(written from a Production point of view)
John Michael Teska (born 1966; age ~54) is a visual effects designer and CGI artist who has designed many effects for Star Trek over the years. While working as the digital effects supervisor for Foundation Imaging, one major effect he worked on was the crash-landing scene for Star Trek: Voyager's "Timeless".
His first contribution Star Trek was the creation of the Hanonian land eel for VOY: "Basics, Part I". At the time the creature expert at Foundation, his work convinced visual effects producer Dan Curry to contract Foundation to do the CGI effects for Voyager. Further contributions include creating additional 3D matte elements for Star Trek Nemesis and working on Star Trek: Enterprise while employed by Eden FX, from 2002 onward. While working on Enterprise, Teska was responsible for creating the scenes first shown in "The Council" featuring the CG Xindi-Insectoids and Xindi-Aquatics. Interviews of Teska discussing their creation, as well as the creation of the CGI Gorn featured in "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II", were both featured on the special features of the ENT Season 4 DVD.
Upon closure of Foundation Imaging in 2002, Teska moved over to Eden FX, and kept on working on the remainder of the Star Trek television franchise, as well as providing additional 3D matte elements for Star Trek Nemesis.
Teska won Emmy Awards for his work on the visual effects for the Voyager episodes "Dark Frontier" and "Endgame". He also received additional Emmy nominations for Voyager's "Year of Hell, Part II", "Timeless", and "Workforce" and the Enterprise episodes "Dead Stop" (but that did win him a Visual Effects Society–VES–Award), "The Crossing" and "The Council".
Career outside Star Trek
A 1988 graduate from the North Carolina State University, with a degree in Visual Design, Teska started his professional career in 1988, first in the employ of David Allen Productions and subsequently at Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc., having worked as puppet designer and puppeteer on productions like Puppet Master (1989 and its two follow-ups in 1991), Tremors (1990), Death Becomes Her (1992), Alien³ (1993) and Demolition Man (1993) In 1993 he joined the new company Foundation Imaging and it was there that he made the transition to creating his creature designs as CGI effects. While in their employ he worked, apart from Voyager, on the groundbreaking television series Babylon 5 as well as Hypernauts. He shortly left Foundation in 1995 to join newly firmed Digital Muse, but within a year, he returned to Foundation.
After Star Trek, Teska has remained in the employment of Eden FX until 2009, having worked on productions such as When Zachary Beaver Came to Town (2003), The Passion of the Christ and Hellboy (2004), Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005), Shoot 'Em Up and Battlestar Galactica: Razor (2007) as well as the television series Lost (winning him his second VES award in 2006, shared with, among others, Eric Chauvin) and Surface (winning him a ninth Emmy Award nomination in 2006, shared with Mitch Suskin, David R. Morton, Eric Hance, Pierre Drolet, Eric Chauvin and Steve Fong, as well as his third VES nomination, shared with Eric Hance, Robert Bonchune, Sean M. Jackson). In December 2008 he joined Industrial Light & Magic as creature technical director and has worked on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009 and its follow-up in 2011), Rango and Cowboys and Aliens (2011) and Battleship (2012).
Star Trek awards
Teska received the following Emmy Award wins and nominations in the category Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series:
- 1998 Emmy Award nomination for the episode "Year of Hell, Part II", shared with Eric Chauvin, Arthur Codron, Paul Hill, Koji Kuramura, Greg Rainoff, Mitch Suskin, and Adam Lebowitz
- 1999 Emmy Award win for the episode "Dark Frontier", shared with Rob Bonchune, Elizabeth Castro, Arthur J. Codron, Dan Curry, Don Greenberg, Paul Hill, Ronald B. Moore, Mitch Suskin, Greg Rainoff, and Adam Lebowitz
- 1999 Emmy Award nomination for the episode "Timeless", shared with John Allardice, Robert Bonchune, Eric Chauvin, Arthur J. Codron, Dan Curry, Don Greenberg, Sherry Hitch, Greg Rainoff, Mitch Suskin, and Ron Thornton
- 2001 Emmy Award win for the episode "Endgame", shared with Robert Bonchune, Eric Chauvin, Arthur Codron, Dan Curry, Steve Fong, Ronald B. Moore, Greg Rainoff, and Mitch Suskin
- 2001 Emmy Award nomination for the episode "Workforce", shared with Dan Curry, Paul Hill, David Lombardi, Brandon MacDougall, Ronald B. Moore, David Morton, Greg Rainoff, and Chad Zimmerman
- 2003 Emmy Award nomination for the episode "The Crossing", shared with Dan Curry, Pierre Drolet Paul Hill, Armen Kevorkian, Ronald B. Moore, David Morton, and Sean Scott
- 2003 Emmy Award nomination for the episode "Dead Stop", shared with Robert Bonchune, Arthur Codron, Pierre Drolet, Steve Fong, Koji Kuramura, Sean Scott, Greg Rainoff, and Mitch Suskin
- 2004 Emmy Award nomination for the episode "The Council", shared with Arthur Codron, Dan Curry, Pierre Drolet, Steve Fong, Sean Jackson, Koji Kuramura, Greg Rainoff, and Mike Stetson
Visual Effects Society Awards
- 2003 VES Award win in the category Best Models and Miniatures in a Televised Program for the episode "Dead Stop", shared with Koji Kuramura, Pierre Drolet and Sean M. Scott
Star Trek interviews
- VOY Season 4 DVD-special feature, "The Birth of Species 8472", interviewed on 21 April 2004
- VOY Season 6 DVD-special feature, "Red Alert: Amazing Visual Effects, interviewed on 21 April 2004
- ENT Season 4 DVD-special features, "Inside the "Mirror" Episodes" and "Visual Effects Magic"
- "Aliens aboard the Voyager", Sci-Fi & Fantasy Models, issue 32, September 1998, p. 52 – Co-Author
- Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendars – Co-illustrator
- "John Teska, Behind the Scenes: Building Species 8472", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 3, July 2001, pp. 82-88