Saturday 23 April 2011

The Illusionists of Illusion Arts: Bill Taylor and Syd Dutton

Syd Dutton and mentor Al Whitlock
With my long held admiration for Albert Whitlock and his particular modus operandi, it’s natural that when the renowned matte department at Universal Studios closed down in the mid eighties following Whitlock’s retirement that I continue my interest in the artists and cameramen so vital to Al’s latter day success as they ventured out on their own in an arguably overpopulated American based visual fx community.

Bill Taylor
 Today’s blog is a tribute to the remarkable talents of visual effects cinematographer Bill Taylor, ASC  and matte painter Syd Dutton.  In addition to a look at Bill and Syd will be some recognition to several other key members of the former Whitlock unit who, would form the backbone of Illusion Arts - a new specialist matte effects company with figures such as key grip Larry Schuler, optical cameraman Dennis Glouner and matte camera assistant Mike Moramarco all of whom came from Universal’s old Whitlock matte department as well as important latecomers such as matte effects technician Lynn Ledgerwood  (shown below far right) and matte artist Robert Stromberg.

I’ve previously documented much of the Whitlock operation on an earlier blog which may be found here, though I’ll briefly retrace key details.  As covered earlier, the Universal Studios effects department was managed over some sixty years by numerous effects men – some more well known than others.  Phil Whitman would supervise glass shots and hanging miniatures on early films such as the original Lon Chaney HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME in the early 20's.  Frank J.Booth ran the photographic effects dept from the mid twenties through to around 1931 with effects on films such as ALL QUIET  ON THE WESTERN FRONT and DRACULA being his most well known.  Following on from Booth was the multi-talented John P.Fulton who would run things in his own volatile yet highly creative fashion up until around 1944, with Fulton’s long time associate David Stanley Horsley now taking over the headship throughout many of the creature features of the fifties.  
 Horsley’s untimely dismissal during the filming of THIS ISLAND EARTH would see cinematographer Clifford Stine suddenly take over the department for the next seven years when Stine resumed his production cinematographer role.  From 1962 the department would be in the hands of Albert Whitlock, who in fact was actually replacing long time matte artist Russell Lawson who had painted under all supervisors from Fulton to Stine on all Universal films in an extensive career from the early thirties.  Whitlock would head the special photographic effects department, effectively credited as ‘matte supervisor’ for the most part, for the next twenty two odd years.

For the majority of Universal's effects history, all matte and optical photography requirements were the domain of Roswell Hoffman - right the way through from THE INVISIBLE MAN in 1933 to EARTHQUAKE in 1974, with much outstanding trick work accomplished along the way under a quartet of noted, highly creative photographic effects supervisors.

Bill Taylor, grew up with a life long fascination of trickery - both the on stage  sleight of hand form as well as, later on, the cinematic varieties such as Ray Harryhausen's magical  fantasy adventures.  Taylor told me: "When I saw 'Jason and the Argonauts' in the summer of my freshman year at Pomona college I was inspired by Ray Harryhausen's example to look for a career in the visual effects field. I was thunderstruck to realize that here were visual illusions on an enormous scale.  Up til then (and unlike virtually all of my contemporaries in the effects world)  I had not been especially interested visual effects or even in photography, but since my artistic abilities were nil, it at least seemed that a life in the movie business as a technician was possible". Bill's visual effects career would commence in the early sixties with a chance placement with Ray Mercer's optical house in Los Angeles.

