A discussion came up recently about why modern ships in movie and TV sci-fi were so awful compared to things that had been done in the past. Of course all of this is purely subjective, people tend to identify more with the ships they grew up watching over things from eras they weren’t either impressionable or around for. Of course, I have my own take on the situation which may or may not resonate with others. But hey, it’s my blog, I can write about anything I want to.
I think that the reason older sci-fi ships look better to a lot of people is because of the realities that existed in making movies and TV shows. Ship designers had to be realistic in their designs because someone was going to have to go build this thing out of real materials so they could get it on screen. The ships had to be practical because practical effects were required to bring it to life. That means these designs had to be grounded in reality, at least to a certain degree.
But today, when everything is done with CGI, no such considerations exist. You can do anything you want and any irregularities can be smoothed over with a digital paintbrush. Computers can make anything work, even if it would never, ever actually work in the real world.
The human eye can still tell what’s real and what’s fake most of the time. I can look at a model and see if it’s realistic or if it’s just digital make believe. I prefer my ships to be more realistic over movie-maker fantasy. Of course, let’s be honest, the most efficient spaceships are not going to look anything like what we see in movies and on TV. The most efficient non-atmospheric spaceship is a cube. It can travel in any direction you want and since there is no atmosphere, it doesn’t need to be aerodynamic. That gives the most effective use of internal space possible. Or stick it inside an asteroid and mount engines. That works too. But how many kids are going to want to buy models of cubes or asteroids? Not many. So I guess the whole question is moot, all spaceship models are equally unrealistic. It only matters what you like. Thus ends the discussion.