THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING took home four honors, including Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Motion Picture, at the second annual VES Awards held last night at a black-tie gala at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award to filmmaker George Lucas by Academy Award-winning director James Cameron. SMALLVILLE had two big wins as did PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL and THE MATRIX RELOADED.
Outgoing VES Exec director Tom Atkin was the recipient of the first-ever Board of Directors Award for his tireless efforts over the past seven years in the creation of the society and its signature events and international festivals. Because of his seminal role at the inception of the organization, Atkin was given a VES membership card numbered 0000 and was also acknowledged with a warm standing ovation.
Happily, the awards were generously spread around, with THE MATRIX RELOADED coming back from oblivion, and MASTER AND COMMANDER and THE LAST SAMURAI being appreciated for their invisible craftsmanship.
CARNIVALE, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER proved that there is great vfx work being done in television at a fraction of the cost and in a lot less time afforded the big studio features. The same can be said of commercial and music video winners Johnny Walker FISH and Missy Elliott PASS THAT DUTCH.
All the winners echoed the point that this is a very creative and exciting time to be in the vfx industry, despite the time constraints invariably faced by everyone large and small. Even George Lucas lauded all the digital work being done throughout the various media, proclaiming it the storytelling tool of the 21st century, and citing MASTER AND COMMANDER and LORD OF THE RINGS as two of his recent favorites. He cited pushing digital technology, particularly through his proposed Digital Arts Center, as his primary goal.
Visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel lauded the tireless work of director Peter Jackson on THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, saying he pushed everyone to achieve greater and greater realism. He shoots these like live-action dramas, not visual effects [movies] pushing the camera closer and closer to the actors [and the action]. Now that the Weta gang knows what to expect from Jackson and how unpredictable he can be, they can be better prepared to handle the upcoming KING KONG, which will be just as daunting as LORD OF THE RINGS.
The final winners were:Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Motion PictureTHE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KINGJim Rygiel, Dean Wright, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion PictureTHE LAST SAMURAIJeffrey A. Okun, Thomas Boland, Bill Mesa, Ray McIntyre Jr.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Television Miniseries, Movie or a SpecialBATTLESTAR GALACTICAGary Hutzel, Kristen L. Branan, Emile E. Smith, Lee Stringer
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Television SeriesBUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, Season 7, Episode #22Loni Peristere, Patti Gannon, Ronald Thornton, Chris Zapara
Outstanding Visual Effects in a CommercialJohnnie Walker FISHMurray Butler, William Bartlett, Jake Mengers, Helen Mackenzie
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Music VideoMissy Elliott PASS THAT DUTCHJonathan Keeton, Aladino Debert, Andy McKenna, Scott Rader
Best Single Visual Effect of the Year in any MediumTHE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS "Trailer Top Crash"John Gaeta, Dan Glass, Adrian de Wett, Greg Juby
Outstanding Character Animation in a Live Action Motion PictureTHE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KINGSteven Hornby, Andy Serkis, Matthias Menz, Greg Butler
Outstanding Character Animation in an Animated Motion PictureFINDING NEMO "Speaking Whale"Andrew Gordon, Brett Coderre
Outstanding Special Effects in Service to Visual Effects in a Motion PicturePIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARLGeoff Heron, Robert Clot, Jason Brackett, John McLeod
Outstanding Special Effects in Service to Visual Effects in a Televised Program, Music Video or CommercialCARNIVALE "Pilot"Thomas L. Bellissimo, Charles Belardinelli
Outstanding Matte Painting in a Motion PicturePIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARLYanick Dusseault, Susumu Yukuhiro, Jonathan Harb
Outstanding Matte Painting in a Televised Program, Music Video or CommercialSMALLVILLE "Insurgence"Eli Jarra, Joseph Brattesani, Brian Bell
Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Motion PictureTHE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KINGRichard Taylor, Paul Van Ommen, Eric Saindon
Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Televised Program, Music Video or CommercialHELEN OF TROYAnthony Ocampo
Outstanding Visual Effects Photography in a Motion PictureTHE MATRIX RELOADED "U-Cap Facial Photography"Kim Libreri, George Borshukov, Paul Ryan, John Gaeta
Outstanding Compositing in a Motion PictureMASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD "Storm"Philip R. Brennan
Outstanding Compositing in a Televised Program, Music Video or CommercialSMALLVILLE "Accelerate"Mat Beck, Eli Jarra, Ivan DeWolf, Brian Harding
Outstanding Performance by a Male or Female Actor in an Effects FilmTHE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KINGSean Astin
The Visual Effects Society (www.visualeffectssociety.com), founded in 1997, is comprised of distinguished visual effects artists and technologists who are professionally committed to the specialized industry of visual effects. The society provides its members with a platform for communication, education, and recognition of the current and future state of the visual effects industry. Society headquarters are located in Santa Monica, California, with approximately 900 global members.