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Dan Curry

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Dekon Elig Chessarro
Curry as Dekon Elig
...and as Ches'sarro Seeto
"Dan Curry is one of Star Trek's heroes. He's an amazingly genius."–Michael Okuda, 4 April 2002 (TNG Season 5 DVD-special feature, "Departmental Briefing Year Five: Visual Effects")

Daniel "Dan" Francis Myles Curry (born 1946) was a senior member of the special and visual effects (VFX) team and served as visual effects supervisor on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and as visual effects producer on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. Curry was also the second unit director for all of the Star Trek spin-offs. However, he was also given the opportunity to flex his muscles as first unit director, and has directed one episode of The Next Generation, sixth season's "Birthright, Part II". While Curry is usually associated with his work on the television franchise, his very first Star Trek credit was actually for the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, for which he designed the titles as graphics artist, his profession by trade. Apart from this movie, he later made a small uncredited contribution to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier with his friend Ronald B. Moore, when they supervised the VFX of a single effects scene. (Flying Starships, p. 77)

As VFX supervisor, the first Star Trek staffer to hold the title, Dan Curry was brought in around the turn of 1987-1988 as the final senior VFX staffer, after both the senior VFX staff, consisting at the time of Gary Hutzel, Robert Legato and Ronald B. Moore, and the producers realized that the new Star Trek: The Next Generation show was the most VFX laden television production of its day, much like its illustrious predecessor, Star Trek: The Original Series was in its. A fourth senior VFX staffer was deemed necessary to alleviate work pressure, and Dan Curry was brought in, partly on recommendation by his friend Moore. The title "Visual Effects Supervisor" was introduced in the television franchise on that occasion. In order to streamline and increase production efficiency, the four were paired in two teams to work on alternating episodes, Curry being paired with his friend. Joining the Star Trek franchise halfway through the first season, the 16th episode, "Too Short a Season", was the first episode Curry and Moore worked upon as a team. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 31) The format worked so well, that it has remained in use for almost the entire subsequent run of the Star Trek television franchise, though the set boundaries in the two-team format became a lot more fluid during the later seasons of Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise.

After Deep Space Nine went into production, an extra management layer was necessary to oversee and coordinate the efforts of the now two-production VFX teams, and it was Dan Curry who was promoted into the newly conceived position of VFX producer, a position he held for the remainder of the Star Trek television franchise, and the only television Star Trek VFX staffer to ever hold the title. His elevation into this position was all the more remarkable as Curry, unlike most of his colleagues, did not sport a formal background in cinematography or photography, but rather one in the artistic direction, graphics and design.

In the Star Trek franchise, it was customary from the very beginning, when more than one production was simultaneously in development at any given time (starting with The Final Frontier), to avoid cross-over work being done by staffers assigned to different productions, though there, "(...) was no good reason for this that we could perceive", a slightly chagrined Doug Drexler once noted. [X]wbm To this end studio staffers, once assigned to, and contracted for one production, were legally forbidden to work on any of the others. The legal proviso however, did not extend to outside vendors, such as Image G and CGI companies like Digital Muse and Foundation Imaging, though the intent was to keep the work of the latter two as separate as possible. Likewise Mike Okuda's Scenic Art Department was exempt from the proviso for the obvious reason to maintain visual consistency within the franchise. For equally obvious reasons, this did not held true for the very highest management echelons either, and Curry's position as VFX producer was counted amongst them. In 1994, for example, Dan Curry worked concurrently on all three television series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, while his VFX staff of supervisors and coordinators, whose work he oversaw and coordinated, at first strictly adhered to their assigned productions. As producer, Curry was therefore one of the very few, if not the only one, VFX staffers to have worked on all seasons of the Star Trek spin-off television properties. Practical considerations made the format untenable for his teams during the later seasons of Deep Space Nine and Voyager, forcing the studio to relax the legal proviso for them to become "swing"-teams, as VFX Supervisor David Takemura has put it. [1]

As a master of Tai chi, Dan Curry choreographed the Klingon fighting technique Mok'bara and has designed the famous Klingon weapon for it, the bat'leth. Apart from the Klingon weaponry, Curry has, besides his regular duties as VFX supervisor, on occasion pitched in as a designer/production illustrator (using his artistic background) and model maker and has designed for example the D'Arsay archive for The Next Generation, as well as the two Kazon starship classes, the Hanonian land eel and the Borg unicomplex for Voyager. For Deep Space Nine's sixth season episode "A Time to Stand", he built the kit-bash studio model USS Curry, which was named for him. His very first contribution as such however, already upon being hired, was his kit-bash build of the shuttle drone, seen in the Next Generation first season episode, "11001001", the episode directly preceding his first VFX assignment, hard on the heels followed by his more prominent design and build of the Echo Papa 607 weapons system, seen in "The Arsenal of Freedom", and which on-screen movements he also choreographed in person, already utilizing his Tai chi skills. (Flying Starships, p. 52) In a nineteen-minute interview with Dan Curry on the TNG Season 6 DVD disc 7 entitled "Dan Curry Profile", he talks about how some of the props were conceived and how his experience with martial arts informed much of the Klingon style of battle. The special also revealed that Curry has retained a considerable amount of Star Trek production items for his personal collection.

Dan Curry has also made in-universe Deep Space Nine appearances as the image of Dekon Elig in the episode "Babel" and Ches'sarro Seeto in the episode "Necessary Evil".

