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

Richard Winn Taylor II (born 17 January 1944; age 78), is a director, graphic artist, designer, and modeler who, as Effects Designer, in the employ of Robert Abel & Associates (RA&A), (co-)designed the majority of the miniatures for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He also designed and directed special effects sequences for the film. He disliked the redesigned studio model of the USS Enterprise, partially constructed by Don Loos for the failed series Star Trek: Phase II. He wanted to entirely redesign the ship as he has stated, "I have always thought that the Enterprise is one of the worst designs ever conceived for a spacecraft. The center of gravity of any object in space has everything to do with its shape. The Enterprise by its configuration is one of the most unbalanced objects in the history of space and science fiction. So I asked Roddenberry if I could change the shape of the E. I wanted to create an entirely new design. He emphatically stated that the configuration of the TV model was iconic and that it had to remain the same. But I could modernize it?" (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, pp. 187-188) To this end he assigned Andrew Probert to help him redesign the ship to be more in line with Matt Jefferies' original design. [1] One of his initial assignments was the design of the V'ger entity, although the design used for the film was finalized by Syd Mead.

Taylor's formal involvement with the production ended after RA&A was pulled from the project on 22 February 1979, though his actual involvement had started to wane earlier on, "At about the time Paul started working on the paint design is when my participation in the project began to wane as Trumbull took over the picture and I moved on from the Abel studio to work on a project with Terry Malick. [note: on The Tree of Life, that was not finished until 2011]" (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 192) His position on the project was from then on filled by Harold Michelson, brought in by Director Robert Wise. Nevertheless, he did receive official credit for his contributions.

The troublesome cooperation between Paramount Pictures and RA&A has made Taylor look back at his Star Trek involvement with mixed feelings, "So one of the best things that came from Star Trek — I learned a lot about the whole process and, again, it was the analog era and just a few years later, the whole digital era started to evolve and that changed everything. It changed everything. So there were good and bad parts about working on Star Trek. Most of it I don’t remember with a lot of fondness." [2]

Career outside Star Trek

Taylor graduated from the University of Utah with a BFA in Painting and Drawing in 1967. Shortly thereafter, he co-founded Rainbow Jam, a multimedia light show and graphics company which has provided effects for concert performances by such bands as The Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin. He also began his career in film-making during this time, with one of his first films, Integrator, winning several film festival awards.

Taylor joined Robert Abel & Associates in 1973. During his tenure, he directed numerous television commercials and won four Clio Awards. He also created graphics and logos for for companies such as ABC Television, CBS Theatrical Films, and Columbia Pictures. In 1978 Taylor became the creative director at the pioneer computer graphics imaging studio Information International Inc. (III), where he directed some of the first computer-generated TV commercials. He also designed and directed the special effects for the 1981 science fiction film Looker, which starred Leigh Taylor-Young.

In 1981 Taylor worked as Co-Special Effects Director, Computer Effects Supervisor, Electronic Conceptual Designer, and Graphic Designer on Disney's hit science fiction film TRON (starring Dan Shor and David Warner). His work on TRON earned Taylor a BAFTA Film Award nomination in the Best Special Visual Effects category. Following his work on TRON, Taylor founded the West Coast office of Magi Synthavision, one of the other computer animations studios that worked on TRON. One of the commercials Taylor directed at Magi, called "Worm War One," won the first Clio Award for Best Computer Animation.

In 1985 Taylor began working for Lee Lacy & Associates, creating commercials for clients such as the Ford Motor Company, RCA and Duracel. Two years later Taylor moved to Apogee, Inc., where he launched the 7 Up company's world-renowned "Spot" campaign. These commercials introduced the popular "Spot" character which became 7 Up's mascot. Taylor won a Clio Award as well as two 1989 International Monitor Awards for his work on these commercials. From 1988 through 1997 Taylor continued directing commercials, first for Image Point Productions and then for Dryer/Taylor Productions. From 1997 through 2000, he directed for Rhythm & Hues.

Between 1975 and 1991 Taylor has received a total of nine Clio Awards. His commercials also garnered him two Gold Hugos in 1990 and two Mobius Awards in 1992. More recently, Taylor's work on the "Harvest" commercial for SAS (Statistical Analysis Systems Inc) placed second in the Special Effects category and won first place in the Animation category at the 2001 Telly Awards. His special effects work on the SAS commercial "Flood" also won first place.

In addition to operating his own company, Richard Taylor Design, Taylor concurrently worked with Beach House Films. He is also the Cinematic Director at the video game company Electronic Arts, where he worked on The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth and The Battle for Middle-earth II and several entries in the Command & Conquer video game series. His work work on 2007's Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars received a Visual Effects Society (VES) Award nomination for Outstanding Pre-Rendered Visuals in a Video Game.

More recently Richard Taylor worked on projects like Shrek Forever After (2010), and for companies like Turner Classic Movies, Disney and Ubisoft Games. Currently, Taylor is the director of XLNT FX, also serving as vice-chair of the Visual Effects Society.


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