Sense of Scale | Third Wave Design

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