May 28, 2024


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Colin Cantwell, 'Star Wars' spacecraft designer, dies at 90

Colin Cantwell, ‘Star Wars’ spacecraft designer, dies at 90

In the 1960s, Mr. Cantwell was a contract worker with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he developed programs to educate the public about early space missions, and for Graphics Film in Los Angeles, which made live and animated films for NASA’s aeronautics. strength and industry clients. Douglas Trumbull, who died this yearHe worked at Graphic Films before being hired by director Stanley Kubrick for “2001”.

Mr. Trumbull became Special Supervisor of Photographic Effects in 2001, and Mr. Cantwell joined the Graphic Films crew in 1967, during the last six months of its production. He organized bouts of animators over 24 hours to complete the film’s animation, according to “Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and The Making of a Masterpiece” (2018) by Michael Benson. Mr. Cantwell also produced some space sequences for the film, suggested different camera angles to depict the arrival of a shuttle to the space station for the film, and worked with Mr. Trumbull to photograph Jupiter’s moons.

Mr. Benson wrote that Mr. Cantwell’s conversations with Kubrick about making Ingmar Bergman’s films prompted Mr. Cantwell to produce a tightly proportioned moving shot that appeared in the “Dawn of Man” sequence early in the film: a mysterious black monolith on the ground, with clouds behind, the sunrise and crescent moon The moon is over it.

For Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Mr. Cantwell contributed technical dialogue and created early computer-generated images of unidentified flying objects bombarding the landing site at Devils Tower in Wyoming, for a sequence late in the film. His images of UFOs did not appear in the film – director Steven Spielberg relied instead on old special effects technology devised by Mr. Trumbull – but the topic of UFOs piqued the curiosity of Mr. Cantwell, who claimed he was once part of the group that saw a UFO in the sky. the night.

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In the letter of the original to Auction of antiques and souvenirs In 2014, he described the experience: “An intense silent light rose in the east, rose to its zenith as its brightness instantly doubled, and shot straight up.”