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Gary Dean Hutzel (4 November 19551 March 2016; age 60) was a visual effects (VFX) artist who has worked as VFX coordinator and VFX supervisor on the first five seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the entire run of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Star Trek

Hired in early 1987, Gary Hutzel started out as VFX coordinator for the franchise and, after being promoted to VFX supervisor, has fulfilled that role for the entirety of his tenure at the franchise. Along with James Martin and Herman Zimmerman, Hutzel was instrumental in the creation of the Defiant-class USS Defiant. He also built the blown up Borg cube breakaway model seen in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". He appears in interviews on several of the DS9 DVDs. His work on Star Trek earned him two Emmy Awards, as well as seven additional nominations.

The Next Generation

After the production of the pilot episode, "Encounter at Farpoint", it was soon realized that the new show was the most VFX-laden television production of its day, much like its illustrious predecessor, Star Trek: The Original Series was in its. A fourth senior VFX staffer was deemed necessary to alleviate work pressure on the senior VFX staff which included up to then, besides Hutzel, Robert Legato and Ronald B. Moore. To that end Dan Curry was brought in, partly on recommendation by his friend Moore. In order to streamline and increase production efficiency, the four were paired in two teams to work on alternating episodes, Hutzel being paired with Legato. The two-team VFX format went into effect halfway through the first season, the 16th episode, "Too Short a Season", being the first episode Moore and Curry worked upon as a team. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (3rd ed., p. 31)) The format worked so well, that it has remained in use for almost the entire subsequent run of the Star Trek television franchise (though the boundaries between the two teams became a lot more fluid during the later seasons of Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise), and Legato and Hutzel remained a team ever since.

Though their duties and work were on par with that of colleagues Rob Legato and Dan Curry, neither Gary Hutzel nor Ron B. Moore received official credits for their efforts on the first two seasons of The Next Generation. This was partly due to Hollywood union regulations, partly due to studio policies, and partly due to the lack of space and time on the credit roll at the end of a show, as Moore has later gratefully elaborated upon, when the oversight was corrected, "But in TV you only have so much time at the end of the show. Getting your name there is not easy. At the beginning of TNG only Rob Legato had a visual effects credit. Rob went to bat for Gary and I. He eventually got us credits in the shows. It was nice of him to do it. There are so many people who worked on the show that didn't get credit. People whose contributions were essential to the shows received no on-screen credit. It is not always fair. I believe Rob even offered up to give credit on an episode and give it to someone else but the idea was rejected." (Flying Starships, p. 124) It was not just Legato, who felt this way; Curry too, felt compelled to set the record straight when an article in the magazine Cinefantastique referred to Moore and Hutzel as "assistants", as he wrote in, somewhat irked, to the magazine, "Ron Moore and Gary Hutzel were referred to as assistants to myself and Rob Legato in your article on STAR TREK effects [12:2/3:39] (typo – he meant Vol. 23, #2/3, p. 39). This is not the case and being referred to as such diminishes their incredibly valuable contributions to the show. Up until this season, Ron and Gary were Visual Effects Coordinators and had a wide range of responsibilities ranging from scheduling and logistics, to direct creative involvement in bringing the effects into existence. Both men also served as Visual Effects Supervisors on several episodes where they had the opportunities to show the technical and creative resources that led to their being offered the position of Visual Effects Supervisors for this current season." (Cinefantastique, Vol 23,#5, p. 62)

Deep Space Nine

Upon the conclusion of The Next Generation's fifth season, Gary Hutzel and Robert Legato transferred to the new television production Deep Space Nine to fulfill the same role. On that occasion Hutzel was permanently promoted to VFX supervisor (having already been given the opportunity to serve as such on the earlier The Next Generation episodes "The Most Toys", "First Contact", and "Imaginary Friend"), the fourth VFX staffer to hold the title. Their place on The Next Generation for the remaining two seasons was filled by a new team that consisted of David Stipes and David Takemura.

