Star Fighter

Visual Effects
Model Maker
Other Universal Hartland Visual Effects Projects

The three biggest projects that Universal Hartland did in its short life were Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (feature and 2 seasons of television), Battlestar Galactica/Galactica 1980, and Airport '79, The Concord. Despite a heavy involvement in these big projects, Universal Hartland managed to squeeze in a number of smaller projects.

Universal Hartland also worked on overflow opticals from Universal Title. I do not have record of all the overflow opticals and matte painting that Universal Hartland provided.

Hartland Credits


Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Airport '79, the Concord
Cheach and Chong's Next Movie
Get Smart, the Nude Bomb
Flash Gordon

Battlestar Galactica
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Galactica 1980
Sheriff Lobo
forgot name of UFO thing
Other projects:

Countless overflow opticals from Universal Title.
comemrcials (Laker Airlines)
Space Shuttle simulation for NASA
ABC Motion Pictures
Buck Rogers models for Studio Tour
After the original crew left:

The Thing
Horizon Pavilion (Disney EPCOT)

Kenneth A. Larson worked on some of these smaller projects and others he did not. Those he worked on are noted below. Photos are not available for all of these smaller projects.

Cheach and Chong's Next Movie

Cheach and Chong's Next Movie
Cheach and Chong's Next Movie, 1979.
I never saw this movie, so I can't comment on it beyond saying that we built the model of Bongo Rose. We originally made a bottom that looked UFO-like, then had to rebuilt the bottom to match an electronic amulet that one of the characters wore throughout the movie.

Get Smart, The Nude Bomb

Jena Holman made a matte painting for Get Smart, The Movie. There was a scene where Agent 86 skied up to a cabin and then fell back down the hill or something. The cabin was on a Universal sound stage and the rest of the background was a matte painting. I do not have a photo of this.

Flash Gordon


Sheriff Lobo

This was almost too simple to mention. Ken Larson made a box with a light inside that would simulate a falling star against the backing. There were other small jobs for other Universal Television shows of the time.


The opening sequence of Cosmos, the Carl Sagan Astronomy series for PBS, included a grand fly-through of the galaxy and our solar system. The Universal Hartland Model Shop received the finished planets, then added mounting armatures. Several planets, including Jupiter and the light planet (a planet so developed and populated, the entire surface looked like an aerial shot of Los Angeles) were shot on Hartland stages.

UFO show (I can't remember the name)

The model for this TV movie was finished when it arrived at Universal Hartland. The producers were not happy with the look so several Hartland model makers spent about a week making it look better, then repainted it. It was shot on a Hartland stage. Ken Larson did not work on this model.

Laker Airlines

David Jones took an ordinary model kit and turned it into one of the nicest small aircraft model I have ever seen. He used a newly developed silver tape and it looked like a real shrunken airliner on his model bench. The model was shot on a Hartland stage.

NASA Space Shuttle

Understand that Universal Hartland predated the Space Shuttle. Universal Hartland and Metavision teamed to make a simulation to show the public how the space shuttle worked.

ABC Motion Pictures

Universal Hartland shot a flying logo for ABC Motion Pictures. The letters were made from highly polished faceted jewel like glass crystal. They were glued to a plate of glass. No one knew how to attach them without bubbles or glue showing. Pete Gerard came up with a solution and this logo was shot on a Hartland stage.

Pete Gerard describes the project:

The glass letters making up the A.B.C. Motion Pictures logo were actually custom-made of lead crystal, by a company in Temple City, Ca. Jerry Allen, of the Hartland Model Shop, had done some tests with different adhesives, but all his results were plagued with imperfections, and would never stand close filming. Something totally transparent was needed, and former model supervisor Pete Gerard was called in. He did some more research and discovered an optically clear RTV silicone from G.E. that seemed worthwhile. It wasn't an adhesive, but a clear potting compound, however G.E. experts suggested that, with a clear primer applied to the glass, it might succeed. Succeed it did, and so the sheet of plate glass was prepared and the letter forms glued on.

Following a two day cure, it went up on the motion control framework, and Peter Anderson arranged the camera and lighting setup. The camera started out almost touching one of the letters, mounted at 45 degrees to the lens axis. As the camera tracked back, the mo-co framework slowly moved from 45 degrees to perpendicular to camera, and the whole logo came gradually into frame. Refractions glinting from the facets throughout the move, the whole thing was pronounced a success.

The logo was only used in one feature film, "Young Doctors in Love", a broad medical soap opera spoof. Later the crystal letters were painstakingly removed by Pete Gerard, and re-installed in the lobby of ABC's corporate office in Century City.

Universal Studio Tour

Universal Hartland had the Buck Rogers molds and so Universal Studio Tour decided to include some Buck Rogers models in its now Visual Effects Stage attraction. Two Draconias and four Draconian fighter models were built.

The Thing

Some of the effects for John Carpenter's, The Thing were shot at Universal Hartland. Hartland had been closed for about a year and none of the original crew remained by this time.

Horizon Pavilion (Disney EPCOT)

Shortly after The Thing left the building, Walk Disney Studios rented the facility to begin work on several Visual Effects sequences to be shown at the end of the ride portion of the Horizon Pavilion and the newly opened EPCOT in Florida. By coincidence, some of the original Hartland crew were reunited for this project. This was because by this time, we had gone our separate ways and established ourselves in the world of Visual Effects.

Other Projects

Countless other small project passed through the doors of Hartland, most only touching a few members of the crew and unknown to the rest. To my knowledge, The Horizon Pavilion was the last production to use Universal Hartland. The equipment was scattered, much of the Model Shop and Machine Shop equipment going to Universal Studios Special Effects Department.

Universal Hartland Visual Effects was not spelled with an "e", it was not spelled "Universal Heartland Visual Effects." We did visual effects more than Special Effects, but on occasion, we did do Special Effects also.
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