Gary Hutzel, the award-winning visual effects artist for shows like “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” has died. He was 60.
“We are reeling in shock at the sudden death of our friend and colleague, Gary Hutzel,” Michael and Denise Okuda, fellow visual effects artists, announced on Facebook Thursday. “His creativity, dedication and unfailing good humor helped make him a major contributor to the worlds of Star Trek: TNG and DS9, as well as ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and numerous other projects that were fortunate to benefit from his genius.”
Hutzel got his break on TNG in 1989 in the episodes “Manhunt” and “Evolution,” according to Internet Movie Database. Star Trek wiki site Memory Alpha, however, puts his first episodes in 1987 after the “Encounter at Farpoint” pilot was shot. Before that, he earned his first on-screen credit as a second assistant cameraman in the 1985 Michael J. Fox comedy “Teen Wolf.”
He led the visual effects crew for TNG until Paramount Television launched “Deep Space Nine” into syndication in 1992. From there he was responsible for the visuals through the show’s entire run, including what were considered to be some of the most spectacular space battles put together on television during the show’s Dominion war arc.
That work actually earned Hutzel nine Emmy nominations between both Star Trek shows, including two wins for TNG’s “Conundrum” in 1992 and DS9’s “Emissary” in 1993.
Hutzel worked with James Martin and Herman Zimmerman to create the USS Defiant, the small battleship used in DS9 and featured in 1996’s “Star Trek: First Contact.”
Once DS9 ended, one of the show’s executive producers Ronald D. Moore remembered Hutzel’s amazing work on DS9, and brought him onto his new SciFi Channel reboot “Battlestar Galactica” in 2003. The program introduced Hutzel’s magic to a whole new audience, with new technology and improved techniques giving him a chance to create a realism never before seen on television.
Hutzel’s team there would earn seven more Emmy nominations, and two wins. Moore would continue to work with Hutzel from there, first with the broken pilot “Virtuality” (which earned Hutzel another Emmy nod), and later with the “Battlestar” spinoff, “Caprica.”
Hutzel’s final Emmy nominations would come in 2013 for “Defiance” and “Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome.” He would go on to earn 20 nominations in all, with four wins.
Gary Hutzel was born Nov. 4, 1955, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Although he studied mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, according to Memory Alpha, he decided to jump into the motion picture industry in the early 1980s and relocate to California.