Star Trek Magazine Shows ILM Work for Search for Spock

by malducin

The December 2002 issue of Star Trek: The Magazine covers the making of Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock, which includes coverage on the work by ILM supervised by Ken Ralston, the art direction by Dave Carson and Nilo Rodis, the design of the Bird of Prey by Nilo Rodis and Bill George and even the design work for a cut sequence from the film, the Hall of Ancient Thoughts in Vulcan. Also included are interviews with director Leonard Nimoy and producer Harve Bennett.

The Leonard Nimoy interviews details how ILM was also handed many of the design responsibilities and Harve Bennett's article has some early concept drawings, like the one when Romulans were supposed to be the main villains.

The ILM pieces are quite nice with many color photographs and sketches. The VFX article has quotes from Steve Gawley (model builder), Scott Farrar (miniature photography), and David Sosalla (creature shop). Numerous pictures show the variety of the work, like initial Spacedock designs, Scott Farrar on a stage shot, the immense Spacedock interior miniature, how the Enterprise breaking up was done, creatures like the eel and Klingon dog, Bill George detailing the Bird of Prey, miniature Genesis landscapes and a matte painting by Chris Evans, and the Genesis destruction.

The design pieces are fantastic. We get plenty of concept drawing from Dave Carson and Nilo Rodis, though if there is any complaint it's that there are no specific captions saying which piece was done by any of them (guess we have to go by drawing style)There are concept drawings of Spacedock and its interior, the Bird of Prey and its bridge, the bar, the Enterprise destruction, Genesis and Vulcan. Of particular interest are pieces that never made it to the movie or were significantly changed, like the Vulcan temple or that Genesis was supposed to plunge into its Sun as the final stage of destruction. Another article in particular details the Hall of Ancient Thoughts, a Vulcan building that preceded the altar we see in the end. Although the sequence was cut one tiny element survived, the building is briefly seen in the matte painting shots of Mt. Seleya. Suffice it to say it would have been a most impressive sight. Another separate article goes into some of the work of creating the alien worlds for this film, with quote from illustrator Tom Lay, and more concept sketches of Vulcan. Last but not least is the article on the design of the Bird of Prey, with much of the credit going to Bill George. It even has pictures of the study model George built and it pretty much is very close to the final model. Most of the article though is quotes from Nilo Rodis about how the design actually evolved and there are picture of the finished model at the blue screen stage (with Steve Gawley setting it up) and a few close-ups of the intricate detail work.

Overall I must say that I'm impressed by the amount and quality of the material from a regular publication. Next issue will have an article of how ILM designed the Excelsior, which Bill George was also responsible. You can check the magazine out here:

Star Trek: The Magazine