Designer and filmmaker Robert Stromberg sits at the very pinnacle of Hollywood visual effects work, having won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction for Avatar (with Rick Carter) and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland – two of the top ten highest-grossing films in history. His first film as a director, Maleficent, recently set global box-office records for live-action directorial debut.
Stromberg grew up in Carlsbad, California, the son of horror director and visual effects cameraman William R. Stromberg. The younger Stromberg studied drawing with retired Disney artist Bruce McIntyre while still in elementary school and entered the business as a matte painter in 1987 on such films as Tremors and A Few Good Men.
Stromberg quickly excelled in the exploding field of visual effects and digital production. His over 100 production credits include Addams Family Values, From Dusk Till Dawn, Dragonheart, and Courage Under Fire. He formed his own VFX company Digital Backlot in 1998, where he worked with the cream of Hollywood filmmakers Steven Spielberg (Catch Me If You Can), Steven Soderbergh (Solaris), Martin Scorsese (The Aviator, Shutter Island), and Robert Zemeckis (What Lies Beneath, Cast Away).
Other effects-heavy film credits include Pan’s Labyrinth, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, The Hunger Games, and Life of Pi. On the 2007 historical epic Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, director Peter Weir created the special credit Visual Effects Designer for him, which spanned pre-production, production, and post-production.
Before embarking on Maleficent, he was the production designer on 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful. In addition, Stromberg has won five Emmy Awards: in 1992 for an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation; in 1995 for the Star Trek: Voyager pilot; in 2008 for the HBO miniseries John Adams; and in 2011 and 2012 for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, as well as six Emmy nominations.
Beyond his VFX work and burgeoning directorial career, Stromberg currently develops Virtual Reality projects with some of that industry’s emerging leaders.