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

Cinefex was a magazine that, from the early 1990s onwards, was published bimonthly. Each issue specifically focuses in-depth on the technical aspects of the special, or rather the visual effects (VFX), used in motion picture productions or, less frequently, in a particular television production which has been groundbreaking in this regard. Launched in 1980 under stewardship of Don Shay, it has become the foremost periodical magazine on "special effects", as it was known at the time, in the business, and is (as of 2020) still being published. Its very first issue was equally dedicated to Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the movie Alien. Star Trek: The Next Generation was noteworthy for becoming one of the few television productions to be covered in detail in magazine issue 37, of 1989. The launch of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was covered in 1993, albeit far less in-depth than was customary for movie feature productions – or The Next Generation for that matter – , with two short two-page articles, in essence amounting to no more than glorified editorials, on the effects in "Emissary". Editorial staff has, at some points in time, included Mark Cotta Vaz and David C. Fein.

Though there is a certain overlap in the subject matter with the contemporary magazines American Cinematographer and Cinefantastique, Cinefex's focus lies on the various aspects of creating of what is presently called "visual effects", whereas American Cinematographer is focused on the actual filming techniques and Cinefantastique, together with another contemporary publication, Starlog, covered a lesser in-depth but wider range of behind-the-scenes aspects. As such, the magazines can be considered complimentary.

A trademark feature of the magazine has traditionally been the absence of text imprints on its cover, save for the title and price information in small print. However, in the late 1980s, barcodes were introduced in the magazine world and they started to become prominently featured on the front cover, somewhat "defacing" the cover art and aggravated for Cinefex two decades later when more prominent text imprints, pertaining to a magazine issue´s contents, were also added. Yet, as a courtesy to subscribers/collectors, Cinefex continued the old, "clean" format for its first print run, while using the new, "defacing" format for reprints and retail dissemination.

Having become a leading publication on the subject matter of visual effects, the magazine has seen several international variants in translation, released by local publishers; in Japan, the magazine has had by far the longest run, and was intermittently published from mid-1983 onward by several publishers, though the contents were not in sync with their American counterparts at first. The first publication run lasted for only twelve issues and ended in December 1985. [1] The magazine was relaunched in July 1993, with a restarted numbering as reference books (being endowed with ISBN-numbers) in a vertically orientated format, as opposed to the standard American lying format. In 2003, Cinefex LLC. pulled the license of the relaunch publisher Toys Press Inc. for copyright violations, after it was discovered that they had released unsanctioned side publications based on licensed Cinefex copy, among others a 1997 Star Wars book. [2] The first relaunch run had lasted for thirty-nine issues. [3] From June 2006 onward, the magazine was relaunched, synchronized for the American version contents with a one issue lag, for a second time by Born Digital, Inc., with again a restarted numbering in the format its immediate predecessor had employed, at first adopting their "clean" cover approach before abandoning the format themselves in the early 2010s.

Less successful and far shorter-lived efforts were undertaken in France (five issues plus one single October 1992 issue, stemming from a failed relaunch attempt), Italy (seven edited issues, renamed "CineVfx" for the last three issues [4]) and Russia (which lasted somewhat longer, as at least twenty-nine issues were known to exist by January 2012 [5]). As if to underscore the growing importance that Chinese digital effects companies play in the motion picture industry, publisher Don Shay launched a Chinese-language version of the magazine on 29 July 2015, in a ceremony at the Chinese Dexter Studios, Beijing. Its publishing company had released the first, vertically orientated issue four days previously, synchronized with issue 142 of the American source publication. [6]

Noteworthy is that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has not received any coverage in Cinefex. On the other hand, while its contemporaries shied away from it due to its bad reception at the time, Cinefex became the only specialized magazine to report in detail on the VFX of Star Trek Nemesis.