A highly respected professional by his peers, Dan Curry has won seven Emmy Awards for his work on Star Trek, an additional twelve nominations (the majority of them shared with close friend and collaborator Ron Moore), supplemented with one International Monitor Award and one Visual Effects Society Award with an additional nomination to boot, in the process becoming one of the most honored Star Trek production staffers, only surpassed by Michael Westmore, though Curry has more actual wins. 1999 in particular was a fruitful year for Curry when he was nominated no less than four times for an Emmy, winning one of them. His Star Trek origins as a title designer was reflected in his only non-VFX award nomination, when he was (co-)nominated for a graphics design Emmy for the title design of Voyager in 1995.

In 2007, Dan Curry worked as VFX consultant for the fan-made internet series Star Trek: New Voyages episode "World Enough and Time", which features fellow Star Trek alumni George Takei, Grace Lee Whitney, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, John Carrigan, James Cawley, Jeffery Quinn, writer and director Marc Scott Zicree, writer Michael Reaves, Doug Drexler, Iain McCaig, James Van Over, Michael Okuda, Daren Dochterman, Pierre Drolet, Sam Mendoza, Ronald B. Moore, Lee Stringer, Gregory Jein, Philip Kim, Leslie Hoffman, and Tom Morga.

Aside from the various live-action Star Trek productions, Dan Curry has also painted the cover for DC Comics TOS Special 2, released in late 1994, portraying the USS Enterprise-A and the USS Defiant.

Career outside Star Trek

Hailing from the East Coast, Curry graduated with a degree in Fine Arts at the Middlebury College in Vermont and subsequently with a degree in Fine Arts in Film and Theatre at the Humboldt State University in California, before joining the US Peace Corps in Thailand, where he learned to speak fluent Thai and Lao, aside from meeting his future wife as well, and became a martial arts expert, among others in Tai chi. Upon his return to the United States, Curry first worked as a teacher giving lessons in painting, drawing, graphic design, set design and fabrication, perspective drawing, and rendering until 1979 when he started to work in the motion picture industry, at first as title designer for a number of productions, which eventually included The Voyage Home. Credits he accumulated as matte artist before he joined the Star Trek franchise were among others the movies Caveman (1981) and Creepshow (1982) as well as the documentary The Jupiter Menace (1984, working for David Stipes Productions).

After his tenure at Star Trek, Curry worked as VFX coordinator on the fantasy horror series Moonlight (2007-2008), the comedy series Chuck (2008, co-starring Bonita Friedericy and Tony Todd, and produced and occasionally directed by former Voyager cast member Robert Duncan McNeill), with the television drama series Cult (2013) being his more recent work.

Together with his wife Ubolvan and son Devin, Curry operates his own small, Bell Canyon, California based, production company "Evergreen Productions, LLC" [2], producing predominantly short drama features, among others Eviction (2004), Hired Guns (2011), and the recent The Chronicles of Elijah Sincere (2012)

Star Trek credits

(This list is currently incomplete.)

Star Trek interviews

  • on The Next Generation
    • TNG Season 1 DVD special feature "The Making of a Legend" ("Visual Effects")
    • TNG Season 1 DVD special feature "Memorable Missions"
    • TNG Season 2 DVD special feature "Departmental Briefing Year Two: Production", interviewed on 5 September 2001
    • TNG Season 2 DVD special feature "Departmental Briefing Year Two: Memorable Missions" ("Loud As A Whisper", "The Dauphin"), interviewed on 5 September 2001
    • TNG Season 3 DVD special feature "Mission Overview Year Three" ("Special Guests on the Bridge"), interviewed on 5 September 2001
    • TNG Season 3 DVD special feature "Departmental Briefing Year Three" ("Art Design and Visual Effects", "Visual Effects "Deja Q"", "Visual Effects "Captain's Holiday""), interviewed on 5 September 2001
    • TNG Season 4 DVD special feature "Select Historical Data" ("Galaxy's Child"), interviewed on 5 September 2001
    • TNG Season 5 DVD special feature "Departmental Briefing Year Five" ("Visual Effects"), interviewed on 5 September 2001
    • TNG Season 5 DVD special feature "Memorable Missions Year Five" ("Hero Worship", "Disaster"), interviewed on 5 September 2001
    • TNG Season 6 DVD special feature "Bold New Directions Year Six" ("A First Chance at "Second Chances""), interviewed on 5 September 2001
    • TNG Season 6 DVD special feature "Departmental Briefing Year Six" ("Production", "Profile: Dan Curry"), interviewed 7 September 1994 and 17 June 2002
    • TNG Season 7 DVD special feature "Starfleet Moments & Memories Year Seven" ("A Unique Family"), interviewed on 7 September 1994
    • TNG Season 7 DVD special feature "The Making of "All Good Things..." Year Seven" ("Visual Effects"), interviewed on 28 April 1994 and 7 September 1994
    • TNG Season 1 Blu-ray special feature "Stardate Revisited: The Origin of Star Trek: TNG"
  • on Deep Space Nine
  • on Voyager
  • on Enterprise

Star Trek awards

Art Codron, Dan Curry, Ron Moore and Liz Castro winning their Emmys in 2002

Curry (2nd left) winning his 2002 Emmy Award with colleagues (l-r) Codron, Moore and Castro

As the second all-time highest honored, but most award winning, Star Trek staffer, Dan Curry received the following award wins and nominations:

Further Reading

External links

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