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Aristomenis Tsirbas (born 3 July 1967; age 52), commonly known by the hypocorism "Meni Tsirbas", is a digital effects artist who has worked on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise.

While employed at Station X Studios, Tsirbas created – or rather completed – the CGI model of Deep Space 9 that appeared at the end of the series finale, DS9: "What You Leave Behind", in the extreme zoom-out. He commented "I really appreciated working on for the last shot of Deep Space Nine. I had a bit of a crusade to prove to the visual effects community that digital animation could look as good as shooting real models. And the space station was always a model. But the very last shot on Deep Space Nine is a pullout from inside the station all the way out, which is impossible to do with the model because if you're in that close the detail just isn't there. So I was tasked to build a digital version of the station and then create this cosmic zoom from inside the station then out through the galaxy until you see a nebula. And that was pretty cool". [1](X) Being the penultimate existing physical studio model to become converted into a digital counterpart for a live-action production (the last one being the Negh'Var-class), and the very last one for Deep Space Nine, has made Tsirbas' Deep Space 9 digital build his best known contribution to Star Trek.

Canadian born Tsirbas actually started his build five years earlier as a personal project to kill some time, while he was awaiting his green card for the USA in order to start his work at Amblin Imaging by whom he was hired to work on Voyager. His most notable contribution to Voyager during his tenure at Amblin had been his animation of the sequence of the USS Voyager taking off from Hanon IV in broad daylight at the end of the second season finale "Basics, Part I", proving that the then fledlging CGI techniques also worked convincingly in unforgiving daylight. (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, Bonus Issue 12, p. 5)

After Amblin Imaging went out of business shortly thereafter, Tsirbas moved over to Digital Domain. While working on that company's major project, the 1997 blockbuster movie Titanic, his digital Deep Space 9 he used as a screen saver, was spotted by Robert Legato, the former Star Trek visual effects supervisor, but now the senior effects supervisor for Titanic (which would earn him an Academy Award). Two years later, and now working for Station X Studios, Tsirbas was approached by Legato's successor on Deep Space Nine, David Stipes, who wanted to use his model for the final shot he had envisioned, something that was impossible to achieve by using the traditional techniques with the physical model. Tsirbas jumped at the opportunity, but had to pull all-nighters in order to finetune his model for it to become ready for its live-action appearance. (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, Bonus Issue 12, p. 5)

As an independent contractor, Tsirbas afterwards contributed to some episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise in 2002 as digital artist, albeit uncredited.

Tsirbas' computer generated model of Deep Space 9 was later used on the covers of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Millennium novel series. Tsirbas also rendered images for Pocket Books' Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendars, reprinted in their book derivatives, the first one actually being that of his Deep Space 9 model, which he was asked to contribute by that publication's editor-in-chief, Doug Drexler.

When asked for the next outing in the calendar series, Tsirbas, a "trekkie" himself, decided to come up with something new, which came in the form of his design of the non-canon USS Bonaventure NCC-1000 (β), which in his mind was an intermediate starship design, located in the Star Trek timeline between the NX-class and the original Constitution-class. As only one view was required, Tsirbas left the CGI model partly unfinished.

However, in 2018 Tsirbas was asked by Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection Project Manager Ben Robinson to revisit his Bonaventure build again, as his creation had in the intervening years became something of a fan favorite and had been selected by them for inclusion in the "soft-canon" "bonus-issue" side collection of the partwork publication. Having completed the model, it was his CGI model that was also used as computer template to construct the accompanying display model that went with the publication, officially bringing his hitherto digital only design into the physical realm for the first time – when discounting the at least one known unofficial "garage kit". [2]

CareerEdit

Of Greek ancestry, Tsirbas was a graduate of Concordia University, Montréal with a major in Film Production and started out as director of several commercials in his native Canada, before he landed his position at Amblin Imaging.

During his tenure at Digital Domain, for which he relocated indefinitely to Los Angeles in 1996, and subsequently Station X Studios, Tsirbas has also created visual effects used in such movies, besides Titanic, as Conspiracy Theory (1997), My Favorite Martian, The Hunley and Dogma (the latter three all 1999), addended with several contributions to computer games such as Night of the Demons III (1997) and MechWarrior 4: Vengeance (2000).

After becoming an independent contractor, operating as the in 2000 founded production company "MeniThings", Tsirbas contibuted to the movie Hellboy (2004) and television series like Summerland and LAX. In 2007 Tsirbas has directed, wrote and production designed the 2007 film Terra, adding to a growing number of other video shorts and music videos he himself has conceived and created.

Star Trek interviewEdit

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit

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