Andrew Probert has been one of the most prolific artists and designers in the Science-Fiction universe for the past 30 years. His best known work is the re-designing of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise for Star Trek The Motion Picture (Robert Wise), as well as the U.S.S. Enterprise-D for the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Delorean time machine prominently featured in Back to the Future.
While still at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, his first work in the film and TV industry was on Producer Glen A. Larson’s 1978 ABC miniseries Battlestar Galactica, for which he was recommended by artist Ralph McQuarrie (Star Wars). For Battlestar Galactica, Andrew Probert designed the iconic Cylon Centurions as well as their Basestar. Show creator Larson wanted the infamous troopers to sport a threatening, skull-like appearance, which Probert expanded upon. Adding Greek mythological overtones to his design, he contributed to the strong visual identity of the characters, who remain fan favorites to this day. Probert also did a matte painting of the landing bay of the Galactica, and built one of the spaceship models seen among the “rag tag fleet” as featured in the pilot movie, and in the opening title sequence of each subsequent episode of the series.
In 1978 he went to work for the visual effects company Robert Abel and Associates working on what was meant to be the brand new Star Trek : Phase II television series. That project eventually became Star Trek: The Motion Picture, on which Andrew Probert worked as a concept designer/illustrator, before joining the new team assembled by effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull. Andrew Probert took part in re-designing the U.S.S. Enterprise which had already been upgraded by Phase II art director, Joe Jennings. The goal of this new refurbishing was to provide a scope and look that would transcend the visual and conceptual constraints of the small screen. In addition to designing the new U.S.S. Enterprise, Andrew was primarily responsible for developing Human and Vulcan technology such as the orbital dry dock, and office complex, travel pods, Work Bee maintenance vehicles, and a two-part Vulcan long range shuttlecraft. His concept for the bridge of the Klingon battlecruiser set the style for all future Klingon ship interiors of the Star Trek saga.
He went on to work for George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, providing some storyboards for Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom. In 1984 he initially storyboarded Robert Zemeckis’s Back to the Future and ended up designing the Delorean time machine initiated by Ron Cobb (also responsible for The Last Starfighter Star Car vehicle). The same year he designed the bike for the pilot episode of short-lived TV series Street Hawk, which was later redesigned for the series by Ron Cobb.
In 1986, he joined Gene Roddenberry’s staff on the brand new TV series, Star Trek: The Next Generation where he was initially hired to design the bridge of the new starship, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D. But based on a speculative U.S.S. Enterprise sketch that Probert had made, the show’s producers entrusted him with the design the starship’s exterior as well. Probert also designed the exteriors of virtually every space vehicle seen in the show’s first season, including the Romulan Warbird and the Ferengi Marauder. He also did some Digital Matte for the show.
His film and television work includes stints on TV show Airwolf (1984), TRON (directed by Steven Lisberger, 1982), The Philadelphia Experiment (directed by Stewart Raffill, 1984), Mask (directed by Peter Bogdanovich, 1985), Space Camp (directed by Harry Winer, 1986), *batteries not included (directed by Matthew Robbins, 1987) and Project X (directed by Jonathan Kaplan, 1987). After joining Walt Disney Imagineering in 1989, he designed various theme park rides and attractions, also entering the video game industry with Spectrum Holobyte, Sega, and Lucid. In 2006 his involvement with Perpetual Entertainment allowed him to return to Star Trek, as a design consultant for their MMOG Star Trek Online.
Andrew Probert is part of the Friends of ScienceFictionArchives.com, and thus supports our mission to preserve iconic Sci-Fi items.
For more information on Andrew Probert and his latest news, please go to his website: www.probertdesigns.com.