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(written from a Production point of view)
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Viewpoint DataLabs International, Inc., also referred to as Viewpoint Data Labs, Was company founded on building CG models for accident reconstruction. It began in Orem, Utah with founder John Wright, John (JT) Thomas. Steven Keele and Chad Tillman were the original modelers. The company grew by building model libraries and custom digitization services into the largest suppler of 3D digital models in the world. Founded in 1988, Viewpoint provided models for many national accident cases, and was one of pioneers in accident reconstruction animation. Viewpoint provided models for television ads, including tbe first digital Lexus ad. Models were provided for many motion pictures as well, including Independence Day, Outbreak, Aliens 3, Batman Returns, and Species, among others. The fantasy dirigible that is featured in the first opening credits for the SyFy channel was built by Keele and Tillman. Viewpoint also provided the Star Trek franchise with CGI services during the 1990s.

The company also specialized in creating a library of 3D digital content to publishing ends. The 3D models in the library could be purchased by interested parties for their own purposes. Viewpoint's clientele ranged from advertisement firms to the motion picture industry, and its library ranged from kitchen utensils to airplanes, consisting of 20,000 3D models at one point. Viepointw was a leader in digital scanning and employed in-house developed techniques as well as some of the earliest scanners from Faro and others. [1] To this end, Viewpoint employed a scanning and digitizing department in order to build upon the library. Customers could buy the models at four detail levels, the highest level being complete, fully-textured off-the-shelf models, instantly ready for use, whereas the lowest level consisted of basic wire-frame models, enabling customers to customize the models for their own specific needs.

Viewpoint staffers digitizing the USS Voyager studio model

Viewpoint has never been directly contracted by the Star Trek franchise (and has therefore never received an official credit). However, on two occasions the company was subcontracted by regular CGI vendor to the franchise, Santa Barbara Studios (SBS). In 1994, SBS contracted Viewpoint to construct a level two CGI model (CGI model with nondescript skin) of the USS Voyager that SBS was tasked to build as a back-up of Amblin Imaging's model for the new series Star Trek: Voyager. The Orem, Utah, facility of Viewpoint was sent the physical studio model of the Voyager for scanning and digitizing. Their basic model was sent back to SBS for fine tuning and final detailing. Unfortunately for SBS, their model was never called upon to perform in the series. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, pp. 72-75, 79-81)

Four years later, in 1998, SBS was awarded the commission for a large part of the CGI effects for Star Trek: Insurrection, which included digitizing the studio model of the USS Enterprise-E. As a time-saving measure, SBS again subcontracted Viewpoint to repeat the procedure they had performed four years earlier. (Cinefex, issue 77, pp. 71-72) This time around, the model was featured prominently in the movie. Another service Viewpoint provided for the feature was the scanning and digitizing of actor Anthony Zerbe's face for the face-stretching scene depicting Admiral Dougherty's demise later on in the movie. The scene was finalized as a full-fledged CGI effect by Blue Sky/VIFX. (Cinefex, issue 77, p. 87)

Later that year in October, Viewpoint ended its independent existence when it was acquired by software giant Computer Associates. [2] With branches at the time in Orem, Utah, San Francisco, New York City, and the United Kingdom, Viewpoint was gradually whittled down and relegated to a brand name only, currently merely marketing software packages.

Staff

Enterprise-E team:

  • C. Alex Johnson – Modeler (1996-1997)
  • Walter Noot – Vice President of Production
  • Jayme Olsen – Digital Scanner
  • Stephen Sobisky – Head of Production
  • Jason Turner – Senior Digital Sculptor, heading an eight men team

External links

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