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John Eaves

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For the in-universe article on the illustrator for Incredible Tales, please see John Eaves (artist).
"JOHN EAVES (...) is an absolute nut that I adore."
– Doug Drexler, Senior Production Illustrator, co-worker and personal friend, on Eaves, 5 November 2015. [1]

John Michael Eaves (born 9 April 1962; age 54) is a concept illustrator and designer who worked as production illustrator on the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for its last four seasons and on Star Trek: Enterprise in its entirety, as well as on no less than eight Star Trek films.

Star Trek Edit

In the early stages of his production design career, which happened to be Star Trek, John Eaves preferred to have physical models at hand to get a feel of the three-dimensionality of his starship designs in particular, especially when they were to have a significant visual impact. As, obviously, no commercial models were available to this end at the time, Eaves had to construct them for himself, building upon his previous experience as studio model maker. Especially noteworthy were the study models he built for Star Trek Generations (the Enterprise-B study model) and Star Trek: First Contact (the Enterprise-E, and T'Plana-Hath study models). As confidence in his own prowess as a production designer grew, Eaves eventually dispensed with the practice. Most of his study models turned up, and were sold, later at various Star Trek auctions.

By starting work in 2015 on the 13th movie installment, Star Trek Beyond, Eaves became tied with Michael Okuda for the record of having worked on the most Star Trek movie productions, held by an officially credited studio production staffer (strictly speaking, Gene Roddenberry holds the record as he is credited on every movie, though these are honorary credits only, save for Star Trek: The Motion Picture on which he had actually worked). However, by counting his known, but uncredited work on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Eaves has actually surpassed the record of his friend and former co-worker Okuda.

Earliest Star Trek workEdit

John Eaves' very first production involvement with Star Trek, was working at Gregory Jein, Inc. as an uncredited studio model maker for the 1989 movie The Final Frontier. Still a relatively newcomer at that time, Eaves later expressed gratitude for Gregory Jein, who took Eaves under his wings, during the production of The Final Frontier, "As an introduction to Star Trek I had the best time working for Greg and in all honesty I wasn't ready for all the responsibilities he gave me and in many ways I feel I didn't have the knowledge to perform as good as I wanted to!!!!! but he continued to nurture me on and I am so grateful for that opportunity." [2]

Eaves stayed on at Gregory Jein, Inc. for a time after The Final Frontier, further honing his skills as a model maker for productions the company was contracted for, including, among others, the third (second half) and fourth seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. On the occasion of the passing of VFX Supervisor Gary Hutzel, Eaves later recalled, "Back in the TNG days, I was making models with Greg Jein and we would take them to a place called Image G to be filmed. That is where I met the great Gary Hutzel. What an amazing man he was, and it was great fun to watch him set up a motion-control shot for the VFX. A man with a great sense of humor, and he loved to be creative and work, work, work. You had to make him take a day off or go home at the end of a long work day. We did a Joe Dante show called The Osiris Chronicles and whenever the main ship would be on the rig to film he would shout out, "It's a fish!" Hah... and that is what it looked like. I loved that Mister Hutzel and will miss him terribly." [3]

Contracted five years later for Generations, and under the supervision of Production Designer Herman Zimmerman, he was first and foremost tasked with modifying the USS Excelsior model, turning it into the USS Enterprise-B.

Deep Space Nine and First ContactEdit

John Eaves, a bit to his own surprise, became a permanent staff member the following year as production illustrator for Deep Space Nine, as a vacancy opened up when illustrator Jim Martin left the franchise at the start of the fourth season. Apparently, he had made an impression on Zimmerman, as it was he who personally invited Eaves to work on the production. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies, p. 79) For the remainder of that series, Eaves designed numerous set pieces, props and starships, the first one being the Groumall (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 2, p. 22), as well as the later Breen warship.

During his tenure on Deep Space Nine Eaves was invited to contribute to the movie Star Trek: First Contact, for which his most visible contribution was the design of the new USS Enterprise-E, and which he kept refining for its two subsequent appearances.

Insurrection, Enterprise, and NemesisEdit

Following his tenure at Deep Space Nine, John Eaves was not asked to join the Star Trek: Voyager production team, simply because there was no position available at the time. Nevertheless, Eaves was in that period of time contracted for an illustrator position on Star Trek: Insurrection, for which he most conspicuously designed the various Son'a ships.

