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Trumbull in 2007

Douglas Trumbull (born April 8, 1942, Los Angeles) is an American film director and special effects supervisor. He was responsible for the special effects of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Blade Runner.


Major projects



Trumbull's early work at Graphic Films (a small animation and graphic arts studio that produced a film about spaceflight for the New York World's Fair) caught the attention of director Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick hired director Con Pederson from Graphic Films, and Trumbull then cold-called Kubrick after obtaining the director's home phone number from Pederson. Kubrick hired Trumbull for the production of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Trumbull's outstanding contribution to the film was the "Star Gate" sequence which used a revolutionary camera design and employed slit-scan photography.


In 1971 Trumbull directed the film Silent Running, produced by Universal on a shoestring budget of one million dollars. (By comparison, 2001 cost over $10 million.) The film used a number of special effects techniques developed for 2001. Parts of it were shot on a mothballed aircraft carrier (which lent its name to the movie spacecraft Valley Forge.) Although a critical success, Silent Running was a flop at the box office—ostensibly due to poor advertising. During this period Trumbull continued to work on a number of film projects that failed to get backing, but he stayed busy creating the special effects for the 1971 film The Andromeda Strain.


In 1975 Trumbull turned down an offer to provide the effects for George Lucas' Star Wars (later renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) due to other commitments, but in 1977 he contributed effects to Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Trumbull's efforts on Star Trek were especially noteworthy, because the original effects house had been fired for failing to produce usable results and Trumbull and his team were given a mere five months to create the hundreds of effects shots needed for the movie's Christmas release date. Working virtually around the clock, he and his crew made the date, but their in-house battle cry became "...crop it, flop it [flop the film in optical printing to create a second, mirror image of a previous scene], or drop it!"


In 1981 Trumbull directed the special effects for the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner.

In 1981 Trumbull finally got to direct a second major film, Brainstorm. The film was to be a showcase for a new film format called "Showscan", which utilized specialized cameras and projectors to capture and present 70 mm film at 60 frames per second. The completion of the film was delayed by the death of Natalie Wood during production, and the Showscan process was not used in the released version of the film.

Trumbull decided to redirect his career away from traditional Hollywood projects concentrating instead on developing technology for the exhibition industry and theme-park rides, such as the Back to the Future Ride at Universal Studios Theme Park. Trumbull's Showscan technology can be seen today at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.


Trumbull has been nominated for Academy Awards on five occasions and has received a lifetime achievement Oscar.

See also

External links


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