Honours Degree in Zoology, Oxford University (1964)
Born 30th January 1942. Married with two grown-up children. His professor, Sir Alister Hardy, was both his lecturer in marine biology and his lifelong inspiration.
From 1964 - 66, Peter Parks was a tutor in biological illustration for the Zoology Department at Oxford University and for seven years, up till 1970, was also the Natural History Artist for the Illustrated London News. A fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, he won the Kodak Research Award in 1968 for the development of the Dark Field Optical Bench. In 1968, he co-founded Oxford Scientific Films (OSF). At OSF he was Chief Designer of Special Effects and cine-photomicrographic equipment and techniques, and marine assignments. Peter Parks is a specialist in marine biology and has been leader of some 25 major marine biological film expeditions since 1966. In total, he has spent well over two years on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and even more time in mid Atlantic, on the island of Nonsuch, off the coast of Bermuda. Other expeditions include Arctic Norway, two deep-sea projects in Mid-Atlantic, Jamaica, Florida Everglades, Isle Royale, in Lake Superior, and South Australia.
In 1981, Peter won the John Grierson Award for Technical Achievement from S.M.P.T.E. and in the same year was also awarded a Technical Achievement Award from the American Academy of Motion Pictures, for the development of the Microzoom Optical Bench and its application to marine biology and visual effects. In 1982, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the BKSTS. In November 1986, he won a second Technical Achievement Award from the Academy for Live Aerial Image Compositing — the first award applied to IMAX large format technology. He supervised galactic and Macro-special effects sequences for Superman, Superman 2, Return to Oz, Excalibur, Emerald Forest, Supergirl, Saturn III, Alien, Little Shop of Horrors, Imax production On the Wing, Leonard VI, Pulse, Deepstar VI, Solar Crisis and Toshiba's Flying Dream.
In 1990, he left OSF to form his own Company, IMAGE QUEST 3-D, specializing in large format production, research and development. In 1996 he completed a 15/70 macro/micro 3-D show reel which is considered by the industry to be a technical breakthrough.
In 1992, Peter Parks was invited to Full Membership of the British Society of Cinematographers – an honorary post.
For documentary films since 1968 he has won the Italia Prize the Chicago Golden Camera Award, The Columbus Award and, jointly, The Bafta Emmy. He has directed sequences for many Imax/Omnimax films since 1991, most notably extensive contributions to “ The Secret of Life on Earth” for the Korean Expo 1993, Sony’s “Wings of Courage (3-D)”, “Cosmic Voyage” for The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and in 1998, WGBH Nova’s “Island of the Sharks”, “Solarmax” and “Life in the Balance” for Bayley Silleck and the New York Natural History Museum.
October 1994 saw Peter Parks and Dr. Roger Payne, of Whale-song fame, join in partnership to promote Oceanographic film origination. August 1996 realised IQ3-D's dream of joining forces with Bermudan Aquarium, Museum and Zoo to establish the first-ever mid-Atlantic film studio, in its own premises, specialising in all formats of 2-D and 3-D marine image origination, both filmic and stills, living in William Beebe's old quarters on Nonsuch Island. These, and recent large format projects, continually contribute to the library of cutting edge 3- D imagery of oceanographic life, accruing at Image Quest 3-D, under the collection title, Image Quest Marine. A terrestrial library of equivalent size is in development.
Image Quest's 3-D display technology and theatre technology is currently finding widely applauded application in such venues. Large scale exhibits have been commissioned by Norwalk Museum, Plymouth Marine Aquarium and Bristol Wild Screen.
In 2002, Peter completed a Lizard Island marine exhibit for the Australian Museum. A smaller version of a similar exhibit opened to the public in a U.K. Art Gallery.
Spring 2003 saw a most successful marine photographic expedition to Bermuda, during which three species of Atlantic surface drifters, new to science, were recorded.
In 2003-4 Image Quest 3-D successfully completed, with partners, Principal Large Format Films, a technically groundbreaking 3-D Imax film on Insects - called, "BUGS 3-D". Peter designed and engineered the advanced snorkel optical systems used, and also directed specialist filming. In May 2003, this film won "Best Large Format Film" in Los Angeles, against fierce competition. The technology was the subject of another Academy Technical Award application.
The same month, commercial work for Tiffany's, in New York, was directed by Peter.
At the September 2003 GSTA awards ceremony in Glasgow, a Special Achievement in Film award was won for the design, construction and filmic use of four, 3-D Snorkel, Wide-angle and Macro-Micro Camera Heads on "BUGS" and for the development work, in preceding years, that led to those systems. The film also won the “Best Cinematography award” and “Best Distribution award”.
In August 2003, he applied to the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for consideration of this same development, for a Technical Achievement Award. In September he was shortlisted and in December was honoured, by the Academy, with a full Oscar, the ‘Gordon E. Sawyer Award', given to "an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry".
In 2005, Peter and Image Quest contributed a large amount of ground breaking imagery to Darren Aronovsky's film: "The Fountain", featuring Rachel Weiss and Hugh Jackman.
In 2007, Peter and his wife, Suzi decided that with imminent retirement, they would move to Cornwall, on the western tip of which they had met nearly fifty years earlier. Accordingly, thirty tons of machine tools were shipped to premises between Truro and St. Austell, while ten tons of film equipment was shipped to Falmouth University College of Art. It still remained for twenty tons of precious and unique filming, optical and engineering equipment to be rehoused in the new home. Two years later everything was re-assembled and re-housed within the rural property, not far from the famous Eden project, with which Peter now has a strong working relationship, having been invited by Sir Tim Smit, the founder, to join Eden's China development team, which, it was announced in September 2015 has just been green lit for commencement.
In 2009, Peter was honoured by Her Majesty the Queen with an OBE for services to Wild Life Filming.
In 2010, Peter was asked to contribute extraordinary new imagery to Terry Malick's film: "Tree of Life", starring Brad Pitt. Some of Peter's work, shot thirty years earlier, on the Great Barrier Reef, was also incorporated into this Palm D'Or winning film.
2011, Peter began research and development on no less than four new-concept, 3-D optical camera heads. In conjunction with his close Australian colleagues in a new company, GBO, he submitted provisional patent applications for eventual international patenting, before designing, testing, engineering and completion.
In August 2014, Peter and his son, Chris, now founder of Vision 3 Ltd, were asked to use the new equipments on four, big, successive projects; one, the Imax film, “Bugs II”, titled: "Flight of the Butterflies", two, the BBC’s “Hidden Kingdoms” and “Tiny Giants”, three, Atlantic’s “Kew” series with Sir David Attenborough, and fourthly, and most recently, Atlantic Productions’, “Flight”. This they did with great success through August and September 2011 to year-end, 2014.
In june, 2018, Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project and now the new private owner of Charlestown fishing port south of St. Austell, and featured in Poldark, asked Peter to head up the creative team of marine biologists and specialist film folk, like his son “Toff’ and his old work colleague Chris who his son has just poached, for the permanent but actively researching venue based in the old museum, and to bring the whole edutainment exhibit and display up to world standard.
Concurrently, Toff, Chris and Peter are all heavily involved with a similar but technically very different , Tim Smit led, Eden International, permanent venue project at Portland, Weymouth, utilizing alternative but parallel digital technology for that exhibit
Meanwhile, Peter is nearing completion of his five-book saga of science fiction books entitled,”Umbrij.”
He is adding to the more than two hundred full colour illustrations, and writing a sixth volume. Science fact is mixed with science fiction to present a brave new world in the aftermath of mankind’s ultimate folly. The original five books are also being edited into a series of ninety-nine “Umbrij” childrens’ episodes.