(written from a Production point of view)
|Birth name:||Andrew G. Probert|
|Date of birth:||5 September 1946|
|Place of birth:||Independence, Missouri, USA|
|Roles:||(Senior) Illustrator, Designer, TNG Performer, Star Trek Author, Publication Artist|
|...discussing the design of the "D" with Greg Jein(l)|
|...with the ship he helped to re-design in 1979|
Starting out in Star Trek fandom, Andrew "Andy" G. Probert (born 5 September 1946; age 68) has an artistic career that spans over twenty years, ten of which were spent working on some of science-fiction fans' favorite Hollywood productions, including two from the Star Trek franchise, which were:
After having served on the original 1978 television production Battlestar Galactica, Probert moved over to the big screen as a major contributor on Star Trek: Phase II's successor, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Recommended for the position on the project by Ralph McQuarrie, Probert was employed at Robert Abel & Associates's subsidiary art department company, Astra Image Corporation, starting on 1 April 1978 as concept designer/production illustrator, providing designs for all of the humanoid spacecraft in the film, moving over to Entertainment Effects Group (EEG) in the same capacity, after the former was pulled from the project. wbm
When Star Trek: Phase II (the proposed successor of Star Trek: The Original Series) was canceled, in order to produce The Motion Picture, original Enterprise designer, Matt Jefferies, elaborated upon by Art Director Joe Jennings, had already come up with their version of an upgraded Enterprise, and a studio model was in the process of being constructed. Brought in by his Art Director Richard Taylor in early 1978, Probert went on re-designing this version, plus he designed several of the Enterprise's interiors, as well as those for the K't'inga-class. For the movie he further re-designed the orbital office complex, drydock, and Travel Pod, adding the Work Bee and Vulcan Shuttle.
Due to the fact that Probert was retained by EEG to continue working on the movie, unlike many other former ASTRA employees, he ultimately ended up working a year and a half on the project, pleased that most of his efforts was not in vain, "Well, I think I really lucked out in a way. I'd say about 70% of what I came up with was used. I feel fortunate in that. Most of it was slightly altered – some of it beyond what I felt comfortable with – but nonetheless still recognizable with the original concepts." (Enterprise Incidents, issue 17, p. 13)
Probert's next-to-last project in Hollywood proved to be the one for which he is most well known. On 2 December 1986 Probert was hired as the fifth production staffer in the capacity of Senior Illustrator for Star Trek: The Next Generation, originally to design interiors sets, most notably the bridge. wbm But a lucky happenstance, when Producer David Gerrold noticed a design sketch Probert made, based on a painting he did for his own amusement years earlier of a conjectural future design of the Enterprise, resulted in him also designing the Galaxy-class.
Probert was, and is a staunch supporter and defender of Gene Roddenberry's creation and his vision thereof, and has been on record for his less than enthusiastic view on Rick Berman and his take on the franchise:
"Gene Roddenberry was initially in charge of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as he well should be, and something happened politically to change that. You know, I had no idea what caused that change. But while Gene was in charge, he and I got along very well. We understood each other. And I liked him because of his creation of Star Trek, and he fully understood exactly where he wanted his show to go. Yet he was fully open to any ideas that we threw at him, and he would talk about that, and he talked about it intelligently.
"When Rick Berman took over the show, half way through the first season, every time we showed him a design concept, his constant response was, "no, we can't do that, because it reminds me of something that I've seen somewhere", or "it looks like a shaver", or "it looks like something I've seen in a furniture store". The only thing of note that Rick Berman did before Star Trek was a show called "The Big Blue Marble", a kid's show. For some reason, Paramount led him into this. I don't know. I've heard conflicted stories that Gene thought he was a great producer and wanted to bring him in. Whatever it is, Rick Berman did not, in that time, and, as far as I can see from what is being produced, does not understand science fiction. I've seen a lot of great concepts, by Doug Drexler and a few of the other illustrators that they have been working on, passed over in favor of much more controlled concepts. My experience with Rick Berman is, you know, he does not understand what he's doing, he does not understand science fiction.(...)
"I think Star Trek died when Gene died. Well, as I said, Gene understood exactly what he wanted for his show, and his main focus was maintaining consistency in the show. And everybody who cared about Star Trek eventually left the show. Bill Theiss, the costumer, left, I left, Bob Justman left. So... I don't know what to say, it was very frustrating working on that.(...)I think he [Berman] cares about it for the money. I think he cares about it because he is confident that, no matter what they produce, if it has the name "Star Trek" on it, people will go watch it. They'll complain about it, but they will still make money from the viewers. But, you know, this is just my opinion."wbm
Andrew Probert left the franchise upon completion of season one of The Next Generation. Although having only worked on the first season of The Next Generation, designing most of the ships, sets, and races, Probert's design work very much defined the visual style of the series, and which was largely adhered to for the remainder of the series. In that respect, he was to that production what Matt Jefferies had been to the original Star Trek television series. Paramount Pictures obtained several design patents based on Probert's work on both Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: The Next Generation. He is listed as the "inventor" on those designs and is the sole person officially credited with the design for the USS Enterprise-D.
In 2009, Probert was interviewed for the special feature "Next Generation Designer Flashback: Andrew Probert" for the Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection (DVD), especially for the newly released Star Trek Generations. He talks about his memories regarding his work on the first Star Trek film and early concepts for the saucer separation on the USS Enterprise.
