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Advanced Imaging Society’s Lumiere Awards Honor Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, Andor, & Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

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The Advanced Imaging Society‘s 13th annual Lumiere Awards were held on Friday at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where AIS handed out 23 statuettes for distinguished creative and technical achievement.

The theme for this year’s show was “Behind the Legend,” celebrating the creative teams behind the scenes that are responsible for the legendary stories and characters loved by audiences all over the world. The awards are voted for by members of the Hollywood creative and technology community working in motion pictures, television, and emerging media.

“Our awards have humorously been called the Oscars for geeks,” remarked Jim Chabin, AIS President. “But these honorees do give us insights into the future of movies. These Lumiere winners pushed the limits of technology and the results have been remarkable storytelling at its very best.”

The Society awarded the Best Live Action Feature Film of the Year to Avatar: The Way of Water, calling it the “most awe-inspiring and astonishing cinematic experience of the year.” Accepting the award was Producer Jon Landau, along with this year’s Oscar-nominated Visual Effects Supervisors Eric Saindon of Wētā FX and Richie Baneham of Lightstorm Entertainment.

Baz Luhrmann
Baz Luhrmann image via AIS

Elvis was recognized for Best Motion Picture – Musical, as well as Best Musical Scene or Sequence, which was accepted by director/producer/writer Baz Luhrmann. Voters praised Luhrmann for telling the definitive story of this American musical giant “with unforgettable, electrifying performances and a brilliant heart. This film will be loved forever.”

The Lumiere for Best Animated Feature Film went to Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix). Del Toro was there to accept the award. Voters noted that “in the hands of a master director at the top of his craft, Pinocchio’s hand-crafted stop motion animation created a seamless, emotionally powerful, and technically flawless film.”

The Lumiere for Best Documentary went to Good Night Oppy (Amazon Studios) and was accepted by director Ryan White and producer Jessica HargraveAndor received the Award for Best Episodic – Live Action, accepted by Michelle Rejwan, Sr. VP of Live Action Development & Production at Lucasfilm; while Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi won for Best Episodic – Animation, accepted by producers Carrie Beck, Executive VP, Lucasfilm and Athena Portillo, VP, Animation Production, Lucasfilm.

The Lumiere for Best Original Song went to Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” from Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick, which also won Best Theatrical Scene or Sequence. Both awards were accepted by legendary producer and Oscar nominee Jerry Bruckheimer.

The Award for Best Audio – Theatrical went to The Batman (Warner Bros.), which Will FilesThe Batman’s Oscar-nominated Supervising Sound Editor happily accepted. Files also accepted Best Audio – Episodic TV for Stranger ThingsSeason 4 (Netflix), for which he has previously received two Emmy Awards.

Pixar’s Lightyear was recognized with the award for Best Use of HDR in a Feature Film, accepted by director Angus MacLane and director of photography Ian Megibben. Marvel’s I Am Groot was recognized for Best Use of HDR – Episodic, and the award was received by associate producer Alex Scharf.

Gorilla Trekwon for Best Use of VR, accepted by creative director Ken Musen. Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessreceived the award for Best 2D to 3D Conversion which was accepted by the film’s editor Bob Murawski, along with Madalynn Sadeghian, 3D Stereoscopic Producer and Emma Webb, 3D Stereoscopic Supervisor at Marvel.

A Lumiere Award for 8K Achievement was presented to Kansai Television for the incredible advances being made at their lab in Japan, creating 8K programs to develop workflows and explore challenges that any new technology creates. Accepting the award from Kansai TV was Kazuma Yano.

The Society’s Annual Sir Charles Wheatstone Award was presented to Wētā FX for creative excellence in visual effects. David Conley, Executive VFX Producer at Wētā FXwas on hand to accept. The Award, named after Sir Charles Wheatstone the pioneering English scientist and inventor whose creations significantly advanced visual technology, is presented annually to one company for their unparalleled contributions to motion picture production.

