Warp Point Nine

•September 9, 2015 • Comments Off on Warp Point Nine

After reading “Return to Tomorrow,” including a description of how the jump-to-warp effect was achieved in TMP (multiple long exposures, with the main trail coming from shooting a long exposure with blue fill lighting), I decided that I’d have to give it a shot myself, sooner or later.

Not long after, I tracked down an old render of the Enterprise-E I quite liked, “Apocalyptic Amenity,” since I kept being reminded it of it by the title of the Trek novel “Armageddon’s Arrow.” I even had it as my phone wallpaper for a while, and then felt awkward that I didn’t have any work of my own I could use on a phone, since I never do anything in portrait. I decided that I’d have to give it a shot myself, sooner or later.

So I set up a scene a week or so back. I looked up some iOS wallpaper templates (because it’s not just the screen, there’s also a margin for the parallax effect), and decided to render out a large square version that I could crop down for an iPhone, or leave as-is for an iPad, or crop to who knows what. I aligned it to leave a gap for the date and time, and so the lines of perspective would make a nice dynamic composition. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the Big iPad would become a real thing today, so it’s not quite large enough for that.

I did some test renders, and found I couldn’t get a long-exposure effect in a single render (at least, not by setting the motion blur distance to greater that 100%, attempting to have it encompass multiple frames of action). What I ended up doing was setting up an animation, setting the motion blur distance to 100% so each frame would touch to the next, and then rendering an image sequence for the length of the streak I wanted. After that, I brought them all into Photoshop as layers in a single document with additive blending, creating nice, smooth light trails.

The way I did the rainbow streaks was excessively painstaking. I took out the final warp-jump in the film, and set it as my background in Lightwave Layout. I modeled a single streak, and then painstaking rotated every one into place to match the pattern of the original after lining up my camera to the original shot. I don’t know if the streaks were in the same pattern for the other three warp shots in the film, and I don’t care. I’ll be happier not checking.

TMP Warp iPad

TMP Warp iPhone 5

Refit-Enterprise by Dennis Bailey

Enterprise-Refit Interiors

•June 14, 2015 • Comments Off on Enterprise-Refit Interiors

Last year, around the time the 5K iMac and 2016 Ships of the Line calendar contest were announced, I got the idea of making window boxes for Dennis Bailey’s refit-Enterprise model so as to show more detail in the high-resolution images of the future. This has been my favorite science fiction design for as long as I can remember, so simple textured boxes were right out. I wanted to have furniture, even crew people visible through the windows. It took a while but, the results were worth it.

The layout of the rooms is based more-or-less on the Strategic Designs blueprint set, with some details from Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise and my own interpretations.

The model includes three swappable objects, based on locations that changed between the original Enterprise and the A. The officer’s lounge under the bridge can be replaced with a dining room, the large shuttlebay from TMP can be swapped for the enclosed version from TFF, and the swirling, gaseous warp core from the early movies can exchanged for the pulsing TNG model. The idea is that I could easily mix-and-match to represent other Constitution-class ships of varying configurations. I’m a big fan of the idea that sister-ships shouldn’t be perfectly identical except for the name painted on the front.

The whole configuration also comes in two versions, one in smooth earth-tones as the original Enterprise appeared in the first three movies, and one with more greeblies and silver and blue-gray coloring as the Enterprise-A appeared in The Undiscovered Country.

The crew people are very low-detail, little more than stick figures, but come in male and female, and have various skin tones and hair colors. I also set them up so it was simple to change the style of their uniforms, from the movie-era all the way to the various TNG-era uniforms.

The only drawback is that the lighting for the windows is a little dim compared to the official model, but I’ve been rendering in passes for years anyway, so it isn’t any trouble to brighten up the windows after the fact.

I included some small shots from inside the rooms but, to be clear, this is an exterior-only model. It’s no secret that interiors and exteriors for buildings and vehicles in film rarely match up perfectly, and these are no exception, with compromises made for the Recreation Deck, the Cargo Bay, and the height of all the rooms along the saucer’s edge, especially. Anyone building a model of the interiors of the movie-era Enterprise would have to ignore the outer shape of the ship to get those to look correct. The shuttlebay observation galleries being a half-deck below the window line on the exterior ship could be argued to be a feature of the “real” ship, but I’m not sure I like it.

