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Linwood G. Dunn

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Linwood G. Dunn, ASC
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Linwood G. Dunn

Birth name: Linwood Gale Dunn
Gender: Male
Date of birth: 27 December 1904
Place of birth: New York City, New York, USA
Date of death: 15 May 1998
Place of death: Los Angeles, California, USA
Awards for Trek: 1 Emmy Award nomination
Roles: Visual Effects Producer/Supervisor
Linwood G. Dunn shoots the 11-foot studio model.jpg

Dunn shooting the 11-foot Enterprise studio model

Dunn shooting the 11-foot Enterprise studio model

Linwood "Lynn" Gale "G." Dunn (27 December 190415 May 1998; age 93), in his youth occasionally credited as Lynn, or Lin Dunn, was a visual, at the time still called special, effects (VFX) photographer on the first two seasons of Star Trek: The Original Series.

Dunn's effects company, Film Effects of Hollywood, was one of the VFx companies that were called in 1966 to help ease the workload in producing the VFX for Star Trek, in particular the filming of the 11-foot studio model of the USS Enterprise. He was the co-recipient in 1967 of an Emmy Award nomination for his work on the series.

Career outside Star TrekEdit

Starting his career in 1927 as second cameraman on Hawk of the Hills (1927), and having worked on one of the very last silent serials, Queen of the Northwoods (1929), Linwood Dunn has, outside of Star Trek, shot VFX for a number of acclaimed, classic feature films, including the original 1933 version of King Kong, Orson Welles' 1941 drama Citizen Kane on which Robert Wise worked as editor and on which Dunn also served as an instructor to Wells on the use of the optical printer, the Wise co-directed musical West Side Story (1961, starring Richard Beymer), and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, which starred Gary Lockwood and featured Ed Bishop). Dunn has received an Academy Award nomination for his work on the 1966 film Hawaii (featuring Lou Antonio and Torin Thatcher, and Gil Perkins as stunt coordinator).

Apart from being a cinematographer, Dunn was also throughout his career, an active inventor and developer of cinematographic technologies for practical use in the motion picture industry, such as one of the first zoom lenses. Especially noteworthy in that respect was the work he has done on the development of the optical printer. While not invented by him, his work made it a practical piece of equipment for use in the production of motion pictures, especially crucial where the production of VFX was concerned. In that role, he was the recipient of two special Academy Awards for the development of the Acme-Dunn Optical Printer: the 1945 Technical Achievement Award and the 1981 Academy Award of Merit. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also awarded Dunn with a Medal of Commendation in 1979 and the Gordon E. Sawyer Award in 1985.

A pioneering innovator in the field of visual effects, Dunn's talents became a much sought after commodity by other production companies, so much so in fact, that he decided to go into business for himself by forming his own effects house, Film Effects of Hollywood, in 1946 (though, at the time, he initially kept his job at RKO Pictures as well).

In addition to Citizen Kane, Dunn has worked on hundreds of other films for RKO Pictures, including the 1942 horror picture Cat People, the 1947 film noir Out of the Past (which featured Richard Webb), the original Mighty Joe Young (featuring William Schallert), the cult 1951 science fiction thriller The Thing from Another World (which starred Kenneth Tobey), and the infamous 1956 John Wayne adventure The Conquerer (which featured John Hoyt and cinematography by William E. Snyder). He was also the one who photographed the rotating radio tower used in RKO's famous logo.

Other films on which he has provided photographic effects include the 1963 comedy It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and the 1970 thriller Airport (featuring Michael Bell and Vic Perrin). He did VFX on a 1975 horror film The Devil's Rain, in which Star Trek star William Shatner has a supporting role. The film also features George Sawaya. He was subsequently elected president of the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), into which he was already inducted in 1950, twice. He was also elected Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in two different branches and was instrumental in the formation of the Academy's Visual Effects branch. Later in his VFX career, he specialized in doing opticals in large film formats such as 70mm, Imax and World's Fair multi-image exhibits.

Linwood Dunn sold his VFX company in 1985 to Francis Ford Coppola and retired from active effects work, but remained active as a consultant and inventor. His last invention was a prototype for the Hi-Def 3-D video projection systems now widely used in many movie theaters, on which he was still working when he died in Los Angeles, California, in 1998 at the age of 93.

Emmy Award Edit

Westheimer received the following Emmy Award nomination for his work on Star Trek in the category "Individual Achievements in Cinematography":

Further reading Edit

  • "Out-of-this-world Special Effects for 'Star Trek'", Rae Moore, American Cinematographer, October 1967, pp. 715-717
  • "Where No Show Had Gone Before", Jan Alan Henderson, American Cinematographer, January 1992, pp. 34-40
  • "Special Visual Effects", Daniel Fiebiger, Cinefantastique, Vol 27 #11, 1996, pp. 64-75

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