Remembering Visual Effects Supervisor Ron Thornton
StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of Ron Thornton, a groundbreaking veteran visual effects supervisor and cinematographer, who counted among his credits Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Nemesis and the director's edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as well as, to a lesser degree, The Next Generation. Thornton died on Monday night, November 21, following a long illness. He received an Emmy Award nomination (shared with John Allardice, Eric Chauvin, Arthur J. Codron, Dan Curry, Don Greenberg, Sherry Hitch, Greg Rainoff, Mitch Suskin, John Teska and Robert Bonchune) in 1999 for the Voyager episode "Timeless," and also helped create Voyager's Species 8472 and the Voyager's spectacular crash landing.
Thornton, who was born in England, worked on such other television shows and films as Doctor Who, Blake's 7, The Tripods, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, Spaceballs, Babylon 5, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Crazies and the pilot of Nashville. According to his longtime friend and associate Michael Okuda, Thornton was at the forefront of digital visual effects and pioneered the use of "render farms" of inexpensive personal computers to deliver sophisticated CG effects for television in the 1990s through his company, Foundation Imaging, which he formed in 2002.
"Ron was an important part of the Star Trek family," Okuda told StarTrek.com. "His passion for visual magic benefitted so many Star Trek productions, but to me, he's the wizard whose genius brought forth the magical worlds of such favorites as Babylon 5 and Captain Power."
Daren Dochterman, conceptual designer and visual effects artist, whose illustrations have been featured in the Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendars, and who worked with Thornton on the Director's Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picturet, paid tribute to Thornton on his Facebook page. Dochterman wrote, "He was a pioneer of Film Quality Television visual effects. He was an artist and designer. He was instrumental in helping us when we did the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director's Edition. When we were tasked with finding a way to complete over 90 new visual effects for the project, I immediately called him up and asked if he could help us. He jumped at it, and put at our disposal the best artists in the business. When we would have new shots that needed to be included, he said 'No problem... we can do it.'... he was a cheerleader for us and a rock that we could rely on. He was one of the first people to encourage me to continue learning CG back in the 90s... and always had positive and helpful critique for my work. He welcomed me, an outsider, into his little family of crazies for a time... and it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. To hell with 2016. You've taken the best we had. Warp Speed, Ron."
Thornton leaves behind his wife, Lada. Please join StarTrek.com in offering our condolences to Thornton's family, friends and colleagues.