(written from a Production point of view)
Alan McFarland (born 24 August 1962; age 58) is a visual and special effects artist, who is specialized as electronic lighting engineer of objects for on-screen use, such as studio models, props, costumes and sets, and has contributed to various Star Trek productions.
As "Applied Magic Company", McFarland was involved in the production of Star Trek: First Contact. His application of the lighting, including the intermittent LED flashing lights on the Borg costumes and appendices, was instrumental in establishing the redesigned look of the Borg. For the production he also puppeteered the disassembled Borg Queen body. Though acknowledged for his contributions, McFarland did not receive an official credit, "because of a bizarre clerical error", according to him. (Sci-Fi & Fantasy Models, issue 24, p. 29) Nevertheless, his work on the feature secured him additional commissions on the subsequent Star Trek: Voyager series episodes in which the Borg were featured, albeit again uncredited.
Career outside Star Trek
Starting out in the motion picture industry in 1985 as computer graphic artist and production assistant, McFarland has worked on small productions like Interface (1985, hist first professional assignment), and Cameron's Closet (1988). In 1990 he switched to the specialism, he from then on adhered to. Between 1990 and 1996 he worked on personal title as a independent contractor in the employ of several companies, working on productions such as The Hunt for Red October (1980, along with John Eaves, Ron Gress, Gregory Jein, and Bruce MacRae), Bride of Re-Animator (1990, with Ron Althoff, Jim Davidson, Anthony Doublin, Joe Podnar, Robert Stromberg, Wayne Toth, and Brian Wade), and Flight of the Intruder (1991).
To better market his skills, he founded his own one-man company Applied Magic in 1996, operating from Sylmar, California. , which he seems to have operated to around 2007, the year the company website, www.AppliedMagic.com, went off-line.
McFarland's expertise remained a sought-after commodity and he has worked on big productions like The Fifth Element (1997), Men in Black (1997), Titanic (1997), Spider-Man (2002 and its follow-up 2004), Iron Man (2008), and most recently Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011). For television he has worked on the various installments of the Babylon 5 franchise.
- "Applying Magic", Mike Reccia, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Models, issue 24, November 1997, pp. 28-33
- – archived company site