Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
Life Of Pi and Brave were the big winners in the feature film categories tonight, each taking four awards at the 11th Annual VES Awards and HBO’s Game Of Thrones led the TV honors with four nods. Life Of Pi took the top feature award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture. It also won Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture, Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture and Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture. Brave’s four wins included Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture. In features, The Avengers also took two awards, and The Impossible and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey nabbed one each. In the TV contingent, Game Of Thrones led the way with four including Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire also took one award.
Life Of Pi director Ang Lee, nominated for two Oscars, received the VES Visionary award, given to an individual “who has uniquely and consistently employed the art and science of visual effects to foster imagination and ignite future discoveries by way of artistry, invention and groundbreaking work”. In his acceptance speech, Lee said “This is not visual effects, it’s visual art”. Paying tribute to the effects industry, Lee said “they are the expression of our heart, and for that I salute you”. Five-time Academy Award winning special effects cinematographer Richard Edlund, notable for his contributions to the original Star Wars trilogy, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Ghostbusters, was honored with a lifetime achievement award. The complete list follows:
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture
Life of Pi; Donald R. Elliott, Susan MacLeod, Guillaume Rocheron, Bill Westenhofer
Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Brave; Mark Andrews, Steve May, Katherine Sarafian, Bill Wise
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
Game of Thrones: Volar Morghulis; Rainer Gombos, Steve Kullback, Sven Martin, Juri Stanossek
Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture
The Avengers: Helicarrier; Rene Garcia, Bruce Holcomb, Polly Ing Aaron Wilson
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem; Heather Drummons, Joel Friesch, Troy Griffin, Chris Hummel
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Commercial or Broadcast Program
ZombiU; Dominique Boidin, Léon Bérelle, Rémi Kozyra, Maxime Luère
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; Matt Aitken, Victor Huang, Christian Rivers, R. Christopher White
Outstanding Created Environment in a Commercial or Broadcast Program
Game of Thrones: Pyke; Rene Borst, Thilo Ewers, Adam Figielski, Jonas Stuckenbrock
Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Brave: The Forest; Tim Best, Steve Pilcher; Inigo Quilez, Andrew Whittock
Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
The Avengers: Midtown Manhattan; Richard Bluff, Barry Williams, David Meny, Andy Proctor
Lifetime Achievement Award
Harrison Ford came out to a partial standing ovation to present the award. In a rambling, relaxed but no less affectionate for it speech, Ford recalled his long friendship with Edlund. “It’s called a lifetime achievement award, but,” he said, “I think all of you know Richard has at least another lifetime of achievement and innovation in him”. In his trademark drawl, Ford related how Edlund created many innovations, including the Millenium Falcon, “my ride”, he quipped.
Edlund then took the stage to a full standing ovation, and first thanked Ford “for becoming the star of Star Wars; I don’t know if he expected it.”
Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Commercial or Broadcast Program
Guinness: Cloud; Tom Bussell, Neil Davies
Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Brave; Chris Chapman, Dave Hale, Michael K. O’Brien, Bill Watral
Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
Life of Pi: Storm of God; Harry Mukhopadhyay, David Stopford, Mark Williams, Derek Wolfe
Presenter, Falling Skies‘ Sarah Carter, joked this award is “Otherwise known as best water shot of the year, you guys love water”.
The next presenter David Krumholtz started out by castigating Ang Lee about Life Of Pi: “Did you have to kill the orangutan?!”, he gasped to much laughter.
Outstanding Animated Character in a Commercial or Broadcast Program
Game of Thrones: Training the Dragons; Irfan Celik, Florian Friedmann, Ingo Schachner. Chris Stenner
Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
Life of Pi: Richard Parker; Erik De Boer, Sean Comer, Betsy Asher Hall, Kai-Hua Lan
The crowd erupted in huge cheers for Life Of Pi’s win.
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Brave: Merida; Travis Hathaway, Olivier Soares, Peter Sumanaseni, Brian Tindall
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project
Natalis; Daniel Brkovic, David Kirchner, Jan-Marcel Kuehn, Tom Ferstl
But the audience favorite was clearly Rollin’ Safari.
Outstanding Real-Time Visuals in a Video Game
Call of Duty: Black Ops II; Jason Blundell, Barry Whitney, Colin Whitney
The crowd kept talking as Activision accepted the award. Ouch.
Tempest Bledsoe, who presented the Call of Duty award, talked about her voice acting in ParaNorman and joked how she likes to imagine “what if I had given up acting? What if I had gone into law enforcement? What if I had shaved off all my hair and gained 300 pounds? Thanks to you guys I get to find out”.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial
Nike: Biomorph; Rafael Colon; Aladino Debert; David Liu; Nicola Wiseman
Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program
Game of Thrones: White Walker Army, Falk Boje, Esther Engel, Alexey Kuchinsky, Klaus Wuchta
Presenter Mark Andrews joked to the crowd, “What the hell is he doing on stage? I know you’re all thinking it”!. Then about the category, he shouted “Compositing makes all this shit look good”!
Outstanding Compositing in a Commercial
Chevy 2012 Silverado; Dominik Bauch, Nicholas Kim, Benjamin Walsh
Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture
Life of Pi: Storm of God; Ryan Clarke, Jose Fernandez, Sean Oharas, Hamish Schumacher
The audience went nuts every time Life Of Pi was mentioned in a category, and this was perhaps the loudest response.
Once again the crowd went crazy at a glimpse of Life Of Pi when it showed during a highlight reel of Ang Lee’s films.
Lee first paid tribute to award presenter Dennis Muren for their long time working together, and told a story about their time together on The Hulk. Lee spent most of his time helping with visual effects. “It’s tedious work” he said to laughter. “As I got into it I got more and more angry”.
“I realize now it’s not visual effects, it’s visual arts,” he said. Joking, he said about actors that “I realize they have souls but they also have opinions.”
After The Hulk, he said he had to take a break from heavy visual effects work. “I took dramas” he said, quipping “like Brokeback Mountain, two gay cowboys” to much laughter.
He then paid tribute to the team on Life Of Pi and, by this point, the many VES awards it had already won.
He mentioned tough times the effects industry is facing, another possible veiled reference to Rhythm and Hues. He reiterated “This is not visual effects, it’s visual art” paying tribute to the effects industry. He concluded saying about their work, “they are the expression of our heart, and for that I salute you”.
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
Boardwalk Empire: Episode 308; John Bair, Parker Chehak, Paul Graff, Lesley Robson-Foster
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture
The Impossible; Felix Bergés, Sandra Hermida, Pau Costa Moeller