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Awards: VES Awards Coverage

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By Mark London WilliamsIt was an evening celebrating sleight of hand, most of it happening with digits, though not all, as demonstrated by the win for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture by Rob Legato and crew.Legato deployed old-fashioned techniques—real scale-model airplanes, forced camera perspectives—to do much of his work, and while the retro empathy led Legato to his FX-in-an-ostensibly-non-FX-flick win, the award for Best Single Visual Effect of the Year didn’t go to The Aviator’s thrillingly recreated test-flight plunge into unsuspecting Beverly Hills houses, but to the tidal wave sequence by Karen Goulekas and co., for The Day After Tomorrow.The cocktail and dinner hours were long, and when the awards themselves rolled around, every nominated effect was sold a bit short by the utter brevity of the clips. It’s great to have time to linger over the pasta, but less evanescent chunks of the nominated work—especially the Outstanding Visuals in a Commercial category (won by Trevor Cawood, Neill Blomkamp, Simon Van de Lagemaat, Winston Helgason for a Citroen spot called “Alive with Technology,” wherein a car turns into a Power Rangers-like Zord)—would have been in order.The physical award itself, the statue, could be dubbed the “Mellie,”—cognescenti know that the round, pockmarked, man-in-the-moon statue is named for George Melies, the French silent film pioneer whose Trip to the Moon helped establish some of the visual cues that are now part of the common language of everyday surrealism.And nowhere is that surrealism more evident than in video games, with rapid POV, scene, locale and timeline shifts that would’ve once been the province only of Dada-esque painters and filmmakers, but is now the everyday landscape of teenage boys—and gamers—everywhere. Half Life 2 won in this category, beating out two redoubtable The Lord of the Rings games, and a 007 entry to boot. The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Robert Zemeckis, who was thanked by an avuncular Tom Hanks and an array of colleagues from the FX world, including a certain Ray Harryhausen, who knows that, despite an award for Best Models and Miniatures in a Production (which went, unsurprisingly to Matthew Grazner, et al, for their The Aviator work) the era of latex and wire in FX has definitively moved to the age of silicon bits.The award that is actually named the George Melies award for pioneering work in the visual FX field went posthumously to Bob Abel, whose work in the ’70s and ’80s gave us not only Tron, but, essentially, the present moment in CG. The Board of Directors’ award to Don Shay, publisher/founder of Cinefex, the FX magazine beloved by fans everywhere. “We’re an odd and quirky group of people,” allowed Jeff Okun, VES vice-chair, and chairman of the awards committee. “Geeks who didn’t get to go to our own proms, or didn’t choose to go. We noticed this year people were trying to cheat to win awards. We take that as a sign” of the show’s growing prominence. The cheating simply ran to questionable entries—folks trying to take credit for work the “hands-on artists,” as Okun describes them, actually did.By the evening’s end, “hands-on artists” included actors like Alfred Molina, whose turn as Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2, nabbed congrats for Outstanding Performance by an Actor or Actress in a Visual Effects Film.Roger Guyett and some of his ILM gang won what we might call the “Melies Grande,” for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture, a longish-way of saying that the third Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, was proclaimed the best FX-laden film of the year.The winners:Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion PictureHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Roger Guyett, Tim Burke, Theresa Corrao, Emma NortonOutstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion PictureThe Aviator – Rob Legato, Ron Ames, Matthew Gratzner, Pete TraversOutstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie or a SpecialVirtual History – The Secret Plot to Kill Hitler – Jim Radford, Tom Phillips, Simon Thomas, Loraine CooperOutstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast SeriesStar Trek Enterprise, Storm Front Part 2 – Ronald Moore, Daniel Curry, David TakemuraOutstanding Visual Effects in a CommercialCitroen “Alive With Technology” – Trevor Cawood, Neill Blomkamp, Simon Van de Lagemaat, Winston HelgasonOutstanding Visual Effects in a Music VideoBritney Spears “Toxic” – Bert Yukich, Chris WattsOutstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast ProgramLost, Pilot, part 2 – Kevin Blank, Mitch Suskin, Benoit Girard, Jerome MorinBest Single Visual Effect of the YearThe Day After Tomorrow, tidal wave – Karen Goulekas, Mike Chambers, Chris Horvath, Matthew ButlerOutstanding Visuals in a Video GameHalf-Life 2 – Viktor Antonov, Randy Lundeen, Gary McTaggart, Bill FletcherOutstanding Performance by an Animated Character in a Live Action Motion PictureHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Michael Eames, David Lomax, Felix Balbas, Pablo GrilloOutstanding Performance by an Animated Character in an Animated Motion PictureThe Incredibles – Bill Wise, Bill Sheffler, Bolhem Bouchiba, Craig T. NelsonOutstanding Performance by an Animated Character in a Live Action Broadcast ProgramStephen King’s Kingdom Hospital – William de Bosch Kemper, Brian Harder, Patrick Kalyn, Scott PaquinOutstanding Special Effects in Service to Visual Effects in a Motion PictureThe Aviator – Robert Spurlock, Richard Stutsman, Matthew Gratzner, Roy GoodeOutstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Motion PictureSpider-Man 2, NYC street, night – Dan Abrams, David Emery, Andrew Nawrot, John HartOutstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Broadcast ProgramSpartacus, opening – Eric Grenaudier, Anthony Ocampo, Cedric Tomacruz, Michael CookOutstanding Models and Miniatures in a Motion PictureThe Aviator, XF11 Crash – Matthew Gratzner, Scott Schneider, Adam Gelbart, Leigh-Alexandra JacobOutstanding Compositing in a Motion PictureSpider-Man 2 – Colin Drobnis, Greg Derochie, Blaine Kennison, Kenny LamOutstanding Compositing in a Broadcast ProgramSpace Odyssey, Voyage To The Planets – George Roper, Christian Manz, Sirio Quintavalle, Pedro SabrosaOutstanding Performance by an Actor or Actress in a Visual Effects FilmSpider-Man 2 – Alfred Molina

Written by Mark London Williams

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