My Origin Tale

I was reading a review of the Star Trek The Next Generation Blu Ray release, on trekcore.com and they posted this image:

This image is from the remastered, HD version. This is a glorious image.  I remember seeing it when it first aired, and it was awesome then, but this…  Wow.  This is quite possibly the most important image of my life.  This image set the course of what my life is now, and as I’m writing this, I’m getting a bit nostalgic, and, admittedly, a bit teary-eyed.  Here’s why…  

I proudly call myself a Visual Effects artist. Simply put: I make movie and TV magic. That airplane taking off and landing you see on the screen? I (along with some other amazing artists), did that. The aliens invading the earth?  Yup, I did it too.  I am that sick SOB that loves, no, adores, his job. Yeah, I work stupid long hours, and many times throughout the year, I miss seeing my friends and family. But when I go home at 6am squinting at the rising sun, I actually feel a sense of accomplishment. Lets not even talk about the amount of pride and joy that courses through me when that show airs on Television, or as I watch the credits scroll at the end of the movie and I see what we’ve accomplished.  Every artist wants their work to be seen. I barely call myself an artist, and yet some of the work I’ve done is seen by a few million people every week.

Now, all of this started because of my dad. See, he liked Star Trek. The Original Series, or, TOS, was one of his favorite shows. He taped it whenever it was on.  It’s how I learned how to record shows to VHS.  I watched it, but I never really got it that much, and I remember it scaring me sometimes.  What hooked me were the movies. The Wrath of Khan is what started it all for me. I think I was about 6 or 7. I wanted to be a Marine Biologist then. But I loved Star Trek.

Fast Forward a little bit to 1987. I’m pretty embedded in Star Trek now, and I heard that there was a new show coming to TV called, Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I was appalled at first, because even though I was more a fan of the movies than TOS, I couldn’t fathom the idea of an Enterprise without Captain James T. Kirk, Commander Spock, or Doctor McCoy.  Well, I was proven wrong.  It took a few episodes, but I was truly hooked.  One thing that really got to me were the ships. The Enterprise. The Ferengi Marauders. The Klingon Bird of Prey. The Romulan Warbird. It sparked my imagination and transformed me into a full on geek.  And then two things happened, almost back to back, that forever changed my life.  First: that image flashed up on the screen.  It was awesome. Nothing was really happening. It was two starships facing off, but they weren’t shooting at each other, just, sitting there….  And I was amazing.  And then, possibly a few days later, a week, not really sure, but very soon after, a Reading Rainbow episode aired that showed what went on behind the scenes on Star Trek The Next Generation. Made all the more awesome because Reading Rainbow was hosted by Commander Geordi Laforge himself, Levar Burton.  The segment on the visual effects cemented what I would do in my life. Here’s that episode:

 

And my life went straight like an arrow to what it is now.  The only slight deviation was caused by Jurassic Park. Rather than me working with models and miniatures (which I still do), I wound up working with a computer, which was fine since by the time I was in high school, I was a full on computer dork.  I don’t know what I would have done otherwise, since I honed in on doing vfx like laser.  Because of that image of the Enterprise facing off with the Ferengi, and Reading Rainbow, I am who I am.