Douglas Trumbull, Visual Effects Wizard, Dies at 79

Douglas Trumbull, Visual Effects Wizard, Dies at 79

The experience led him to detour from Hollywood filmmaking and move to the Berkshires, where he worked on projects for the rest of his life. He developed simulator-based attractions like “Back to the Future: The Ride” for Universal Studios Florida, which opened in 1991, and, using Showscan, created “Secrets of the Luxor Pyramid,” a virtual reality experience featuring three films, at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, in 1993.

In 1994, he signed a deal to bring his simulator-ride technology to Imax. He also served for a time as the company’s vice chairman.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Trumbull is survived by his daughters, Amy Trumbull and Andromeda Stevens; his stepdaughter, Emily Irwin; his stepsons, John Hobart Culleton, Ethan Culleton and John Vidor; nine grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; his sister, Betsy Hardie; his stepsister, Katharine Trumbull Blank; and his half sisters, Kyle Trumbull-Clark and Mimi Erland. His marriage to Cherry Foster ended in divorce; his marriage to Ann Vidor ended with her death.

Mr. Trumbull returned to traditional moviemaking when the director Terrence Malick, a friend, asked him to help on his film “The Tree of Life” (2011). Working as a consultant, Mr. Trumbull helped conjure the kaleidoscopic sequence that depicts the Big Bang and the creation of life on Earth, using chemicals, paint, fluorescent dyes, carbon dioxide, flares, spin dishes, fluid dynamics and high speed photography, he told in 2011.

“It was a freewheeling opportunity to explore, something that I have found extraordinarily hard to get in the movie business,” he said. “We did things like pour milk through a funnel into a narrow trough and shoot it with a high-speed camera and folded lens, lighting it carefully and using a frame rate that would give the right kind of flow characteristics to look cosmic, galactic, huge and epic.”

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