Franz Joseph (artist)

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Franz Joseph (born Franz Anton Joseph Schnaubelt; June 29, 1914 – June 2, 1994) was an artist and author loosely associated with the 1960s American television show Star Trek.


Born in Illinois, Franz Joseph had a successful 30-year career as an aerospace design engineer.[1] However, he is perhaps best known as the author and illustrator of Star Fleet Technical Manual (ISBN 0-345-34074-4), which, though fictional, represents an in-universe collection of factual documents, detailing the 23rd century Star Fleet of the United Federation of Planets, as well as the function of the Starship U.S.S. Enterprise relative to the other starships in the fleet. The book contains information about uniforms (complete with sewing patterns), furniture, weapons, devices, protocols, and other minutiae from the Star Trek universe. Franz Joseph is also the author and illustrator of another in-universe document, Booklet of General Plans of the USS Enterprise (ISBN 0-345-25821-5, unofficially known as the Star Trek Blueprints), which is to date the only set of blueprints of the original Enterprise ever officially endorsed by Paramount Pictures, owners of the licensing rights to all things Star Trek.

On April 14, 1973, Franz Joseph witnessed a group of Star Trek fans at San Diego State University making (in his judgement) poor models of Star Trek memorabilia from various materials, and told them that he thought they could do better. In response, the fans challenged him to make better models than they had made,[2] so Joseph set to work using a process of reverse orthographic drafting to create better models than the fans had.[3] The fans were greatly impressed by his work and started asking him to convert many of the props to plans, essentially asking him to make a "technical manual" of Star Trek devices. Franz Joseph decided right then to make this manual.[4] After making several technical plans for the Starship Enterprise and several supplemental Federation starships, Franz Joseph sent two of the plans (the plans for the Enterprise and the Dreadnought starship) to Gene Roddenberry, who immediately gave Franz approval to create an official Star Trek Technical Manual.[5] [6]

Franz Joseph decided that the manual would be "technically and scientifically correct".[7] [8] Franz himself has stated that his intention in drawing the plans was to elucidate the ship's design rather than to accurately depict exactly what viewers saw on their television screens. As a result, there are multiple minor discrepancies between Franz's plans and the filming miniatures that were used in the show, all of which are intentional, and made in the interest of establishing greater continuity. This approach was chosen due to the fact that Star Trek contains elements that were never seen on-screen, and the fact that even on-screen information is often contradictory.[9] [10]

The plans went on to gain immense popularity and were regarded by the US Department of Education, the National Geographic Society, Grumman Aircraft, and NASA and as a topic of discussion. [11]

Although they were published after the original show's cancellation, portions of both the Star Trek Blueprints and the Star Fleet Technical Manual have been used as on-screen displays in the Star Trek films and later television series. [12]

As an unexpected legacy, Franz Joseph's blueprint and book are responsible for beginning the subgenre revolving around the blueprints and schematics of fictional vehicles and locations from Star Trek: The drawings inspired fans to create their own unofficial blueprints of other invented spacecraft intended to fit into the Star Trek idiom.[13]

