Douglas Trumbull is far more than a visual effects artist. Certainly, he played significant roles in three of the most powerful and influential visual effects movies of all time: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), along with Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Blade Runner (1982), Douglas also received an Academy Award® nomination for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). But he started his career as an illustrator, and his love of art and sci-fi led to a career that includes countless inventions, 22 patents, simulator rides, as well as writing, producing and directing. His visionary developments include Showscan, a filmmaking and exhibition format -- 65mm negative filmed at 60 frames per second, with 70mm prints projected at 60 frames per second -- that presciently predated today's renewed attention to high-frame rates shooting.
In Part 1 of our interview with Douglas in the September/October issue of Creative COW Magazine, he described the development of his 1983 feature film project Brainstorm, which was intended to be for Showscan what Avatar became for 3D, until the project was stymied by studio politics and the death of its leading actress Natalie Wood. This precipitated Trumbull's move from Hollywood to the Berkshires in Massachusetts and the beginning of his career in simulation rides, first with Back to the Future: The Ride for Steven Spielberg. He went on to discuss the lamentable state of motion picture exhibition, and points the way to a future that not only includes higher framerates, but brighter screens.
Here in Part 2 of our interview, we rejoin Douglas in our November/December 2011 issue cover story, as he takes us more deeply into his career, and gives us his vision for the future of filmmaking.
Douglas was just in Hollywood to receive the 2011 SMPTE Presidential Proclamation, which recognizes "individuals of established and outstanding status and reputation in the motion-picture, television, and motion-imaging industries worldwide," for his more than 45 years of pioneering work in visual effects photography and groundbreaking innovation in motion-picture technologies.
He will be back in Hollywood in February to receive the Visual Effects Society's George Melies Award which honors individuals who have "pioneered a significant and lasting contribution to the art and/or science of the visual effects industry by a way of artistry, invention and groundbreaking work."
Also, shortly after our November/December issue appeared, we were happy to hear that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences will be giving Douglas Trumbull a special lifetime achievement Technical Oscar® this year.
However, his career is by no means relegated to the past. Douglas most recently served as the Special Photographic Effects Supervisor for Terence Malick's Tree of Life (2011), and has five movies under contract based on new technology he is developing.
Creative COW recently spoke to Douglas Trumbull about his past work, his current work, and the industry's future and you can read the interview here.