After I finished the interior, I decided to gussy up the texturing on the main model, as well. I’ve been fiddling with the textures and lighting setup since I first downloaded it, but this time I set out to match the reflective, pearlescent paint job the studio model had for the first Star Trek movie. It ended up being surprisingly straightforward to get multi-colored highlights out of the model’s original textures, and adding reflectivity to the surfaces also required only a little trial-and-error to nail down.

I’ve rendered off shots from three angles so you compare Dennis’s original model to all the stuff I’ve done to it.

My version is on the left, the original on the right.


And here are some full-sized versions of my revamp for you.


You can see more work-in-progress images and read more details about the creation of model in this thread at Foundation3D. The model itself, along with an FBX conversion, and just the crew figures, is also available for download there. You’ll have to modify Dennis’s model to use them, which is why they’re in the “unfinished” section of F3D, but the Read Me explains what you need to look for.

Comparing Notes

•May 21, 2015 • Comments Off on Comparing Notes

“Comparing Notes” was one of three favorite Trek images I submitted for consideration in the 2016 Ships of the Line Calendar contest. This one was a winner! I’d hoped to have a chance to gussy up the render for the calendar, but I ended up only having time to make a couple small tweaks when I re-rendered it at print resolution. I adjusted the lighting so the blue and yellow banding in the shadows that I mention was eliminated, corrected a slightly misplaced light on the Enterprise’s neck that made a harsh shadow, and added some very subtle window boxes to the Endeavour. I didn’t finish the window boxes for the Enterprisethough I have been working on them in the meantime. I also opened up the frame vertically since the aspect ratio of the calendar is taller than I usually make my pictures.

If you want to see the new and improved version on your wall for a whole month, you can order the calendar from Amazon.

Original Post:

Comparing Notes

Having some time to return to Lightwave and a truly spiffy model of the TMP drydock, I decided to address an image bunny which had been itching me for a while. Namely, I’d wanted to do a take on this Andrew Probert painting with the Enterprise reflected pre- and post-refit. I ultimately remembered a photo from 1912 of the Titanic and her sister ship Olympic side-by-side at the repair yard and decided to do something similar.

In this case, the newly-upgraded Enterprise has returned to Earth so the engineers of the U.S.S. Endeavour can get some practical experience with the new designs as they begin to refit their own ship.

I colored the main light as if the sun had just set at that moment. It gives the picture a bit of a sepia tone. It also explains why the image is so grainy, because the photo had to be taken at a very high ISO since there was no more direct sunlight. I pulled the colors from this photo. In retrospect, I botched the lighting a little, as you can see banded shadows because I used two lights, one blue to represent the upper sky, and one red to represent the sky at the horizon. I am, however, very happy with the coherence (for want of a better term) of the image. A lot of times, the different eras of Star Trek can end up looking like totally different universes, and I feel like I avoided that in this one. There doesn’t seem anything at all odd about the original series and movie era sitting side-by-side.

I’m actually thinking I might be able to get a little more milage out of this picture. I may try out some alternate lighting setups.



Observational Humor

•March 3, 2015 • Comments Off on Observational Humor

Recently, my friends Brandon and Dave (as well as their co-host Clay, who I haven’t met but seems like a fine person) began a podcast, Observational, where they discuss documentaries “that are fun, crazy, or mind blowing.” During the development process late last year, they asked me if I would create the album art for the show.

First, we brainstormed a few concepts which I sketched out on pen-and-paper (you can see how I sketch in earlier posts, so I don’t feel like I need to subject you to that again). I then created three mock-ups in Photoshop, using the show’s working title, “Cinéma Vérité,” so we could get a sense of how the real thing might look.


Projector 1

One used a simple film-camera icon with a light-beam coming out of it (which I realized while drawing it really made it more of a projector icon).


Shadow 1

Another, my personal favorite, had a movie screen, with the word “Cinéma” floating in front of it, casting a shadow which formed the word “Vérité.” I appreciated how the concept had levels, pointing out the illusion of cinema in the “This is Not a Pipe” sense, as well as more specifically how there is an inherent tension in the form of the documentary by using dramaturgical and storytelling devices (to different extent than written reporting) while presenting what may be taken to be an objective, factual account. The dichotomy between communicating truth through a medium consisting wholly of illusion is what I’m getting at, here.

If this concept went ahead, it was my intention to create it in 3D, so the lines of perspective and depth effects would match up more effectively than they do in this sketch.


