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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.