 "I knew Lin Dunn slightly by then, and took his advice to take any job I could get in the movie business, even if it was carrying someone's briefcase.   I lucked into a job as a delivery driver and man of all work at the Ray Mercer Co. in Hollywood, an old-line optical effects and title house that even then had been in business for 45 years. Mercer's moved me into optical line-up work (preparing film and counts for the optical cameramen) and then into camera work proper.  During my 10+ year stay at Mercer, I introduced myself to Al Whitlock by calling him at Universal, and to Petro Vlahos, from whom I learned the Color Difference Blue Screen system".  
Bill and Al became good friends with Bill being invited not only into Al's close knit matte shop to observe the creation of classic mattes for TOPAZ and TORN CURTAIN, but also invited into Al and wife June's home.  Upon the retirement of long time effects cameraman Ross Hoffman in 1974 Taylor would step in to the role and prove to be a solid 'right hand man' to the increasingly busy Whitlock as his director of photography. 
"Those two gentlemen changed my life, because when Whitlock needed a blue screen "expert" for The Hindenburg, he hired me to take Ross's position. In between Mercer and Universal, I did the opticals and served as consultant on John Carpenter's and Dan O'Bannon's "Dark Star" ( and wrote the lyrics for the title song, "Benson Arizona"; you get to do pretty much anything you can do in the low-budget world).   I went to Brazil on a film that folded, and when I came back I worked briefly for my old mentor Lin Dunn at Film Effects of Hollywood before Al offered me the Universal job".  With the Hollywood effects community being a somewhat fluid and mercurial affair I was surprised to learn from Bill that he had maintained much the same few employers over his career:  "So in brief:  9 years at Ray Mercer Co, one year free lancing, 10 years at Universal, and 26 years at Illusion arts.  I have been so lucky.  Most of my colleagues have had dozens of jobs, and I've really only had three".  
 In a total aside, I happened to mention my feelings regarding some of the decisions made by the Academy in the visual effects category whereby I complained that Woody Allen's marvellous 1982 film ZELIG was overlooked in both visual effects consideration and the phenomenal faux newsreel cinematography by the great Gordon Willis and Bill responded: "Along the way I became briefly the youngest Academy member thanks to Pete Vlahos, and have now served on the Academy Board for 13 years, currently in the position of Chair of the Visual Effects Branch.  Well, we did give Gordon Willis a Lifetime Achievement Oscar last year, one of very few DPs ever to be so honored. My other English mentor, Jack Cardiff, was another.  Sometimes we do correct our oversights". Finally, I asked Bill about his interests in stage magic:  "I was indeed interested in both stage magic and sleight of hand, and have created several stage illusions performed by magicians around the world, including Harry Blackstone Jr, and the Pendragons.  I continue to work as an illusion designer at Owen Magic in California".

Syd Dutton on the other hand, came onto the scene under quite different circumstances, which according to some reports suggest that he started off at Universal in the mail room around 1974 and by chance took on the newly created role as 'assistant' to Albert around 1975, just as pre-production was getting under way on THE HINDENBURG.  By Whitlock's own admission "...I could make jokes about having to whip him into shape, but Syd Dutton showed promise right from the very start." and quickly expanded and adapted his traditionally trained artistic skills to meet the rigours of cinematic special effects.

The Universal matte department would consist of Whitlock, Taylor and Dutton with added support staff Mike Moramarco who had been Ross Hoffman's matte camera assistant; optical cameraman Dennis Glouner (the son of veteran Columbia effects cameraman Donald Glouner); Larry Schuler as key grip; Millie Winebrenner as rotoscope artist (a tenure dating from the Fulton years) and Henry Schloessler as assistant grip.  Later on Al's own son Mark would join the unit as camera loader and in time himself would assume some matte painting assignments. Several of these individuals would carry on their roles with the formation of Illusion Arts in 1984.

All good things must come to an end it seems, and the Whitlock unit was an expensive boutique operation that, despite it's many accolades the studio wanted closed down - especially as practically all studio 'departments' had long ceased to exist, with all personnel hired on a film by film basis.  After years of unparalleled success the department did shut down when it's resident master finally retired in 1984 - shortly after the completion of GREYSTOKE.  Not to be easily discouraged, Taylor and Dutton having long known the clock was ticking regarding the demise of their big studio visual fx careers arranged to purchase all of the soon to be mothballed Universal matte equipment and established a boutique visual effects company of their own, Illusion Arts Inc, specialising in the main in matte painted effects shots.  The initial premises were in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, and it's to my eternal regret that I never took up the offer made to me by Syd Dutton during a chance meeting here in Auckland in 1986 to "come on by and pay us a visit next time you are in the States".  I've written previously about that unforgettable occasion where I had the good fortune to view several of Syd and Al's before and after matte reels.

For the next 25 plus years Illusion Arts would be a force to be reckoned with in the visual effects community, with a commitment to carry on the Whitlock tradition of producing as much of their core output as original negative first generation visuals. While essentially a smaller scaled operation, which was as much a business decision of Bill and Syd as much as anything else who right from the germination of the company decided on the "no debts, no receivables" business plan whereby Bill and Syd were sole company directors and 50/50 creative team, without a board of directors, shareholders or some faceless parent company run by attorneys in New York to answer to.

