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Howard A. Anderson, Jr.

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Howard Andrew Anderson, Jr. (born 3 March 1920; age 96), usually credited as "Howard A. Anderson, Jr.", was a cinematographer, specialized in devising and executing visual, in the 1960 still called, special effects, who co-owned and operated with his younger brother, Darrell Anderson, their own effects company, the Howard Anderson Company, an optical effects house working on numerous Hollywood film and series productions. In the 1960s, the company, taken over by the two brothers from their father and namesake, Howard A. Anderson (1 June 18905 October 1979; age 89), resided on the Desilu lot. It was their company that was approached in 1964 to provide the visual effects for the television pilot episode "The Cage", which was to become Star Trek: The Original Series.

The choice was a logical one, as, aside from the close proximity to Desilu, the two brothers had already provided the animated title sequence for Desilu's main production at the time, The Lucy Show. Both brothers jumped at the opportunity with enthusiasm and confidence that they could deliver. The enthusiasm was not lost on Executive Producer Gene Roddenberry, as he wrote in a memo to the head of Desilu Business Affairs, Argyle Nelson on 24 August 1964, "I am delighted Anderson and others find the project interesting and fascinating. It will take a lot of corporation and creative thinking to bring this in exciting and on budget." (The Making of Star Trek, p. 89) Anderson was assigned to design and film the optical effects for the two Star Trek pilots along with his brother Darrell, and later the series itself. It was Howard, who brought in Richard C. Datin to construct the two differently sized studio models of the USS Enterprise, as well as matte painter Albert Whitlock, with whom he was already acquainted. In conjuncture with Roddenberry, the brothers worked together to create the transporter beam, starfields and other effects including developing cost effective techniques of integrating matte paintings of alien worlds into live footage. [1]

However, as soon as production of the regular series had commenced, it was soon realized that the Anderson brothers were in over their head, as the new television show was the most effects laden show ever produced up to that point in time, and the producers had to employ the services of virtually every other effects houses in existence at the time, besides the Anderson Company. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 262) Nevertheless, the Anderson company has remained the lead effects house during the entire run of the Original Series.

Neither he, not his brother, or any of their production staff for that matter, were ever individually credited for their contributions to The Original Series, instead being officially credited collectively under the company name.

Career outside Star Trek

Howard Anderson started to work in his father's company in the early 1930s, while he was still a pre-adelescent. He acquired a mathematics degree at the University of California, Los Angeles and upon graduation worked for Douglas Aircraft Company, shooting industrial films. These early projects included documenting construction of the first B-19 airplane and the company's public relations film We Give Them Wings. His budding cinematographic career was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the US Navy. [2]

After the war he returned in his father's employ and has, prior to Star Trek worked on the movies Riders of the Pony Express (1949), Prehistoric Women (1950), The Man with My Face and Slaughter Trail (both 1951), the Mexican movie El corazón y la espada (1953, experimenting with some of the earliest applications of 3D), Nightmare, Curucu, Beast of the Amazon and the documentary Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers (all three 1956), and Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957). By this time he and his brother had taken over the company from their father, and he continued to accumulate credits for productions such as The Time Machine (1960, one of the laurels of Wah Chang), Jack the Giant Killer and Taras Bulba (both 1962). His contributions to the 1968 war movie Tobruk earned him an Academy Award nomination, which he shared with Albert Whitlock, the matte painter Anderson brought in to work on Star Trek.

After Star Trek, Anderson accumulated few other individual credits, such as My World and Welcome to It (1969), The Dirt Gang (1972) and the 1971 science fiction television movie Earth II, which featured Gary Lockwood. However his company racked up a multitude of credits, which he, as a hands-on manager, had a large part in. It resulted for example in his 1970 Emmy Award nomination for My World and Welcome to It (1969). His decades long association with the production of opticals and visual effects resulted in an honorary Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award in 2007, as well as a 2004 President's Award of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), into which he was inducted.

Anderson continued the tradition started by his father, and named his oldest son "Howard A. Anderson III" (born 17 August 1941; age 74), who took over the company when his father retired. Incidentally, how much the family tradition was upheld was evidenced by the fact that young Howard III, helped out on stage during the production of The Original Series by flipping the light switches for the running lights on the large Enterprise model, while his father was filming the model. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 11/12, p. 64)

Emmy Award nomination

Unlike his brother, Howard Anderson was not nominated for an individual Emmy Award for his work on Star Trek, but, on behalf of his company, he and his brother received the following Emmy Award nomination in the category Special Classification of Individual Achievements: Special Photographic Effects:

Star Trek interviews

  • Movie Magic, Season 1, Episode 11: "Models and Miniatures – A Model of Perfection", 1994
  • TNG Complete Series Boxset-special feature, "Star Trek Visual Effects Magic: A Roundtable Discussion" (2007)

Further reading

  • "Out-of-this-world Special Effects for 'Star Trek'", Rae Moore, American Cinematographer, October 1967, pp. 715-717
  • "Where No Show Had Gone Before", Jan Alan Henderson, American Cinematographer, January 1992, pp. 34-40
  • "Special Visual Effects", Dan Fiebiger, Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 11/12, 1996, pp. 64-75

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