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Gary Kerr

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(written from a Production point of view)

Gary Kerr was officially credited as a "Technical Consultant" to the production of the 2006 remastered version of Star Trek: The Original Series, as part of the CBS Digital team. It was his first official Star Trek credit, though his involvement with the official franchise had previously already extended beyond the single credit.

Star Trek affiliationsEdit

Kerr, a science fiction fan and a enthusiastic modeler, made, during his adolescence the acquaintance with the likes of, for example David Merriman, Jr., a professional modeler based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, who regularly worked as a sub-contractor for other professional modelers, they themselves working for the motion picture industry. Two of them were Star Trek alumni Ed Miarecki and Gregory Jein, to whom Kerr was introduced by Merriman. With Jein in particular, Kerr was to develop a friendship.

Beginnings as Star Trek fanEdit

Thanks to the introductions, Kerr was invited by Miarecki in 1991 to visit his company, Science Fiction Modelmaking Associates, as he was about to receive the eleven-foot Enterprise studio model, as well as two other studio models from the Original Series: the D7 class model and the (ex-)Tholian starship, that had been converted into the space cruiser Aurora. Miarecki had been contracted to restore these models as well as to cast a new replica of the original Tholian ship from the Aurora.[1]All four models were slated to appear the 1992 National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Star Trek Smithsonian Exhibit. Kerr and a friend, Richard Shafer, stayed at Miarecki's company for three days, helping out with the disassembly of the Enterprise model. For his own personal edification Kerr made numerous photos and measurements, a consequence of a life-long fascination with the model. (Sci-fi & fantasy modeller, Vol. 26, pp. 34-37)

Over the next couple of years Kerr expanded upon his knowledge by collecting as much data on the model as he could, which in the pre-reference book and pre-DVD age was rather limited at the time, though even getting input from the original studio model builder, Richard C. Datin. An invaluable source of information for Kerr was, the now defunct, website "The IDIC Pagewbm" of William S. McCullars, a fellow studio model aficionado with whom he exchanged large amounts of data. Through McCullars' website, he also made the acquaintance with Finnish Star Trek fan, Petri Blomqvist, a digital modeler who constructed CGI models of the Star Trek ships in some of the earliest software available to the general public. Kerr cooperated with Blomqvist too, and some of Blomqvist's work has been featured on "The IDIC Page". Like Kerr, Blomqvist too, was to play a role of note for the franchise in the years to come.

First, uncredited, official Star Trek assignmentsEdit

In 1996, Kerr was unexpectedly contacted by Jein with a request for information. Jein was in search of detailed construction blueprints he needed for the construction of the 5.5 foot Enterprise studio model for the upcoming Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fifth season homage episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" episode. Kerr, to the best of his knowledge did not know of the existence of any, but volunteered to make these himself for his friend, confident he had enough measurement data to do so [remark: only five years later, it would turn out that original builder Richard Datin still owned a complete set of original construction blueprints (Star Trek: Communicator issue 132, p. 51)]. It was Kerr who suggested the half-size scale, as it would make blueprinting and construction more expedient. Kerr soon realized however, that he somewhat overstretched himself, as he found out that he was still missing data. Reaching out to Miarecki again, he was able to get some of the missing ones, even obtaining resin castings and vacuformed parts Miarecki molded from the original model, but only at the eleventh hour, as Miarecki was knee-deep involved with the construction of the Enterprise-E studio model at the time. Working throughout the summer in his spare time, he had to do the blueprints by hand, as Kerr did not own CAD-software. "I got all my measurements together, and every night after work I'd sit down at the drafting board. Greg needed the basic shapes of the saucer, the engines, and the hull. I'd draw some plans, go to Kinko's to make copies and send them all off to him, and then I'd go back to the drawing board.", Kerr remembered. (The Magic of Tribbles: The Making of Trials and Tribble-ations, p. 36) Still missing some detail measurements, Kerr later conceded, "There was a lot of guesswork in the "Trials and Tribble-ations", and in retrospect, they weren't perfect; however, they still turned out to be reasonably accurate, and I thought the model looked great onscreen when the episode aired on November 4, 1996." Kerr received no credit for his efforts, but in recognition for the service he had provided for Jein, Michael Okuda personally invited him to visit the Paramount Pictures lot to witness a day in the production of the episode. There he made the acquaintance with future collaborator Doug Drexler, as well as with Herman Zimmerman and Gary Hutzel, and made visits to the Art Department and Image G, seeing the final product of his contributions put to use. (Sci-fi & fantasy modeller, Vol. 26, pp. 40-41)