He is survived by his daughter, Karen Schnaubelt Turner Dick.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. I have a recognized reputation from a successful 30-year career as an aerospace design engineer. 
  2. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. It started in 1973. A group of fans had formed S.T.A.R. San Diego and they were meeting at Jeannie Graham's house. They finally decided to go over SDSU and open it up as a campus activity. Karen asked me to go with her that inaugural night, April 14, 1973, because I guess she was a little nervous about going there alone. When I got there I discovered a lot of the young people were children of friends of mine, people I'd worked with at Convair. Well, they had made models of the Star Trek memorabilia. I don't know whether or not you were aware of it at the time, but they were made out of cardboard, balsa wood, tape, wiring, glue, and paint and, for college kids (anyone who is 3 or more years younger than me is a "kid") the workmanship was pretty bad any way you looked at it. (I helped to initiate the Cub Scout Program. In 1932 we ran a Scout Leader's training course in the West Suburban Council, and one of the things we had the leaders do was to take a Cub Scout project, a nine-year-old craft project, and do it as part of the course. We gave them two days to come up with something and then we set it up as an exhibit. Well, we set the leaders' projects up on one side of the hall; meantime, we'd collected the same kind of work from the various Cub Packs and put it up on the other side of the hall. When you saw the adults' work compared to the children's' work, the Cubs' work looked like Einstein had made it, I mean, it was professional work. While the adult leaders' work looked pretty bad). Well, that's what this Star Trek memorabilia looked like. I told them I thought they could do better. And they said, "Show us." 
  3. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. When we got home, I had Karen get out some of her slides from the Star Trek TV series and I reduced one of them -- I think the first was the communicator -- back into its three-view drawing. Let me digress for a moment. There is a simple procedure in architectural drawing, or orthographic drafting, in which you place the face view of the building to the left of your drawing, the side view of the building to the right of your drawing, and the plan view at the top of your drawing. You turn the plan view to the angle at which you want to view the building. Your drawing then becomes the contact face plane of that plan. Then, by simply erecting all the lines of the building against the face plane and the horizon, using the three views, you draw, create, the building as it will appear in three dimensions and it is correctly reduced for perspective. Well I discovered this procedure can be reversed (from picture to plan) which I did upon occasion during the war. I could take a picture of an enemy airplane and, as long as there was something on the airplane, or in the picture, that permitted me to determine the scale or make a fairly good judgment of the scale, then I would simply reverse the procedure and draw the plans of the airplane in that picture. This is what I was doing with the Star Trek slides. 
  4. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. About a week later I had a number of ST fans come over to the house. There was Greg Weir and his dad, Steve Stockbarger, Karen, and...I don't remember all of them now and, as a matter of fact, I don't think I made a list of those who where there. There were about nine of them. We sat in the dining room and I showed them the drawings I'd made. They went wild over them and then began to write lists of all the things they wanted to see and wanted me to convert to plans. In other words, everyone had a sheet of paper and was busy writing a list of what they wanted. When I saw the lists it suddenly dawned on me that what they were asking for was a "technical" manual. And so I decided right then that I'd try to do it. 
  5. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. I laid the drawing out, scaled and sized it, and made a drawing of the Enterprise. Next I devised the Dreadnought, made a drawing of one of the uniforms, and about twelve drawings in all. They were drawn on the format I'd already devised for the Technical Orders. I sent a copy of the T.O.'s for the Dreadnought and the Enterprise to Gene Roddenberry on June 3rd, told him what I was doing, and inquired about proprietary rights. I got a letter in reply immediately, stating there was no problem with the proprietary rights, that he liked what I was doing, and wanted me to proceed...So I sent him copies of some fourteen T.O.'s I'd made to date and I got a very enthusiastic letter back. He said he'd never seen anything like that before and he wanted to see more of it. So I started collecting Star Trek material in order to be able to make the T.O.'s. 
  6. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. I had told Gene I didn't feel comfortable trading on someone else's original idea, but he insisted the Manual would be a real asset to the memorabilia. I told him I'd stay with the theme he'd developed, explained the errors and what I'd planned to do about them, and also offered to send any major changes to him for approval before using them. This way, since the subject was dead, I didn't think I'd be hurting anything he'd accomplished. I wasn't interested in science fiction, or the Star Trek TV series. My interest was in the interplanetary community, how much we actually knew about its potentiality, and the true science and technology as it would exist in that time period. I wasn't interested in watching the TV reruns although I saw every episode maybe 50 times or so, just to confirm a single detail of something I was going to put in the Manual. 
  7. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. In the lists ST fans had made, they wanted to see things that were on the Enterprise but never appeared in the series. I had already decided that if I was going to do the work, at least it would be technically and scientifically correct. 
  8. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. I had to document very step and maintain accurate records of everything, so that I could meet any challenge in the future without knowing exactly what that challenge might be. Wherever possible, in preparing the Manual, I checked my work with the experts at the local universities. I wanted to be certain that anything I used was correct so that the fans would be learning reality -- not some more science fiction. I keep a record of any person or thing that I use in the official Star Fleet replies, so that there will be no flaw in continuity. 
  9. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. Well, the first thing we ran into were the "errors," and every ST fan knows there were enough errors to fill a volume library. Some of them I could work around, but some were too glaring; they would have to be corrected. Each time one of the "glaring" errors appeared on the list, we'd have a bull session of ST fans and discuss it. If the consensus of opinion was that, regardless of the error, they wanted it that way because that was the way it appeared in the series, I discarded that item. In other cases, where they decided the correction was proper, and it didn't affect the theme of the ST series, then I made the changes and used the item. 
  10. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. There are those who like to challenge and/or criticize the Technical Manual for its "mistakes," or extrapolations. Upon talking with Franz Joseph it becomes quite clear why these things were done. Franz claims not to be a fan of Star Trek, but moreover a believer in Star Fleet as an armed forces system of the 23rd century. Years of nitpicking have gone on with the Technical Manual, primarily at the Dreadnought, a 3-nacelle Federation ship capable of up to Warp 10. This ship, as with the others (Scout, Destroyer, Tug) represent a broader engineering sense of Star Fleet. It promotes thought and imagination (i.e. starships based on components proven independently) of a new technology rather than solely a technical log of Star Trek episodes. 
  11. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. I suddenly found I had become the center of attention, which was a very new and very uncomfortable experience. I always enjoy talking to the SF fans and the youngsters, but the look of awe and adoration was something else. I've gotten every kind of a fan letter from the SF fans, businesses, universities, and government agencies and offices. I've gotten at least a dozen letters from ex-servicemen giving me their complete careers, and asking me to nominate them for the next starting class at the Star Fleet Academy. A fellow from NASA told me there was a meeting in Washington, D.C., in the US Department of Education, which included people from NASA, the National Geographic Society, school administrators, and others, and that I and my works were the subject of that meeting. I guess they were discussing the possible influence on the educational process. (...) The Manuals are in engineering departments all over the country. As a matter of fact, at the 11th Naval District Headquarters, here in San Diego, all the officers on the top floor are Star Trek fans, and they all have Manuals on their desk. Someone was telling me, from Grumman Aircraft I think, that his boss came by and picked up his copy of the Manual, looked through it, and said, "Good. We'll take some of these, and these, and these. 
  12. ^ "Forgotten Starships: "Canon" References to Star Trek Spacecraft Designed by Franz Joseph". Greg Tyler. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Interview with Franz Joseph - General Plans Constitution Class: U.S.S. Enterprise". CBS Paramount. Retrieved September 13, 2016. From the material that's been sent to me, I think every SF fan believes he can design a spaceship. I've gotten every kind of an assembly of shapes that you can imagine. All of them seem to believe it's very easy. All you do is imagine your favorite shape for a spaceship, and then fill it up with corridors and rooms. Then you sit down and dream up a lot of fancy names for the different boxes you've drawn into your "plans." What very few fans realize, the Booklet of General Plans was comparable to the preliminary design drawings an aerospace concern would produce in a competition for a new project. Only in the actual circumstances, there would be a team of between 400 and 450 experts in every phase of engineering and technology. I had to provide all of that expertise myself. 

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