ByBrooke Geller, writer at
Awkward nerd, aspiring shieldmaiden and friend to all doggos.
Brooke Geller

After watching Kong: Skull Island, it's clear to see why the visual effects team was so huge. From giant, moss-covered water buffalo to those fast-paced action sequences, Kong is a veritable feast for the eyes.

Interestingly, there was one member of the visual effects crew whose name was mentioned in the film's end credits, but surprisingly omitted from the IMDb page: John Dykstra.

Who Is John Dykstra?

[Credit: Chloe Dykstra Instagram]
[Credit: Chloe Dykstra Instagram]

John Dykstra is a dog lover, Oscar-winner and veritable industry legend. As well as serving as Additional Visual Effects Supervisor on Kong: Skull Island, he's worked on a ridiculous amount of sci-fi classics— from the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica to X-Men: Apocalypse.

But before all that, Dykstra first launched his brilliant career in a galaxy far, far away.

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'Star Wars: A New Hope'

A New Hope [Credit: Lucasfilm]
A New Hope [Credit: Lucasfilm]

George Lucas appointed Dykstra head of the special effects team for A New Hope way back in 1975. Dykstra's team made some stellar advancements in special effects technology for the time, which allowed the first film of the Star Wars franchise to gain a reputation for cutting-edge effects that continue to impress today.

The team's most iconic invention would have to be the Dykstraflex, a camera system that captured the seamless flight of the film's spaceships— including the Millennium Falcon.

A New Hope [Credit: Lucasfilm]
A New Hope [Credit: Lucasfilm]

In an interview with Creative Cow, Dykstra spoke about Lucas' concern that their method wasn't producing enough tangible results to satisfy the director's expectations:

"There may have been a disconnect between us. I don't think George realized I would invent a system. He didn't expect an entire facility to be designed. I think he wanted us to be ingenious with existing technology. He was in London shooting while we were developing what ended up being some groundbreaking technologies. We were designing and building optical printers, cameras, and miniatures; as a result, the process didn't produce a lot of film at first."

Dykstra and his team went on to win two Academy Awards for their efforts on A New Hope. Unfortunately, issues between Dykstra and Lucas became too much, and his Star Wars days came to an abrupt end.

Life After Lucas

Fortunately, Dykstra's dismissal from Lucas' special effects company didn't signal an early death for his budding career. He soon went to work on the special effects for Battlestar Galactica's pilot episode, then jumped on board as photographic effects supervisor for the very first Stark Trek film.

After nearly 20 years working on predominantly sci-fi titles — including Clint Eastwood's Firefox — Dykstra began his foray into the superhero genre with Batman & Robin, Batman Forever, Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2— the former of which earned him yet another Oscar. He even served as senior visual effects supervisor on the nineties animated classic Stuart Little.

Stuart Little [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
Stuart Little [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

In more recent, years, Dykstra's kept one foot firmly in the world of comic book movies— he was the visual effects designer for both X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse. He even immersed himself in the bloody world of Quentin Tarantino with Inglourious Basterds and The Hateful Eight.

Considering his work as additional visual effects designer for the Godzilla reboot in 2014 — the same year he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Visual Effects Society — it's no wonder he was kept on for Kong: Skull Island.

Like Father, Like Daughter

[Credit: Chloe Dykstra Twitter]
[Credit: Chloe Dykstra Twitter]

Dykstra's daughter, Chloe, could probably be best described as a professional nerd. A keen cosplay enthusiast, she hosted the Nerdist cosplay segment Just Cos and starred in Syfy's reality TV show Heroes of Cosplay. When she's not cosplaying, she's pursuing various acting roles— she even had a small part in Spider-Man 2. Then again, this is all hardly surprising considering she was raised by one of the biggest figures in the sci-fi genre.

Love visual effects? Check out these classic VFX moments:

(Source: Creative Cow)


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