Still, not being hired on Voyager turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise, as former colleague Geoffrey Mandel has intimated, "When they started Enterprise, they made a conscious decision to bring in some new blood, and not just round up the usual suspects; but in practice, it meant that fans like Rick Sternbach, Tim Earls and myself weren’t asked back. However, a number of fans who had worked on DS9 and had been taking an extended leave of absence came back when Enterprise started, so the total number of Star Trek fans stayed about the same." [X]wbm Working on Star Trek: Enterprise as a regular production illustrator, supervised by close personal friend Doug Drexler (whom he had met and befriended during his Deep Space Nine days, and who, like him, had taken "an extended leave of absence"), Eaves continued designing starships, space stations and more. His first assignment had actually been to start with the design of the new "hero ship", Enterprise NX-01, for the new series, before that task reverted to Drexler. (see: NX class model)

In that period of time Eaves also contributed to the last Star Trek film set in the prime universe, Star Trek Nemesis, for which the designs of the Scimitar and the Valdore-type Romulan warbird were his most notable contributions.

Surviving the transition from prime to alternate universeEdit

Excepting the Industrial Light & Magic staffers, who had previously worked on the Star Trek franchise and were still in the employment of the company at the time, John Eaves became the only studio production staff veteran who had worked regularly on the prime universe Star Trek productions, to be officially hired and credited for J.J. Abrams' 2009, re-imagined, alternate reality Star Trek as conceptual illustrator (though it is known that former colleague Mandel had also done some short-lived, uncredited, pre-production design work for the 2009 outing). While Abrams steered clear from hiring any former Star Trek staffers in order to be as unencumbered as possible for his vision on the franchise, he was aware that some consistency needed to be observed, or as Production Designer Scott Chambliss has put it, "I brought John in because he knew the story and lore, what should and shouldn't be done. The ships in the Starfleet Armada to go to Vulcan were influenced by John's knowledge." (Star Trek - The Art of the Film, p. 58) The design work he has done on that movie, has earned him an ADG Excellence in Production Design Award nomination in the following year. Eaves' designs for this movie included the hovercruiser, medical and military shuttles, and the new Enterprise's escape pods.

In 2011, Eaves worked in the same capacity on the twelfth installment of the movie series, eventually titled Star Trek Into Darkness, designing props for the Nibirans [4] as well as revamping various Starfleet gadgets and Klingon weapons, [5] earning him an additional ADG Award nomination. Most recently, Eaves has been working as concept designer for the props along with property master Andrew M. Siegel on the 2016 sequel Star Trek Beyond.

Other official Star Trek workEdit

Official Star Trek Fan Club Starships Legends In 3D TPlana-Hath
The Captain's yacht Cousteau (r) and T'Plana-Hath replicas, produced by Eaves for the Star Trek Fan Club

Working with the Official Star Trek Fan Club and their magazine, John Eaves designed and produced masters for a PVC replica of the Captain's yacht Cousteau, as well as for the Legends in 3 Dimensions' 1996 cold-cast porcelain sculpture of the T'Plana-Hath, for which his own study model came in handy. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 120,  p. 32) Eaves also designed "sculptural" three-dimensional starship plates for The Hamilton Collection.

Much of his design work on Generations and First Contact was published in the 1998 reference book Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies, which Eaves co-authored. Another official print publication Eaves regularly contributed to, was the popular Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendar series. Unlike most of his fellow illustration contributors for this publication, Eaves submitted his contributions "old-school" as he has not made the transition to digitally creating his illustrations.

Eaves' involvement in Star Trek continues in his role as a design consultant for Perpetual Entertainment in developing the online game Star Trek Online. [6] [7] Aside from this, Eaves has also worked as a technical consultant for model kit companies Bandai (no. 116424, 2003) and AMT (no. AMT853, 2013) for their Enterprise-E model kit outings. [8]

Olympia shuttle CGI model Copernicus Station
The models Eaves unbeknownst designed for Borg Invasion 4D, the Olympia shuttle (l) and "that crazy tikki faced" Copernicus Station (r), as built by Drexler

Eaves also contributed two designs, that of he Olympia shuttle and Copernicus Station, to the 2004 film portion of the Borg Invasion 4D-ride at the Star Trek: The Experience-attraction, but for the longest of times he was not aware of it; only after Doug Drexler had posted the CGI models he had constructed after Eaves' designs on his blog in 2009, was Eaves' memory jogged, "I just found the art work for this one!!! I forgot What we were doing this for but so loved the modeling you did on it and that crazy tikki faced space station!!! Your the KING!!!" [X]wbm It had turned out that both designs and their corresponding digital builds had been rejects for Enterprise, but were resurrected for the attraction. This was not an unusual thing, as Eaves had clarified on another occasion, "Between Doug and I we have far more rejected pieces than approved...and you were always worried when all the ideas went to a meeting that they would choose the one you didn’t want to get approved." [9]

"John Eaves' Sketchbook" is a special feature series on the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine DVDs, in which the artist delves into his design work for that series.

Unofficial Star Trek workEdit

Outside the official franchise, John Eaves has additionally worked as Art Director on Tim Russ' fan film project Star Trek: Renegades along with Walter Koenig, Manu Intiraymi, Gary Graham, Courtney Peldon, Robert Picardo, Rico E. Anderson, Clint Carmichael, Richard Herd, Jason Matthew Smith, John Carrigan, and Ryan T. Husk.