Over time new team members would join Taylor and Dutton at Illusion Arts, namely the multi-talented Lynn Ledgerwood who would look after the growing miniature and matte gag requirements.  Matte cameraman Mark Sawicki too would join the company and shoot some several hundred matte shots over the next few years.  Matte painter Robert Stromberg was another vital creative force who came on board around the late eighties and would prove himself to be a superb self trained matte artist who would adopt much of the Dutton/Whitlock technique.  Of late Stromberg has turned to art direction and recently won the Oscar for just that on James Cameron's AVATAR.  Additionally, Catherine Sudolcan became their in house VFX producer.  When I metioned the names Mark Freund and David Williams, Bill would comment:   "I originally shot opticals on a VistaVision printer I helped to design during the Universal days.  (The design won an Academy Science and Technology award) Mark Freund was our first staff optical printer operator (I moved away from opticals onto the motion control matte stand) and Dave Williams replaced Mark.   Both were star optical guys; Mark became the top operator at Pacific Title and Dave made the transition to digital compositing, and became one of the very best there is".

The visual effects community in Hollywood would, over time, see a number of casualties with so many big operations simply unable to sustain themselves in an ever competitive climate.  Names like Apogee, Boss Films, Buena Vista Visual Effects, Dream Quest Images, R/Greenberg, Van Der Veer Photo Effects and others all fell by the wayside with just a handful of the originals still opening their doors.
Sadly, as a sign of the times, Illusion Arts too would be forced to close it's once proud doors in 2009.  In an over saturated US visual effects market only Matte World Digital really remain as primarily a matte painting supply house above all else.  "When Illusion Arts folded, Zoic Studios created a new positon of Art Director for Syd, and one of our top 3D animators, Fumi Mashimo moved there with him.  I hope Syd and I will soon be working together again on the film I am currently supervising in Georgia, directed by John Hillcoat".

*Before Illusion Arts:  some memorable Taylor/Dutton  mattes from the Whitlock years

Just before looking at a selection of Illusion Arts matte shots here are some choice samples from the Universal years.  I don't know for sure whether Syd painted all of these examples but he would surely have had a hand in them as Al liked to share paintings and both artists would take turns working on the others' mattes to keep from going stale and to keep the painting alive.  Bill would definitely have had a major part in all of these shots as director of matte photography.

The maestro of mattes - Albert Whitlock  1913-1999

Effects Oscar winner THE HINDENBURG (1975) - Bill and Syd's first Whitlock project together.

AIRPORT 77 (1977) with some great miniature/painting/live action set ups.
Some miniature/painting combination shots from SWASHBUCKLER (aka THE SCARLET BUCCANEER-1976)

Making a matte shot - Mark Whitlock, Syd Dutton and Dennis Glouner.

Among the effects shots in THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980) was this amazing miniature set off with naptha and compressed air while matted into a vast repainted photo blow up of the street and vehicles.  Nice roto work too as pieces of debris fly across the street (though the fire is strangely absent through the car windshield).  In watching the effects shoot director John Landis was, in his words, "extremely unimpressed" - as it just went 'poof' so quickly with the screech of the high speed camera and alot of dust.  The final properly composited 24fps miniature Landis loved evidentally.
Whitlock contemplating the hand painted photo blow up mounted on foamcore.

Syd Dutton's mood enhancing skies added for this shot in CAT PEOPLE  (1982)

Again, Dutton's mastery of the brush and Taylor's keen photographic sense creates a zoo where there was none in an invisible trick shot for Paul Schrader's CAT PEOPLE.

Bill Taylor's blue screen composite  against Syd Dutton's painted moonlit skies for CAT PEOPLE.

THE WIZ - an odd choice of film for the otherwise brilliant director Sidney Lumet who just passed away last week.

Two frames from the jaw dropping central visual effects set piece from THE WIZ.  When I asked Bill about this beautiful sequence he said: ..."All I can see is the matte line on the apple, which for some reason didn't bother Al at all!  We had other takes where the apple fit perfectly, but the shot was so complicated that something else went wrong in every one of them.  It was one of the shots made on the matte shot camera and then carried over to the optical printer for the apple to avoid duping the paintings".  When I probed Bill further as to the glories of the old optical processes he replied emphatically; "No, I don't miss the good old days one little bit!".    I recall Richard Edlund saying just the same thing!

The 1979 Frank Langella version of DRACULA - moving clouds, smoking chimneys and the lot.

