Gary Hutzel, the man who brought some of the coolest sci-fi effects on shows like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica to life, has died at the age of 60.
Hutzel won four Emmys during his illustrious career, and is likely best known for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Ronald D. Moore’s Battlestar Galactica reboot. He also worked on Deep Space Nine, Defiance, Caprica, Spy Kids, Virtuality and the short-lived Bionic Woman reboot. Along the way, he created his fair share of iconic pieces in sci-fi lore, including the Borg Cube breakaway model used in Next Generation’s “The Best of Both Worlds,” as well as the USS Defiant ship featured in Deep Space Nine.
“We lost greatness today. Brother, partner, best friend. One of the greatest creative minds I've ever worked with. A wizard that made the impossible possible on a television budget. You go to the movies and see a VFX credit roll that runs for 15 minutes. It better damn well be great,” colleague Doug Drexler told Star Trek. “Gary would do movie sized stuff, and everyone would fit on one card. The guy was a genius. This is the way it was: Gary set up an environment that was more like a band of brothers and sisters. A club house where everyone was a creative equal. Everyone was a filmmaker first, and a VFX artist second. He often said that you could not defeat a good idea, and with Gary you could have one. How strange is that? All of us lost greatness today, and for me personally, the loss defies measure.”
Hutzel famously shied away from CGI effects during his tenure working on Star Trek, and instead championed the use of miniature, physical models whenever feasible. Which, considering how great he was at making models, makes sense. Hutzel was a key figure of the transition from practical effects to CGI, and the world has lost a standard bearer for that 1990s and early 2000s era in television.