V’ger Is That Which Seeks The Creator…

Yesterday evening Christmas came either late (or early). Some production drawings for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (TMP) that I purchased arrived. These were various “blueprint” illustrations, a page of storyboards and design sketches made by Apogee, one of the special effects companies that worked on the film, for building and filming the miniature of V’ger. I had come across them being for sale on eBay last week and luckily my bid won it.

In total there were fourteen (14) pieces in the lot I won. Some were photocopies of originals, but the bulk were original drawings, with one of them on vellum. All but one of them were unsigned, but one of the drawings, one showing the stern portion of Vger, which is the “engine” of the vessel/being, was stamped with the Apogee Inc. title block. The name in the title block was “By: J. Shrout” and it was dated 7/18/79.

Apogee production illustration plans for the aft section of the V'ger by John Shourt dated July 18, 1979. Drawing border size 20" x 10" (50.8 x 25.4 cm) on technical pen on tracing paper. (Image: Third Wave Design)
Apogee production illustration plans for the aft section of the V’ger by John Shourt dated July 18, 1979. Drawing border size 20″ x 10″ (50.8 x 25.4 cm) technical pen on tracing paper.
(Image: Third Wave Design)

This lets us know that it was drawn by John Shourt who was a production illustrator at Apogee. Mr. Shourt also worked as an illustrator on the Clint Eastwood film Firefox, and various other effect crew positions while at Apogee, working on the original Battlestar Galactica (which also came out the same year as TMP), Lifeforce and Spaceballs.

He would later transition into more animation and rotoscope effects work, with credited work on such movies as DeepStar Six, Cool World, The Ghost and the Darkness, Starship Troopers, Inspector Gadget, Hollow Man and Cast Away starring Tom Hanks.

The drawing is the “blueprint” for the V’ger miniatures’ stern section which was intended to be V’ger’s propulsion section, and is the first view of V’ger shown in the film after the Enterprise flies through the massive energy cloud that surrounds the intruder “vessel”.

The drawing shows both the aft view, as well as a side cross-section view of the aft section. While there were some additional modifications and detailing done to this part of V’ger once it was built and filmed after this drawing was done, it is the basic design for this part of the filming miniature.

V’ger In Full

The one vellum drawing is without a title block and is the full side view design of V’ger, which includes the cross-section indicator lines for other detail production drawings, which I would love to find or see but unfortunately were not in this lot. Though this evening I did manage to win another eBay auction from the same seller, which has more V’ger production drawings, and it seems that one of them is one of these cross-section illustration.

Apogee production illustration plans of the side elevation the V'ger filming miniature. Drawing size 18.75" x 9" (47.625 x 22.85 cm), technical pen on vellum. (Image: Third Wave Design)
Illustration of the side elevation the V’ger filming miniature. Drawing size 18.75″ x 9″ (47.625 x 22.85 cm), technical pen on vellum.
(Image: Third Wave Design)

The full side view illustration does not indicate any scaling, though the previously discussed aft-section drawing does.

Whiplash Bolt Launchers

Aside from the engine section drawing, the only other drawing in this lot which included any reference of scale between the drawing and the filming miniature was a work sketch showing the arrangement of the “whiplash bolt launchers” which are the horn-shaped series of towers which launches the powerful plasma energy bolts which threaten Earth in the film’s third act. These are also presumably the source of the lower-power energy bolts which attacked the Klingon cruisers in the opening scene of the film, as well as later attacking the Enterprise when she intercepts the V’ger cloud in the middle of the second act.

Apogee production sketch of the top, side elevation, and lateral elevation of the V'ger whiplash bolt launcher tower configuration, for producing the filming miniature. Drawing size 17 1/32" x 14" (43.32 x 35.55 cm), pencil on white paper. (Image: Third Wave Design)
Apogee production sketch of the top, side elevation, and lateral elevation of the V’ger whiplash bolt launcher tower configuration, for producing the filming miniature. Drawing size 17 1/32″ x 14″ (43.32 x 35.55 cm), pencil on white paper.
(Image: Third Wave Design)

Whiplash Bolt Launcher Tower

There are also two larger work drawings for the whiplash bolt launcher tower(s) themselves. The first is a work sketch showing a lateral cross-section of the largest full whiplash bolt launcher tower. This also includes showing how the main tower extended down into some of the “valleys” within this section of V’ger. It is a single tower which extends toward the center “spine” of one of the six (6) faces that make up the outer hull of V’ger. We know form the final miniature and the film, that the towers were built in pairs, with a mirror version in the same potion on the other side of the “spine” which runs along each face.

Apogee production sketch of an elevation section of the whiplash bolt launcher tower and central spine for producing the V'ger filming miniature. Drawing size 17.125" x 14" (43.5 x 35.55 cm), pencil on tracing paper. (Image: Third Wave Design)
Apogee production sketch of an elevation section of the whiplash bolt launcher tower and central spine for producing the V’ger filming miniature. Drawing size 17.125″ x 14″ (43.5 x 35.55 cm), pencil on tracing paper.
(Image: Third Wave Design)

The other whiplash bolt launcher drawing is another work sketch which shows front and side elevation views of the whiplash bolt launcher tower and how the five (5) different tower sizes could be produced from one basic structure or model part build. This would be accomplished by simply removing several of the “mesa” layers from the full size tower configuration. A cleaver way to make quicker fabrication of these pieces.

