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Colin Cantwell is best known as the original concept artist and modeler for all things that flew in the first Star Wars movie, “A New Hope”. His designs include the X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Death Star, Star Destroyer, original Millennium Falcon, Y-Wing and others. He produced these designs with very little input from Lucas, working almost entirely from his own imagination.
Developing the process of “Kitbashing” to build the ships, he revolutionized the modeling industry by tearing apart model kits of cars, boats, and planes as well as household items and re-constructing the pieces.
His other achievements include –
- Working closely with Stanley Kubrick to design the space scenes and suggest the memorable music for 2001, A Space Odyssey. Colin suggested every score used in the film except the “Blue Danube Waltz”. During his regular midnight-snack meetings with Kubrick, Colin suggested changing the opening scene to the now iconic monolith sequence – complete with “Also Sprake Zarathustra”.
- Being the “Hal 9000 Computer” that conveyed the flight progress of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing to Walter Cronkite while Cronkite was broadcasting live on national TV. CBS would become the only news station to accurately state the exact time the lander touched down, as Colin’s in-head calculations of the live NASA data told him the lander would overshoot its expected position and would need an additional minute of flight time to reach the next safe location.
- Designing the first OmniMax theater in San Diego which later became Imax, Colin also directed the 1st iMax film (Voyage to the outer planets) and invented several devices and techniques to accomplish this work.
- Developing the first multi-color computer monitor for HP. Colin took computer monitors from 4 simultaneous colors to over 4000.
- Working on several other movies and shows including, War Games (set design and computer graphics), Close Encounters of a Third Kind (1st attempt at a full CGI scene), Buck Rogers (invented new filming devices and techniques).
- Accepted personally by Frank Lloyd Wright to TaliesinStarted UCLA’s animation department as a student and was their first graduate.