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

James "Jim" Richard Dow (born 8 March 1943; age 79) was a visual effects artist who was creative head and chief modeler employed at Magicam, Inc., during the production of Star Trek: Phase II and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In that capacity he oversaw the team of modelers who built the various studio models for those productions. He has authored an article on the period of the latter production that was published in the October 1979 issue of the American Cinematographer magazine. In it, Dow recalled how he was brought in to work for Magicam,

"In September 1977, wrapping two years of work supervising construction and handling of the various miniatures for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I was asked by Joe Matza of Magicam to set up a permanent facility which would grow into a well-rounded effects service available to both the film and video industries. I had been given an invitation to participate in the miniature work for Steven Spielberg's 1941, but decided to set up my "own" shop for Magicam. Staffing from scratch, we pursued and landed the job of constructing the miniatures for the long-awaited Star Trek television remake and, with a small staff, began construction." (p. 152)

He has remained in the employment of Magicam for the remainder of that company's existence.

In 1979, hard on the heels of his involvement with the movie, Dow had talked at length and in considerable detail about his and his company's work for the production to Cinefantastique reporter Preston Neal Jones, but the latter's copy was for various editorial reasons only published 35 years later in the title listed below. Decades later, Dow followed up on this interview with a 2013 one, conducted by the original refit-Enterprise model painter Paul Olsen for the second edition of his autobiography, Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise

Dow has been featured at work in the 1979 promotional documentary The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, though in it, he did not provide any spoken commentary himself.

Jim Dow is brother to Industrial Light & Magic's cameraman Don Dow, who has also worked on several features of the Star Trek franchise. (Cinefex, issue 18, 1984, p. 62)

Career outside Star Trek

Prior to his involvement with The Motion Picture he has worked on the features Silent Running (1972, as model maker) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, as model shop coordinator with Gregory Jein). For the latter production he organized and ran the model shop of Douglas Trumbull's Future General Corporation, the company responsible for the visual effects of the movie. Dow won an Emmy Award for his work on Carl Sagan's television documentary series Cosmos (1980), one of the only two other projects Magicam was involved in, after The Motion Picture. Pursuant the closure of Magicam, Dow has predominantly worked for theme parks and exhibitions. In 2012, after a long absence from the motion picture business, Dow has worked on the horror movie Styria as production designer.


  • "The Magicam Miniatures Constructed For Star Trek The Motion Picture", American Cinematographer, February 1980, pp. 152-155, 178-179, 186 - Author

Star Trek interviews

External links