Gene Rizzardi and the making of the clear Enterprise

Gene and the CLEA-AH "E"

Here is a pic of the grand master model maker Gene Rizzardi and his finished clear Enterprise E model. The model was built for Captain Picard’s ready room from Star Trek “Nemesis” and funny story goes along with this beautiful model.  Way back in 2001 a lot of the sets for Nemesis would be built and dressed for shooting a day or so before they were needed for filming.  One of the biggest issues with getting sets ready for filming trouble is getting the director over to see the sets for approval, This is very true with all shows because everyone’s time is spread out where there is an overwhelming amount of work on everyone’s plate…. Many times he wouldn’t be able to show up till the day before or less and any change was a big change in the 11th hour. That’s the nature of the beast and we all are on scramble mode till the last shot of the film is done!!!!  This model is one very big example of this… a few days before the ready room was to be shot all the dressing and lighting was in place. My boss Herman Zimmerman, had me make a display model of the Enterprise E to have as a part of the dressing. The study model built for ILM on First Contact was used again and was set in the corner of the set….. The director walked in and made a hand full of small changes,  he caught site of the Enterprise model in the corner and after looking at it for a moment he turned to Herman and said in a very British accent: I think I would like to have this model CLEA-AH (clear). Herman discussed the major issues of such a request, yet Stuart was very passionate about having a clear ship so the request stood.. Herman came back to the office and asked what it would take to make the ship transparent!!!!!! Yikes,,, I said it would take about 4 weeks and about $8000. Holly Cow said Herman and off he went to pitch the heavy news. He came back and said the change was still wanted and to go ahead with making a new “E” This in return postponed being able to shoot the Ready room so other sets had to be quickly finished to fill the Ready Rooms slot. Herman asked If I could make the model but there was no way to do both the art and the model at the same time. Herman took the project down stairs to the FX department and the job was given to model maker Gene Rizzardi. Gene took the master pieces of the “e” model from stage and started to sand and buff the pieces smooth as glass. Special platinum rubber molds had to made to accept the clear resins needed to make the ship parts clear…. Problem ensued right away with the parts sticking to the molds and the surface of the parts not curing… after multiple attempts regular RTV molds were made and seemed to work better with the resin than the Platinum molds did. Know the issue was casting parts without bubbles in the middle. After many try’s Gene got some good pieces and now had to spend a great deal of time sanding and buffing the materiel to a perfect smooth and clear finish. Gene made three or four final pieces as backups, and after all was said and done I believe the models cost to be about $13,000. and took 6 weeks to complete. The model was placed on the set, filming began and in the end you can kinda see it in the far background of a couple of shots!!!!! As short as it was seen in the background it at least made it… The model we made for First Contact is only seen as a shadow on the wall… HAAA! HOLLYWOOD!!!!!! Anyways the behind the scenes crew worked their magic and the finished piece was spectacular…

27 Responses to “Gene Rizzardi and the making of the clear Enterprise”

  1. April 17, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Gene Rizzardi. Legend. Still.

  2. April 17, 2012 at 9:52 am

    $13,000 wow that a lot of cash.
    Fun how something so expensive only gets a few moments on screen and in the background at that.

    Thanks for sharing the story. Do you know what happened to model and where it is now?

    • 4 johneaves
      April 17, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Yeah and the request wasn’t even a valid one, especially for a piece of background dressing, had it been featured that would be different but overall it was a very silly request!!!, I believe it sold in one of the many liquidation auctions a few years back.

  3. April 17, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Unbelievable on so many levels. That is one amazing piece of art. Thanks for sharing – I love this stuff.

    [yes – i left this comment in the worng place first – silly me]

  4. April 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Thanks John, nice article but I made about three or four for that cost, lots of hard work but the result was a lot of fun for me!

  5. April 17, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    It’s worth it because it looks so good.

  6. April 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    As a director, Stuart Baird was a terrific editor 🙂

    • 12 Buckaroohawk
      April 17, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Agreed. Sometimes great editors do make great directors. Robert Wise comes to mind. Other times, however, it just doesn’t work. Baird is an amazing editor, having worked on “Superman:The Movie” and a number of the Bond films, most notably “Casino Royale.” His talent didn’t extend to the director’s chair, though, and his career there was short.

      Even though Baird’s decision to have the Ent-E made “CLEA-AH” was unnecessary and costly on many levels, Mr. Rizzardi created a beautiful and unique piece of Trek art. Congratulations on a job very well done indeed!

  7. 13 RichT
    April 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Meanwhile, in the Trek universe: “Computer, replicate a model of the Enterprise. Tabletop display scale, transparent polymer material.” 😉

    I love seeing the dedication to background details the production teams put into Trek as whole… it really makes it feel like it’s a believable world rather than simply a collection of sets and performers.

  8. 14 JNG
    April 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I’d have bought one…IF I KNEW IT EXISTED

    • 15 Trekcross
      April 18, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Agreed, though I would need it to at least big enough to keep the rain off as my wife would throw me and it out if I bring in any more collectables.

  9. April 21, 2012 at 9:33 am

    With great power, comes great responsibility. Giving the OK for an $8,000 prop when there’s already something reasonably similar on set seems a bit much, but I do remember this model very distinctly from the scene where a Shinzon hologram appears in the ready room. And she does look very nice too.

  10. 17 Perry
    April 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Its too bad the director didn’t spent that money on a better story/script because the LEAST of his problems was a clear Enterprise *shakes head*

  11. May 21, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Jon: Could you please do me a favor and get me a picture of the console on Picard’s chair when open, the one with the picture of the Enterprise-D overhead view?

  12. May 21, 2012 at 8:54 am

    “and after all was said and done I believe the models cost to be about $13,000. and took 6 weeks to complete”

    Geesus. And I never even noticed it. Worse, even I know you guys like to use those store-bought models for those ones so they cost next to nothing. How very irresponsible of him.

    • 27 johneaves
      May 21, 2012 at 10:32 am

      If Time would allow we would make the kits from scratch,,, only if time and budget wouldn’t allow would we use the kits.. The clear E was made from the Study model we built for First Contant,, It’s about 28 inches long

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April 2012

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