Tagged: Star Trek TNG
September 20, 2018 at 6:03 pm #23443EarlKeymaster
You can throw $2500 at Roddenberry.com for one of these [LINK], or, you know, you could probably build your own, throw a Raspberry Pi in there, a customize it to do exactly what you want/need it to do, whether it’s just being a prop or being an actual functional thing, and spend probably less than $500 all told. Your call.
We’ve spent nearly two years in research and development creating the crown jewel of the Picard Desk Set: a meticulous reproduction of the iconic desktop computer that appears in every Captain’s Ready Room scene of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Given the significance of this piece, we knew fans would expect perfection, so we have spared no expense in using the best engineering, materials, and fabrication techniques available. Each takes over a day to make, and the resulting replica is a deeply satisfying art object that strikes a careful balance between idealization and accuracy.
Where the originals were thin, hollow fiberglass shells, our re-creations are each individually CNC machined out a solid block of polymer, giving them impressive heft and a low center of gravity, while maintaining tight tolerances between mating parts and precisely replicating the external geometry of the originals. Brass threaded inserts are heat-set into the body to provide repeatable fastening and a fully sealed enclosure, with a custom-machined black anodized aluminum cover plate. A laser-cut felt pattern traces the bottom of the unit, allowing it to rotate and glide smoothly across a desk, just as the original does on screen. Professionally-applied automotive-grade satin paint finishes are used on both the black and tan variants.
Additionally, hours of painstaking hand graphic work go into the creation of each of these replicas. Rather than simply using a printed bitmap transparency, we went back to the traditional TNG art department technique of laying in costly professional Hollywood studio lighting gels behind each individual color in the LCARS graphic, with multiple layers built on top of each other and interacting in complex ways to accurately recreate the characteristic graphical look of the show. Both the Picard and medical variant graphics come from original art department negatives and have been cross-referenced for color-matching against their on-screen appearances. As on all original LCARS displays, a special window material is used to give the appearance of a blank computer screen when the backlight is turned off but crisp and vibrant graphics when the backlight is on. For the accent lines, rather than applying the white Chartpak tape used on the originals (which was known to curl up after just a few weeks of being on the prop), we’ve used sophisticated 3D modeling techniques to create a set of 2D dimensional die patterns that, when applied, perfectly trace the compound curves of the viewer base. This allows us to use premium graphical films used in the sign industry that are specifically optimized for longevity and UV resistance while still retaining the exact look of the originals. Note that all the inherent properties of these accurate manual processes will be present in your replica as they were on the originals, from the slightly wavy quality of the LCARS translite to the hand-applied tape lines.
Our custom circuitry recreates the sound and on-screen behavior of the studio prop, using original sound effects (absent ship background noise) and a high-quality backlight LED panel that is normally used in laptops but that has been customized for our replica. The unit can be powered from a wall outlet via USB (recommended) or 4 AA batteries (more accurate, but limited battery life).
Made in California, with US and imported components.
Honestly, for $2500…I’d expect there to be a real computer in there running some animated loops of this stuff, not “slightly wavy translites”. Why is no one making iPad enclosures in this form factor? (Oh, wait. They did. In 2014.)
Oh yeah… because it was always a clunky form factor, something we realize now that we’re in a world where computers are commonplace. It was neat as a prop, but a $2500 prop? You can bet that they didn’t spend that on the screen-used originals.
As for the rest of the “Picard desk set”, Roddenberry.com will gladly sell you the little circuit board holder (with two whole circuits!) for $149…
Nobody quite knows precisely what purpose these circuits served for Picard, but he often handles them while talking and examines them while thinking, and they could often be seen spread out with a large number of PADDs and desk tools when he was deep into work on a research project—making them one of the most recognizable and frequently seen elements of the Ready Room.
…or the “desk crystal” for only $99!
The 3D geometry of the crystal was obsessively reconstructed using digital 3D modeling software, referencing and reconciling hundreds of film frames of the crystal’s appearances across the seasons of TNG. We spoke to crew members and vendors involved in the original production of the show and went through approximately 30 physical prototypes before we were confident we had gotten the sizing, along with the number of facets and their orientation, as accurate as possible with with all available reference materials.
You know, I don’t blame Rod at all for trying to cash in. CBS owns TV Star Trek lock, stock, and barrel – the Roddenberry family gets nothing out of it unless they attach themselves to it like any other licensee.
I just think the pricing is…ridiculous. Do we Trekkies want cool stuff? Sure we do. But come on.
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