Pic nabs 8 awards including actor, character animation


“The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” towered over the competition Wednesday night, winning eight of the nine Visual Effects Society awards for which it was nominated. Among TV entries, “Dinotopia” picked up four awards, the only other multiple winner.
Award program was the first for the 6-year-old org, which comprises about 800 f/x specialists worldwide. Four panels of VES members slogged through dozens of entries in movies, TV, musicvideos and commercials in January to pick nominees in 20 categories. Then, roughly 100 members spent the first weekend in February watching demo reels from 56 noms across all the categories.

Towering triumph

The resulting selections were an overwhelming endorsement of the work by New Zealand-based house Weta on “The Two Towers.” Their only loss in nine categories was matte painting in a motion picture, nabbed by Industrial Light & Magic for “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.”

“Towers” rung up wins for special effects, effects art direction, visual effects photography, models and miniatures, performance by an actor in an effects film, character animation in a live-action motion picture, compositing and visual effects in an effects-driven motion picture. In most cases, it beat out ILM.

“I’m blown away,” said “Towers” f/x producer Dean Wright, who traveled with effects supervisor Jim Rygiel and models and miniatures specialist Paul Van Ommen from New Zealand to attend the event.

Rygiel, who won an Oscar for the first “Rings” movie and is nominated for the second, said he was stunned when he and others at Weta, which created most of the film’s f/x, had been notified of its nominations. He was named with Weta’s Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook and Alex Funke for the visual effects in an effects-driven picture.

But, Rygiel insisted, “if we didn’t win a single award, I am so proud of this film. The rest is sort of meaningless to me. It’s all about the work.”

Wright quickly chimed in, “That being said, it’s a fantastic honor, and we can’t thank our peers enough.”

Taking spotlight

The two, and others, said they particularly appreciate that the VES kudos honor so many different slices of their industry, so that professionals in different corners of the fast-expanding effects business could have a chance to be honored for their work.

No one from Framestore CFC was present to pick up the awards the London-based house received for work on the “Dinotopia” mini and TV series. “Dinotopia” lumbered to wins for visual effects, character animation, matte painting and compositing.

Other winning projects include the following:

“Stuart Little 2,” and Sony’s Imageworks unit, for character animation in an animated motion picture.

“The Sum of All Fears,” whose work was lead by Rhythm & Hues, for supporting visual effects in a motion picture.

“Firefly” pilot episode “Serenity,” for visual effects in a series.

“Enterprise” episode “Dead Stop,” for models and miniatures in a televised program, musicvideo or commercial.

The Xbox “Mosquito” ad for visual effects in a commercial.

The Adidas “Mechanical Legs” ad for effects art direction in a televised program, musicvideo or commercial.

“So to Speak,” by Astropolitan Pictures, for visual effects in a musicvideo.