I had another concept that drew on this idea, where a realistic silhouette of a bird in flight would be a shadow cast by a hand-puppet, but I couldn’t think of a way to arrange this in a square still frame that could be seen in forms as small as a postage stamp. It’d be easy enough to communicate the concept in an animated form, so I guess I’ve come up with my production logo, assuming no one else uses the idea in the meantime. Or has used it already, for that matter.


Flim Strip 1

The other alternative I offered was the title of the podcast on a film-strip background.


Just before presenting these, I was told the title of the podcast had been changed to “Observational,” so my shadow-casting idea was out, as it required two words. Of the remaining choices, the film-strip concept was the winner, and we went through the normal process of revisions.



As you can see, after the rough size of the various elements was settled on, I moved to a more realistic design for the film strip for the production version, with properly-spaced sprockets and even a stereo soundtrack.


One thing I hadn’t anticipated was that the icon might be shown tiled on top of itself in a podcast client. When I downloaded the multiple consecutive episodes in Overcast, I realized that was a greater oversight than I had thought.

Overcast Old Icon

I went back to my laughably-named “Final” Photoshop file (one day, I’ll learn to stop using that word) and began adjusting it with tiling in mind. I made the sprockets along the sides take up an even amount of the frame, and adjusted the “film cells” in the center so the preceding and succeeding frames would be cut off in their center. I also added an additional gradient layer to the top and bottom frames to darken them evenly along the edge.

Overcast New Icon



And here, at long last, is the fina— that is to say, most current version.


You can download Observational via iTunes, or wherever fine podcasts are available.

General Reel — Winter 2014

•February 22, 2015 • Comments Off on General Reel — Winter 2014


Reel Breakdown:
“Infinite Zoom for Otronicon 2013” (January 2013) Modeling, particle effects, camera in Lightwave 9.6

“Diaspora” (April 2014) Layout, Animation, Lighting, Particle Effects in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3 Commentary

“The Red Silk Thread” (April 2013) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Animation in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3 Commentary

“Corrosion: The Silent Menace” (March 2013) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Particle Effects in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3 Commentary

“Corrosion: The Silent Menace” Generic Damaged Building Turnaround (March 2013) Modeling, Texturing in Lightwave 9.6

“Prometheus Flyby” (July 2013) Layout, Animation, Lighting, Particle Effects in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3 Commentary

“Dogfight” (September 2011): Animation, Camera, Lighting, Particle Effects, Environment Modeling in Lightwave 9.6

“Car in Forest” (January 2012) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Camera, Animation in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3

Music: “The Last Battle of the Osiris” by Bear McCreary

Edited in Final Cut Pro X

Motion Graphics Reel – Winter 2014

•February 22, 2015 • Comments Off on Motion Graphics Reel – Winter 2014


Reel Breakdown:
Ricoh: “IT Services for Small Business” and “Digital Imaging Services” (March 2013) Animation in Adobe After Effects CS3 Commentary

“Diaspora” (April 2014) Design in Photoshop CS3. Animation and compositing in After Effects CS3 Commentary

Music: “Starfury” by Christopher Franke

Edited in Final Cut Pro X

Something you want to add to this briefing, Captain?

•October 19, 2014 • Comments Off on Something you want to add to this briefing, Captain?

Diaspora is a space combat simulation game set in the universe of the remade Battlestar Galactica, and based on the Freespace 2 engine. It’s super-fun and polished, and if you ever wanted to fly a Viper, you should probably download it now. A while ago, the call came out once again for volunteers, specifically mentioning visual effects animators. I leapt at the chance.

When you ask to join the Diaspora team, there’s an audition process where you’re given a minor assignment in whatever your area is. The original concept for mine was deceptively simple: In several episodes, the Galatica’s “war room” was seen, which had as its centerpiece a large light-table where the crew pushed around little models with sticks to plan attacks, or keep track of battles that were in-progress. The concept was to have a 3D-rendered version of the table and these models, and to show them being pushed around in a cutscene, to replace one of the in-engine briefings for “Shattered Armistice,” the first episodic release of Diaspora.





After some modeling and some R&D figuring out what the best conceit was for how to present it, we settled on the idea that a war room strategy session with the CAG, CO, XO, and other important initials which was recorded by a ceiling-mounted camera, and was being played back for the pilots on the briefing room overhead projector.


