May 14th, 2008

The Search For Intelligent Reference in The 'Verse

To do a really accurate replica you ideally want to know as much about the ship design as possible. Not just the technical data, but what the designers were thinking when they decided to do what they did. With some ships, the thought process may not have gone any further than “make it look cool”. But with Serenity … well, as any Browncoat can tell you, Serenity is different.

We’ll talk about just how different Serenity is from your typical CGI spaceship as we go along. For now let’s just say that starting as far back as the previsualization process, the overarching goal is designing Serenity was to make her as real to the people in the ‘Verse “as a VW Van is to us,” one designer told us. As such, the effects people and set designers cooperated in their jobs to a level almost unheard of in Hollywood. They want to have plan out where everything was and have everything make sense. In this they were almost 100 percent successful. That alone makes Serenity unique among it’s Sci Fi siblings.

Because of this dedication to realism, we needed to understand as much about the makings of the ship and it’s shape and colot. That meant acquiring previsualization drawings – used by Zoic to create Serenity’s mesh (the wireframes that describe the ship’s geometry) and surfaces. It also meant tracking down set drawings, blueprints and photography. And it meant talking to lots of people who worked on Firefly and Serenity.

We ultimately got what we needed, thanks to the generous assistance of folks at Universal, Zoic and people who worked on the show and movie. And getting that reference had a nice side effect – the Serenity Blueprints. If it hadn’t been for this replica project and all the research that was done, we wouldn’t have had the detailed information required to create the blueprints.

While we were gathering reference, we were also on the hunt CGI files. Turns out there are two versions of Serenity – one for the TV series and a significantly enhanced version for the movie. As our sculptor observed when we finally got those files, there’s about 100 times more detail in the movie version of Serenity than in the TV version.

Problem was, while acquiring a copy of the series version wasn’t all that difficult, the movie version – which is what QMx holds a license for – took a lot of time. Thanks again to Zoic and Unviersal, we were able to get a complete set of CGI files (one of the only complete sets outside of Zoic’s archive), which is what the QMx Serenity replica is being based on.

Thus ended the Great Reference Hunt and began the effort to build us a Firefly.


18 Responses to “The Search For Intelligent Reference in The 'Verse”

  1. Jim in St. Louis says:


    This new site is incredible! It’s encouraging to start getting information on the Serenity Artisan Replica. Although only a first cast, the bridge section looks great. It appears that you have the right team on the job and they are doing a great deal of research to make this an outstanding collectable. I’m sure Serenity will be worth the wait and I look forward to more updates.

    Keep up the good work QMx!


  2. admin says:

    Hi Jim and thanks for being our first commenter! It’s very exciting to have finally hit the home stretch. We still have a lot of work left to do, but things are solid enough now that we felt it was time to open this project diary. Serenity is too important to keep to ourselves and we hope that this will give Browncoats a chance to follow along at home, ask questions and make comments as we coax her in for what we hope will be a smooth landing.

  3. Therese says:

    This is so very fine. I look forward to following the development of Serenity.
    Thank you!!

  4. Bob Finegold says:

    Ditto. Hope LED lighting may be a consideration.


  5. admin says:

    Hi Bob – yes, a working light array is part of the plan, including “chase lights” to simulate the gravity rotor.

    We’ll be posting more detailed specs as we go. And thanks for the kind words (you too Therese!)

  6. Cordrone says:

    This is very shiny indeed! Any notion of when you’ll have a finish product? I may have to get one to give away as a prize to all the Browncoats over on the Universal HD Firefly Fan Forums. It’s also nice to see Zoic & Universal helped you out with the project too.

    - Cord

  7. admin says:

    Hi Cord and thanks so much for sending us a wave. ‘Course, we’d be heart-broken if you were to get one of our Serenity’s for the shiny folks on the Universal HD board ;-)

    As for release date, is “this year” vague enough? We’re pushing hard to get this done, but we’re also going to stick to our guns to do the best-possible replica we can. And if that means taking longer to get all the details right, then that’s what we’ll do.

    Yes, this project would truly not have been possible without Universal and Zoic’s help. Beyond granting us a license to make this replica, Universal has been incredibly supportive of all our efforts and specifically in helping us track down reference. As for Zoic – well, if it wasn’t for Loni, Kristen and the rest of the Zoic crew, this project would have been over before it started!

    It’s probably worth mentioning as well that everything you see here is pre-approval and, therfore, subject to change. Just sayin’ ;-)

  8. Dave says:

    This is so shiny! I’m eagerly looking forward to getting this. This site looks great too. Thanks!

  9. admin says:

    Thanks, Dave! We’ve gotten a lot of nice comments about the site design, so I should probably give credit where credit is due: The site design was done by our own Adam Levermore-Rich – creator of the Blue Sun Travel Posters and the Battlestar Galactica Propaganda posters. Thanks, Adam!

  10. Marcus says:

    Hi there – just wanted to say first that the site looks really good. Its cool you’ve made an effort to make it look like something out of the ‘verse rather than a bog-standard prop-building page.
    Also – and this is kinda fraky – 2 nights ago I dreamt that my family bought me a present: a 2 foot long light up model of Serenity! No kidding!! :)

    Actually, how long is this tentatively sceduled to be (in length, not time….wouldnt dare ask that haha!)

    Cheers – Marcus

  11. admin says:

    Hiya Marcus – okay, feel free to slap me upside the head if I misunderstood the question, but if I conjure your meanin’, she’ll be 18″ long, or 1/180 scale.

  12. Marcus says:

    Thanks Admin – can I just pretend you misunderstood the question…? :)

  13. admin says:

    Sure, as long as it’s okay for me to pretend I’m as smart as River, strong as Jayne, and pretty as Cap’n Tightpants ;-)

  14. geraline k. james/crewchief says:

    Shinyguys…what can an aircraft mechanic say…but shiny..and thanks..looking forward to more..cheers..Gerry/Crewchief

  15. SEG says:

    I get to read and see my baby conceived and developed? How awesome is that? Must…have…one…of…these…ships…SOON !!
    Hope I don’t have to wait until 2459 – I’ll end up crashing in the Burnham Cluster!

  16. admin says:

    SEG – I can guarantee you won’t have to wait *that* long ;-)

    Thanks for the kind words on the diary site. I know it’s what I’d want if I was cooling my heels for months, waiting for my favorite ship to be born. Kinda like getting regular ultrasound scans.

    Speaking of which, we’ll have our next weekly update live tomorrow. We put together a little animation showing the evolution of one of Serenity’s components from TV to movie. Stay tuned!

  17. Jim in St. Louis says:


    Looking forward to the next update, it sounds impressive. Also, I have to raise a glass to you for taking so much time to reply to everyone’s posts, we are really learning a lot about the Serenity Replica. We wouldn’t get that kind of customer care anywhere else.



  18. admin says:

    Aw shucks, Jim. Yer makin’ me blush ;-)

    As for the new post, check out the top of the homepage

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