{photo credit Julian Herzog}FMX 2012. (Haus der Wirtschaft, Stuttgart, Germany), 2012

Director and visual effects (VFX) pioneer Douglas Trumball has died of natural causes, February 7, 2022, at the age of 79 in Albany, New York, USA.

His daughter Amy made an announcement of his death of Facebook.

“My dad, Doug Trumbull died last night after a major two year battle with cancer, a brain tumor and a stroke. He was an absolute genius and a wizard and his contributions to the film and special effects industry will live on for decades and beyond. He created the special visual effects for 2001 A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner, Star Trek and The Tree of Life. He directed Silent Running and Brainstorm. My sister Andromeda and I got to see him on Saturday and tell him that he love him and we got to tell him to enjoy and embrace his journey into the Great Beyond.

I love you Daddy, I sure will miss you!

— Amy Trumbull

Every film Trumbull worked on introduced new visual effects techniques that wowed audiences and forever extended the capabilities of every filmmaker that came after, by increasing the palette of what was possible.

Douglas Trumball was a director, a producer, and a special effects artist. He directed and produced the cult classic Silent Running (1972) starring Bruce Dern, as well as creating the visual effects for it. He also directed Brainstorm (1983), and was producer of Harlan Ellison’s TV show Starlost.

Trumbull was the man who designed and executued the special effects for Andromeda Strain (1971), and the Oscar-nominated Tree of Life (2011) . The 1981 film Bladerunner owed its groundbreaking effects to Douglas Trumbull’s design and guiding hand, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture bore his mark as well.

One of Trumbuill’s major contributions to the world of visual effects was the development of of the slit-scan photographic process. It was this new process, in conjunction with motion controlled cameras, that made it possible to produce images of the Discovery in 2001: A Space Odyssey that were in focus front to back, as though the objects were giant and distant, not a 55 feeot long studio model mere feet away from the camera.

Trumbull received the President’s Award from the American Society of Cinematographers in 1996. He also was nominated  visual effects Oscar nominations  his work on Close Encounters (1977), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and Blade Runner (1982). He inspired as many young special effects artists and would-be SPFX experts as the late, great, Ray Harryhausen.

Douglas Trumbull was born April 8, 1942, in Los Angeles, CA. He is survived by two daughters, Amy and Andromeda, and his widow Julia.

We offer our condolences to his family. For his fans, we ask what memories of Douglas Trumbull you have that you might like to share? What were your favorite if his movies? Share with us in the comments section below.


Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress ”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.