Monday, November 12, 2018
  • Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018
"War for the Planet of the Apes," "Coco" Take Top Feature Honors At VES Awards
Andy Serkis as Caesar in "War for the Planet of the Apes" (photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox)
"Game of Thrones" leads way with 5 wins; Samsung’s “Ostrich” takes flight for MPC
  • BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.
  • --

War for the Planet of the Apes (Twentieth Century Fox) scored four Visual Effects Society (VES) Awards on Tuesday night (2/13), including the marquee honor for outstanding VFX in a photoreal feature. The 16th annual competition’s other top award, for best effects in an animated feature, went to Coco (Disney-Pixar).

Beyond its VES Awards tally--the other three wins coming for compositing, effects simulation and animated character (for the protagonist ape Caesar)--War for the Planet of the Apes also saw one of its prime architects, sr. VFX supervisor Joe Letteri, a partner in New Zealand-based studio Weta Digital, receive the VES Georges Méliès Award which honors lasting contributions to the art and science of the visual effects industry by way of artistry, invention and groundbreaking work. VES chose to honor Letteri for his pioneering contributions as a visionary artist adept at using technology to create unforgettable worlds and CG characters that speak volumes about our humanity. His boundary-breaking work with motion capture has yielded evocative characters that are believably alive—and have riveted and entertained millions through exceptional and unforgettable narratives. Letteri’s creative vision and inventive techniques have garnered him four Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects on Avatar, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and King Kong.

Filmed tributes to Letteri came from four of his powerhouse collaborators: filmmakers Peter Jackson (who teamed with the Weta maven on The Lord of the Rings fare), Steven Spielberg (The Adventures of Tintin, and The BFG), and James Cameron (Avatar and now on the anticipated Avatar sequels), as well as actor Andy Serkis (whose stirring portrayals include the aforementioned Caesar in the Planet of the Apes trilogy capped by War).

In his acceptance remarks, Letteri noted that he was drawn to visual effects by his early interest in computer graphics, an art form which takes “what you can imagine” to “what you can image.” Yet with that power comes “a responsibility to make sure the story and the images that we create reflect the world we want to see.” He cited as examples Avatar which imparted the importance of respecting “the world we live in and each other,” The BFG and its focus on the relationship between a little girl and her grandfather as they get to know one another, and War for the Planet of the Apes which beneath the violence tells “a story about the survival of the human spirit--we just made them look like apes.” 

Also coming away with four VES Awards during the gala ceremony at the Beverly Hilton was Coco--its other three wins coming for outstanding character in an animated feature (Hector), best created environment in an animated feature (City of the Dead), and outstanding effects simulations in an animated feature. 

TV, commercials
Topping the overall competition was Game of Thrones (HBO) with five VES Awards, including a win for best effects in a photoreal episode (“Beyond the Wall”). Game of Thrones also took top TV honors in categories for animated character in an episode or real-time project (Dragon Loot Train Attack), created environment (Frozen Lake in the “Beyond the Wall” episode), outstanding effects simulations, and best compositing.

The big winner in commercials was Samsung’s “Do What You Can’t: Ostrich” which took all three categories in which it was nominated: best VFX in a spot; outstanding animated character in a spot; and best compositing in a commercial.

MPC Life, MPC Advertising’s character development team, helped realize “Ostrich.” Directed by MJZ’s Matthijs Van Heijningen for Leo Burnett, the ad gave MPC, London and L.A., the opportunity to create a fully photo-real and anatomically correct ostrich—and give him his own quirky personality. The ad promotes Samsung’s revolutionary VR technology and hopes to change consumers’ ideas on what is humanly possible via the mantra, “Do What You Can’t.” Opening with a curious ostrich stumbling into a VR headset, the spot shows the character beginning to dream of achieving the impossible. “We make what can’t be made so you can do what can’t be done,” Samsung proclaims as the ostrich reaches new heights to the beat of “Rocket Man.”

Lifetime Achievement
Writer-director-producer Jon Favreau received the VES Lifetime Achievement Award, following last year’s showing by his The Jungle Book which won five VES Awards, including best photoreal feature. Among his other notable credits are directing Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and writing, directing and creating the Gnomes & Goblins VR experience with Wevr and Reality One. He is currently directing the Disney live-action feature, The Lion King.

