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Doug Drexler Interview - Future by Design CGI Animator

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Doug Drexler, Computer Animator September, 2006 As a kid, I was smitten by Star Trek and Gene Roddenberrys' vision of the world. It's more an optimistic future where people got it together. And one night I was sitting on the couch, watching Discovery Channel, and there was a, I guess it was Extreme Machines or engineering, or something like that. And here was this guy, this Jacque Fresco guy [laughs], and, here he was talking about the world of tomorrow like I hadn't heard anyone talk about since I was a kid. And it just blew me away. What Jacque was doing, is basically what interested me all along, that I liked about, the optimistic, you know, future. I called him on the phone, and I mean, to know Jacque is to love him. And Roxanne, Roxanne Meadows, they're family to me. We hit it off instantly. I think I flew down to Venus, to see Jacque and Roxanne, within a month. I went down there and it, for anyone who's interested in an optimistic future, it's like Disneyland. You can often meet people and they don't turn out to be everything they're cracked up to be. Or, the passion really isn't there, you've kind of embossed it from a distance, you know. I mean, watching Jacque on television, you could get a larger than life idea of... We all know how you can get a larger than life idea of somebody. And then you meet them and, you know, they're not really everything you hoped. Well, they're the real McCoy, let me tell you. l mean they are the real thing. For me to have gotten involved with Jacque was to have a chance to make a contribution to the world of tomorrow. For a good number of my years on Star Trek I worked in the visual effects department. So, basically, I had this knowhow on computer animation, and I love the models that they make, they're really fantastic, architectural models, but I said, "Hey Jacque and Roxanne, I would love, and I mean I'm not kidding, I would love to take some of these things and turn them into three-dimensional images." The native visual effects program that we used on Star Trek and on Galactica was LightWave 3D. You have a movie studio in a box, and you can create anything, anything you can imagine. And you can make as real as you want, depending on how much time you have. As much as I love working on the science fiction shows, and I said it to Jacque and Roxanne, If I had an oportunity to work with them, on whether it be a real life project or TV show, or something about what it is they're dreaming, I would, I think I would go there, I'd run there to help them, and to be a part of it. To help iluminate the world of tomorrow is for me, and I don't know why, it's the biggest role there is. And when you're doing it for something that you believe in, like Jacque and Roxanne's ideas, it's just kick ass, you know, there's nothing like it. And it's also because I know the effect that it has on people, from my years and years working on Star Trek, that you can change people's lives. I know it sounds silly but it's really true. They could see something, like Jacque and his cities, his self-erecting buildings and stuff, and say, "I want to be an engineer. I want to be a scientist," or "It's cool to be smart," you know. To be a part of that, I know that that is what is going to make or break tomorrow, how kids feel about that. When I worked on Star Trek, over 18 years, I met astronauts and scientists and Stephen Hawking [laughs], the guys who drove the rovers around mars, all came to visit Star Trek and said in no uncertain terms that was Star Trek that made them want to be a scientist, or an explorer, or an astronaut, or even Stephen Hawking wanted to sit in the captain's chair. For me I realize that at times I felt like we were doing something frivolous doing science fiction, but I saw that it had a profound impact on people. It's kind of an epiphany really, to realize that you can have a profound impact, even though you're working on something that some people think is kid stuff. Jacque has ideas and plans of a different way that the world would work. And sometimes when people see that, they're a little taken back because it seems too fanciful. But, maybe it isn't. The thing is if you don't dream about it, you're not going to do it. Jacque provides the dream and to meet him is to, it really gives you a lot of faith. He's kind of a twenty first century Moses, you know, lead his people well. He's a citizen of the human race. You know, he's not american, and he's not an english man, he's not a french man, he's a human being. We'd go for walks out on their reclaimed area, that they turned back into, basically it's almost like primal forest. I can barely keep up with this guy! You know I'm like "Jacque, slow down!" We'd go back to his house and we'd go through sketches and drawings and he'd talk about his ideas. You know, nothing he does, no matter how fanciful it looks, it's not frivolous. He has a plan for everything, there's a reason for everything. All you've got to do is, you know, wind him up and let him go, he will just pour ideas out at a rate that is unbelievable. He knows how everything works, he will draw you sketches, he will make you models. Everytime I did an animation, he sent me reams of sketches. Think about it, a ninety year old man, and he can't stop thinking about the world of tomorrow. It's all about the world of tomorrow, and it wouldn't matter whether he had one minute more to live, or he had another, he had 300 years more to live, the fire for that is just as bright as can possibly be, and that is what's so inspiring. Jeez, I love going down there, they've got their model shops and their video dome and everything, and you go in there and all those, you know, futuristic ideas and... That is the energy that comes off of those things that will propel us into tomorrow. We all can help make the future a great place, and the idea of a wonderful tomorrow is not naive. When you talk about faith, if you want to have faith, have faith in yourselves, and have faith that we can create a more optimistic tomorrow.

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 13 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: William Gazecki
Director: William Gazecki
Views: 795
Posted by: cdf83 on Jun 7, 2010

In this interview, Doug explains how he met Jacque while a CGI Animator for Star Trek, and why he went on to design these amazing CGI Animations for The Venus Project and, ultimately, Future by Design.

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