Bill Taylor, VFX Artist on ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Fast and the Furious’ and ‘Bourne Identity,’ Dies at 77


Bill Taylor, the veteran visual effects artist who worked on films including Blade RunnerThe Fast and the Furious and The Bourne Identity, has died. He was 77.

The Visual Effects Society, of which Taylor was a founding member, announced his death. No details were revealed.

“Bill was a wonderful, giving colleague, and I was honored to know him,” VES chair Lisa Cooke said in a statement. “He was a special talent with an astonishing career and made exceptional contributions to visual effects and filmed entertainment. Bill left an indelible mark on the industry, our Society and everyone he touched. His generous spirit will be greatly missed.”

In 1982, Taylor received a technical achievement award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the concept and specifications for a two-format, rotating-head, aerial-image optical printer, and in 2013, he was presented with the John A. Bonner Medal from the Academy for his “outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards” of the organization.

In 1985, Taylor won an Emmy for his effects work on the 1985 miniseries A.D., then landed two nominations for Star Trek: The Next Generation six years later.

A native of Philadelphia, Taylor created optical effects for John Carpenter’s Dark Star (1974) — the director had been shooting a student film on Taylor’s doorstep when they first met, he said. He went on to perform matte photography on a number of movies, from Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot (1976) and the Gregory Peck-starring MacArthur (1977) to John Landis’ The Blues Brothers (1980) and Paul Schrader’s Cat People (1982).

In 1983, Taylor co-founded Illusion Arts with fellow VFX artist Syd Dutton. The company, which emerged from the Universal Pictures matte department, would provide effects for more than 200 films before shutting down in 2009.

Taylor’s big-screen résumé also included The Karate Kid Part II (1986), Spaceballs (1987), Coming to America (1988), Chaplin (1992), The Age of Innocence (1993), A Walk in the Clouds (1995), Batman Forever (1995), Finding Forrester (2000), Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), Bruce Almighty (2003), The Notebook (2004), Milk (2008) and Rambo (2008).

A founding co-chair with Ray Freeney of the Academy’s Science and Technology Council and a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, Taylor also co-authored material on blue-screen and green-screen compositing for ASC and VES handbooks.

“Bill Taylor was an amazing human being, an extremely talented cinematographer, a wonderful friend and probably the most generous person I have ever met,” veteran VFX supervisor Jeffrey A. Okun said. “He shot for me on several films, and when he owned Illusion Arts with Syd Dutton, he was a geyser of wisdom, advice, guidance and good times.

“Every time I saw Bill, he would try out a new magic trick on me — and, being a fellow magician — still would not share the secrets with me. He will be sorely missed from our world, which is now a much sadder place.”

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