Currently in pre-production is the fan film project Star Trek: Axanar (2015) on which he works as concept artist. The project will also feature Tony Todd, Kate Vernon, Garrett Wang, J.G. Hertzler, Gary Graham, David Gerrold, Alec Peters, Ryan T. Husk, Scott Trimble, Daren Dochterman, and April Marie Eden.

Inspired by the similarly conceived DrexFileswbm-blog of his friend Doug Drexler, Eaves also started his likewise successful blog, Eavesdropping with Johnny, on 16 March 2009. He stated on that occasion, "I have to thank the ever and all talented master of media and VFX illusionist, Doug Drexler, for encouraging me to get off my fat butt and finally start a fun blog page!!! I have always wanted to have place to share the fun and adventures of those glorious movie and Star Trek days with friends, coworkers and fans of the films and shows..." [10] Like the DrexFiles, Eaves shared on his blog a considerable amount of his Star Trek design art, as well as his thoughts behind them, with the Star Trek fan community for four years, though, as of 2013, and while still "live", activity on the blog has ground to a standstill, with Eaves henceforth communicating to the world at large through his two Facebook pages.

Star Trek starship designsEdit

This list is currently incomplete.

Starships designed by John Eaves:

Career Edit

A lifelong fan of the science fiction and fantasy genre (those of the 1980s in particular and including but not limited to Star Trek), and to date a frequent visitor to the genre conventions, movie buff John Eaves started out a model maker, prior to his work on Star Trek, Top Gun (1986) being his very first professional assignment. As to his start in Hollywood Eaves recalled, " Grant [McCune] gave me my first job in Hollywood, at the once-great FX house Apogee, in 1985. Not only has Grant been a great teacher and source of encouragement, he's also a good friend. I owe much of all I've achieved in my career to him." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies, p. 79) Having worked in that capacity for a succession of companies like Apogee, Inc., Grant McCune Design, and Boss Film Corporation, other pre-Star Trek films he worked on as model maker were, among others Innerspace (1987, featuring Robert Picardo, Dick Miller, Wendy Schaal, William Schallert, Henry Gibson, Kenneth Tobey, Andrea Martin, music by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Andrew Laszlo), Alien³ (1992), Batman Returns (1992, with Vincent Schiavelli, Anna Katarina, Biff Yeager and Felix Silla), Strange Days (1995, with Michael Jace and cinematography by Matthew F. Leonetti), and more recently, post-Star Trek, on X-Men: The Last Stand (2006, starring Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, and Kelsey Grammer).

In the latter half of 1989, Eaves worked for Greg Jein–with whom he struck up an enduring friendship–, and, apart from The Final Frontier, has worked for his company on The Hunt for Red October (1990, with Ron Gress, Alan McFarland, and Bruce MacRae). In 1987 he added graphics to his skills set, and started also working as a graphic artist, first as concept/storyboard artist on the movie Nightflyers (1987), as well as on the later television series seaQuest DSV (1993-1995), subsequently as concept artist/illustrator for the Star Trek franchise and the film Virtuosity (1995, with Louise Fletcher, Danny Goldring, and the voice of Frank Welker),

After his tenure on Generations, Eaves returned to Grant McCune Design in 1994. He remembered,

"Clark [Shaffer, who worked with Eaves on Generations] and I were originally model makers, with a lot of artwork thrown in for fun. Together we designed and built a lot of models for Grant. After Apogee closed, Grant kept the lease on the model shop and called it Grant McCune Design. While there, Clark and I started working together on Batman Forever. Our assignment: to design and build Arkham Asylum, that nasty place where Jim Carrey's "Riddler" is seen at the story's end.

"After I worked on Generations, the way I approached drawings and sketches changed. Before, I'd draw a three-quarter view, and when time for model construction came, I'd fill in details as needed. When building the model, I had in my mind all the information that wasn't on paper. Thus, if anyone else had to build a model from one of my sketches, they faced a lot of gray areas, a lot of detail that needed to be addressed. Generations taught me that the more sketches I make (especially plans, even rough one), the better they assist those who had to make models from my drawings.

"So when we started working on models for Batman Forever and I had to do the sketches, not only did I do three-quarter drawings for the producer's approval, I did plans too, which I'd never done before. The Arkham model became so large, Clark and I had a whole crew of model makers working with us–and all the plans and drawings wound up being great assets and timesavers."

