(written from a Production point of view)
Michael John Backauskas (born 18 November 1953; age 66) is a visual effects (VFX) editor, coordinator, and supervisor, who has contributed as such to several Star Trek live-action productions. In 1979 he had already chalked up an early contribution as one of the visual effects editors to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, while employed at Future General Corporation, the company of that movies' VFX producer, Douglas Trumbull. Backauskas' work on Star Trek earned him and his team two visual effects Emmy Awards.
Years later, Michael Backauskas joined the Star Trek spin-off television franchise, starting out as a VFX coordinator on the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine pilot episode, "Emissary", serving on the VFX team of Robert Legato and Gary Hutzel. He subsequently, now teamed up with VFX Supervisor Ronald B. Moore, transferred to Star Trek: The Next Generation, coordinating the effects for the show's final season. During his tenure at that season, Backauskas was given the opportunity to flex his muscles as VFX supervisor for two episodes only, "Genesis" and "Firstborn", but was never permanently elevated into the position. He continued coordinating the effects for the Star Trek: Voyager pilot episode, "Caretaker" and the even-numbered episodes of Voyager''s first season (a few of which were held over for airing as part of the second season). During the transition from The Next Generation to Voyager, Backauskas was provisionally assigned to the VFX team of David Stipes and Joe Bauer for the last episode of the former and the first five episodes of the latter, as Ron Moore was temporarily unavailable to the television franchise due to his work on Star Trek Generations. From episode six, "The Cloud", onward, Backauskas was again teamed up with Moore as one of the alternating VFX teams for the remainder of Voyager's first season. Upon completion of that season, Backauskas left the franchise. His vacancy was filled by Mitch Suskin, who came over from digital VFX company Foundation Imaging.
Career outside Star Trek
Upon completion of The Motion Picture, his first professional employment in the motion picture industry, Backauskas remained a few years in the employ of Trumbull's company, Entertainment Effects Group (EEG), working as VFX editor or assistant editor on their productions, such as the science fiction films as Blade Runner (1982, which featured Joanna Cassidy), Brainstorm (1983, directed by Trumbull and starring Louise Fletcher), and Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986, after EEG became Boss Film Studios). As free-lancer Backauskas has worked on the productions Masters of the Universe (1987, featuring Anthony De Longis, Meg Foster, Frank Langella and Robert Duncan McNeill). He also did VFX optical line-up for such period films as Big Trouble in Little China (1986, starring Kim Cattrall), The Hidden (1987, starring Michael Nouri), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, featuring Joanna Cassidy and Christopher Lloyd), The Abyss (1989, featuring Ken Jenkins), and Paramount Pictures' The Hunt for Red October (1990, featuring Timothy Carhart, Daniel Davis, Gates McFadden, and Ned Vaughn).
After his tenure on the Star Trek television franchise, Backauskas was a VFX editor for Digital Domain on the Academy Award-winning blockbuster Paramount film Titanic (1997, which featured David Warner). More recently, Backauskas has worked for Rhythm & Hues as a visual effects editor on such films as Babe: Pig in the City (1998), Scooby-Doo (2002), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Night at the Museum (2006), The Golden Compass (2007), Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010), Little Fockers (2010), Red Riding Hood (2011), Moneyball (2011), Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011), and Chronicle (2012), but found himself unemployed when Rhythm & Hues went bankrupt in February 2013.
Star Trek credits
- "Descent, Part II" – Visual Effects Coordinator (Season 7)
- "Interface" – Visual Effects Coordinator
- "Gambit, Part II" – Visual Effects Coordinator
- "Dark Page" – Visual Effects Coordinator
- "Force of Nature" – Visual Effects Coordinator
- "Parallels" – Visual Effects Coordinator
- "Homeward" – Visual Effects Coordinator
- "Lower Decks" – Visual Effects Coordinator
- "Masks" – Visual Effects Coordinator
- "Genesis" – Visual Effects Supervisor
- "Firstborn" – Visual Effects Supervisor
- "All Good Things..." – Visual Effects Coordinator
Backauskas received the following Emmy Awards in the category "Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects":
- 1994 for the episode "All Good Things...", shared with Dan Curry, David Stipes, Scott Rader, Adam Howard, and Erik Nash
- 1995 for the episode "Caretaker", shared with Dan Curry, David Stipes, Joe Bauer, Edward L. Williams, Scott Rader, Don Greenberg, Adam Howard, Don Lee, Robert Stromberg, John F.K. Parenteau, Joshua D. Rose, and Joshua Cushner