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Exec Director Atkin to Leave VES

Tom Atkin has decided to step aside as founding exec director of the Visual Effects Society (VES) at the end of his current contract on July 31, 2004. Atkin said he is returning to his entrepreneurial roots. He founded VES in 1993 and helped guide its growth to its current 900 global members, nine festivals worldwide and an annual awards show. The VES will begin the search for a successor. "I have been so honored to be a part of the Visual Effects Society for the past 10 years," Atkin said. "My passion for this organization is equivalent to the child I never had. Stepping aside from this post was the hardest decision I've ever had to make; however, I truly missed the entrepreneurial spirit of creating something from ground zero. The Visual Effects Society is the greatest organization for those who are involved in this industry, and I am so happy to have been the founding executive director, as well as a loyal fan of the outstanding work that has transformed filmmaking as we know it today."

Jim Morris, chairman of the board of VES and president of Lucas Digital, stated, "We are deeply saddened to see Tom leave. However, with the nature of our ongoing relationship, it makes his departure less difficult. Tom has achieved monumental tasks over the past 10 years to bring the society to where it is today and we will be forever indebted to him for his dedication and drive."

In the last 10 years, VES has successfully presented five festivals of visual effects in the U.S., three festivals in Europe and soon a new festival event in Asia. Also, VES will host its 2nd Annual Awards in February 2004, and recently announced that for the first time a Lifetime Achievement Award is being given to George Lucas. VES has hosted and presented several other events, including: a 3,000 and a 10,000-square foot working stage at ShowBiz Expo in conjunction with ASC and ADG; Ray Harryhausen's surprise 80th birthday party at the residence of the Los Angeles British Consul General; Doug Trumbull's Honorary Membership induction party at Pixar; the first visual effects artist recognized on the boulevard, Dennis Muren's Star on Hollywood Blvd. event and party at Universal Studios; and the society's first-ever event to present honorary membership in VES to Ray Harryhausen, Peter Ellenshaw, Linwood Dunn and Albert Whitlock.

The Visual Effects Society (, 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.

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Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.