Another beautiful split screen matte painting from DRACULA which, ironically, was to initially have been painted by Whitlock's former Pinewood colleague Les Bowie until Bowie succumbed to cancer during pre-production. I remember well seeing this and many other original negative mattes as shot breakdowns on Syd's showreel many years ago.

Syd's first solo matte painting  for Hitchcock's FAMILY PLOT (1976)

A great many matte paintings were executed - some 24 in fact - for the 1981 GHOST STORY, yet most fell by way of the editors' scissors to the proverbial cutting room floor with few remaining.

A Syd Dutton full frame painting from GHOST STORY.

Incredible yet totally invisible Whitlock-Dutton collaborations from GHOST STORY.

Probably the last matte show Whitlock worked on at Universal - GREYSTOKE  (1984)

The strange and misunderstood HEARTBEEPS (1981) with much painted matte work by Syd and Al.

The seriously unfunny HISTORY OF THE WORLD - PART ONE featured staggering matte work by the team.

One of the four  matte camera set ups at Universal,  each configured to a different format depending upon the general requirements of the shot.  There were 8 perf VistaVision, 4 perf 1.85:1 flat,  2 perf Technirama and 4 perf anamorphic 2.35:1 - which I assume this example to be as the film HISTORY OF THE WORLD was in scope.  According to Bill Taylor they had various satellite operations scattered around the Universal lot for occasions where more space was needed.  Pictured above are matte cameraman Dennis Glouner on the left and I think the other fellow is camera assistant Mike Moramarco.

Syd's first sole on screen credit as far as I know - for BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY  (1979).  The matte shots in this film (shown theatrically outside the US) are extraordinary and I remember being awestruck with them both when i saw the film on the giant cinema screen as well as on the aforementioned matte shot show reel.

More wonderfully atmospheric Dutton magic from BUCK ROGERS that is undoubtedly Whitlock influenced.  Some of Dutton's work was recycled in the subsequent tv series though most of those mattes were painted by Jena Holman and Dan Curry at David Stipes visual effects house.

Probably my favourite ever Dutton matte painting - and one executed so long ago for BUCK ROGERS in 1979.  This exquisite painting took pride of place hanging upon a wall in the Illusion Arts facility for some time I believe.

More unquestionably terrific top shelf mattes from BUCK ROGERS with subtle animation and matte gags to sell the illusionJust look at how Dutton controls his tones and has that inate sense of 'backlight' that his mentor loved so much.

Peter Sellers' misjudged mishap of a remake THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1979) featured many wonderful painted mattes and excellent twin Sellers blue screen hook ups by Bill.  As far as the film goes though, give me the Selznick one any day.

More atmospheric manor home mattes from the 1985 movie CLUE.

I've always had a soft spot for the proverbial 'haunted house' type matte painting, especially with that classic lightning filled skies motif, and this CLUE shot is a winner.

The Mel Gibson-Sissy Spacek drama THE RIVER  (1984)

Syd's evocative night skies perfectly composited travelling mattes by Bill for the rather good PSYCHO 2  (1982).

David Lynch's mega budgeted disaster DUNE was a mixed bag effects wise, with photographic effects ranging from poor to terrific - though arguably few in the latter category, most of which were the Whitlock-Dutton matte shots such as this monumental Syd Dutton rendering, supplemented by much foreground miniature dressing, numerous matte gags, live action pockets and a rudimentary yet flawless hand cranked 'motion control' element of a flying vehicle passing through.

Matte effects coordinator Lynn Ledgerwood setting up the fabulous Geidi Prime matte shot.

Detailed area from Dutton's painting prior to photography.

Also from DUNE - Dutton at work on The Great Hall matte.

Final composite of the tilt up matte shot from DUNE  (1985)
To the best of my knowledge, Al's son Mark had a fair bit to do with this matte and would paint on several other shows.

The epic that never was.  The proposed John Landis (!) version of THE LOST WORLD which was to be a huge effects show for Whitlock's department in the early 80's and was claimed in some quarters to be a delaying tactic in order to keep the matte facility secure for a few more years as 'the big project in the works'.  Shown here are some of Whitlock's pre-production conceptual paintings very reminiscent of Albert Bierstadt.  Al had visions of the film being shot here in New Zealand and augmented with his glass shots to open the scenario up..... but it wasn't to be.
Magnificent mattes from a film of such unspeakable awfulness it beggars belief...RED SONYA  (1984)

RED SONYA - did voters for the California Governor not see this turkey before casting their votes?

