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Papermodels are a craft rather than an art but a papermodel designer still needs to consider the same problems faced by other artists/craftsmen: should one focus on form or function - in other words, should it focus on looking good or being practical? If you wanted a prop of the Next Generation Tricorder you couldn't go past the attention to detail of the one sold by Master Replicas. However technology that does the same work as the Tricorder has been developed by Vital Technologies, Raman Systems and even the New Zealand firm ARANZ Medical, none of which look remotely like the canon prop!

I was in the same dilema when looking for a papermodel project for this year's Twelve Trek Days of Christmas. Last year we did a calendar and I like the idea of something practical like that however I wanted it to have something to do with papermodels this year. A pepermodel calendar? Close but too easy. I thought about doing a datebook (too much like a fanzine and you'll be getting fed up of my writing by now!) or a CD jewel case calendar (a good project but not really a papermodel is it?).

I decided to finally bring together some ideas I have had percolating through what I laughingly call a brain, for some time. In the past I've tried my hand at science education for primary schoolers and agonised over a papermodel of a PADD. I've often thought that it would be cool to handout science notes in a PADD but never taken it beyond following the great work in paper information technology being done by the "paper PDA" community.

So here's The Paper PADD Mk 01 for the Starfleet Cadet Academy, Tech Level: 2009. It stands to reason that, even with all the wizz-bang technology they will have in the 24th century, kids will still want to make things and besides, understanding is something that needs to be experienced rather than force-fed. It's my belief that primary schoolers will still be taught to use the traditional media of pencil, pen and paper, alongside more high technology resources, so that the ancient skills of writing and crafts - and their necessary hand/eye coordination - will not be lost.

At the moment it is at the Beta testing stage and I have just included notepad drawing and text pages but will update this soon with a 2009 Star Trek papermodel calendar. I'd like feedback from builders on either the forum, the Star Trek Papermodel Yahoo Group or the DIYPlanner forum.

Fan fiction is the Cindarella of Star Trek fan productions.

Whereas advances in technology have allowed fans to expand into creative areas that they have hitherto been locked out of because of the expenses of production and distribution, why have there been no corresponding advances in fan fiction? Fans are making their own sophisticated films, audio productions, comics, computer games - all of these being media that where the exclusive realm of professionals only twenty years ago.

What is the "Holy Grail" of any fan, the secret desire that we would never admit to but which draws us to the concept of fan productions? That we too might be a part of the Star Trek world! Some fans are living that dream! Their face might be recognised across the world by their fellow fans as "That guy who played an Andorian in Starship Exeter" or as the voice of a starship captain in an audio drama. Most though are happy to be part of the team that brings these major projects to life, either as production crew or supporters. It would be fair to say that the secret dream of most fan fiction writers is to be published and for their work to be read and appreciated by as wide an audience as possible.

This has been virtually unattainable in the past because the publishing industry has been a "closed shop" that relied on large print-runs and a complex warehousing and distribution system that was expesive to maintain and needed to be protected by the stringent application of the copyright laws. Sounds familiar? Yes, you could say the same about the movie studios and the music industry, both of whom have had major problems with the changing face of technology

There is one advance in technology that could prove to be advantagious to the publishing industry though. Consider the lifespan of a book. It is written by the author, published by the printer, distributed by the trucking firms, warehoused, stacked in the shelves and then sold. From it's first release the average book can expect a popular lifespan of months or years when it is economical for the publisher, distributor and bookseller to keep the shelves stocked with new copies of it. Eventually the public will stop buying it, perhaps it might have exhausted the reader-base for it's genre, and the remaining copies will end up in the clearance sale bin and the publisher will stop publishing that edition. Once the remaining copies are sold, it will be one of the millions of "out-of-print" books that are only available as second hand copies.

What if I were to tell you that there was a way of extending the lifespan of a book indefinately? That there was a way of making it possible for publishers to reap a profit from books hat had been out of print for years? That to make that profit all they had to provide was some basic production infrastructure (at a fraction of the cost of the traditional printing industry) that there were virtually no distribution costs and that the customers would come direct to them, the publisher, rather than a bookseller?

It's called electronic publishing and the advantage to fans is that it also represents a way for us to see our own work distributed for free internationally in a near-professional format.

