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Robert Swarthe

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Robert Swarthe
Birth name: Robert Postal Swarthe
Gender: Male
Date of birth: 6 September 1942
Place of birth: Los Angeles County, California, USA
Awards for Trek: Academy Award nomination
Roles: Animation Supervisor
Cathy Campbell and Robert Swarthe working on Star Trek The Motion Picture.jpg

...at work on The Motion Picture with Assistant Editor Cathy Campbell

...at work on The Motion Picture with Assistant Editor Cathy Campbell

Robert Postal Swarthe (born 6 September 1942; age 71) was part of the special animation effects team of Robert Abel & Associates (RA&A), the company that was initially contracted to do the visual effects (VFX) for the 1979 movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. While there, Swarthe worked on the wormhole mishap sequence, one of RA&A's few, if not only, VFX sequence to survive to be featured in the movie, after RA&A was pulled from the project [1]. When RA&A was released from the project in March 1979, Swarthe was asked by VFX Supervisor Douglas Trumbull, who was already acquainted with Swarthe's abilities, to join his company, Future General Corporation (FGC), the VFX company that took over the work from RA&A. As animation supervisor, Swarthe and his team continued to work on the additional animated visual effects sequences, most notably the USS Enterprise's warp streaking effects and the various V'Ger approach effects scenes.

The work done on the movie garnered him and his team an Academy Award nomination, as well as, though not personally nominated, helping others of the visual effects team win the movie's only award, the 1980 Saturn Award for "Best Special Effects".

Career outside Star TrekEdit

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Robert Swarthe from an early age on has developed a keen interest in the art of animation. Early project he has embarked upon on personal title were the shorts K-9000: A Space Oddity (1968) and Kick Me (1975), the latter of which bringing him some renown in peer circles, as it earned him his first, 1976, Academy Award nomination in the category "Best Short Film, Animated".

In the early to mid 1970s, Robert Swarthe worked for the effects company Graphic Films, where he met and befriended Douglas Trumbull. It was through this acquaintance with him, that Swarthe was asked by Trumbull a few years later to work for FGC on the science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, starring Teri Garr) as the VFX and animation supervisor, in particular on the film’s many starfields, revisiting that production, directly after The Motion Picture had wrapped for its 1980 "Special Edition", as so many The Motion Picture visual effects staffers did.

After his tenure at FGC, Robert Swarthe worked for Francis Ford Coppola on two of his productions, One from the Heart (1982) and The Outsiders (1983), yet seemed to have left the motion picture industry afterwards, as no other motion picture credits are known for him.

Academy Award Edit

Robert Swarthe received the following Academy Award nomination in the category Best Effects, Visual Effects:

Further readingEdit

  • "Special Visual Effects: Robert Swarthe", Don Shay, Cinefex, issue 11, January 1983, pp. 50-71

External linksEdit

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