On the first season of Deep Space Nine, he, Legato, and reinforced by newcomers Michael Backauskas and Judy Elkins as VFX coordinators, served as the only senior VFX staff, though supported by Dan Curry and one of the few Star Trek television series seasons that did not quite utilize the two-team VFX staff format as theirs was formally the only one. Yet, Deep Space Nine's VFX staff was also beefed out with Cari Thomas, transferring from the scenic art department, and newcomer Sue Jones as VFX associates. (Cinefantastique, Vol 23, #5, p. 62) It was Thomas, who, while officially being a VFX associate, unofficially doubled as VFX coordinator on several episodes, thereby de facto constituting a pseudo second VFX team (more or less already starting with the fourth episode "A Man Alone"), alternating between Hutzel and Legato. Upon the conclusion of the first season of Deep Space Nine, Legato decided it was time to move on and left the franchise late 1993 to join Digital Domain, taking Thomas with him. Glenn Neufeld replaced him on Deep Space Nine, and it was Neufeld who teamed up with Takemura for the second season, forming the second formal Deep Space Nine VFX team for seasons two through four. At the conclusion of season four both Neufeld and Backauskas (who was working on Voyager by then) opted to leave the franchise, and the VFX teams were reorganized. For Hutzel this meant that he was paired up with David Stipes, who transferred over from Voyager, for the remainder of the Deep Space Nine series. (Star Trek Monthly issue 31, p. 30) After Deep Space Nine was completed, Hutzel too, left the franchise in 1999, as there was no position for him available on the only other Star Trek production at the time, Voyager.

Unlike his fellow VFX staffers, Hutzel, for practical reasons, and simply because he did "(...) prefer to photograph the ships, especially a beautiful ship like the Defiant, or the station", (Star Trek: Communicator issue 105, p. 57) was the effects supervisor who resisted the application of the computer generated imagery (CGI) techniques, the longest, preferring instead the traditional techniques of producing VFX, holding on to them well after CGI was firmly established in the franchise. Ironically, his team partner David Stipes on the other hand, was the strongest advocate of application of CGI. Friend and close co-worker Doug Drexler has explained Hutzel's stance, recalling:

"I'll tell you why Gary held out on CG for so long. When you hire a CGI facility to create your visual effects, it represents a loss of control for the VFX supervisor. Especially for someone like Gary, who is a card carrying D[irector of]P[hotography], and accustomed to shooting his own footage.

"When your shots are being created at a facility, you tell them what you want, and when you come back, you hope it looks like what you are expecting. Not only that, the bureaucracy at the facility can be slow moving, and if you need a change, it could take days to get the wheels turning. That is why the visual effects for Battlestar Galactica, which is Gary's show, are in house. Gary runs the CGI from top to bottom, without the middleman. Gary Hutzel is one damned amazing guy. Now he gets his CGI exactly the way he wants it, without any bureaucracy, egos, facility overhead or games. Gary did use some CGI on DS9, but it was always a struggle for him to get what he wanted.

"Ultimately, CGI... if you have a set up like Gary... is faster, cheaper, and can look better. The models never wear out, internal lighting never needs to be changed, alterations are a snap, you don't need a teamster to pick it up from the warehouse and drive it to the stage either. I can go on." [1](X)

Hutzel himself has stated in this regard at the time in 1997, "I don't use CGI myself, others do. There's nothing wrong with CGI for appropriate purposes, but we have a mutually exclusive situation on our show with CGI; we don't have the proper budgets or the time. So what we get is second-rate CGI, because there's no time do it properly. I think CGI is certainly a direction we're going in. We will be using it, but we can't beat that two-to-three-week delivery schedule. And I haven't found anything yet that I can't get more control and a better look out of by doing it myself. None of "The Way of the Warrior" was CGI, for instance, but I didn't use any technique in it that haven't been used in the industry for decades; I just combined them all in one blow! And of course working here at Image G [ motion control studio] we've been developing our infrastructure for 10 years now...that's unheard of anywhere! So we are able to shoot things more efficiently than anywhere else in the world, and that's a tool we should explore." He stance originated from his experiences with the fourth season episode "Starship Down", where he considered the CGI work (done at digital VFX house VisionArt Design & Animation), which entailed all the visuals that took place in the Badlands (including the ships), frustratingly disappointing.