After animating the models being pushed around in time to the existing voiceover, I saw there were a lot of holds and dead air, and there were some concepts I was worried weren’t being communicated, such as the location of the missile batteries to be targeted on the enemy ships, so I experimented with cutting in some “gun-cam photos” of the Cylon basestars, and an engineering status screen. These were a hit with the team, so I continued in that vein, using the tabletop models in a supporting role as one visual aid among many.

M2 Gun Cam Vid 2 Missiles

Once I had a completed cut of the briefing, I was officially inducted, which consisted mostly of me getting a little icon on the Diaspora forums implying I know what I’m talking about. Lacking anything else to do, and realizing that it’d be kind of weird to have just one cutscene briefing, I started replacing all the single-player mission briefings for “Shattered Armistice.” Since there was only one mission with a degree of planning or strategic complexity that justifies the use of the war room, I created DRADIS readouts, starcharts, comm-screens, countdown clocks, and whatever else I could think of that the CAG might slap together into a futuristic PowerPoint show for her briefings. I even redid the engineering readout for the first briefing I did, after I’d built up a library of BSG-style computer graphics. And let me give a shoutout to Matt Haley, who recreated the DRADIS screen in Adobe Illustrator and graciously allowed me to use it and build on it in these cutscenes.

FTL System Report Screen Animatable

System Plot M4

Basestar Orbit

The most ambitious section was easily the recording of a pilot being shot down for third mission’s briefing. I animated a BSG-style space-battle, shot from a Viper gun-camera, with no cuts. The most challenging part was working out the timing and animation of the camera, so I could show everything I needed to show, without a lot of dead air, while still feeling like something the player would recognize from the show and, more importantly, from their experiences with the game, where they would’ve been playing the mission this recording was depicting moments earlier.

Battle 1

Battle 2

Battle 3

Battle 4

As a bonus, I created desktop-sized renders of all the tabletop models I created for this project, including several that weren’t used. At least, not in this release.

A version of this post appeared on the Diaspora Developer Blog.

Hey, I Can Do Motion Graphics, Too!

•July 23, 2013 • Comments Off on Hey, I Can Do Motion Graphics, Too!

I was pleased to see that these videos I animated at Ninjaneer have been publicly released.

The project was very straightforward, so there’s not much to sink my teeth into with one of my trademark write-ups. Assets, storyboards, and voiceovers were all provided for us. Heather Knott was lead on the project, and we coordinated and cross-checked to ensure all our flourishes and tweening were consistent, so the videos would have a unified style. The videos were animated in Adobe After Effects from assets provided as Adobe Illustrator files, and compression for delivery was done with Handbrake.

Step From the Road to the Sea to the Sky

•July 22, 2013 • Comments Off on Step From the Road to the Sea to the Sky

A quick animation using Foundation 3D’s favorite new spaceship. There wasn’t much excitement to this. A bit of noise added to the camera to give it some wobble (which YouTube insists on trying to “correct”), and the Jupiter map was recolored in the comp to be an alien planet. The cloud plate was a photo I shot with my phone and then enlarged with this on-line tool, though I still had to do some noise reduction in Photoshop.

The most interesting thing was a new idea I tried to do the heat haze coming from the engines, which I made using After Effects’ “Displacement Map” filter. I created a couple of blimp-shaped dummy objects in Lightwave which I placed inside and behind the engines of the ship. I colored the environment and the ship 50% grey for the render, and gave the gave the haze objects an animated black-and-white procedural noise texture. I had the transparency fade towards the rear and edges of the object with gradients.


The Displacement Map filter can actually drive horizontal and vertical seperately displacement based on separate color channels. I experimented with using colored noise when I rendered the still frames, but it would only make a real difference in an animation.


Prometheus: Russell Tawn
Planet: James Hastings-Trew
Moons: Fridger Schrempp and Björn Jónsson
Rings: Yuri A. Parovin

I also have a trio of 4k stills for your viewing pleasure.




