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

Russell William Earl is a co-visual effects supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic. He oversaw effects production on Star Trek on ILM's end, while lead supervisor Roger Guyett managed the effects at Paramount Pictures. Earl has worked under Guyett on most of his film projects for ILM. Both of them received an Academy Award nomination for the visual effects work on Star Trek, which they shared with Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton.[1] In 2010 Earl, Guyett, Kavanagh, and Dalton received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Special Effects for their work on Star Trek. [3]

Earl was not a fan of Star Trek while growing up, but thought the script for the 2009 film was "great" and that seeing J.J. Abrams take on the characters made him "a bit of a fan." Earl oversaw Asset Development and Look Development on the film.[2]

Early career

Before joining ILM in 1994, Earl did traditional miniature modeling for Back to the Future: The Ride at Berkshire Ridefilm in Massachusetts, working with Star Trek: The Motion Picture's special photographic effects director, Douglas Trumbull. Like the Back to the Future films on which it is based, the ride also starred Christopher Lloyd (Kruge in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock).

Earl's earliest film work was as a digital artist on two hits released in June of 1992: Paramount Pictures' Patriot Games and Warner Bros.' Batman Returns. He again worked with Doug Trumbull as a digital compositor and model maker for the Luxor Hotel ride In Search of the Obelisk in Las Vegas, Nevada, which Trumbull produced and directed.

ILM career

Earl joined ILM as a digital effects artist and technical director; his first project with the company was the acclaimed, Academy Award-winning drama Forrest Gump. Some of his early credits included Dragonheart (featuring Dina Meyer, Brian Thompson, and the voice of Sean Connery), Mars Attacks! (featuring Paul Winfield), Deep Rising (starring Famke Janssen), Deep Impact (featuring James Cromwell, Denise Crosby, Mark Moses, Tucker Smallwood, Kurtwood Smith, and Concetta Tomei), and the 1999 blockbuster Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

Some of Earl's more recent credits include serving as technical director on the 2001 Michael Bay film Pearl Harbor (featuring Pat Healy, Glenn Morshower, Randy Oglesby, Leland Orser, John Pyper-Ferguson, Steve Rankin, James Saito, Raphael Sbarge, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Michael Shamus Wiles), as a digital artist on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, as a sequence supervisor on Men in Black II (featuring Jack Kehler, Michael Rivkin, and Michael Bailey Smith) and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (featuring Lee Arenberg, Michael Berry, Jr., Vanessa Branch, Greg Ellis, Zoe Saldana, and Guy Siner), and as a computer graphics supervisor on Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.

Star Trek is the second film Earl has worked on that was directed by J.J. Abrams. The first was 2006's Mission: Impossible III, which featured a cast that included Simon Pegg, Jeff Chase, Greg Grunberg, Tracy Middendorf, Ellen Bry, Bruce French, Tony Guma, and the aforementioned Michael Berry, Jr. Earl's work on this film garnered Earl a Saturn Award nomination from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films (shared with Roger Guyett) and a nomination from the Visual Effects Society Awards (shared with Richard Bluff). Star Trek was also Earl's third film project written or co-written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, following M:i:III and the 2007 blockbuster Transformers. Earl was nominated for Academy Award for his work on Transformers, which he shared with three of his visual effects crewmates, including Scott Farrar. Earl and Farrar also won a Visual Effects Society Award and a Saturn Award for Transformers (the latter award shared with Shari Hanson).


  1. 82nd Annual Academy Award nominations,, [1]. Published: 2 February 2010. Accessed: 2 February 2010.
  2. Dunlop, Renee. Star Trek. CG Society, [2]. Published: 29 May 2009. Accessed: 21 October 2009.

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