Detail from either a Whitlock or a Dutton painting for the tv series TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY (1983)

One of the many Dutton/Whitlock collaborations, with this from MASADA (1979).

Illusion Arts   -   Bill and Syd's Excellent Adventure
A selection of memorable mattes from over the years of the formidable company.

One of, if not the first Illusion Arts foray into effects shots is this extra large seven foot wide B1 painted fighter jet from REAL GENIUS (1984)

Two uncredited matte shots from the Robert Redford helmed MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR (1988)

Al posing in front of Syd's beautiful painted castle for Mel Brooks' SPACEBALLS (1987)

Another extensive Syd Dutton painting from SPACEBALLS.

A look inside the spacious matte room of Illusion Arts with retired Al Whitlock.

One of the effects shows which Al's son Mark painted on - THE GATE (1987). The shot is actually comprised of two separate paintings - one of night and the other of dawn with the sun rising.  Both paintings were combined with a gradual irregularly shaped optical wipe across the screen.  Miniature effects cameraman on that film, Jim Aupperle once spoke of this particular shot;  "The matte shot that I was lucky enough to watch Albert Whitlock working on was for THE GATE.  Most of the painting had been done by Mark Whitlock, Albert's son, but he was having trouble finishing the sky, so Albert came in to lend a helping brush.  I wasn't the only one there that afternoon who stopped what he was doing to watch the master at work.  Al seemed to enjoy the attention as several of us gathered around him.  He made it appear incredibly easy as the sky and clouds revealed themselves wherever his brush moved.  Someone came by -- I think it was visual effects supervisor Randy Cook - who told us to get back to work,  otherwise I might be tempted to keep watching, though at the rate he was going I think Albert must have finished it quickly".

Robert Stromberg's 'sting in the tail' closing matte shot from FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996).
Elements that make up the shot - the Robert Stromberg glass painting with quite sizable foreground miniatures.  The live action element was a rear projection plate.  Although used occasionally when absolutely necessary Bill Taylor mentioned to me that he was never entirely happy with the lower quality inherent in the rear projected plate method in general.  

Richard Attenborough's bio-pic CHAPLIN (1992) features this mammoth pullback starting close on Kevin Kline sitting under the old 'Hollywoodland' sign of the twenties, and extending out for miles.

Also from CHAPLIN is this period NYC shot comprising of a glass painting of New York, a second foreground glass with a heavily retouched photograph attached of the ocean liner moved incrementally, a plate of the water and numerous smoke plume elements dropped in on buildings and on the ship.  A great Taylor-Dutton shot.

A fairly dreadful film as I recall, Roger Corman's FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND (1990) did at least have some good mattes and a great storm accomplished with the same cotton wool disc technology that was utilised by Whitlock and Taylor for the dust storm in BOUND FOR GLORY in the mid seventies and again later for CAT PEOPLE in '82.

Syd at work on one of his quite astonishing pieces of gallery art.

The final piece, titled Canyon City.

Now, I don't know if this is technically an Illusion Arts shot, though it is a Mark Whitlock matte shot, from the 1990 film PREDATOR 2.  Mark was one of a trio of matte painters on that show - Rocco Gioffre, Mark Sullivan included - all of whom I believe worked independently of one another as separate contractors.

A glowing tribute to the Hudson River School of painters is this Syd Dutton matte from STAR TREK V (1989)
For the modern incarnation of the 50's comic, DENNIS THE MENACE (1993) a brief shot of a train passing over a bridge against a moonlit locale required firstly an expansive matte painting by Robert Stromberg, supplemented with a miniature locomotive and foreground foliage shot virtually stop motion by Bill Taylor who mechanised a real time crane motion control camera move.

The Sylvester Stallone action thriller DAYLIGHT had this matte as well as some excellent miniature shots by Bill Taylor.

