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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

"There's never been a visual effects artist to match Albert Whitlock, Star Trek was astonishingly lucky to have had his talent."
– Michael Okuda, Scenic Artist, 2010 (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 15)

Albert "Al" J. Whitlock (15 September 191526 October 1999; age 84) was a British-born matte painting artist, who created all the matte paintings used in Star Trek: The Original Series. [1] His creations include the panoramas of Rigel VII for "The Cage", Delta Vega for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and Eminiar VII for "A Taste of Armageddon".

Whitlock's matte painting of Starbase 11 from "Court Martial" was used (in a slightly modified version) as a cover of Galaxy magazine in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Far Beyond the Stars".

Whitlock was never employed by Desilu or its successor, Paramount Television, but rather worked on contract basis for the two visual effects companies, Howard A. Anderson Company and Film Effects of Hollywood, that worked on the show. He later commented about his work on Star Trek, "I did most of my Star Trek paintings for Lin Dunn. Only a few for Howard. I don't remember exactly how many, maybe a dozen or so. It's easy to lose track 'cause I've painted over a thousand paintings over the years.", having added, " For Star Trek I only had about a week to do each, mostly futuristic architecture. I can't remember if I did any for Joe Westheimer, I don't think so, and I don't believe I had any contact with Frank Van Der Veer's company at all." (Cinefantastique, Vol 27 #11, p. 72)

Career outside Star Trek

Whitlock had a long and distinguished career in England and Hollywood, which ranged from the 1930s to the 1980s. He worked with Alfred Hitchcock on a number of the director's most famous films, including The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and The 39 Steps (1935). Later he also worked on some of Hitchcock's American films, including The Birds (1963). He relocated to the United States in the 1950s, to work on a number of Walt Disney features. Until his retirement, Whitlock provided background art for many major motion pictures, including Dune (1984, with Patrick Stewart). He received an Academy Award (Oscar) for the 1974 film Earthquake, for which he created more than seventy individual matte paintings. The movie starred Geneviève Bujold and featured George Murdock, Gene Dynarski, Jerry Hardin, Charles Picerni, and George Sawaya in the cast.

Other awards Whitlock received were an Oscar nomination for Tobruk (1967, shared with Howard A. Anderson, Jr., who brought him in on Star Trek), an additional win for The Hindenburg (1975), a Saturn Award nomination for The Wiz (1978), and a Emmy Award for A.D. (1984, shared with among others Syd Dutton).

Star Trek credits

Further reading

  • "SFX, Part XLII: The Matte Artist: An Interview with Albert Whitlock", David Hutchison, Starlog, issue 60, July 1982, pp. 81-84

External links