Designer Colin Cantwell "star Wars" Spaceship and Death Star dies at 90

entertainment auction house Julien’s Auction He once described Colin Cantwell as a “lost link.” “star Wars” history. Even the concept artist’s longtime partner, who died Saturday at the age of 90, was unaware of his attachment to the design of “Star Wars” and other classic films like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Close”. ‘Third Encounter’ and ‘Wargame’ are scientific disciplines until the landlord of a Boulder, Colorado apartment is forcibly emptying a basement filled with pictures, slides, models and scripts, a treasure trove of science fiction films.

In 1974, George Lucas asked Cantwell, a UCLA film school graduate who created the animated graphics for “2001”, to sketch a design based on a draft war scenario in a galaxy far, far away. Cantwell created drawings for spacecraft and vehicles, including X-Wing and Y-Wing fighters, TIE fighters, Imperial Star Destroyer, Death Star, Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder, T-16 Skyhopper, Jawas’ sandcrawler and the original Millennium Falcon. (You will eventually become a blockade runner for the rebels).

artist Ralph Macquarie He reflected on these designs when he created the lush paintings that persuaded 20th Century Fox to fund Lucas’s cosmic epic.

Some of Colin Cantwell’s concepts for a “Star Wars” vehicle.

Colin Cantwell/Julien’s Auction

Cantwell also built prototypes of the spacecraft by attacking plastic models as kits, including parts of drag racing cars. (Luke Skywalker can be seen playing with one of Cantwell’s models at his Tattooine farmhouse.)

In fact, problems encountered while working on the frame of his Death Star prototype gave Cantwell the idea that led to the film’s dramatic climax. He explained in a 2016 Reddit post.: “I noticed that the two halves had collapsed at the point where they met in the middle. It would have taken a week just to fill this depression, sand it and refill it. So, to save labor, George proposed a trench, and the idea was so good that he liked the movie. It has become one of the most iconic moments in the

“Star Wars” concept artist Colin Cantwell holds a spaceship prototype model and a photo of the Death Star.

Colin Cantwell

However, Cantwell turned down Lucas’ offer to run Industrial Light & Magic after the release of the first “Star Wars”. Instead, working on imaging and communications for NASA’s lunar and Mars missions and serving as chief analyst for CBS News’ Apollo 11 lunar landing, the animator pursued interests ranging from computer science to writing novels.

Born April 3, 1932 in San Francisco, Colin James Cantwell was the son of a graphic artist who worked for CBS. Colin was diagnosed with tuberculosis and partial retinal detachment as a child. As a result, he explained on Reddit. He was locked in a dark room wearing a heavy vest to prevent coughing. “I spent almost two years of my childhood immobilized in this dark room. Needless to say, nothing else has been able to slow me down since then!”

Originally planned to study architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright, Cantwell changed direction after Wright’s death. At UCLA’s Film School, he became the first animation graduate and worked with Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA on communications materials for early space programs.

As animators were introduced late into the production of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001”, Cantwell created scenes created from computer graphics and an animation stand of the sun aligned with a monolith.

In “2001: A Space Odyssey,” an undiscovered monolith on the lunar surface emits a sharp signal when struck by the sun’s rays. Image composed by Colin Cantwell at the Animation Stand.

MGM/Warner Bros.

Cantwell, who was in direct communication with Mission Control when Walter Cronkite broadcast the first manned moon landing live, provided detailed information to a CBS News anchor, including the exact moment the eagle landed in the Sea of ​​Tranquility.

A mutual friend introduced Cantwell to Lucas, and the “American Graffiti” director hired him to design a spaceship. It was a precursor to other film work, including concept art of aliens descending into the Devil’s Tower for Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounter of the Third Kind”. Fighters from the TV series “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”; and graphic displays for the NORAD computer complex from “WarGames”. He also wrote and directed “Voyage to the Outer Planets,” the first Omnimax film about a manned mission in the 24th century.

Colin Cantwell designed the graphic for “WarGames” depicting a computer nuclear attack simulation.


He also developed an interactive motion control system for SFX photography. He designed the first OMNIMAX Dome Theater for the San Diego Hall of Science. He developed the first multicolor computer monitor for Hewlett Packard.

Cantwell also wrote two science fiction novels “Corefires” and “Corefires 2”.

In 2014, his basement cleaning memorabilia earned more than $118,000 at auction. Denver Post reported. Due to late recognition of his prototype “Star Wars” designs (some of which were later resurrected for use in sequels), he attended comic book contests and was welcomed by “Star Wars” fans. He also sold engravings of his work.

His partner Sierra Dall said in recent years Cantwell died of dementia on Saturday.

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