Some of the bold atmospheric enhancements and cityscape manipulation painted by Syd Dutton for the Richard Pryor comedy CRITICAL CONDITION (1986)

One of Illusion Arts most recognised and memorable effects set pieces is this phenomenal opening 'flight' over the African jungle to the Royal Palace of Eddie Murphy (in perhaps the last good film the comedian actually made.. though as usual I digress) for the film COMING TO AMERICA  (1988).  I asked Bill about this wonderful sequence and he told me: "Yes, the jungle was a beautiful Apogee model, built in very small scale on two tables that were 12 feet square."(*I read that broccoli was used for the foliage) "The tables were shot twice, turned 90 degrees for the second pass, which was offset 12 feet back; thus we had 48 feet total travel over the tables.  Each 24 foot section was shot twice in 8 perf (VistaVision) - once with 'beauty' light and once more as a matte pass with the back edge in silhouette against white.  Thus it was straightforward to join the sections to each other and to the infinity painting at the end.  VFX cameraman Doug Smith programmed and shot the graceful flight on the big Apogee stage.  I shot the paintings at Illusion Arts using the same program, minus the 'Z' axis.  The paintings were 4 foot by 8 foot in size, on masonite, and bent into a curve when shot, to fill the 20mm lens - a technique we laughingly called 'Bend-o-Flex'".

One of the multiple paintings prepared for the COMING TO AMERICA title sequence.  Bill stated; "There is a big cheat in the lead up to this actual frame.  The distant castle goes out of frame momentarily and when it comes back in it's twice the size.  Then there is a dissolve to a multiplane shot (shown above) of the palace with rear projected live action elements inserted, all shot in 8 perf VistaVision, and composited in 4 perf 1.85:1 by our ace optical guy, David Williams.  Dave later became the best digital compositor I have ever met".

A VistaVision 8 perf sideways mounted tiltdown matte comp from COMING TO AMERICA

Bill Taylor explained the camera set up shown here:  "The picture of me with the camera is a later one from Illusion Arts.  The camera was on our motion-control track setup.  It can shoot 4-perf or 8-perf bipack and roll 180 degrees, but not with the magazine shown!  The camera, which we dubbed the "Mysto-flex" in tribute to the Dykstraflex at Apogee, is now at the AMPAS Pickford Center test lab.  The motion control stand was mostly used for miniature rear projection shots, a late development at Illusion Arts, which we used when we did multiplane shots.  Miniature rear projection as a matte shot technique goes back at least to Kong, and was used heavily at Disney and ILM long before we got into it.  In spite of the great pains we took with our process plates (8-perf, flashed and pull-processed negative, extensive testing to find best plate density and color)  we were never really happy with the projected images.  They were better at any rate than we could get from separations, which had to be developed outside their design range to copy onto negative stock".

The 80's television series BEAUTY AND THE BEAST  featured numerous Illusion Arts shots such as these examples shown here.  The above photo demonstrates the preliminary oil sketch with Syd's final vertically orientated painting to facilitate a tilt down composite. 
The limited set and Dutton's finished, not yet composited painting.

The final composite from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  The effects were all shot on 35mm film whereas the production itself was a muddy videotaped affair - and it showed!


Another great original negative matte from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Detail from Syd Dutton's wonderful Piranesi inspired gothic matte art.

One of four Robert Stromberg paintings created of the cliff and canyon for the fun monster film TREMORS (1990)

An excellent look at a multiplane matte set up - this being for the film MANNEQUIN 2 - ON THE MOVE (1991)

Subtle yet very effective CAPE FEAR (1991) partial prison set and moving split atmospheric sky addition, plus rotoscoped animation to allow actor Robert DeNiro to walk into the painted area.

Nice before and after shots from a television version of ALICE IN WONDERLAND made in the 80's.

Matte art and miniature multiplane effects shot by Syd Dutton for BATMAN FOREVER (1995)

Dutton with matte cameraman Mark Sawicki preparing the BATMAN FOREVER multiplane effects shot.

Syd Dutton concept art for one of the STAR TREK TV spinoffs.

Illusion Arts contributed many effects shots to the various STAR TREK incarnations of the 80's and 90's - none of which I've ever seen so I can't be specific on the actual shows other than the company's involvement with a number of matte paintings, some of which were enhanced with foreground miniatures and blue screen elements as seen above.

Close end of significant pullout matte shot from a STAR TREK - NEXT GENERATION episode.

Wide end of big pullback matte.

Illusion Arts staffer with STAR TREK matte painting, and final composite.

Robert Stromberg with his glass painting combined with miniature elements via motion control for STAR TREK.

A further wonderful selection of STAR TREK - THE NEXT GENERATION mattes.

Robert Stromberg blocking in colour masses.

Robert's final painting which would turn up again and again in various guises in STAR TREK - TNG

Syd proudly showing off one of his epic mattes for one of the TREK spinoff series - which, I don't know.