General Reel – June 2013

•June 20, 2013 • Comments Off on General Reel – June 2013

Reel Breakdown:
“Infinite Zoom for Otronicon 2013” (January 2013) Modeling, particle effects, camera in Lightwave 9.6

“The Red Silk Thread” (April 2013) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Animation in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3 Commentary

“Corrosion: The Silent Menace” (March 2013) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Particle Effects in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3 Commentary

“Corrosion: The Silent Menace” Generic Damaged Building Turnaround (March 2013) Modeling, Texturing in Lightwave 9.6

“Dogfight” (September 2011): Animation, Camera, Lighting, Particle Effects, Environment Modeling in Lightwave 9.6

“Car in Forest” (January 2012) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Camera, Animation in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3

“Infinite Zoom for Otronicon 2013” (January 2013) Modeling, particle effects, camera in Lightwave 9.6

Music: “The Last Battle of the Osiris” by Bear McCreary

Edited in Final Cut Pro X

Scene Development Reel – June 2013

•June 20, 2013 • Comments Off on Scene Development Reel – June 2013

Reel Breakdown:
“Corrosion: The Silent Menace” (March 2013) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Particle Effects in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3. Concept Painting by Ryan Bregenzer Commentary

“The Red Silk Thread” (April 2013) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Animation in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3. Concept Painting by Ryan Bregenzer Commentary

“Squeaky Business” (April 2011) Camera animation clean-up in Maya 2011.

Music: “Villa” by Tim Larkin

Edited in Final Cut Pro X

Modeling Reel – June 2013

•June 20, 2013 • Comments Off on Modeling Reel – June 2013

Reel Breakdown:
“Otronicon 2012” Nighttime Building Turnaround (January 2012) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting in Lightwave 9.6 Commentary

“Otronicon 2012” Daytime Building Turnaround (January 2012) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting in Lightwave 9.6 Commentary

“Corrosion: The Silent Menace” Generic Damaged Building Turnaround (March 2013) Modeling, Texturing in Lightwave 9.6

“Puddle Jumper” (Aug 2007) Modeling, texturing, rigging in Lightwave. Commentary  Model Gallery

“The Red Silk Thread” Ship Turnaround (April 2013) Modeling, Texturing in Lightwave 9.6. Commentary

“Apartment Turnaround” (May 2012) Structural Modeling, Texturing, in Lightwave 9.6 Commentary

Music: “Yeesha’s Joyride” by Jack Wall

Edited in Final Cut Pro X

Compositing Reel – June 2013

•June 20, 2013 • Comments Off on Compositing Reel – June 2013


“The Red Silk Thread” (April 2013) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Animation in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3 Commentary

“Car in Forest” (January 2012) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Camera, Animation in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3

“Corrosion: The Silent Menace” (March 2013) Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Particle Effects in Lightwave 9.6. Compositing in After Effects CS3 Commentary

Music: “A New Adventure” by Joel Goldsmith

Edited in Final Cut Pro X

Motion Graphics Reel – June 2013

•June 20, 2013 • Comments Off on Motion Graphics Reel – June 2013

Reel Breakdown:
Ricoh: “IT Services for Small Business” and “Digital Imaging Services” (March 2013) Animation in Adobe After Effects CS3 Commentary

Music: “Supermania” by John Ottman

Edited in Adobe After Effects CS3

Tech the Tech: The Battlestar Galactica’s Hangar Deck

•June 9, 2013 • Comments Off on Tech the Tech: The Battlestar Galactica’s Hangar Deck

Buildings and vehicles in movies tend to have discrepancies between the exterior and interior, thanks to the realities of filming. It’s difficult to build an exterior mock-up to full scale, or construct an interior set to perfectly match the shape of a model. The Battlestar Galactica from the 2003 remake is a rare exception, and after some examination of it, I was surprised by how much effort went in to matching the hangar deck set with the design of the exterior of the ship. Years ago, I built a rough 3D model of the Galactica hangar, based on the model used for set extensions on the show, and I wanted to complete and expand it at some point. I began looking at the design of the ship in more detail in to start to work out a plan. A couple months ago, I found Lee Stringer’s Flickr, which included a bunch of photos taken of the hangar set, Viper Mark II prop, and the construction blueprints for both that were apparently taken during pre-production of the 2003 miniseries as reference for the VFX team to build their 3D versions. This was the motherlode, and I found that I’d have to restart my model from scratch once I compared it to the actual set drawings.

