Academy Award nominee Les Ekker has joined Zoic Studios as Creative Director of the commercial division. This position includes directing, on and off set visual effects supervision, visual effects design and mentoring.
Ekker, who went freelance to pursue a multi-faceted experience after his 13-year tenure at Digital Domain, was thrilled to have this ideal role specially designed for him at Zoic.
"What began as a meet and greet became a meeting of the minds," Ekker said. "Zoic has long been known for producing exciting visual content and in speaking with the founders I came to further appreciate their passion, creativity and integrity. When they offered me a position that spoke to all of my interests I was very excited."
Ekker was staff employee number 27 at Digital Domain, hired by James Cameron after his contribution to TRUE LIES for which Ekker co-designed various models including the bridge explosion scene, spy props for Arnold Schwartzenegger's character, and a hand-operated model mount for pyrotechnics.
Over the years, Ekker was an instrumental part of the visual effects team at DD, contributing to numerous blockbuster features including TITANIC and more than 100 high-profile and award-winning commercials for such noted brands as Lexus, Coca Cola, Target, Burger King, Sony PlayStation, Budweiser and HP. Recent and notable spots include Pacific Life UNDERWATER TENNIS, the Dodge TRUCKVILLE series, Honda Accord POWER, MOMENTS and GREE, as well as Michelin LOST FRIEND.
In addition to an Academy Award nomination on APOLLO 13 Ekker was awarded a BAFTA and The Engineer's Council Award for his contribution to the picture. An avowed "space nut," Ekker was especially honored by the Engineer's Council Award, having painstakingly researched the mission, and space physics, so that the digital imagery would be historically and scientifically accurate.
"My reputation for many years has been that of a "Walking Encyclopedia" because I love to collect facts and solve problems," Ekker said. "It is the element of problem solving that drew me to visual effects in the first place."
Ekker steps into his new role at Zoic with onset visual effects supervision for a SeaWorld commercial directed by Zoic Studios' partner and co-founder Loni Peristere. He is considering aspects of his plans at Zoic, among them possibly hosting industry salons and discussions on such topics as stereo photography and physics in animation.
"We are incredibly excited about Leslie joining us, and as our commercial department continues to evolve it is very important to find leaders who are not only experienced in the art of visual effects, but also in the art of mentoring and directing teams of artists to create stunning results. Leslie's breadth of experience and knowledge, coupled with his wonderful personality, makes this an outstanding opportunity that both our clients and our artists will greatly benefit from," says Zoic Studios Creative Director/Co-Founder Chris Jones.