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Backstage at the VES Awards

While THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON and WALL-E scored significant victories Saturday night at the VES Awards, VFXWORLD caught up with several of the winners backstage at the Century Plaza Hotel.

WALL-E director Andrew Stanton singled out the growing recognition for vfx in animated features. "The [animation] process may be different, but we have the same kind of effects team at Pixar and they're doing the same work [as their live-action counterparts]," Stanton emphasized.

Speaking of live action, Stanton confirmed that he has not yet settled on a vfx studio to handle JOHN CARTER OF MARS (he is being loaned out to Disney from Pixar). But he admitted that his WALL-E experience has been invaluable for prepping his ambitious adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs sci-fi epic.

In fact, producer Jim Morris, who makes the transition back to live action after WALL-E, said his experience as a former ILM senior exec will certainly come in handy in overseeing a more familiar workflow on JOHN CARTER.

Meanwhile, the Digital Domain compositing team, which took home the prize for THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON -- Benjamin Comes Together, suggested that there are more improvements to come for TRON 2: "We need a better pipeline on the front end for stereo, better data, better tracking, better HDR," said Janelle Croshaw.

And BENJAMIN BUTTON producer Kathleen Kennedy, who, with husband and partner Frank Marshall, grabbed the VES Lifetime Achievement Award, agreed that the future might look different as more virtual and performance capture movies get made like their upcoming TINTIN with Spielberg: "There may be a new workflow and new jobs as we learn a lot from games."

And speaking of Spielberg, last year's Lifetime Award-winner challenged the VES to recognize student contributions, so, lo and behold, on Saturday the VES and Autodesk introduced the first student award, which went to Sandy Widyanata and Courtney Wise. They created their short film, PLASTIC, as a graduation project while studying at the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

In discussing their live-action short concerning the obsession for the perfect body, the filmmakers told VFXWORLD that they used Maya in the creation of 50 photoreal yet seamless vfx shots. Widyanata served as director and visual effects artist. "We are currently writing a feature version of PLASTIC," added producer Wise.

--By VFXWorld and AWN Senior Editor Bill Desowitz