Front and side elevation views of the whiplash bolt launcher tower and modification heights. (Image: Third Wave Design)
Front & side elevation views of the whiplash bolt launcher tower and modification heights.
(Image: Third Wave Design)

There is a pieced together set of photocopy prints taped together and built into a drawing of V’ger from the side and front views, with a written title of “Vger : Surface Organization”. This seems to be a bit more of a conceptual drawing with dark marker lines showing somewhat organic forms showing the type of visual movement which does eventual get translated into the lines and forms and contours of the six faces of V’ger’s exterior surface.

Sketch of surface organization the V'ger filming miniature. (Image: Third Wave Design)
Sketch of surface organization the V’ger filming miniature.
(Image: Third Wave Design)

Hexagon Detail

There is a larger drawings is a sketch showing a configuration of detailing within a hexagon. It has captioning which says “detail lines the same relative position as in sketch “A”.” and an indication of the axial direction of this drawing in relation to its orientation on V’ger. I wish I had said “sketch A” as it is not entirely clear what section of V’ger this was representing, or exactly the form or shape of the portion it is illustrating.

Sketch of surface features for producing the V'ger filming miniature. (Image: Third Wave Design)
Sketch of surface features for producing the V’ger filming miniature.
(Image: Third Wave Design)

It is however intriguing and gives a hint at how the design team at Apogee were working out some of Syd Mead’s designs for V’ger. His conceptual designs for V’ger, as evidences by some of his concept paintings and sketch I have seen over the years.

V’ger Storyboard

The other larger piece is a storyboard sketch showing some of the “spine” and “valley” areas of V’ger’s surface. This does look like one of the sequences that was shot and appears in the film. Specifically the shot where after Captain Kirk orders Sulu to take the Enterprise to within 500 meters of V’Ger, and Kirk order “reverse angle on the viewer” as the Enterprise begins its close fly-over.

V'ger storyboard panels created by Apogee Inc. for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (Image: Third Wave Design)
V’ger storyboard panels for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
(Images: Third Wave Design)
“Viewer astern” V’ger flyover sequence from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (Video: Paramount Pictures)

V’ger’s Maw Section

The rest of the drawings were letter size (8.5″ x 11″) ones, of various design sketches of V’ger exterior surfaces. A couple fo them of the “maw” at V’ger’s front end, through which the Enterprise is eventually pulled inside of V’ger, and one showing how this forward section would be arranged on the stage floor for filming.

As a funny aside, there are some loose crude V’ger notes sketches on the back of two of these. And the biggest of mysteries, a set of hand-written driving directions to someplace on the residential street of Pierpont Dr. in Costa Mesa, California, right near John Wayne Airport. This is some 59 miles from Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley where Apogee was located. It includes some cryptic notations such a “Parlor 3” and some pricing 280.00 and “Oaks $375.00” and what is presumably a phone number (961-3000) next to “Mich. Garnin”.

Obviously “V’ger needs the information.”

Hopefully by next weekend I will receive the new set of V’ger production drawings I won at auction this afternoon and will begin posting them as well.

9 thoughts on “V’ger Is That Which Seeks The Creator…

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this treasure, I look forward to your next publication about our beloved Star Trek, I greet you from Montevideo-Uruguay, I leave you my email javiercairo8@gmail.com if you can share it with me in case I don’t see the publication on facebock

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the kind words. And I will try to remember to send you an email when I post next on the new tranche of Star Trek: TMP design drawings from Apogee, which should hopefully be arriving within the next week or so.

      Like

  2. Huge thank you for posting and sharing images these artworks. Some of those smaller sketches seem to be some of Syd Mead’s exploratory design work on the Vger entity. The notations /writing look similar to his quick notes as opposed to the neat handwritten titles he did on his more finished work. Looking forward to your next post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the positive feedback.

      I hope of course that some of these are indeed sketches done by Syd Mead, but I have no way to confirm that. I did get a response from John Shrout when I posted these into an Apogee Productions Facebook group the other day (I had name-checked him in the description of the post) and he did mention that the was responsible for interpreting the Mead’s sketches mainly of the maw portion into 3D forms that could be built and detailed with acid etched parts. Alas, he could not recall details on specific drawings or sketches.

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      • Lestatdelc,
        Thank you for the reply. The Vger model is something that has fascinated me for many years but the lack of available information/ reference as to its design/ construction. Though the recent art and design book on “ Star Trek, The Motion Picture” by Gene Kozicki / Jeff Bond is fantastic, it doesn’t cover the Vger design to a depth that would satisfy my enduring interest in its detail. Still very grateful for any amount of unseen/ unpublished . You done a wonderful job here.

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        • Some good news in that I just received a new tranche of original Apogee V’ger drawings last night. A couple are similar/additional drawings of the “Whiplash bolt launcher” towers, and quite a few more technical drawings for the front maw, and some 1:1 drawings of portions of the power vane valley details on V’ger. I hope in the coming week to get high-resolution photos and scans of these and post them. So stay tuned.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: On the Casing | Third Wave Design

  4. Pingback: V’ger Seeks the Information | Third Wave Design

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