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Grant Lee McCune (27 March 194327 December 2010; age 67) was a special and visual effects artist who worked as studio model shop supervisor for Apogee, Inc. on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Model builds he was heavily involved with, were the Epsilon IX station models and the various parts of the massive V'Ger model. Apart from these he worked on the D7-class studio model, adding the additional detailing as well as completely modifying the internal lighting rig, for it to become the K't'inga-class studio model, after Magicam's work was deemed insufficient to meet big screen requirements. (Cinefex, issue 2, pp. 59, 63; American Cinematographer, February 1980, p. 174)

For this work on The Motion Picture, he and his team received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects in 1980, as well as, though not personally nominated, helping others of the visual effects team win the movie's only award, the 1980 Saturn Award for "Best Special Effects".

Career outside Star Trek

Grant McCune graduated from California State University in Northridge with a bachelor's in biology. His career in special effects began when he and Bill Shourt were hired to create a giant, realistic shark model for Steven Spielberg's acclaimed 1975 horror-suspense film Jaws.

McCune and Shourt were subsequently hired onto the miniature and optical effects unit of George Lucas' first Star Wars film, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, where they worked under the supervision of ILM's John Dykstra. In addition to his work as chief model maker for this film, he also appeared as a Death Star Gunner. McCune and his team subsequently won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1978 for his work on this movie, sharing it with, among others, John Dykstra.

Work for Apogee

In 1978, Dykstra left ILM to form Apogee, Inc., and many others who worked on Star Wars joined him, including McCune and Shourt, who became partners at the fledgling studio. Specializing in models and miniatures, Grant McCune worked on many film productions at Apogee, including several of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. One of his earliest jobs with the company was as chief model maker on the pilot for the sci-fi television series Battlestar Galactica. The pilot was produced by John Dykstra, directed by Richard Colla, and featured Ed Begley, Jr. and John Colicos.

Later, McCune was chief model maker on Clint Eastwood's sci-fi thriller Firefox, which featured Ward Costello and Richard Derr. He was also miniature supervisor on the 1985 sci-fi film Lifeforce, in which Star Trek: The Next Generation star Patrick Stewart had a major supporting role.

McCune's other credits at Apogee included the action thriller Avalanche Express (working with David Beasley, John Dykstra, Jon Erland, Bruce Logan, David Scott, Robert Shepherd, and David Sosalla), the popular golf comedy Chaddyshack, and genre comedies Spaceballs (featuring Tim Russ, Brenda Strong, and Dey Young), My Stepmother Is an Alien (featuring Earl Boen, Tony Jay, and Suzie Plakson), and Ghostbusters II (featuring Aaron Lustig and Harris Yulin). He also did uncredited work on such films as Die Hard and Big.

Grant McCune Design and later career

Grant McCune Design logo

In late 1992, when Apogee closed its business, Grant McCune took over some of the equipment and the lease of the location, Van Nuys, California, and restarted the visual effects studio as his own company, Grant McCune Design. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies, p. 79) Under his company's banner, McCune supervised miniature effects on such films as Speed (1994), Ri¢hie Ri¢h (1994, starring John Larroquette), Batman Forever (1995, featuring Rene Auberjonois), and the Stuart Baird-directed thrillers Executive Decision (1996) and U.S. Marshals (1998).

McCune was also special effects supervisor on the historical drama Thirteen Days, which featured a cast that included Jack Blessing, Len Cariou, Kevin Conway, Steven Culp, Charles Esten, Bruce Greenwood, Tim Kelleher, Boris Krutonog, Ed Lauter, Dakin Matthews, and Bill Smitrovich. More recently, McCune worked on such films as 2002's Spider-Man and 2005's Serenity, the feature follow-up to the cult sci-fi series Firefly. His last known film was 2008's Rambo, for which he was miniature supervisor.


On 27 December 2010, Grant McCune died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Hidden Hills, California. He was 67 years old, and was survived by his wife, Katherine, as well as by a daughter and a son. [1] His wife took over the reins of the company, which eventually closed down in March 2016.

Academy Award

Grant McCune received the following Academy Award nomination in the category "Best Effects, Visual Effects":

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