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Colin Cantwell

Designer of the Death Star, X-Wing, Y-Wing , Tie Fighter, & More

Designer of the Death Star, X-Wing, Y-Wing , Tie Fighter, & More

Colin’s diverse career began with suggesting that UCLA add an animation major to its curriculum. As a result, Colin then became UCLA’s first animation graduate.

In addition to a fascination with outer space, Colin had an intense interest in architecture. Without an invitation, he went to Taliesin hoping to be accepted by Frank Lloyd Wright into his architectural school. After viewing Colin’s building designs, Wright said he was admitted and for Colin, there was no waiting list. Before Colin could return to Taliesin with his tuition, Frank Lloyd Wright had passed away. Wright was the only architect that interested Colin as a mentor, so his architectural career ended with Wright’s death.

His interest in space led him to working with JPL and NASA. While there, he was in charge of developing graphic and written information for the purpose of educating the public about the first unmanned space explorations. This evolved into Colin working on several space films including, “Buck Rogers” and “Close Encounters of a Third Kind”. It also led to his writing, directing and designing “Journey to the Outer Planets”, the first presentation at the Omnimax Dome Theater in San Diego, California.

One of his major film contributions was working with Stanley Kubrick on the famous “2001, A Space Odyssey”. During the last few months of the film, the graphics were only partially complete and the film was in jeopardy of becoming behind schedule. Colin took over the management and design of many of the space scenes. He and Kubrick became friends and during one night at Kubrick’s house, Stanley mentioned that he had fired his fourth composer. Also at that time, Stanley had intended to start the film with a 20 minute discussion involving people seated at a conference table. Colin saw the potential in this movie and suggested that Kubrick dispense with the conference room beginning and instead create a more dramatic opening including incorporating the now famous theme “Also sprach Zarathustra”. Many of the films other musical scores (not including Blue Danube Waltz) were also Colin’s ideas.

Colin’s other memorable contributions included being known as the Hal 9000 computer when he was seated in the CBS television studio behind Walter Cronkite during the July 20 1969 Apollo 11 first landing on the moon. As Hal 9000, Colin was in direct communication with NASA during the moon landing and conveyed a blow by blow description of the landing to Walter who in return broadcast this information via television to the world.

In addition to his involvement with the design of the space ships in the original “Star Wars” movie, Colin was also instrumental in the completion of, “War Games”. During the filming of this movie, he used Hewlett Packard monitors to develop the graphics that appeared on the screens in the war room as the Earth was being threatened by the renegade WOPR computer.

In later years, Colin departed from his movie career and designed a software product that took Hewlett Packard from having 8 colors of computer graphics (including black and white) and instead expanded Hewlett Packard’s capacity into 5000 fill colors.

Throughout his life and up until today, Colin has been passionately interested in studying and postulating theories related to quantum physics. Way ahead of current science, many of his early conjectures have now been proven to be viable. Colin continues this interest today and at some point, plans on making some of his theories public.

Additionally, he has written a two book series, “CoreFires 1” and “CoreFires 2”, which, of course, are science fiction adventures set in outer space.

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