Based on the strength of his work for Jein, Kerr was in 1999 invited by Mike Okuda to participate on the forthcoming reference book, Starship Enterprise, a book that chronicled all Enterprise incarnations in the Star Trek universe, slated for a 2000 release. It was on this occasion that Kerr decided to draw his blueprints with his recently-acquired AutoCAD software, learning how to use the software as he went, largely motivated by "sheer terror". Okuda arranged for Kerr to visit the original Enterprise model for a second time in order to get the data he was still missing. Kerr spent three days documenting the model at NASM's Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility in Suitland, Maryland, where the model was stored after its 1992-1993 display and prior to the permanent display in the museum's gift shop in 2000. Kerr was assigned to provide the orthographic blueprints for the book, and he was working, again in his spare time for months, on the last of these, those of the USS Enterprise-E, when the book project was canceled. Okuda, though, arranged for Kerr to be paid for the work he had already done. Nevertheless, two of his blueprints, those of the USS Enterprise-A and USS Enterprise-C (the original studio model construction blueprints and orthographic plans of which, gifted to him by Jein and Rick Sternbach [X]wbm), did turn up as centerfolds in some of the later Star Trek calendars. Also involved on the project was friend Petri Blomqvist, with whom he has kept cooperating by sharing the information he accumulated, and who was brought in as well by Okuda, on recommendation of Kerr. (Sci-fi & fantasy modeller, Vol. 26, pp. 40, 44)

In the following years, Kerr kept refining his blueprints in conjuncture with Blomqvist, who in turn kept refining his CGI models, and three years after the canceled book project Kerr was contacted by Doug Drexler when he sought out input for the build of his CGI original Enterprise, he was constructing for use in the Star Trek: New Voyages fan films. [X]wbm Aside from providing him with the measurements, Kerr also brought Drexler into contact with Blomqvist, who was able to help out Drexler by bringing in the geometry into his model. Drexler, as visual effects supervisor, in turn, submitted Kerr's and Blomqvist's work the subsequent year as reference to Eden FX, where Koji Kuramura was constructing a CGI version of another Constitution-class vessel, the USS Defiant for the Star Trek: Enterprise fourth season episodes "In a Mirror, Darkly" and "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II". Co-worker Robert Bonchune, who was responsible for mapping and lighting the model, elaborated, "Any ship dimensional reference material we needed was provided by Doug Drexler as well as Koji's own research. I know Doug is good friends with Gary Kerr, so I am sure that made it's way to us through him. As for the Petri help, Koji used his shape for the back end of the nacelle cap as a reference piece. We needed it built differently."[1]

Becoming officially reacquainted with Star TrekEdit

It was in 2006 that Kerr was again contacted by Mike Okuda, when CBS Digital started to run into troubles with the production of the remastered Original Series. Initially, CBS had decided to build the CGI models for the project themselves, despite the fact that several professional parties had made pitches for the commission. But due to strict release schedules, CBS was forced to rely on a third party Enterprise CGI model after all, and a candidate was sent to Kerr for evaluation by Okuda. Kerr discovered that the model was lacking in accuracy and sent his findings to Visual Effects Supervisor Niel Wray. Wray concurred, and was desperate to come up with a replacement. It was then that Kerr suggested Petri Blomqvist's model, a model he knew had been refined for over a decade by that time. It was Blomqvist's model CBS bought and used in the remastered series, and since his model was based on Kerr's blueprints, it has earned them both their official credit. (Sci-fi & fantasy modeller, Vol. 26, pp. 48-49) Kerr also provided other services to the production, among others reference material for the Deep Space Station K-7, stemming from his vast archive. [2]

