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Viewpoint DataLabs International, Inc.

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Viewpoint DataLabs International, Inc. logo.jpg

Viewpoint DataLabs International, Inc., also referred to as Viewpoint Data Labs, was a Los Angeles based digital effects company, founded in 1988, that has provided the Star Trek franchise with CGI services during the 1990s.

The company specialized in creating a library of 3D digital content to publishing ends. The 3D models in the library could be purchased by interested parties for their own purposes. Viewpoint's clientèle ranged from advertisement firms to the motion picture industry, and its library ranged from kitchen utensils to airplanes, consisting of 20,000 3D models at one point. [1] To this end, Viewpoint employed a scanning and digitizing department, in order to build upon the library. Customers could buy the models at four detail levels, the highest level being complete, full textured of-the-shelf models, instantly ready for use, whereas the lowest level consisted of basic wire-frame models, enabling customers to customize the models for their specific needs.

Viewpoint has never been directly contracted by the Star Trek franchise (and has therefore never received an official credit). However, on two occasions the company was sub-contracted by regular CGI vendor to the franchise, Santa Barbara Studios (SBS). In 1994, SBS, contracted Viewpoint to construct a level two CGI model (CGI model with non-descript skin) of the USS Voyager, the company was tasked to build as a back-up of Amblin Imaging's model for the new series Star Trek: Voyager. Viewpoint was sent the physical studio model of the Voyager for scanning and digitizing. Their basic model was sent back to SBS for finetuning and final detailing. Unfortunately for SBS, their model was never called upon to perform in the series. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, pp. 72-75, 79-81)

Four years later, in 1998, SBS was awarded the commission for a large part of the CGI effects for Star Trek: Insurrection, which included digitizing the studio model of the USS Enterprise-E. As a time saving measure, SBS again subcontracted Viewpoint to repeat the procedure they had performed four years earlier. (Cinefex, issue 77, pp. 71-72) This time around, the model was featured prominently in the movie.

Later that year in October, Viewpoint ended its independent existence, when it was acquired by software giant Computer Associates. [2] Having branches at the time in Orem, Utah, San Fransisco, New York City and the United Kingdom, Viewpoint was gradually whittled down and relegated to a brand name only, currently merely marketing software packages.

Staff

Enterprise-E team:

  • Walter Noot - Vice President of Production
  • Jayme Olsen
  • Jason Turner - Senior Digital Sculptor

External links

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