Probert is, besides his design work, also an accomplished painter and work by his hand has adorned the TNG settings of the Captain's ready room and sickbay as well as the covers of publications like The Making of the Trek Films and Cinefantastique (issue 51). In 2013, Probert and Doug Drexler designed a new Deep Space 9 space station for the covers of the Star Trek: The Fall novels Revelation and Dust and A Ceremony of Losses.
Career outside Star Trek Edit
At the age of six, Andrew Probert moved to California, and later joined the United States Navy. After his service he attended the "Art Center College of Design" in Pasadena, California (which also counts William Ware Theiss and classmate Mark Stetson among their alumni). His Hollywood career began, with assistance of mentor Ralph McQuarrie, on the small screen as a designer for Glen Larson's Battlestar: Galactica (1978).
After his involvement with The Motion Picture, Probert went on to work a number of television and feature-film projects, including Airwolf (1984) and Back to the Future (1985), for which he designed the signature DeLorean time machine.
A consummate designer Probert found Hollywood a difficult place to work in, "As much as I (still) love making films, I hated the politics, ass-kissing, and back-stabbing that it took to get most jobs in that town. I never learned to "play the game". I don't lie, I don't schmooze, I just like to work.", This and the artistic differences, made Probert consciously decide to leave the movie business, having only worked as effects storyboard artist on the television series War and Remembrance (1988), after The Next Generation .
Probert went on to work as a Walt Disney Imagineer, a video game artist, and is now involved in producing paintings and recently joined the developers of Star Trek Online with their visual look development.
In 2008, he made a short return to Hollywood as set designer/storyboard artist for the science-fiction/horror production Pesticide.
Star Trek credits Edit
Storyboards, revisions or new designs of all space hardware and various hand props. Interior designs and renderings of the Enterprise cargo bay and Klingon cruiser's bridge, as well as an assortment of additional production art. Art directed and supervised the detailing of various miniatures as well as providing major design contributions to the Enterprise exterior. A com-voice at Epsilon IX also makes reference to a "Commodore Probert, Starfleet."
Concept sketches and designs of all featured starships, for the show's first season, including the Type 7 shuttlecraft, Ferengi marauder, Romulan D'deridex-class warbird and the Galaxy-class USS Enterprise-D. Also designed the Enterprise-D main bridge, battle bridge, and contributed heavily to the remaining sets. Additional responsibilities included designing various props, other-world environments, matte paintings, and the look of several alien races, notably the Ferengi. Probert made an uncredited cameo appearance as a post-atomic court spectator in the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint". He described his hat as a large tribble in an interview.
Unofficial Star Trek credits Edit
Probert, a life-long avid Original Series fan, has made several Star Trek contributions outside the official studio framework;
- Inside Star Trek - Illustrator
His earliest published work, was his artwork, Probert provided for the 1969 run of the fanzine Inside Star Trek. Probert actually continued to build upon his fan work, when he interrupted his education at the Art Center College in the early 1970s by providing Roddenberry's Lincoln Enterprises with cast portrait artwork of both Star Trek and Roddenberry's follow-up production Genesis II. (Return to Tomorrow - The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 64)
- Star Trek: New Voyages - Production Designer/Performer
Probert joined James Cawley's fan film production of Star Trek: New Voyages (née Star Trek: Phase II) in 2008 for their episode "Kitumba", for which he designed a new Klingon fighter craft   and in which he guest starred as the afore-mentioned Commodore Probert. 
Probert, in conjuncture with selected retailers, is selling commercialized versions of his work through his website "ProbertDesigns.com", including Star Trek related items, such as posters of his paintings for the franchise, Star Trek model kits, and iPad apps, a number of those showcasing unrealized designs he has done for the franchise, as well as later design work he has done on the subject.
- "Entertainment Visual Design: A Look Back", Starlog photo guidebook Special Effects, Volume 5, 1996, pp. 88-113 – Illustrator/Author
- Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendars - Co-illustrator
Star Trek interviews Edit
- "Andy Probert Talks about the Lost Designs of Star Trek The Motion Picture", David Houston, Starlog, issue 32, March 1980, pp. 26-33, 63
- "Andrew Probert, an interview", Paul M. Newitt & James Van Hise, Enterprise Incidents, issue 17, May 1984, pp. 10-14
- "Bridge Work", Marc Shapiro, The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 1, December 1987, p. 50
- "Designing the Enterprise", Dennis Fischer, The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 4, April 1988, pp. 29-37
- TNG Season 1 Blu-ray-special feature, "Stardate Revisited, Part 3: The Continuing Mission" (2012)
- Return to Tomorrow - The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, December 2014
Further reading Edit
- "Andrew Probert: Star Trek Illustrator & Designing the Main Bridge", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 14, June 2000, pp. 45-51
- "Designing the Main Bridge (Part Two)", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 15, July 2000, pp. 22-26
- "Designing the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 16, August 2000, pp. 50-56
- "Designing the Type-6 [sic] Shuttlecraft", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 21, January 2001, pp. 56-57
- "Designing the interiors of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 22, February 2001, pp. 18-22, 24-27
- "Dreaming of an Ending:The Separation Sequence That Never Was", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 22, February 2001, p. 122
- "How to fly without warp nacelles: The Tarellian Plague Ship", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 24, April 2001, p. 112
- "Imagining the Future", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, April 2002, pp. 42-49
- "Decorating the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D: Paintings", Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, April 2002, p. 112
- The Art of Star Trek, November 1995
- Star Trek: The Next Generation USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints, July 1996, accompanying booklet
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, November 1997