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David Armstrong Stipes (born 7 August 1948; age 75) is a visual effects expert who has worked, predominantly as visual effects supervisor, on the Star Trek spin-off series, which entailed the sixth and seventh seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the fourth through seventh seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the first and second seasons of Star Trek: Voyager, and the entire run of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Stipes had, as an outside contractor, already made three early uncredited contributions to The Next Generation, first as a stop motion control artist, operating the parasitic being puppet, featured in the first season episode "Conspiracy", and subsequently as a photographer when he filmed the enlarged Borg cube model section for the self-regenerating sequence in the second season episode "Q Who". Additionally, he lent the franchise the Promellian battle cruiser studio model he had in his possession, for use in the third season episode "Booby Trap". (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 142, p. 11)

However, it was not until late 1992 that he was hired full-time by the Star Trek franchise as the fifth visual effects supervisor. That circumstance arose due to the fact that one of the alternating senior visual effects teams, that of Gary Hutzel and Robert Legato, was transferred at the conclusion of the fifth season to the new Star Trek production, Deep Space Nine. To fill the gap left by them for the remaining two seasons of The Next Generation, Stipes was hired while being teamed up with David Takemura, who was on that occasion promoted from the junior position of visual effects associate to the senior position of coordinator, for season six, while being teamed up with newcomer Joe Bauer for season seven, after Takemura transferred to Deep Space Nine.

Upon the conclusion of The Next Generation, the Stipes/Bauer team smoothly transferred to the new Voyager television series, on which it worked for most of its first two seasons. Near the end of season two of that series, David Stipes again transferred to another series, Deep Space Nine, starting to work for that production near the tail end of its season four, remaining there, teamed up with Hutzel, for the remainder of that series' run. (Star Trek Monthly issue 31, p. 30)

Stipes was one of the very first members of Star Trek's production team to fully realize the potential of CGI and, being its strongest advocate, has been instrumental in the transition from miniature photography to CGI in the franchise, already supervising one of its earliest applications in the episode "Emergence". Stipes has cited overwhelmingly practical reasons for his stance, "When I started at Star Trek in 1992, by the third script I saw that I could not deliver what the writers were asking for using the established approach to the visual effects. The approach to the visual effects work was based upon models and motion control photography. We were limited by track lengths and sizes of the models. I began looking at the software available at the time. As I remember, the leading software was about $40,000 a module and you needed three or four different modules to possibly do any film quality work." [1] His name appeared on several pieces of set artwork throughout the series.

His work on Star Trek has earned him the two Emmy Awards and two additional nominations, as well as two International Monitor Awards in 1996 and 1998.

Stipes has authored a series of articles for Star Trek: The Magazine working to inform its readership about the various aspects of the creation of visual effects.

Career outside Star Trek[]

Prior to his Star Trek work, Stipes worked on science fiction television shows such as Battlestar Galactica (with Dan Curry, [2] Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (both 1979, in the latter case also alongside Scott Squires and Syd Dutton), Galactica 1980, and V: The Final Battle (1984). His motion picture credits include Equinox (1970), Caveman (1981), Creepshow (1982), The Stuff (1985), Real Genius (1985), Night of the Creeps (1986), Deadly Weapon (1989), Arena (1989), Ernest Goes to Jail (1990), and The Lawnmower Man (1992). From 1981 through 1992, Stipes worked as an independent contractor while operating his own company, David Stipes Productions; he ceased operating when he was hired full time on The Next Generation in 1993. The movie Night of the Creeps, on which he worked as visual effects supervisor, provided some unexpected after-the-fact Star Trek connections. Apart from having worked with Ron Thornton and Steve Burg, the studio model of the alien spacecraft, used in he movie and which ended up in Stipes' possession after the movie had wrapped, would three years later be loaned out to The Next Generation for use as the Cleponji in "Booby Trap". The model was afterwards returned to the Stipes family.

After his tenure on the Star Trek franchise Stipes moved to Arizona to accept a position as a teacher at the Art Institute of Phoenix, only sporadically working for the motion picture industry during that time. Around 2010 he moved back to California and returned full time to the motion picture industry, having worked since then on Voyage Trekkers (2011) and the movies Blackout (2013) and Mantecoza (2014).

Star Trek credits[]

Star Trek awards[]

Emmy Awards[]

Stipes received the following Emmy Award wins and nominations in the category Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects:

International Monitor Awards[]

  • 1996 International Monitor Award win in the category Film Originated Television Series – Electronic Visual Effects for VOY Season 2, shared with Dan Curry, Michael Backauskas, Joe Bauer, Edward L. Williams, Scott Rader, Don Greenberg and Adam Howard
  • 1998 International Monitor Award win in the category Film Originated Television Series – Electronic Visual Effects for DS9: "Call to Arms", shared with Dan Curry, Adam Buckner, Steve Fong, Kevin Bouchez, Davy Nethercutt, and Don Greenberg

Star Trek interviews[]


External links[]