Backstage at the Oscars® with Brave, Paperman and Life of Pi
Speaking of tricks up his sleeve, I asked Kahrs about his experimental approach, which he hopes to leverage into a feature someday: "We took the kind of old 2D animation and the newer CG animation and put them together in a way that I think hasn't been seen before. But I think what we did is take the drawn line and the expressiveness and the hand of the artist and bring it into the 21st century. So I'm really gratified by this and the acceptance of the audience to really look at that technique and that way of seeing animation and just letting the story kind of wash over them. So, yeah, I do believe that there are different ways that animation can look, and this is one of those ways."
Meanwhile, Life of Pi took the VFX award as expected for Rhythm & Hues and MPC, validating the brilliantly animated Richard Parker and the liquid gold virtual environment and turbulent storms at sea. But ironically, it also put the spotlight on the ailing industry and the bankrupt R&H. In fact, amid protests by VFX artists outside, it was the perfect opportunity for Bill Westenhofer to address these concerns. Unfortunately, he was cut off at the end of his acceptance speech, but he finished his remarks backstage.
"What I was trying to say up there is that it's at a time when visual effects movies are dominating the box office, that visual effects companies are struggling," Westenhofer suggested."And I wanted to point out that we aren't technicians. Visual effects is not just a commodity that's being done by people pushing buttons. We're artists, and if we don't find a way to fix the business model, we start to lose the artistry. If anything, Life of Pi shows that we're artists and not just technicians."
I followed-up with Westenhofer about his concerns regarding the future of R&H: "It was a place that really catered to the artist and supported them really well. It is a concern. We're hopeful that we can pull through the bankruptcy, but it's a concern in all of our minds that the culture is preserved. As long as the key people are maintained in that environment, I think it will carry on."
Bill Desowitz is former senior editor of AWN and VFXWorld, the owner of Immersed in Movies (www.billdesowitz.com), a columnist for Thompson on Hollywood at Indiewire and author of James Bond Unmasked (www.jamesbondunmasked.com), which chronicles the 50-year evolution of 007 on screen, featuring interviews with all six actors.