Furthermore, Hutzel feared that the unique strategies and concepts of the Star Trek series would be copied over onto other competing genre productions, which started to proliferate, as there were only a handful CGI effects houses at the time from which digital visuals could be obtained. As a matter of fact, the Star Trek franchise itself had been very hesitant to hire Foundation Imaging one year earlier for Voyager, as its visual style was so associated with that of Babylon 5. Continuing and elaborating on his vision for Star Trek, he has added, "My particular focus for our show, for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is that it should be a visual effects leader; we should never follow, we should never do what's been done before. CGI has certainly been used to various different degrees of success on Star Trek: Voyager, but I think it's still a hit-and-miss prospect, so I'm not interested in doing it." (Star Trek Monthly issue 31, p. 26) Touching upon the fact that each VFX supervisor had a great autonomy in VFX decision making for the episodes they were responsible for, Hutzel was true to his word, and has not made use of CGI for any of the episodes he was responsible for (save for emergency situations such in case of the CGI Type 10 shuttlecraft for the sixth season episode "The Sound of Her Voice", and in those instances where partner Stipes got his way such as in the earlier episode "Call to Arms") for the remainder of his tenure on the franchise, even though all his other colleagues did from the episode "Sacrifice of Angels" onward, in the same year he made his statements. As stated by Drexler, Hutzel only made the switch when he started working for the Battlestar Galactica franchise.

One of Hutzel's most endearing contributions as VFX supervisor, at least as far as Star Trek's fan-base was concerned, was his work on the Deep Space Nine homage episode "Trials and Tribble-ations", chief among them overseeing the work involved with integrating the footage of the Original Series episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles", into that of Deep Space Nine. Michael Okuda elaborated, "I should mention that Gary Hutzel and his team were also nominated for an Emmy for their seamless integration of the original series footage with our new Deep Space Nine scenes. (...) It was Gary Hutzel who spearheaded the beautiful transfers of the original “Trouble with Tribbles” episode. Throughout the process we were constantly amazed when Gary would show us new details in the original film that we had never seen before, and we were constantly impressed with the artistry and ingenuity of Star Trek's original designers and filmmakers." [2](X)

Hutzel's fondness for the physical studio models translated itself in him saving on a regular basis one-time-use-only "Ship of the Week" models, that were otherwise slated to be discarded after their production use, and has over the years during his tenure on Star Trek accumulated a considerable amount of these, as Doug Drexler clarified, "When you work on a television show for many years, especially one like Star Trek, and particularly at the time that we did, you end up with all kinds of stuff that would otherwise have been thrown away. I know a statement like that... "stuff that would have otherwise been thrown away"... usually starts a firestorm of criticism of the studio. You don't need to say that today. Looky, you know what a geek I am about this stuff, yet I understand that the studio cannot save everything from all of their productions. Also remember that at the time, auctions where fans could own a piece of the show were non-existent. Storing stuff was not economically feasible. Sometimes just building a crate to store something costs more than the model did! Not to mention renting a place to keep it all. Star Trek at it's peak had huge storage north of LA. That adds up. Not everything could be saved. Thankfully, peeps like Gary couldn't bear to see stuff go into the crusher. So into personal storage it would go, and some of it not to see the light of day again for over twenty years." [3] Still, after having held on to his collection for the better part of two decades, Hutzel decided to let go of his Star Trek collection and commissioned Alec Peters's Propworx to auction off his possessions, upon recommendation by Drexler who had done so earlier for his own holdings. Peters decided to spread the sale over three auctions in 2015, as Hutzel's collections was augmented with those of former colleague Ron B. Moore and the late property master Joe Longo, the first of which being the Star Trek Auction IV of 21 February 2015. [4]

Other official Star Trek work

Gary Hutzel has also contributed to licensed Star Trek print publications; for several reference works he has composited beauty stills of starship studio models against cosmic backdrops, mostly planets. (Star Trek Chronology (1st ed., p. ix)) These have appeared in the color editions of the Star Trek Chronology and the Star Trek Encyclopedia, but the best known were the covers, and chapter introductions, of both versions of Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before and The Making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Career outside Star Trek

Hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Gary Hutzel originally began studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. [5] Hutzel decided to change his career to the motion picture industry and moved to Santa Barbara, California to study photography at the Brooks Institute (as his colleague Ron B. Moore had done years earlier), from which he graduated in the mid-1980s, together with class mate Dana White. [6](X) His motion picture industry career started with a job as a driver and video camera operator for a commercial production house, Filmfair, where he became interested in visual effects. After a stint as freelancer for CBS on the new Twilight Zone series, he was approached in 1987 to work on The Next Generation, coincidentally reuniting him with fellow Brooks Institute graduate White.

