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Edward R. Brown

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(written from a Production point of view)

Edward R. "Ed" Brown, ASC, was director of photography on the first two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

His early career was spent as a camera operator and later cinematographer on feature films, including the Robert Redford vehicle The Hot Rock. In the late 1970s he moved into television, first on TV movies and then series, including being hired to work on the first few seasons of Remington Steele by former Trek director Robert Butler.

Brown became director of photography on "Encounter at Farpoint" on short notice after TOS cinematographer Jerry Finnerman decided against returning to the new series. Initially, it was intended that Brown would only photograph the pilot, and that if the series moved into production a new DoP would be found. In the event, he stayed for the entirety of the first two seasons.

Compared to the other Trek television cinematographers, Brown's shooting style was completely different, featuring muted color tones and extensive use of shadows. While perhaps more dramatically pleasing (and earning him an Emmy nomination for "The Big Goodbye"), his tendency to completely hard-light scenes could often end up showing the deficiencies of the set construction, and necessitated his infamous practice of sticking cardboard and tape onto the LCARS screens in order to prevent too many reflections off the studio lights. Brown also refused to adopt a single visual style, often drastically altering his visuals between episodes to best fit the mood of the piece.

While popular with the show's directors (in particular Rob Bowman), his style occasionally irked the producers, who considered him to be making the show look cheaper than it really was, and some actors occasionally complained that his lighting was unflattering. Bowman later suggested that Brown would likely have been fired by the end of the first season if not for the infighting among the production staff during the first two seasons. In the end, new executive producer Rick Berman suggested that Brown leave the series at the end of the second season, after which Brown left the profession altogether and started teaching at film schools. While no longer being actively involved with the series, several cast members, including Jonathan Frakes and Patrick Stewart sought his advice while learning how to direct.

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