Howard A. Anderson Jr., an Oscar-nominated visual effects artist whose company did VFX work for the original Star Trek series, has died. He was 95.
Anderson died Sept. 27 of cardiac dysrhythmia in Ventura, Calif.
Anderson and Albert Whitlock shared an Oscar nom for their efforts on Arthur Hiller’s Tobruk (1967), a war drama that starred Rock Hudson and George Peppard. ,,,
In the 1960s, Anderson and his brother, Darrell A. Anderson, were running The Howard Anderson Co., an influential special effects outfit based on the Desilu lot. ...
The firm signed a deal to work on the 1964 Star Trek pilot episodes "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before," and its contributions to the series included exterior shots of the USS Enterprise speeding through the stars and the effects associated with the phaser-beam weapons and the ship’s transporter. ...
There were a different set of challenges with visual effects, back before CG work.
Then, it was all about sophisticated miniature work, artful mattes, and projection work. You watch some of those old-timey effects today and (naturally) they seem crude.
But the overarching benchmark, remarkably enough, was similar then to what it is now. As Harrison Ellenshaw (matte artist for the first Star Wars and a whole lot of other things) said long ago: "If you notice the matte, it's a failure."
In the same way, if you notice the effect, if it jumps out at you, the thing doesn't really work very well. Even with seamless, state-of-the-art CG, that can sometimes be a problem.
It's always good to know where VFX work has been. With Mr. Anderson's passing, we lose a bit of our collective memory, and recollecting the industry that's passed becomes hard to do.