While Eaves has largely maintained his revised stance for the Star Trek features he later worked on, he somewhat reverted to his earlier way of designing for the television franchise, as he wanted to have the modelers at the various visual effects houses to have their own creative input in order to finish up on his designs. On at least one occasion, in the case of the Jem'Hadar battle cruiser, that has led to a continuity error. One year later, in 1996, Eaves was invited by Herman Zimmerman to work for Deep Space Nine, to fill the position of Jim Martin, after the latter had left the show, which for Eaves was heart wrenching. He continued, "Illustration has always been my first love, but it was a tough decision, because I also love making models for Grant. After a week of sleepless nights spent trying to decide which path to follow, I said farewell to Grant. And it was back to the ol' drawing board at Paramount..." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies, p. 79)

As is already indicated above, shortly before he started work on Deep Space Nine, Eaves worked as a conceptual designer on the 1996 science fiction television movie The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy, intended as the pilot for the planned Paramount Television science fiction series The Osiris Chronicles. A somewhat ill-conceived attempt to further capitalize on the new found popularity of science-fiction television shows, the series was not picked up however, and the pilot was under its eventual title aired on 27 January 1998 on the recently established studio television network UPN and released as a direct-to-VHS home media format to the rest of the world. Soon-to-be Deep Space Nine colleagues who had also worked on the production included Michael and Denise Okuda, Don Greenberg and Davy Nethercutt. Studio models Eaves had designed for the production, built at the company of his former mentor Greg Jein and including the protagonist "hero model" Gary Hutzel had deemed a "fish", were later sold in various 2008 It's A Wrap! sale and auctions as lots 7528 and 9615. Ironically, his "fish"-like hero ship design, called the Daedalus, bore more than a passing resemblance with the Xindi-Aquatic cruiser he much later designed for Enterprise. When reminded of The Osiris Chronicles by his blog participants, Eaves, his memory jogged, remembered that the canceled production had even more behind-the-scenes ties with the Star Trek franchise, "We did Osiris immediately after Generations and both were Paramount films. When First Contact was starting up we brought over all the sets from Osiris and incorporated them into Star Trek. It was an oddity to take elements I had drawn for OC and then redraw them into the TNG world...everything came together well and if you have seen Osiris or (Battle lords) the tub shaped set piece that the Plentum was in became the center piece of the Warp core of the Enterprise E." [11]

As graphic and concept/storyboard artist mostly in the role of production illustrator, Eaves has worked after his Star Trek television career on Sky High (2005, with music by Michael Giacchino), Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006, with Michael Dorn), and Evan Almighty (2007), and as illustrator on Ghosts of Mars (2001, with Joanna Cassidy), The Majestic (2001, with David Ogden Stiers and Earl Boen), Flight of the Phoenix (2004), and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), earning him a second ADG Award nomination the following year. His television credits as concept artist include the series Bones and Raines, the latter of which starred Linda Park.

In recent years Eaves has showed an increasing interest in model (the female kind) photography, and an increasing amount of his photoshoots are featured on his blog. His Star Trek roots are evident as his models are often attired in female Starfleet uniforms from Star Trek: The Original Series era. Eaves has currently a listing on the model photographers blog "Model Mayhem", as well as a separate, photography dedicated, Facebook page.

Eaves has concurrently lent his talents to The Overview Institute, a non-profit organization founded in 2008 and made up of real-world space specialists like astronauts, scientists, and authors, dedicated to "research and educate both the space community and the general public on the nature and psycho/social impact of directly experiencing space". [12] As consultant he is member of "The Overview Effect" team, the part of the organization, responsible for visualizing the work of the institute by producing documentaries and the like. In the team he has been joined by former Star Trek alumni Douglas Trumbull and Dan Curry. [13]

Most recent credits as Concept Illustrator and Artist include the fantasy adventure Oz the Great and Powerful (2013, with Bill Cobbs and production design by Robert Stromberg), the sequel Iron Man Three (2013, with William Sadler and Miguel Ferrer and music by Brian Tyler), the comic sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014, with Alan Dale and art direction by Gary Kosko, Steve Christensen, Beat Frutiger, and netting him his fourth ADG Award nomination, shared with his colleagues but still not won), and Brad Bird's science fiction film Tomorrowland (2015, written and produced by Damon Lindelof, produced by Jeffrey Chernov, music by Michael Giacchino, and production design by Scott Chambliss).

As if to underscore his allegiance to the science-fiction genre, Eaves became a member of the Board of Advisors of the recently established Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum. Founded at the start of 2016, the museum is slated to start out as a traveling exhibition tour, before settling down in 2018, at a permanent home in an intended location in North Hollywood, California. It has reunited Eaves with a slew of former Star Trek colleagues, who not only serve on the advisory board, but on the Board of Directors as well.

Motion picture career summaryEdit

note: as specified by Eaves himself on his Facebook page

Star Trek credits Edit

Star Trek awards Edit

ADG Excellence in Production Design Award Edit

Eaves received the following ADG Excellence in Production Design Award nominations as Illustrator in the category Fantasy Film

Bibliography Edit

Star Trek interviews Edit

External links Edit

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