Later (un)official Star Trek contributionsEdit

Kerr's intimate acquaintance with the original Enterprise studio model, was not only a valued sought after commodity for the franchise, but was also solicited by model and model kit manufacturers, Polar Lights in particular (and whom he had already consulted previously on their earlier 1:1000 Enterprise model kit), who hired Kerr as a consultant for their design of the 2012 highly detailed 1:350 scale model kit, No. POL880, of the vessel (being the same size as the original three-foot studio model). Jamie Hood, Polar Lights brand manager, has stated, "Gary’s involvement in the new kit design has been a tremendous asset. His extensive knowledge has allowed us to add intimate details to the model. This kit will be the most accurate representation of the ship produced since the original filming model." [3] Prior to Polar Lights, Custom Replicas (the model company of Jim Key), Art Asylum and Master Replicas solicited the help of Kerr for their original Enterprise models, the latter two being referred to Kerr by Okuda and Jein, respectively.

Starting in 2012, Kerr has written a four-part article for the UK magazine Sci-fi & fantasy modeller that chronicled in detail his personal involvement with the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, including his personal experiences with Star Trek production staffers, CBS Digital and Polar Lights.

In 2013, Kerr was contacted by Will Smith, a CGI artist working on the Star Trek Continues web series, who needed blueprints of the original 1/12 scale hangar bay miniature set so he could construct a CGI set. Kerr researched the design of the original set and drew blueprints of it, which earned him his 2nd entry into the International Movie Database (IMDb), as "Special Technical Consultant". In the years since then, Kerr has consulted on additional Star Trek projects, such as a 2015 Christmas ornament for Hallmark.

A noticeable consulting contribution Kerr made in this period of time, was for the Eaglemoss Collections die-cast Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection replicas, issue 50, the original Enterprise in particular. The project manager for the partwork publication, Ben Robinson, recalled how Kerr was brought into the project, "Every ship we work on gets a lot of attention, but when it came to the original Enterprise, I knew that we had to go the extra mile. We used Rob Bonchune’s CG model as the basis for the digital sculpt, but when the factory’s version came in, I knew it was too important for me to check over alone. I asked around, and everyone from Mike Okuda to Doug Drexler and Rick Sternbach pointed me to one man: Gary Kerr, who they told me was the expert on the original ship. Gary was kind enough to go over our version and mark up all the corrections. I’m sharing a selection of them with you here because I wanted to show you how great Gary has been and because I wanted everyone to know that we take our responsibilities very seriously. I can only imagine what Matt [Jefferies] would make of it. I got to know him fairly well back around the turn of the century and I’m sure he would have smiled at the idea that people would be so passionate about his design." [4] Robinson afterwards went the extra mile by reiterating his appreciation on his twitter account, "Enormous thanks to Gary Kerr, who offered so much help on this and such brilliant advice. No one knows more!" [5]

Kerr consulted with Adam Schneider on the restoration of the original mock-up of the Galileo shuttlecraft and provided PDF files of the craft's exterior markings. As a result, his initials were added to a commemorative plaque on the starboard side of the restored mock-up, which is now displayed at Space Center Houston.

In November 2014, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum invited Kerr to be a part of their Special Advisory Committee, which consisted of a host of former Star Trek alumni, for the restoration of the original 11-foot Enterprise model. Kerr was flown to the museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in May 2015, to participate in the committee's first in-person meeting. Coming full circle in more than one way, Kerr was (understandably perhaps) not able to resist enthusing in January 2015 when he received his commission, "I can finally announce The Big Secret: I’m part of the Smithsonian’s Special Advisory Committee on the restoration of the original 11-ft model of the Starship Enterprise. The old girl is going to undergo some structural and cosmetic surgery so she’ll be around for another 50 years (at least)." [6]

Bibliography Edit

Note: listed below is the part in which Kerr details the actual studio models and his dealings with production staffers; his involvement with the Polar Light product is related in the three subsequent issues.
  • "The Enterprise and Me: The long road to Polar Lights' 1:350 TOS Enterprise-Part One", Sci-fi & fantasy modeller, Vol. 26, July 2012, pp. 34-50 – Author



  1. The edits of 26 May 2015 are corrections and updates by Gary Kerr himself as User:, but who has now a verified MA profile as User:Gary Kerr

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