I don’t quite have the time to knuckle down and actually remake my hangar deck model yet based on this new information, but I can write up all the research and extrapolation I did rather than just keeping it in my brain and hoping I remember it all when I get around to it. I also intend to do posts like this (with increasing amounts of extrapolation) for the hangars of the Blood and Chrome version of Galactica, the Pegasus, the Valkyrie, and the Theseus from “Diaspora,” the fan-made BSG-themed game. I’m going to start with the physical set and CG set extensions, then the exterior model, and then synthesize the two together, including a few areas that logically should exist, but weren’t explicitly seen on the show because they can’t go rebuilding their biggest set every week to make the minority of fans watching with a pause button and a slide-rule happy.

The set of the Galactica hangar deck is a standard segment, consisting of four launch tubes with a control room in between them on the outer side. On the inner side is a series of three semi-enclosed areas (two behind launch tubes and a wider one behind a launch tube and the control room) and a tool room. The tool room has a door leading out to the hangar deck, and another door on the inside, apparently connecting to a corridor.


Screen Shot 2013-06-01 at 9.34.57 PM



Each end of the hangar deck can be capped with a variety of endpieces or green-screen set extensions. These are:


Large door


Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 9.51.41 PM

Bulkhead with two personnel hatches



More hangar



Aircraft Elevator



Bare Stage or Plastic Tarps and scaffolding

The Large Door was replaced with a different, more elaborate large door after the miniseries.


Interestingly, the miniseries door continued to appear as a CG element in set extensions for the rest of run of the show, even though in at least one shot, you can see a CG model of the second large door was created (where it, in fact, appears alongside the CG original-style large door).


Both versions of the large door appear to be made of three interlocking segments, but they always move as one solid piece when they are shown retracting into the ceiling. There is one exception. In Blood and Chrome, the miniseries-style door was used for the Galactica and the Osiris hangar decks. While Galactica continues the tradition of showing the door as a single solid piece, when Adama’s Raptor launches from the Osiris, you can just barely see the top piece of the hangar door open first, followed by the lower corner pieces retracting to the sides.

Battlestar_Galactica_Blood_and_Chrome_Unrated_Version_t00_Jun 3, 2013 3.09.43 PM

The original large door has enough room to retract into Galactica’s bulkheads if it split into three pieces, though the second door would cut through the corridor access in the tool room if it retracted in three seperate segments.

Exterior Model:

On the Galactica, there are five clusters of eight launch tubes each. Each cluster takes up four “frames” of the hull. The launch tubes in the cluster are arranged with two tubes, then a rib, then four tubes (with a cutout where the rib should be), another rib, and two more tubes. Each cluster is separated by a single empty frame.


The landing deck of the flight pod has a series of regularly-spaced aircraft elevators. These elevators have taxi-lines connecting them to the runway, and have two square… things… in between each elevator.



There is also a dark grey line outlining the elevator. This is a railing that raises from the deck at certain stages of the elevator’s operation, to prevent hapless deckhands from falling in. This was inconsistently depicted during the show.


Battlestar_Galactica_Blood_and_Chrome_Unrated_Version_t00_Apr 17, 2013 12.04.42 AM


The set contains one half of an eight-tube cluster. It’s ambiguous if there are two tool rooms per cluster, but I’m going to go with there just being the one, since it gives more room for Vipers and Raptors, and while having one in each cluster is logical (no sense having to go over hill and dale to get a wrench because a Raptor is being launched and you can’t cut through the elevator), two seems redundant.

Each cluster is bookended by two aircraft elevators, including the outermost ones. That, along with the occasional presence of a bulkhead suggests there is an additional length of hangar, extending beyond the launch tubes and elevators. Budgetary restraints being what they are, the set representing it still had the launch tubes, though they were usually kept in shadow or off-camera during these scenes to downplay it. The shape of the flight pod suggests that they’re half-sized segments, since otherwise they’d be poking out of the hull as it tapers.

The simplest possibly would that the launch-tube side of the additional hangar area just mirrors the inner side, with Viper cubbies and a second-level walkway. Another possibility is suggested by Blood and Chrome, where a couple of shots show a large door identical to the ones that lead to the aircraft elevators on the outboard side of the hangar.

Battlestar_Galactica_Blood_and_Chrome_Unrated_Version_t00_Apr 16, 2013 11.27.14 PM

Apparently, they lead to more storage, since a later shot shows a pair of Landrams parked behind them. There are a couple of different way these endcaps might sprawl out behind those doors, such as having elevator-sized garages, or even a few additional identical sections of hangar.

