‘War for the Planet of the Apes,’ ‘The Jungle Book,’ ‘Kong: Skull Island,’ ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,’ ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ ‘Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets’ and ‘Doctor Strange’ receive awards for feature film VFX at 2017 Australian Effects & Animation Festival.
SYDNEY -- AEAF 2017 was held on August 16 with a full day of top speakers and an Awards event that brought together artists from around the world at the Chauvel Cinema in Sydney. All speakers shared truly fascinating details and valuable tips from their work, and gave insights into their approaches to projects that ranged from commercials to television shows to movies. Their generosity was also inspiring, and the large audience was very appreciative. The speakers this year came from Animal Logic, MPC, Weta Digital, ILM, Iloura, The Sequence Group, Buck and Rotor Studios.
In the evening, AEAF’s annual Awards Night took place at the same venue, starting off with a social event, drinks and networking at the Chauvel bar ahead of a screening of the Award winning projects and finalists’ work.
Feature Films VFX
Feature Films VFX received the greatest number of entries ever in AEAF’s history. The Gold Award went to Weta Digital for War for Planet of the Apes, the first award the film has won since its release in July. AEAF is also the first film awards event it has entered.
The Feature Film Silver Award was shared between MPC and Weta Digital for their work on The Jungle Book, recognizing the creature, environmental and effects work the two teams accomplished for an entirely blue screen production. MPC’s photoreal jungle defined the film’s world for audiences, and their animals were lead characters in the story, requiring their VFX supervisors to contribute, from the very start, to script and storyboard development and guide the filming on set. Weta Digital accomplished complex work on the monkey population and the creatures’ close interaction with the story’s hero Mowgli.
Bronze Feature Film winner at AEAF was ILM for Kong: Skull Island. Their work not only added to the scale, complexity and character of Kong compared to earlier iterations in previous King Kong movies but also created the island’s fantastic creatures, Kong’s massive battles and the helicopter sequences, and enhanced the Skull Island set in Vietnam.
Apart from these winners AEAF organizers received 18 other Feature Film VFX entries. This includes the work Weta Digital completed for Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets, also released so recently that it has also not been entered into any other film festivals. Other entries include Ghost in the Shell from MPC, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them from Framestore, Logan from Rising Sun Pictures and Deepwater Horizon from Iloura. Doctor Strange sequences were submitted by Luma Pictures, Framestore and ILM. Several of the projects mentioned here received Special Merit Awards.
VFX Supervisor Anders Langlands gave a talk at AEAF on the development of the animation -- body motion capture, facial performance capture and keyframing -- plus the fur system, environments, water, ecosystem growth and other tools at Weta Digital through the series of the three films in the Planet of the Apes series.
TV Series entries were outstanding. Rodeo FX scooped Gold for their work on environments and water, fire and explosion FX in Season 6 of Game of Thrones. Aerial shots requiring compositing of Rhythm & Hues’ dragons over Rodeo’s environments and exploding ships looked terrific on the cinema screen at the Awards event. BlueBolt won Silver for their massive CG set extensions of period London in Taboo, filling docks and harbors with cargo ships and replacing views along the Thames with matte paintings and historical CG buildings and towers. The Bronze Award went to Screen Scene for the detailed, accurate enhancements and extensions to sets in Ripper Street. After five seasons, Screen Scene’s work is now an essential element of this series.
Both Rodeo FX and Screen Scene earned a Special Merit Award for invisible Effects and set extensions in the new drama series Black Sails.
The Commercials categories again received the largest number of entries and some terrific work. In Commercials Animation, the top Gold Award went to MPC for their funny, emotional live action Christmas spot for John Lewis “Buster the Boxer,” and Passion Pictures won Silver for their 3D animation “Mega City” for James Wellbeloved. Buck’s stylized CG stop motion project “The Innovator” for Woolmark earned Bronze.