As part of the Twelve Trek Days of Christmas, From today TrekUnited and ShadowKnight Productions present for your free entertainment, six outstanding examples of Star Trek fan fiction, to be released over consecutive days in Adobe Acrobat format, on the Issuu distribution network: the closest thing you'll get to free online publishing!

In the following weeks we will be following this with releases of the same books in different eBook formats, initially TXT, HTML, Mobipocket and ePub. It is our hope that this will encourage Star Trek fans - normally the first to pick up new technology - to checkout the licensed eBooks from Pocketbook, many of which are no longer available in print, and stimulate Pocketbooks to release more of their archive of out of print novels.

Follow the links in each release to go to the book's download page.

Day 10 of the Twelve Trek Days of Christmas is "Ten Gamers Gaming" in which I'm going to link to Star Trek fan-made games in ten categories. Last year I used these categories ...

  1. The Board Game - Last year I featured 3D Chess but this year I have something else up my sleeve ;)
  2. The Customizable Card Game - The Decipher CCG has died but are there any Fan-made CCGs?
  3. The Constructable Card Game - cross between a trading card game and tabletop wargaming.
  4. The Starship Sim - Tabletop wargaming and board games have morphed with RPG's to form the space battle simulation.
  5. The Role Playing Games
  6. The Text-based Computer Game - A historical curiosity still of interest to a small core of retro-gamers!
  7. The 2D Games - Gameplay as if you are looking down from the top - "top-down" - or from the side - a "side-scroller"
  8. The 3D Games - An immersive 3D environment
  9. The Mods - A mod (or modification) of an existing, commercial game.
You can checkout what I suggested last year HERE.

What would you suggest I list for this year?

  • Is there a category you think I'm missing?
  • Are there any fan-made card games available? Pirates of the Federation seems dormant or dead unfortunately.
  • For the Starship Sim I'm featuring Kapact's Fantasy Trek, any others?
  • For the RPG I'm featuring ST: Above And Beyond from Fasty, but I'll gladly list any others
  • How about general comments on the different gaming categories - how do you assign scores in an RPG? What's the dividing line between a very large gaming environment like Starbase 11 and an MMOG?

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I will be compiling this into a fanzine! What made you guess that? :rolleyes: if anyone feels up to taking on an article for one of the categories, they'll get credit as a contributor.

Gotta Blaze!


In simplistic terms, a “music video” is exactly what it says, a video presentation to accompany a musical piece, but in real terms they have become so much more! Just as a good music video to accompany a new release is essential for it’s success, a bad video can ruin the chances of a good song.

Fans have put their own twist to this by doing "mash-ups", and on a larger scale "fan-edits", that take items of copyrighted material and combine them into new productions of their own. This does not change their legals status, they're still technically in breach of the law and as such are under the same restrictions as all other fan productions. They are, in fact, more likely to run afoul of the music industry than the movie studio!

This year we have found what we think are eight music videos that are representative of the best that has been produced in 2008 on YouTube, the largest online video hosting service, and by the magic of the internet have them on this very page for your enjoyment. I had some help finding the videos this year too, from the denizens of the TrekUnited forum and if you are a music video producer who would like to tell the world about your work, or just a fan who would like to see the many other videos that, for differing reasons didn't make the final eight, checkout the thread HERE.

... and of course visit the YouTube homepage's of the creators (hyperlinked below) to say thanks!

Christine Chapel and Spock
How better to celebrate the life of "The First Lady of Trek" than by leading off with a romantic ballad, Sway by Bic Runga, celebrating one of the great unrequited love stories of Star Trek, Christine Chapel and Mr Spock. From dgmpepper8

For those who like a happier ending Johannalaforge gives us Will Riker's and Deanna Troi's romance played out to the accompaniment of Maybe I'm Amazed, the Wings classic, performed by Jem.

To Tell A Lie
Captain Krunch has given us another of his video tales of intrigue and romance, this time involving Ro Laren and ... Captain Picard! To the dulcet tones of Brent Spiner singing It's A Sin To Tell A Lie and the cool jazz guitar rifs of Baby Please Don't Go.

