Visual Effects pioneer Ron Thornton has died Nov 21st at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after a short illness. He was 59.
Thornton, a native of London, England, began his entertainment career working for the BBC, creating props and miniatures for shows such as "Dr. Who," and "Blakes 7."
In 1984, Thornton emigrated to the United States where he went on to shoot and create miniatures for films such as "Real Genius", "Commando", "Space Balls," "Critters", and "Robot Jox." In 1987 he began to experiment with consumer level computer hardware to create 3-D computer graphics for pre-visualizing FX shots.
It was mid-1991 when Thornton was approached by the producers of a sci-fi project in development, "Babylon 5." At that time, Thornton had been working with innovative rock music and multimedia artist Todd Rundgren on a short computer-animated film. The work with Rundgren led Thornton to suggest using computers for the effects on "Babylon 5." Thornton created a one-minute video of proposed visual effects for "Babylon 5," which would become instrumental in selling the show to Warner Bros. Television in July, 1992.
Upon pick-up of the new series, Thornton formed Foundation Imaging to continue creating the visuals for "Babylon 5." For four years, Thornton served as Special Effects Designer on "Babylon 5." He then went on to supervise the CG visual effects for many shows, such as "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", "Voyager", & '"Enterprise". Earning three Emmy nominations and one win for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Effects.
He's been recognized as pioneering the major movement away from the expensive, mainframe-based, CGI solutions, to more affordable desktop hardware & software, offering legions of self-taught & hobbyist artists the chance to progress into professional animation & visual effects. Many personally mentored by Ron himself.
He has since worked as an Animation & Visual Effects Supervisor in countries all over the globe, including China, the UK, Austria & back in the US.
He is survived by his wife, Lada.