On 23 February 2021, a social media announcement stated that the magazine had ceased production immediately after the publication of issue 172, due to the severe economic downturn (including the dearth of new "genre" productions) related to the COVID-19 pandemic. After more than forty years in print, the publishers poignantly added, "We did our best to weather the storm, but ultimately the storm prevailed." [7]

Notable issues

Of particular relevance to Star Trek are the following issues:

Issue Cover Contents
1, March 1980 (USA)
4, 1 May 1984 (Japan)
Cinefex cover 01.jpg
USA cover
Cinefex cover 04 Japan edition.jpg
Japan Cover
Star Trek: The Motion Picture:

As of 2016, this Japanese issue has been the only known foreign-language edition to carry a Star Trek-themed cover.

2, August 1980 Cinefex cover 02.jpg Star Trek: The Motion Picture:
11, January 1983 Cinefex cover 11.jpg Star Trek: The Motion Picture:
18, August 1984 Cinefex cover 18.jpg Star Trek III: The Search for Spock:
  • "The Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise", Brad Munson, pp. 42-68
29, February 1987 Cinefex cover 29.jpg Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:
  • "Humpback to Future", Jody Duncan Shay, pp. 4-31
37, February 1989 Cinefex cover 37.jpg TNG Season 1:
42, May 1990 Cinefex cover 42.jpg Star Trek V: The Final Frontier:
  • "Sharing the Pain", Paul Mandell, pp. 44-68
49, February 1992 Cinefex cover 49.jpg Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country:
  • "Letting Slip the Dogs of Wars", Kevin H. Martin, pp. 38-60
54, May 1993 Cinefex cover 54.jpg Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
  • "Video Beat: Deep Space Miniatures", Christalene Loren, pp. 21-22
55, August 1993 Cinefex cover 55.jpg
First printing cover
Cinefex cover 55 reprint.jpg
Reprint cover
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
  • "Video Beat: Deep Space wormholes", Christalene Loren, pp. 11-12
61, March 1995
9, 20 December 1995 (Japan, 1st relaunch)
Cinefex cover 61.jpg
First printing cover
Cinefex cover 61 reprint.jpg
Reprint cover
Cinefex cover 9 Japan.jpg
Japan cover
ISBN 492493058X
Star Trek Generations:
  • "Kirk Out", Kevin H. Martin, pp. 62-77
69, March 1997 Cinefex cover 69.jpg
First printing cover
Cinefex cover 69 reprint.jpg
Reprint cover
Star Trek: First Contact:
  • "Phoenix Rising", Kevin H. Martin, pp. 98-119
77, April 1999
23, 28 December 1999 (Japan)
Cinefex cover 77.jpg
First printing cover
Cinefex cover 77 reprint.jpg
Reprint cover
Cinefex cover 23 Japan.jpg
Japan cover
ISBN 4924930288
Star Trek: Insurrection:
93, April 2003 Cinefex cover 93.jpg
First printing cover
Cinefex cover 93 reprint.jpg
Reprint cover
Star Trek Nemesis:
  • "Through a Glass Darkly", Bill Norton, pp. 88-111
118, July 2009
14, 26 September 2009 (Japan, 2nd relaunch)
Cinefex cover 118.jpg
First printing cover
Cinefex cover 118 reprint.jpg
Reprint cover
Cinefex cover 14 Japan.jpg
Japan cover
ISBN 9784862460912
Star Trek:
  • "A New Enterprise", Joe Fordham, pp. 40-71
134, July 2013
30, 30 September 2013 (Japan)
Cinefex cover 134.jpg
Variant cover 1
Cinefex cover 134 variant.jpg
Variant cover 2
Cinefex cover 134 reprint.jpg
Reprint cover
Cinefex cover 30 Japan.jpg
Japan cover
ISBN 9784862461759
Star Trek Into Darkness:
  • "Dark Side of the Earth", Joe Fordham, pp. 70-91

The Star Trek variant cover was the rarer one, only sent out to subscribers, and has not seen a reprint or retail dissemination, therefore becoming collectible.

148, August 2016
43, 27 December 2016 (Japan)
Cinefex cover 148.jpg
First printing cover
Cinefex cover 148 reprint.jpg
Reprint cover
Cinefex cover 43 Japan.jpg
Japan cover
ISBN 9784862463067
Star Trek Beyond:
  • "Cosmic Deconstruction", Graham Edwards, pp. 70-92

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