Upon leaving the franchise, Hutzel worked as miniature director of photography on the science fiction thriller Red Planet (2000, his first post-Star Trek credit) and as VFX director of photography/supervisor on the (television) movies Spy Kids (2001, for Image G, the motion control company he had worked with for so many years during his time at Star Trek) and A Wrinkle in Time (2003).

As mentioned by Drexler, Gary Hutzel joined Ronald D. Moore's revamp of Battlestar Galactica in 2003. Joined by a slew of former Star Trek production staff colleagues, he worked as miniature cinematographer and VFX supervisor on the entirety of the revamped live-action franchise, which consisted of the first 2003 mini television series, the main series Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009) proper, the mini series Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance (2006), Battlestar Galactica: Razor Flashbacks (2007), the television movie Battlestar Galactica: Razor (2007), the mini television series Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy (2008), the video production The Plan (2009), the spin-off series Caprica (2009-2010), as well as the final production of revamped Galactica, the direct-to-DVD movie Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome (2012) – actually serving longer on the franchise than Moore himself, as he by then had already left the Galactica franchise. Like his former superior Dan Curry had been on Star Trek from Deep Space Nine onward, Hutzel had been right from the start the most senior VFX staffer on Galactica, serving as Moore's right hand as far as the effects were concerned. He was joined in 2005 by Drexler and Takemura after Star Trek prime had ceased production for the time being, who in turn subsequently served as Hutzel's right hands for the remainder of the Galactica live-action franchise.

For his work on the Battlestar Galactica projects, Hutzel earned three Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series, one in 2004, shared with Lee Stringer, Emile Edwin Smith, Jarrod David, Kevin Quattro, Aram Granger, and Kyle Toucher, one in 2005 (shared with Stringer, Adam Lebowitz, and Gabriel Koerner), one in 2006 (shared with Doug Drexler, Chris Zapara, and Toucher), and the fourth one in 2009 (shared with Toucher, Sean M. Jackson, Pierre Drolet, and David R. Morton). The two Emmy Awards Gary Hutzel won, he received in 2007 (shared with Drexler and Lebowitz), and in 2008 (shared with Drexler, David Takemura, Toucher, Jackson, Pierre Drolet, and Derek Ledbetter). He also received an Emmy Award nomination in 2010 for he spin-off series Caprica (again shared with Drexler, Toucher, Drolet, Ledbetter, and Morton). Hutzel and his team also received the Visual Effects Society Award for their work in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 and another nomination in 2008. His work on Galactica was every bit as signature as his work on Star Trek had been.

Besides his work on Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, Gary Hutzel has worked as VFX supervisor on the pilot episode of the Bionic Woman remake (2007), the television science fiction thriller Virtuality (2009) and the action film Drive Angry 3D (2011). For his work on Virtuality, Hutzel received yet another Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special which he shared with Ledbetter and Drolet. In 2011/2012 he again worked with his fellow Star Trek alumni on the Battlestar Galactica spin-off production Blood and Chrome, earning him an additional Emmy Award nomination in 2013 (yet again shared with Drexler, Takemura, Toucher, Ledbetter, and Morton), and subsequently followed Drexler to work on the science fiction television series Defiance, resulting in the addition of yet another 2013 VFX Emmy Award nomination (shared with Drexler, Gibson, Morton, Toucher, Sean M. Jackson, and Douglas E. Graves) to his laurels.

Universally praised for his congeniality by his (former) co-workers, and, much to their consternation, Hutzel, while working on a Disney production titled Beyond in Canada, unexpectedly passed away on 1 March 2016 at the age of 60, survived by his spouse Catherine and their three children, William, Andrew, and Frances. [7] [8] [9] [10]

Star Trek credits

(This list is currently incomplete.)


Emmy Awards

For his work on Star Trek Gary Hutzel has received the following Emmy Award wins and nominations as Visual Effects Artist/Coordinator/(Co-)Supervisor in the category Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects :

Star Trek interviews

External links