With the completion of my D’deridex-class Romulan Warbird model, it was inevitable that I was going to produce an animation with her. And naturally, this meant a confrontation with Picard’s USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D, which explains my recent flyby animation to test out my conversion of Lewis Niven’s superb model (with a few small modifications of my own).
I wasn’t happy with how the warbird was looking though, so I actually extensively reworked the materials since I declared her finished. She should hopefully now look a lot closer to as she appeared on screen.
So enough wibbling on from me. Here’s the video – in 4K resolution on YouTube:
Romulan Encounter – Stills
Here are a few still frames from the animation.
Romulan Warbird – The Cloaking Effect
For the cloaking effect, back on Star Trek: The Next Generation, they used what effectively amounts to a shimmer and fade effect. A rippling wave distortion was applied to the warbird plate whilst fading it in/out. This was perfectly fine for an 80s/90s TV show, but on today’s high-resolution displays it needed something a bit more.
If you think about how something like a cloaking device would have to work, it must somehow involve bending light around the ship. The energy requirements of such a device would be astronomical, but fortunately the Romulan warbirds have an answer for that, being powered by an ‘artifical quantum singularity’. Let’s assume they therefore have plenty of power available to them. During the transition between cloaked and uncloaked, the bending of the light rays would become progressively incomplete, and I imagine that would produce an effect to an observer rather like the ship was being compressed into the centre of it’s volume (or decompressed from, if decloaking).
So for my revised cloaking effect, I have made use of a chromatic distortion to crush the ship into itself, whilst providing a nice spread-out light spectrum which also seems like a reasonable expectation for something like this. All fading-in is complete quite early on in the effect, so most of what you see is the distortion reducing as the cloaking field collapses.
You can view this on my ArtStation profile as well.