Don't Stop Me Now
For Original series fans lynsaygreen has put together a slideshow of screencap's of Dr 'Bones' McCoy, the irascible medical officer of the Enterprise as played by DeForest Kelley's whose 'larger-than-life' character meshes well with Queen's Don't Stop me Now.

Janeway The Alien Slayer
This clever play on the similarity between two of TV's leading ladies from Bloempje721 is more of a true mash-up, in that it re-uses clips of Cpt Janeway from Voyager over the theme music from Buffy The Vampire Slayer to give it the same "feel".

SazzyAgain has used When You Believe by Leon Jackson as the basis for a character piece on Katherine Janeway as we saw her in the two-part Year of Hell episode from season 4

The Twelve Pains of Christmas
Music videos excel at humour and SazzyAgain has put together a witty backing video to Bob Rivers' take on my favourite Christmas Carol. I wish I'd seen this before Christmas!

What I Like About Elim Garak
Istandil, a Czeck fan, has turned the Romantics' 1979 rock anthem, What I Like About You, into a boppy video that will have you rocking along with it right up to the surprise end.

Just as with the mass media market, animation is enjoying a boom as an option for creating video drama, both for the cinema and for TV.

What are the advantages? Making a fan film takes some immense resources in time effort and money. Let's take Star Trek: Phase II for example, although one could just as easily take Starship Exeter, Farragut or the German Das Vermachtnis. One of their major resources are their sets, built by James Cawley as a labour of love and based on original plans taking years to build. The investment in time, effort and cash on something like this is immense and not easily reproduced!

Groups like Star Trek: Odyssey and Intrepid have got around this by using a technique called "Greenscreen" filming, where live actors are 'overlaid' onto a computer generated background against. However animation takes this a step further by making even the actors virtual! This can be a challenge in that it takes a certain amount of skill to breath life into two or even three dimensional graphics.



There are a bewildering array of methods for creating a virtual world within which we can play. Some are well known already such as the "stop motion" type monsters that Ray Harryhausen became famous for. The technique involves stringing together a series of photos of a model that is moved. There are a number of examples of this that have been applied to Star Trek that use different methods of building the models or "puppets".

The traditional media for building stop-motion puppets is clay and early in '07 there was a cute two-part YouTube video called "Clay Trek" that has since been taken down by the creator. There are now two major forms of stop-motion in fan animation (all examples are listed in alphabetical order) ...

Lego 'Brickfilms'
Action Figure puppetry


By far the most recognisable form of animation though is Cel animation graphics which are hand-drawn & animated and whenever Trek fans think of Star Trek animation, they think of Star Trek: The Animated series which was made by Filmation in 1973. Amazingly, two Star Trek fans are following this traditional route.

Cel Animation
There's no way around it though, cel animation is very labour intensive and takes considerable artistic talent, basically you are animating two dimensional artwork. Using a computer can now speed up the creation of the artwork and in some cases is the basis of a digital (as against a photographic) animation process.

Toonshows - Which bring a limited number of stills to life via fades and wipes
Flash - A popular software package for creating and animating graphics


So far we've been talking about creating and animating (bringing to life) 2d artwork but computers are capable of creating 3d worlds. Fan animators have a wide array of tools at their disposal that create three dimensional models that can be filmed in virtual sets. So many in fact that the resulting shows are as individual as their creators ...

The principle behind Machinima is that users control avatars in a proprietary game engine like Star Trek: Elite Force or one of the MMOG's, and then record what they do, like this Second Life promotion. They have become so popular that games have been specially developed to take advantage of in-game movie-making, such as ...

The Sims
The Movies

Understandably this can only be a partial list and viewers and film-makers are invited to discuss this and add their own finds on the TrekUnited forum.

What lies ahead for Star Trek fan animation in the next twelve months? I think we are going to see more work done on all of these fronts as those who follow, build on the experience of the trail-blazers. Will one become more popular than the others? Not necessarily, each appeals to people for different reasons and each has different strongpoints and requirements in terms of investment in skill and cost.

Perhaps the biggest opportunity that animation suggests as a creative fan media is that it is accessible. Anyone who learns how to play a computer game with a certain amount of skill will find it possible to record themselves and use this to make a machinima.

The challenge will be to make good ones, which means developing skills in all areas - I think we're up to it!