(written from a Production point of view)
David "Dave" L. Carson (born 16 May 1948; age 73), on occasion credited as "Davy Carson", was the visual effects (VFX) art director for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Together with fellow Art Director Nilo Rodis he was responsible for the design of the multitude of newly introduced starships, as well as the space dock featured in the movie, utilizing a unique approach to designing, not seen before or after in the Star Trek franchise. Instead of the traditional way of thinking out a design, devising a design, coming up with detailed drawings to be approved of by visual effects supervisors and building models from blueprints, this time Carson and Nilo Rodis produced their pre-visualization artwork to be handed over to Steve Gawley, Bill George and their team of model makers for translation into three-dimensional study models, in essence inviting them to use their own imagination to finish up on the design. Very much a collaborative team effort, Carson later remembered, "We'd churn out quite a few sketches. Then the ones that were most promising we might polish up a little in color for presentation. It wasn't uncommon for me to do a drawing that would inspire Nilo, who would then turn it into his own drawing that would be much more impressive! He would often inspire me." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 48) The resulting study models were subsequently presented to Producer Harve Bennett and/or Director Leonard Nimoy for appraisal. He was co-credited with Rodis-Jamero as designer or "inventor" of the USS Excelsior in a US design patent, though that particular design was in reality one which Bill George came up with.
Three years later, in 1987, David Carson also worked for ILM as VFX supervisor on the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint", and was for the occasion, while he was preparing the filming of the destruction of the Old Bandi City maquette, which he oversaw with Visual Effects Director of Photography Pat Sweeney, interviewed for the specialty ILM promotional short, ILM Special Visual Effects, Star Trek The Next Generation, part of which later incorporated in the 2002 TNG Season 1 DVD-special feature, "The Beginning".
Career outside Star Trek
The first recorded motion picture credit David Carson has to his name, shortly before he joined ILM in 1979, was as effects art director for the VHS science fiction production The Day Time Ended (1979). While at ILM, he garnered other credits as VFX supervisor/art director for two of the original Star Wars film trilogy (1980, and 1983, though he yet worked in 1997 as VFX supervisor on the special edition of the first one, he initially missed out on in 1977), the science fiction film The Day Time Ended (1980), the adventure The Goonies (1985), the family movie Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), the science fiction film Enemy Mine (1985), the fantasy comedy The Witches of Eastwick (1987), the fantasy adventure Willow (1988), and the drama Titanic (1997). Around 1990 Carson added digital modeling to his skill set, and has worked as digital artist on Steven Spielberg's adventure Hook (1991), the blockbuster Jurassic Park and The Meteor Man (both 1993).
Aside from the movies, Carson also served as the VFX supervisor for the Epcot Center simulator ride Body Wars and co-VFX supervisor/set director for the Disneyland Star Tours. He was also the VFX supervisor/art director for the 1995 DreamWorks theatrical logo, the 1989 THX logo and the 1988 Lusasfilm logo. Carson became a member of the Visual Effects Society, the organization responsible for the Visual Effects Society Award, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
An ILM career that spanned over two decades, came to an end when he joined San Francisco based computer game company Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA) in December 2001 as Art Director. While at EA, Carson received two VES Award nominations from the Visual Effects Society in 2005 for Outstanding Visuals in a Video Game for James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing and in 2006 for Outstanding Real Time Visuals in a Video Game for James Bond 007: From Russia with Love. He shared the first nomination with Jay Riddle and Habib Zargarpour.
More recently, Carson has lent his talents as VFX art director to the 2014 production of the independently produced horror movie Suspended Belief.