Such close competition between a large number of teams in this category resulted in several Special Merit Awards as well including Gentleman Scholar’s “Mia & Morton” for Dairy Farmers of Canada and the valiant flying ‘Ostrich’, a heroic photoreal story created at MPC for Samsung. The Domestos Grime Minister from Outpost VFX, Sainsbury’s “The Greatest Gift” by Passion Pictures and “Cashback Credit Card” for Standard Chartered by Cirkus all received Special Merit as well, plus a serene animation from Psyop, “La Mer: Part II” for Este Lauder.
Commercials VFX brought another long lineup of stellar entries. It is good to see that longer form spots are coming into their own with interesting scripts, high production values and expert VFX. The “Straw City” PSA, Gold winner, created for the FDA from the Alt.vfx team is a brilliant blend of live action actors in wolf and pig costumes, composited with animal heads showing facial animation that delivers the spot’s warning against smoking, all in a city of pigs complete with straw-covered skyscrapers. MPC’s Heineken commercial won Silver, features a whirlwind of faultless transitions from a snowy mountain peak, to outer space, to a trendy night club -- and lots of other places. The Jose Cuervo spot “Tomorrow is Overrated” from Electric Theatre Collective, earning Bronze, tells a story of pathos, drama, love and humour under a storm to end all storms.
Special Merit also went to Framestore for perfect compositing of new footage of actor George Clooney into classic movies shot on film, ranging from Psycho, inside a car on a dark night, to Easy Rider on a Harley in full sunshine. The Embassy’s “Return of the Snowman” was recognized for its handling of a great story and an army of photoreal snowmen. Fin Design + Effects showed a Hyundai i30 plummeting to earth from the edge of space, driving out unscathed from a mighty cloud of dust combining practical and CG explosions and dirt through an expert VFX pipeline.
VR and 360 Experiences
The VR Experience and 360 Virtual Reality categories have been fun and exciting to feature at AEAF. Since last year, the first time it was included, both have expanded tremendously. “Experience The Pulse” won Gold for the INFINITI IQ motor show experience they created for Nissan, really using the opportunity to try new techniques in VR. Framestore’s neat Google Daydream project exploring the world of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them won Silver, and Traffik took home Bronze for a VR team game played at Clipsal 500 motor races called Shell V-Power Virtual Pitstop.
Live Event brought another collection of beautiful projects, as it did last year with many entries from the Vivid Festival in Sydney. Winning Gold was “Organic Vibrations” from the Danny Rose Collective, which morphed Sydney’s MCA building into new shapes with mesmerizing projected 3D motion graphics. Ample Projects picked up Silver for their illuminated jungle animation “Light For The Wild” projected onto the entrance of Taronga Zoo, and Spinifex Group’s “Audio Creatures” literally brought the Opera House to life with brilliantly colored organic and mechanical creatures.
Student work is always surprising. Amael Nicolas from Marseilles won the Gold Award for a 2D/3D animated graduation film with a deceptively simple, glowing color palette and linework as creatures and environments morph and blend over a jazz soundtrack. The Silver Award went to Julz Lane’s Future Primitive titles project showing a dark, moody post-apocalyptic landscape, and Elizabeth Poole won Bronze for her very creative, illuminated fox that leaps into a live action environment, creating a warm light in a nighttime scene.