In accepting the Lifetime honor, Favreau focused less on himself and more on his many effects collaborators in the audience. He observed simply, “You’re giving me an award for all the work that you did.” 

Inclusion
In the evening’s opening remarks, VES executive director Eric Roth said that we’re at “a critical moment in time.” He affirmed, “We not only need more women in the entertainment industry at large, but also we need more women in visual effects and in positions of power.”

Roth also said that instances of sexual harassment and abuse “must stop immediately” and that the VES is launching a committee to formulate recommendations and ideas for “moving forward” to make the workplace safe, inclusive and diverse.

Here’s a category-by-category rundown of this year’s VES Award winners: 

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
War for the Planet of the Apes
Joe Letteri
Ryan Stafford
Daniel Barrett
Dan Lemmon
Joel Whist 

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
Dunkirk
Andrew Jackson
Mike Chambers
Andrew Lockley
Alison Wortman
Scott Fisher

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature
Coco
Lee Unkrich
Darla K. Anderson
David Ryu
Michael K. O’Brien

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode
Game of Thrones; Beyond the Wall
Joe Bauer
Steve Kullback
Chris Baird
David Ramos
Sam Conway

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode
Black Sails; XXIX
Erik Henry
Terron Pratt
Yafei Wu
David Wahlberg
Paul Dimmer

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Raphael Lacoste
Patrick Limoges
Jean-Sebastien Guay
Ulrich Haar

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial
Samsung; "Do What You Can’t; Ostrich"
Diarmid Harrison-Murray
Tomek Zietkiewicz
Amir Bazazi
Martino Madeddu

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
Avatar: Flight of Passage
Richard Baneham
Amy Jupiter
David Lester                 
Thrain Shadbolt

Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature
War for the Planet of the Apes; Caesar
Dennis Yoo
Ludovic Chailloleau
Douglas McHale
Tim Forbes

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature   
Coco; Hèctor
Emron Grover
Jonathan Hoffman
Michael Honsel
Guilherme Sauerbronn Jacinto

Outstanding Animated Character in an Episode or Real-Time Project
Game of Thrones; The Spoils of War; Drogon Loot Train Attack
Murray Stevenson
Jason Snyman
Jenn Taylor
Florian Friedmann

Outstanding Animated Character in a Commercial
Samsung; "Do What You Can’t; Ostrich"
David Bryan
Maximilian Mallmann
Tim Van Hussen
Brendan Fagan

Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature
Blade Runner 2049; Los Angeles
Chris McLaughlin
Rhys Salcombe
Seungjin Woo
Francesco Dell’Anna

Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature                
Coco; City of the Dead
Michael Frederickson
Jamie Hecker
Jonathan Pytko
Dave Strick

Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project
Game of Thrones; Beyond the Wall; Frozen Lake
Daniel Villalba
Antonio Lado
José Luis Barreiro
Isaac de la Pompa

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; Groot Dance/Opening Fight
James Baker
Steven Lo
Alvise Avati
Robert Stipp

Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project
Blade Runner 2049; LAPD Headquarters
Alex Funke
Steven Saunders
Joaquin Loyzaga
Chris Menges

Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature
War for the Planet of the Apes
David Caeiro Cebrián
Johnathan Nixon
Chet Leavai
Gary Boyle

Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature  
Coco
Kristopher Campbell
Stephen Gustafson
Dave Hale
Keith Klohn

Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project
Game of Thrones; The Dragon and the Wolf; Wall Destruction
Thomas Hullin
Dominik Kirouac
Sylvain Nouveau
Nathan Arbuckle

Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature
War for the Planet of the Apes
Christoph Salzmann
Robin Hollander
Ben Morgan
Ben Warner

Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Episode
Game of Thrones; The Spoils of War; Loot Train Attack
Dom Hellier
Thijs Noij
Edwin Holdsworth
Giacomo Matteucci

Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Commercial
Samsung; "Do What You Can’t; Ostrich"
Michael Gregory
Andrew Roberts
Gustavo Bellon
Rashabh Ramesh Butani

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project
Hybrids
Florian Brauch
Romain Thirion
Matthieu Pujol
Kim Tailhades

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