Sunday, January 24, 2010

Oscar Nazi Award nominations: Visual Effects

Last year we were fortunate enough to have three FX nominees that were actually all good movies. The trend continues with this year's Oscar Nazi Award nominees for Best Visual Effects (to save space, I usually credit one special FX supervisor, one visual FX supervisor, one animator, and one stunt coordinator, just to remind myself that effects aren't just about all that digital gobblety-gook).

Avatar
(Joe Letteri, Steve Ingram, Richard Baneham, Garrett Warren)
A shitload of time and energy went into this film, and that may be the understatement of the year. The whole movie is nothing but FX shots, but they never get in the way of the storytelling. Eventually we simply forget that everything is an effect and just buy into the illusion. Check out this nifty featurette on the film's revolutionary performance-capture technology.

District 9
(Matt Aitken, Max Poolman, Chris Derochie, Grant Hulley)
The cinema verite style employed in this sci-fi relies heavy on the believability of the FX, and I must say they pulled it off incredibly well. The prawns look terrific and are seamlessly integrated into the real environments. In any other year, this would have won. Check out this brief featurette on the lighting of CG models.

Where the Wild Things Are
(Daniel Jeanette, Peter Stubbs, Dave Elsey, Darren Prescott)
A deft combination of mechanical/stage FX, animatronics, and facial animation is crucial in giving this film its identity. Pure CG wild things would have ruined it, but the interaction between Max and his fearsome friends feels real because it is real. It's a shame that the Academy has already snubbed this movie's beautifully subtle FX.

Just missed: Star Trek, Coraline, Harry Potter, Transformers.

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