On Monday, legendary visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull passed away at the age of 79. The Academy Award-winner died from complications from mesothelioma, according to a post from his daughter on Facebook. Among his lifetime of achievements was his Oscar-nominated contribution to the first Star Trek feature film. His passing has generated an outpouring of memories from the film and sci-fi community as well as prominent Star Trek personalities.
Remembering Trumbull’s contribution to Star Trek
In addition to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Trumbull worked on groundbreaking films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Throughout his career, directors like Stanley Kubrick, Ridley Scott, and Steven Spielberg looked to Trumbull to help realize their visions. He was also a director in his own right, with credits that include the 1970s sci-fi classic Silent Running.
Director Robert Wise, who had worked with Trumbull on The Andromeda Strain, brought him in to take over the visual effects for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The previous effects team was unable to complete work in a timely manner, requiring Trumbull to enlist fellow FX pioneer John Dykstra (Star Wars) to help complete the visual effects in time to meet an unmovable release date. Their efforts earned them an Academy Award nomination. Trumbull’s work on Star Trek The Motion Picture (which is detailed in his 2019 TrekMovie interview) included finishing the USS Enterprise model as well as directing some of the movie’s sequences, like Spock’s spacewalk.
In 2016, Trumbull recorded a special feature (which you can see below) for the Toronto International Film Festival, which showcased his work with a screening of the film.
Trek community remembers the legend
Many members of the Trek community mourned Trumbull on social media, including veteran Star Trek visual artist Mike Okuda, who described Trumbull as an “artist and an innovator and a personal hero.”
I am shattered to learn that visual effects legend Douglas Trumbull has passed away. Trumbull worked on 2001, Close Encounters, Star Trek: TMP, Blade Runner, and more. He directed Silent Running and Brainstorm. He was an artist and an innovator and a personal hero. He was 79. pic.twitter.com/2sKdb77X0R
— Michael Okuda (@MikeOkuda) February 8, 2022
Okuda followed that up with a fun behind-the-scenes moment at Star Trek Las Vegas 2019 with William Shatner and Trumbull.
Legends: Remembering the day that visual effects giant Douglas Trumbull took a moment to catch up with William Shatner, backstage at Creation Entertainment's Star Trek Las Vegas convention in 2019. Denise and I were thrilled to share the stage with Trumbull at that event. pic.twitter.com/UVIsYsmwTs
— Michael Okuda (@MikeOkuda) February 8, 2022
The Inglorious Treksperts podcast hosts Mark Altman and Daren Dochterman expressed their thoughts, showing off some of his best work.
— inglorioustrek (@inglorioustrek) February 8, 2022
Dochterman, who is currently working on updating the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Edition for 4K UHD, followed up with a picture of himself with Trumbull and a personal message about having the chance to get to know Trumbull and now standing on his “big shoulders.”
So glad and lucky to have known him a bit. He was so supportive of me, and I'm gonna miss him being there. Such big shoulders to stand on. Thanks Doug Trumbull for everything. There won't be another. pic.twitter.com/mAlkpLp9bd
— Holographic Dochterman™ (@darendoc) February 8, 2022
Trumbull’s death was also noted by the official Star Trek account on Twitter.
— Star Trek (@StarTrek) February 8, 2022
Trumbull to be honored in Picard
In addition to Mike Okuda, some other folks working on Star Trek: Picard mourned the loss of Trumbull on Twitter, including production designer Dave Blass.
Such deviating news to hear of the passing of Douglas Trumbull. A visionary vanguard who re-shaped the look of science fiction and cinema as a whole. 2001, Star Trek the Motion Picture, Close Encounters, Blade Runner. A true genius https://t.co/6lj0H24oxF
— Dave Blass (@DaveBlass) February 8, 2022
On Monday, executive producer and co-showrunner Terry Matalas retweeted a number of remembrances for Trumbull, and today he revealed that Star Trek: Picard will be honoring him with a Starfleet ship named USS Trumbull (NCC-72370). Dave Blass followed up the tweet, revealing it was suggested by Mike Okuda. The Picard team is currently in production on the third season, so this ship will likely be part of that.
— Dave Blass (@DaveBlass) February 9, 2022
The entire TrekMovie team would also express our deepest regards for Trumbull and his contributions to cinema as well as our condolences to his family.