I’m going to go with the most capacious option, since there are a lot of Vipers, Raptors, Landrams, and Forklifts that need to be stowed. And who knows where they put those shuttlecraft that are too long for the elevators and too tall for the hangar deck.

Here’s a layout of the Galactica’s port hangar deck, based on everything we’ve gone over so far.


While I was drafting this, before I finished the illustrations, Lee Stringer added another image to his Flickr (hat-tip to Galactiguise for pointing it out) showing a cutaway of Galactica’s flight pod, explaining more artistically how the hangars, elevators, and launch tubes fit into the exterior model of the ship.

Incidentally, the elevators are numbered 1 through 6, from forward to aft. There are wayfinding signs throughout the hangar (such as HB1/04 or HB9/RB or HB1/34), but I’m going to punt dealing with them until I actually model the hangar, mostly because I can’t figure out how to make them consistent. Either HB# refers to the flight pod, in which case there’s only an HB1 and an HB2, and no HB9, and the second number goes up to 40-something or so, or HB refers the the clusters between the elevators, in which case the second number should never go above 8. And the second possibility leads to the question of whether the port and starboard pods share numbers, so there’s an HB1 in each, or if the starboard pod starts with HB7 and continues to HB12. I’m leaning towards the first option, if only because that’s what the leading zero in the second number but not the first suggests.


In the miniseries, Galactica’s starboard landing deck has been enclosed and converted into a museum. As part of the conversions, the starboard launch tubes were rendered unusable. This apparently was never repaired, and the starboard hangar deck was eventually used exclusively for civilian housing and, probably, Joe’s Bar.

In the second season of the show, the Battlestar Pegasus joined the fleet, and was revealed to have an on-board Viper factory. In season three, Pegasus was destroyed in a suicide mission, after off-loading her Vipers and most of her crew (and probably a ton of other useful supplies and weapons, given that no one ever complained about a shortage of nuclear weapons again). Considering the number of Vipers Pegasus already had on-hand, combined with whatever replacements they built after joining the Fleet, there’s only one reasonable conclusion: For the rest of the run of the show, Galactica had more Mark VII Vipers (and, probably, Raptors) than she could carry, especially with only one working flight-pod.

Behind-the-scenes information says that the Mark VII was harder to fly than the Mark II, since it was designed with computerized features that were removed after the Cylon attack. So, that would explain why Galactica continued operating the Mark II Vipers even when there were enough newer Vipers around to replace them. I’d assume the remaining Vipers and Raptors that didn’t fit on the hangar were either mothballed elsewhere on the ship or in the fleet or were disassembled for parts.

In the Season 4 episode where Galactica donates some Vipers to the Rebel Basestar for their attack on the Cylon Resurrection Hub, Starbuck mentions that half of their planes are with the Baseship, leaving them with 40 “birds,” which may or may not refer to both Vipers and Raptors. There didn’t seem to be much Raptor attrition after New Caprica, and about 16 Raptors jumped out of the starboard landing deck during the assault on the Colony in the finale (the camera move was very abrupt, so it’s hard to be sure, plus there may have been more Raptors that were left with the Rebel Baseship or launched more traditionally from the port pod), so let’s have that as a target, giving us a goal of at least 16 Raptors and between 64 and 80 Vipers in one pod. I began playing with my conjectural hangar layout to see how they might fit in. I tried to find permanent “parking spaces” for each craft, assuming that having them haphazardly floating around the deck isn’t how they’re supposed to be stored long-term, and was just an artifact of Galactica having constant flight operations. And given how often we saw the port hangar deck empty or nearly so (including Starbuck’s Earth-Viper apparently getting it’s own sealed section, because it was too creepy to let anyone fly), leaving some wiggle room so some segments could be filled past capacity while others were emptied makes sense.


This possible layout has 79 Vipers, 21 Raptors, and 8 Landrams, which are close enough to the canonical figures that I’ll say it’s a reasonably accurate extrapolation of Galactica’s maximum air wing, operating one flight pod. Galactica’s present-day sister-ships seen in the Miniseries and Razor, assuming they didn’t preserve the multi-level Blood and Chrome-style hangar deck, would therefore have an air wing of around 200 planes, with about 160 Vipers and 40 Raptors.

Thanks to Lee Stringer, Galactiguise, and the Frak That screencap archive for making this post more possible and/or easier than produce it otherwise would’ve been.