Greg Jein
Gregory Jein

(1945-10-31)31 October 1945
Died22 May 2022(2022-05-22) (aged 76)
Known forClose Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek

Greg Jein (born October 31, 1945, in Los Angeles, US;[1] died May 22, 2022, in Los Angeles[2]) was a Chinese American[3] model designer who created miniatures for use in the special effects portions of many films and television series, beginning in the 1970s. Jein was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for his work on the films Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and 1941 (1979),[4] and also nominated for an Outstanding Special Visual Effects Emmy for his work on Angels in America.[5]

Jein was a graduate of Dorsey High School in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, and of California State University, Los Angeles.[6]


One of Jein's first jobs was building models for the sex comedy spoof Flesh Gordon; this was followed by work on a number of television series, commercials and movies including Wonder Woman and The UFO Incident.[7] In 1975 he was contacted by Douglas Trumbull's office and asked to do some work on Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.[7] For that film Jein contributed a number of models including miniature landscapes for UFOs to fly over, but most significantly he and his crew built the detailed mothership model that features heavily in the final sequence of the film after Spielberg decided he wanted "a more flamboyant design".[7] For their work Jein, Trumbull, Roy Arbogast, Matthew Yuricich, and Richard Yuricich were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 50th Academy Awards, but lost to the team who produced the effects for Star Wars.[7] Jein then went on to work on Spielberg's next film, 1941, where he and his team constructed a number of models including a twelve-foot model of the Ferris wheel that's dislodged from its mount and rolls down the pier and into the water.[7] For their work on 1941 Jein, William A. Fraker and A. D. Flowers were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 52nd Academy Awards but lost this time to the team who provided the effects for Ridley Scott's Alien.[8]

After working on 1941, Jein was invited by Douglas Trumbull to work on Star Trek: The Motion Picture building planetary models for Spock's spacewalk scene and the interior of the V'Ger craft.[7] Jein continued his association with Star Trek through a number of the movies, building alien weapons for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Starfleet helmets for the assassination scene in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.[9] In 1986 he and a team at Industrial Light & Magic built the original six-foot model of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) designed by Andrew Probert for the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation.[10] He would go on to build a number of models for The Next Generation including the Ferengi Marauder starship (also designed by Andrew Probert) during the first season of the show,[11] and the Klingon Vor'cha (designed by Rick Sternbach) for the fourth season.[12]


  1. ^ "Gregory Jein". California Birth Index. Retrieved 2022-07-01.
  2. ^ "Gregory Jein, 'Star Trek' Model Maker and Two-Time Oscar Nominee, Dies at 76". Hollywood Reporter. June 29, 2022. Retrieved 2022-07-01.
  3. ^ Mandell, Paul (February 1979). "The Magical Techniques of Movie & TV". Starlog Magazine. No. 19. Norman Jacobs/Kerry O'Quinn. p. 63. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  4. ^ "1978 - - Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  5. ^ "Greg Jein - Emmy Awards, Nominations and Wins - Television Academy". Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  6. ^ "Greg Jein obituary". Los Angeles Times. Jul 10, 2022. The LA native spent most of his life in the Crenshaw district, maintaining lifelong friendships with fellow students from Audubon Junior High and Dorsey High School. He was an Alumni of Cal State Los Angeles.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Munson, Brad (August 1980). "Greg Jein - Miniature Giant". Cinefex. California: Don Shay.
  8. ^ "1980 - - Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  9. ^ Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (1995). The Art of Star Trek. Pocket Books. ISBN 9780671017767.
  10. ^ Larry Lemecek (1995). The Star Trek The Next Generation Companion. Pocket Books. ISBN 9780671883409.
  12. ^ Okuda, Michael; Okuda, Denise; Mirek, Debbie (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia.

Further reading