AEFA AWARDS WINNERS 2017
Feature Film VFX
- War for the Planet of the Apes – Weta Digital GOLD
- The Jungle Book – Weta Digital SILVER
- The Jungle Book – MPC SILVER
- Kong: Skull Island – ILM BRONZE
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Framestore SPECIAL MERIT
- Ghost in the Shell – MPC SPECIAL MERIT
- Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets – Weta Digital SPECIAL MERIT
- Doctor Strange – Framestore SPECIAL MERIT
Commercials – Animation
- John Lewis – Buster the Boxer – MPC GOLD
- James Wellbeloved – Mega City – Passion Pictures SILVER
- Woolmark – The Innovator – BUCK Design BRONZE
- Samsung – Ostrich – MPC SPECIAL MERIT
- Domestos – Grime Minister – Outpost VFX SPECIAL MERIT
- Mia & Morton Gentleman Scholar, DDB Canada SPECIAL MERIT
- Standard Chartered Unlimited – Cashback Credit Card – Cirkus SPECIAL MERIT
- Sainsbury’s – The Greatest Gift – Passion Pictures SPECIAL MERIT
- La Mer: Part II – Este Lauder – Psyop SPECIAL MERIT
- Aldi – The Amazing Christmas Carrot – Psyop SPECIAL MERIT
Commercials – VFX
- FDA – Straw City – Alt.vfx GOLD
- Heineken Cities – The Trailblazers – MPC SILVER
- Jose Cuervo – Tomorrow is Overrated – Electric Theatre Collective BRONZE
- Nespresso – Comin’ Home – Framestore SPECIAL MERIT
- Nissan Rogue – Return of the Snowman – The Embassy SPECIAL MERIT
- Hyundai – Fall – Fin Design + Effects SPECIAL MERIT
- Ferrero Rocher – Rolling – Rising Sun Pictures SPECIAL MERIT
- Game of Thrones Season 6 – Rodeo FX GOLD
- Taboo – BlueBolt SILVER
- Ripper Street series 5 – Screen Scene BRONZE
Education & Infographic
- Sydney Opera House – The Lounge – Latchkey GOLD
- TEDx – Tetris – Vandal SILVER
- BHP Billiton – Maths is Life – Nick Did This BRONZE
- Semi Permanent Festival 2017 – Framestore GOLD
- Macquarie Telecom – Cutting Edge SILVER
- TEDx Sydney 2017 – Unconventional – Substance BRONZE
- Evil Within 2 Trailer – Plastic Wax GOLD
- Civilization 6 Launch Trailer – Plastic Wax SILVER
- Forza NASCAR – Jumbla BRONZE
Idents and Stings Broadcast
- MTV – On The Go – Engine GOLD
- Disney XD – Hackett Films SILVER
- SBS Lunar New Year – Fire Rooster – SBS Television BRONZE
- Organic Vibrations – Danny Rose Collective GOLD
- Light For The Wild – Vivid at Taronga 2017 – Ample Projects SILVER
- Audio Creatures – Vivid Festival 2017 – Spinifex Group BRONZE
- Kool Keith X MF Doom – Super Hero – Aardman Nathan Love GOLD
- Aesop Rock – Shrunk – Bent Image Lab SILVER
- Hayden James – Just a Lover – SPLINTR BRONZE
- Agent 327: Operation Barbershop – Blender Animation Studio GOLD
- Otherhalf – Framestore SILVER
- The Heart of Sky – Mirari&Co. BRONZE
- Martha the Monster – Goodman Brothers SPECIAL MERIT
- Hippocampe – Sauce Curie GOLD
- Future Primitive Titles – Julz Lane SILVER
- The Fox Lantern – Elizabeth Poole BRONZE
Titles/Openers – Feature Film
- Doctor Strange main-on-end title sequence – Sarofsky GOLD
- Max Steel – The Sequence Group SILVER
- Captain America: Civil War – Sarofsky BRONZE
Titles/Openers – TV
- Guiltology Titles – Jellyfish Pictures GOLD
- Cardinal Season 1 – The Sequence Group SILVER
- Clique – Jumbla BRONZE
TV Series – Children
- Winston Steinburger & Sir Dudley Ding Dong – Sticky Pictures GOLD
- Kazoops – Cheeky Little Media SILVER
- The Skinner Boys – Guardians of the Lost Secrets ‘Claw of the Werewolf’- SLR Productions BRONZE
- INFINITI IQ Virtual Reality Experience – Experience The Pulse GOLD
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Framestore SILVER
- Shell V-Power Virtual Pitstop – Traffik BRONZE
- Battle Test: A Nissan Rogue 360° Experience – ILM GOLD
- The Bombing of Darwin – Method Studios SILVER
- Skyrider Motocoaster – Dreamworld Australia – Rotor Studios BRONZE
- Hog Rider 360 – Psyop – SPECIAL MERIT
- Camry Global Launch – Rotor Studios GOLD
- LaTrobe – CyberGames – Visual Playground SILVER
- Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2016 – Sydney Opera House – Paper Moose BRONZE
Source: Australian Effects & Animation Festival