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Howard Anderson Company

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The Howard Anderson Company (also referred to as Anderson Co. or as Howard A. Anderson Co.) is a visual effects company (in the 1960s still referred to as special effects), founded in 1927 by Howard A. Anderson (1 June 18905 October 1979; age 89), which was the first company that catered to the visual effects needs for the very first Star Trek production, Star Trek: The Original Series.

The Anderson Company was run by his sons Howard A. Anderson, Jr. and Darrell Anderson in the 1960s, when The Original Series was being produced. The Anderson Company rented its facilities on the Desilu lot. They had a close working relationship with Desilu since the early 1950s, when they did the titles of I Love Lucy and Our Miss Brooks. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story)

USS Enterprise eleven-foot studio model filmed at Howard Anderson Company after first set of revisions

The large Enterprise model on stage at Anderson's, filmed for the 2nd pilot

Most importantly, the Anderson Company produced the exterior visual effect shots of the USS Enterprise, involving the two differently scaled studio models, and which included the starfield backdrops and planets, for the first, "The Cage", and second, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", pilot episodes of The Original Series, as well as for the first regular series' production episode "The Corbomite Maneuver". They also created various other special effects, such as phaser beams and the transporter effect. However, the extensive effects work required week-by-week on Star Trek (the most effects laden television show up until that time), was deemed too much to handle for just the one company, so associate producer Robert Justman and post-production supervisor Edward K. Milkis hired several other effect houses, such as the Westheimer Company, Van der Veer Photo Effects and the by Linwood G. Dunn headed Film Effects of Hollywood, virtually every special effects house in existence in Hollywood at the time, to work on the series, besides the Andersons. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story) Film Effects of Hollywood took over the exterior starship effects shots for the regular series' seasons one and two, which was just as well, as far as Anderson's staffers were concerned, as the latter's studio was more spacious and better suited to handle, in particular, the large eleven-foot Enterprise model.

Constitution class USS Enterprise studio model assembled by Howard Anderson Company staffers Harry Kersey and Ronnie Peterson prior to shooting

Kersey and Peterson assembling the large Enterprise model

The somewhat cramped conditions of Anderson's studio caused some problems in shooting the larger model, as Howard Anderson recalled, "We had to constantly stop shooting after a short while because the lights would heat up the ship. We'd turn the lights on and get our exposure levels and balance our arc lights to illuminate the main body of the ship and then we'd turn the ship's lights off until they cooled down. Then we'd turn them on and shoot some shots all in one pass. It wasn't until later that someone developed fiber optics and 'cold-lights' and other useful miniature lighting tools that are common today." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 11/12, p. 67) Several photographs have turned up afterwards, among others in the reference book Star Trek: The Original Series 365, showing Anderson employees, their shirts unbuttoned, suffering under the heat of the lighting. Due to budget cuts, Film Effects of Hollywood was removed from the production roster for the third season, and all new exterior starship shots reverted back to Anderson's, including those of the new Klingon D7 class model. Yet, no new Enterprise footage was shot for that season. [1]

The Anderson Company's work on Star Trek was nominated for an Emmy Award twice (both times together with other companies providing effects for Star Trek): In 1967 Darrell Anderson was nominated for Individual Achievements in Cinematography, together with Dunn and Joseph Westheimer and in 1969 the company was nominated for Special Classification Achievements together with the Westheimer Company, Van der Veer Photo Effects and Cinema Research.

In 2002, the Howard Anderson Company did additional effects work on Star Trek Nemesis, nearly 35 years after the original series.

Non Star Trek work

Some of the early feature films for which the Howard Anderson Company has provided special effects include X-15 (1961, featuring James Gregory and Kenneth Tobey, with art direction by Rolland M. Brooks), The Manchurian Candidate (1962, also featuring James Gregory as well as Whit Bissell, Reggie Nalder, and Leslie Parrish), and The Caretakers (1963, featuring Susan Oliver, with art direction by Rolland M. Brooks). Later effects credits include Night of the Lepus (1972, starring DeForest Kelley and Paul Fix), Superman II (1980), Predator (1987, with production design by John Vallone), Predator 2 (1990), The Shadow (1994, featuring Larry Hankin and Ethan Phillips, with music by Jerry Goldsmith, art direction by Jack Johnson, costumes by Bob Ringwood), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001, executive produced by Stuart Baird, with editing by Baird and Dallas Puett), and Collateral (2004, featuring Bruce McGill).

The company has also supplied titles and/or opticals for films like Airplane! (1980), Fire with Fire (1986, featuring Virginia Madsen and Tim Russ, produced by Gary Nardino and edited by Peter E. Berger), The 'burbs (1989, featuring Henry Gibson, Dick Miller, Robert Picardo, and Wendy Schaal, with music by Jerry Goldsmith), Tombstone (1993, featuring Paula Malcomson and Terry O'Quinn), The Mask (1994, featuring Reg E. Cathey, Christopher Darga, Robert O'Reilly, and Jeremy Roberts, with cinematography by John Leonetti), Godzilla (1998, featuring Clyde Kusatsu and Glenn Morshower), Vertical Limit (2000, featuring Alexander Siddig), Jurassic Park III (2001, featuring Linda Park and Bruce French), Life as a House (2001, featuring Scott Bakula and Art Chudabala), Spider-Man (2002, starring Kirsten Dunst), The Master of Disguise (2002, starring Brent Spiner), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Out of Time (2003, starring John Billingsley), Finding Neverland (2004), and the Rush Hour and Legally Blonde films.


Staffers involved at the time of the production of Star Trek were among others,

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", Daniel Fiebiger, Cinefantastique, Vol 27 #11, 1996, pp. 64-75

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