(written from a Production point of view)
Kenneth "Ken" Ralston (born 1954) was the visual effects supervisor on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (as co-supervisor with Jim Veilleux, and on which he has written an article in the magazine American Cinematographer), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. He was also credited as being the "inventor" of the design for Ceti eel on the design patent issued for it in 1984.
Ralston started his career by obtaining a position at the visual effects commercial house Cascade Pictures, after submitting a 45-minute film called The Bounds Of Imagination and having befriended Cascade’s Jon Berg on a visit to movie historian Forrest Ackerman. Ralston worked through the early 1970s in almost every conceivable capacity on the prototypical visual effects advertising campaigns, building sets, sculpted models, animated puppets, creating optical effects, performing stop motion animation and more on close to 200 spots. Having gained a thorough understanding in virtually all aspects of creating visual effects, Ralston brought his experience along, when he joined Berg at the recently formed Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), where he would stay for the next twenty years.
Ralston has worked on all three original Star Wars films. He began as an assistant cameraman in the miniature and optical effects unit on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. For the following film, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, he was the effects cameraman, and for Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), he worked in the visual effects department. Having also worked on the visual effects for the 1981 film Dragonslayer, Ralston became a visual effects supervisor, beginning with Star Trek II. Besides the next two Star Trek films, he was also the visual effects supervisor on Cocoon(1985), Back to the Future (1985), The Golden Child (1986), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Back to the Future Part II (1989), Back to the Future Part III (1990), The Rocketeer (1991), Death Becomes Her (1992), Forrest Gump (1994), The Mask (1994), Jumanji (1995), Contact (1997), Cast Away (2000), Men in Black II (2002), and The Polar Express (2004), among other films.
Ralston won four Academy Awards for his visual effects work on Cocoon , Roger Rabbit, Death Becomes Her, and Forrest Gump. He has also received an additional two Academy Award nominations for his work on Dragonslayer and Back to the Future Part II, and shared a Special Achievement Award from the Academy for the visual effects in Return of the Jedi. In addition, he has won four Saturn Awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for Return of the Jedi, Roger Rabbit, Back to the Future Part II, and Death Becomes Her, and was nominated for four more Saturns for Star Trek IV, The Rocketeer, Forrest Gump, and Contact. His other awards include five BAFTA Film Awards and one additional nomination (for the first Back to the Future) and a Golden Satellite Award for Contact.
In 1996, Ralston took on a management position as senior visual effects supervisor/creative head at Sony Pictures Imageworks, a position he currently still holds.
- 1987 Saturn Award nomination in the category "Best Special Effects" for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, shared with Michael Lantieri