6th Annual VES Awards celebrate and honor world`s best

Held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood which is the same venue as the Academy Awards, the 6th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards Night was an unforgettable occasion for all present at the grand ceremony. With more than 22 categories recognizing the world‘s best Visual Effects work across Film, Broadcast, Commercials, Video Games and Animation as well as other platforms and mediums, the Awards function witnessed more than 700 + VFX & Hollywood professionals attending the formal black tie affair which was executed in a very classy round table setting. Making the top scores at the VES Awards were Transformers which got 4 Awards including Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects driven motion picture and Ratatouille which got in 3 Awards including Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a motion picture. Other top scorers at the Awards included Pirates of the Caribbean: At World‘s End and the video game Halo 3 which got in 2 Awards each. Along with the great participation and comprehensive categories, the big big thing this year that added to the scale and aspiration of the event was the presence of one of the world‘s most worshipped directors and film makers, “Steven Spielberg” who was conferred the Life Time achievement Award at the VES ceremony. “The Visual Effects community is my brethren” Steven Spielberg while recieving the Lifetime Award at the VES Awards 2008 The Audience gives a standing ovation as Spielberg is honored Eric Roth, the executive director of VES began the evening sharing with everyone how the past year had been extremely rich for VFX with films like Golden Compass, Transformers, Spiderman, Pirates of the Caribbean, I am Legend, 300, Ratatouille and Surf‘s Up besides some equally great VFX work in broadcast, games and commercials. Roth shared, “We are entering a digital revolution. Everyone knows its happening, everyone sees it happening and everyone sees it coming, but everyone‘s asking, How does it affect me? How does it affect my business model? It is kind of like 1927 when Sound came into the movies or like the 40s and 50s when Television came in. There are questions that arise.. Should we shoot on location or should we shoot our own 300 and work with a blue-screen? Should we use Mo Cap? We are also wondering, “How can we respond to what the studios want and deliver a show that‘s fantastic, on time and looks great and still make a profit? Mark my words, in 5 to 10 years, the entire entertainment industry is going to look very different from what it does now. Very simply, you probably won‘t be seeing the hundreds of compositors, match mover and roto guys, technology will eliminate many of these positions. Also we will see use of complete digital formats. When you think about it, when that happens and it will, how will make those decisions, the actor, the studio? Change is coming.” “Luckily VES is in a position to tackle this, for our 1600 members across 17 countries are at the forefront of this revolution and our members understand technology and how it intersects with art and business. Our members have the talent, the experience, the knowledge to understand how these issues play out, unfortunately though we have not done such a great job of educating everyone else in the industry because they think we are just a bunch of glorified button pushing techies and well that‘s not the reality, the truth in that is although we are technical geeks, we are true artists who understand and influence creative decision making” he added. Interestingly there are some things common to the VFX community everywhere for example the need to increase awareness amongst the film making professionals about the role of VFX professionals within the value chain. Making a call to action, Roth stated “So what do we need to do, “First and foremost we need to step up ourselves and educate art directors, cinematographers, directors, producers so they know how we really are and what we really do. Our future is now” The great thing about the VFX or animation community is that it speaks the same language all across the world and one instantly feels at home in the community be it in India or in this case Hollywood. The great Steven Spielberg on receiving his life time award shared the same thoughts in the press room. “You must be winning so many awards” he was asked, “How are these any different?” to which the film maker‘s simple retort was, “This group here, this visual effects community are my brethren, they make our imagination come alive” Giving his acceptance speech, Spielberg said “I have always said that we imagine for a living, and it can be truly said that this group of people here today really dreams for a living and thank God for that.” he began. He reminicised about the time when he did his first VFX shot when only 13. “I did my first effects shot when I was a little kid of around 13 years old, and that‘s how it all begins, I wanted to do a movie about UFOs and I remember taking a black poster board and taking a pin and just stabbing holes in the board all day long. There were thousands of holes and I took a camera, kept it locked and I shot the poster board, moving it really slowly. Then I rewound the film and took this little plastic spaceship which I had bought from the store, and I hung it with shoestrings which were black so that they didn‘t show up and I just shot the spaceship doing nothing but standing in the frame. Two and a half weeks later, coz those days it took that long for the processing, it was sent back to my house from Los Angeles California where I had sent it for printing. The little box said Technicolor and that was the most exciting thing, to see a Technicolor symbol on a yellow small box of 8 millimeter film that had landed in my mailbox. I used to check the mailbox daily anticipating when the film would come and then I projected that film on the wall and it was the first time I got to see a special effect that I did. In my bedroom, on a Saturday and I was just kind of thinking, well, that‘s a start.” “The idea is that how it all starts, and even in this digital era, it still all starts that way because somebody has a dream.” he added. Being very magnanimous to the Visual Effects Community he further shared “And you all know that we have dreams, the directors, the writers… And sometimes we come with a dream with a picture frame around it but probably it still isn‘t focused, it‘s just an idea, “Wouldn‘t it be cool if you do something like this?” and you are guiding yourselves correctly because you are the ones who fill in the colors and bring our dreams into focus by showing us what could be done and it is an amazing collaboration that film makers have with the group in this room. It‘s a collaboration that has resulted in some of the most amazing motion picture images that the world has ever seen. And I cannot wait to watch what‘s coming next, when I saw this VES clip shown earlier with all the television shows, video games, It just makes me think that it is a glorious time to be alive, its a glorious time to be expressing ourselves in a way that no longer is impossible because the dreams that we have can be brought to screen,” he shared adding with a smile, ” only that sometimes, it costs a lot of money.” Indian VFX stalwart N Madhusudhanan with Spielberg Jeff Barnes, Dennis Muren, Steven Spielberg and Eric Roth Urging the VES to also have a student focus to the awards and otherwise, Spielberg shared, “Ill wrap up by saying something based on the great coverage that VES does with commercials, video games, and all aspects of television and motion pictures, its great and there are amazing artists, but I like you am seeing a lot of amazing work being today on the internet. We are seeing amazing garage and backyard special effects being done by all those that you will be hiring someday very soon. I would love to see a student award here. It should be a window to see for what is to come in the future generations.” The ceremony also had the presence of VFX Greats like Dennis Muren (past VES Lifetime Achievement Award recipient), Douglas Trumbull (Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey), John Knoll (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy), Scott Farrar (Transformers) and Mike Fink (The Golden Compass) Upon winning the Outstanding Visual Effects in a VFX driven motion picture category, ILM Visual Effects Supervisor on Transformers Scott Farrar shared with AnimationXpress.com, “Our crew is thrilled that the Transformers work was so well received. The advancements that were made in lighting and rendering coupled with the new techniques we developed to control the complex animation that the show demanded are a testament to the ingenuity and artistic talent of those involved. I couldn‘t be more pleased.” Pixar‘s Apurva Shah who along with colleagues Michael Fong, Michael Foo and Christine Waggoner went on stage to collect their Award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture shared with AnimationXpress.com, “Increasingly the lines between live action photorealism, stylized realism and animation are being blurred away by creative story-telling which create some exciting opportunities for visual effects. In that spirit, I am very excited that Ratatouille won the award for best supporting visual effects in a motion picture — a category open to all films not just animation. It‘s the first time that an animated film has been nominated in this category and then to win the award was just icing on the cake. This combined with the best effects and best character in an animated film rounded out a very good showing for us at the award ceremony.”

connect@animationxpress.com