Over the past month or so we’ve been interviewing some of the VFX designers who’ve contributed to the community and Star Trek Picard’s “Fans for the fans” initiative which has showcased some of the excellent work in the show. Today, we present our final in this current series – ThatGuyAndres.
This is Xerix with Obsidian Fleet. Today I have the privilege of interviewing digital artist and VFX modeler ThatGuyAndres.
XERIX: Thank you for agreeing to this, Andres. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Andres: Howdy, y’all. I’m Andres, otherwise known as ThatGuyAndres. I’m a high school senior and I live in Texas. All of my 3D work is a hobby really, but I’m glad I’ve been able to hone it.
XERIX: How long have you been a Star Trek fan?
Andres: About as long as I can remember. My father got me into it, and I’ve loved it ever since.
XERIX: And do you have a favorite ship and/or ship class?
Andres: My favorite ship class would probably have to be the NX Class. I’ve always been a fan of the submarine vibe the NX gives off, as well as that era of Star Trek, with the galaxy still largely unexplored and humanity trying to make a name for themselves.
XERIX: How about a favorite captain?
Andres: In spite of my favorite ship, Sisko would probably be my favorite. He’s a real rough, no-nonsense type of captain, and while it’s good to be strict sometimes, he shows a real laid back side when he has to.
XERIX: I believe your artwork shows up frequently in Triangulum’s fantastic YouTube series, where he breaks down the various ship classes. What’s that process like?
Andres: Typically, he contacts me for the model that he needs, although admittedly I’ve been falling behind on model acquisitions because of school. I send it over and that’s that.
XERIX: Can you tell us how you create your artwork?
Andres: It’s a lot of trial and error. First I select a ship class and import it into a blank scene. Then I decide the primary color of the scene. I have a variety of templates for nebulas and planets, so I can throw one in there if I want to. It’s largely flying by the seat of your pants with me. Only rarely do I have a scene set out in my head. After I get everything physically set up, I have to fine tune the settings so that there’s no shadows where there shouldn’t be and things don’t look plain or bland. Then I render it and it’s touch and go whether or not my computer will crash.
XERIX: What are your thoughts on the ships that have just debuted on season three of Picard, the NeoConnie and Duderstadt class ?
Andres: Personally, I like the look of the Neo Constitution. It’s a nice take on the Constitution refit design and it mixes the 25th century design aspects with the 23rd century hull configuration very nicely. I’m on the fence about the lore surrounding it being a refit of Riker’s Titan, but I guess anything’s possible. The Duderstadt class I like due to its unique design. I know Star Trek Online has a Pioneer Class in its TOS era, and we’ve also seen the Pioneer be featured on a monitor for a slight moment. It’s nice to see evolutions of an older design. Overall I like the similarity of the two ship’s components. It’s reminiscent of how in the BoBW, the ships at Wolf 359 all used Galaxy style components. It promotes a feel of universality among Starfleet ships.
XERIX: Some of us are struggling a bit with these “retro” classes. They feel like a step backwards, design-wise. Can you give us any educated guesses on the reasoning behind these particular choices?
Andres: Honestly, it does seem like a bit of fanservice on the producer’s part. But a lot of the more recent ships in the Star Trek universe seem to have a far shorter lifespan than the Constitution, Excelsior, and Miranda. So maybe Starfleet is looking at the older designs and saying “Maybe you are good enough after all.” rather than just mothballing or scrapping the ships.
XERIX: As of the writing of this article, Picard is nearing the end of its final season. Discovery has announced that their next season will be their last as well. Where do you think the future is heading for Star Trek?
Andres: I think that with Discovery and Picard ending, a lot of the focus and budget will shift to Strange New Worlds. People loved SNW from the moment it was released, and the producers and executives know that. It’s a small taste of what pre-JJ Abrams Trek was, and what the fans have been asking for, rather than episodic and season-spanning arcs. Lower Decks and Prodigy are good, but they appeal to a less diverse audience than Strange New Worlds.
XERIX: And how about your own future. What are your plans? Might we see your designs zipping around the galaxy sometime?
Andres: I don’t know if I’ll ever make a ship of entirely my own. I have a few designs in my head, but I’d need to practice my actual modeling skills before I do anything with them. As for my life, I intend to become an electrical engineer, and maybe get my masters degree.
XERIX: Finally, what advice would you give people just getting started in the VFX artwork world?
Andres: Don’t expect to make something amazing right off the bat. Experiment first, know what each menu and button does. There are also lots of repositories for models, including franchises outside of Star Trek.
XERIX: Thank you so much for your time, Andres. How may our members reach you?
Andres: I have a DeviantArt: https://www.deviantart.com/thatguyandres
I have an email: [email protected]
I have a Discord: ThatGuyAndres#8754
The best way to reach me is by email or Discord.