In selecting Wētā FX for this recognition, the Society honors Wētā’s development of the most ground-breaking performance capture technology to emerge in our lifetime, the very same technology which helped Avatar: The Way of Water become the most visually astonishing 3D cinematic achievement in years – along with the technological innovations and artistry Wētā FX demonstrated in creating unforgettable visuals for fellow Oscar-nominees Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s remarkable underwater kingdom, and The Batman’s electrifying car chase scenes.

Adobe was awarded the Lumiere for Innovation in Post-Production Tools for pioneering affordable access to creative technology. Accepting the award was Pro Video Director of Product Marketing, Meagan Keane, who spoke about Adobe’s efforts to enable young filmmakers reasonable access to the very same tools as award-winning filmmakers so that everyone with a story to tell will have the tools and the platform to tell it.

Microsoft was presented with an Award for Innovation in Technology for its leadership in solving complex problems, particularly throughout the pandemic, enabling creative teams to seamlessly collaborate safely and securely from anywhere in the world. Accepting the award was Worldwide Lead for Media & Entertainment, Simon Crownshaw.

HBO’s Camera Assessment Series was awarded the Distinguished Achievement in Education Award, accepted by HBO Vice President and Producer Stephen Beres and Director and Cinematographer Suny Behar. The series, created for A-list directors and creative teams, tests 6 different camera systems shooting identical scenes in real-world conditions, enabling productions to decide ahead of time what piece of technology they’ll use to tell their story.

Damien Chazelle
Damien Chazelle on the set of Babylon/Paramount Pictures

Three special awards were handed out, providing the highlights of the day. The 2nd annual Gene Kelly Visionary Award was presented to Oscar-winning Director and Producer Damien Chazelle. Followed by a few words from Babylon actor PJ Byrne, he was joined onstage by Patricia Ward Kelly, Gene Kelly’s widow and biographer to present the award. She called Chazelle a “stellar” honoree, and thoughtfully praised his “brightness, his pursuit of excellence, his fine vision, and his determination to forge new ground.”

The second-ever EarthDay.org “Voices For The Earth Award” was given to Oscar-winning director, writer, and producer James Cameron, who sent a video message from New Zealand, and his producing partner Jon Landau who attended and accepted the award presented by Kathleen Rogers, President of EarthDay.org. Rogers noted “In 2010, EarthDay.org joined forces with James Cameron to plant over 1 million trees in vulnerable areas around the world in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and the release of the first Avatar film. Now more than a decade later, the world is experiencing Avatar: The Way of Water, another extraordinary film focused on our deep and spiritual connections with nature. This extraordinary experience will inspire millions of people to support the protection of water, the very basis of life [for] all species. We are proud to present this award to this extraordinary and dedicated duo, who also share a deep love for our planet and its species.”

And finally, the esteemed Harold Lloyd Award was presented to Oscar-nominated filmmaker Baz Luhrmann by Suzanne Lloyd, Chairman of Harold Lloyd Entertainment, along with a surprise appearance by the film’s star Austin Butler.

“Baz Luhrmann’s films have entertained millions around the world, but their innovative style also illuminates something much deeper about the zeitgeist of the world at a particular moment,” said Lloyd. “Mr. Luhrmann’s incredible artistry and work on Elvis represents a bold new forefront for technical, emotional, and memorable cinematic achievement. We are thrilled to honor him with this award.”

The complete list of Lumiere Awards winners can be found below:

Best Feature Film – Live Action: Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)
Best Feature Film – Animated: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix)
Best Documentary: Good Night Oppy (Amazon)
Best Motion Picture – Musical: Elvis (Warner Bros)
Best Audio – Theatrical: The Batman (Warner Bros.)
Best Audio – Episodic: Stranger ThingsSeason Four (Netflix)
Best Use of VR: Gorilla Trek (Immotion)
Best Original Song: “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount)
Best Use of High Dynamic Range – Feature Film: Lightyear (Pixar)
Best Use of High Dynamic Range – Episodic: I Am Groot (Marvel)
Best 2D to 3D Conversion: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Marvel Studios/ Disney)
Best Musical Scene or Sequence: Elvis (Warner Bros)
Best Scene or Sequence in a Feature Film: Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount)
Best Episodic – Animated: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi (Lucasfilm/Disney)
Best Episodic – Live Action: Andor (Lucasfilm/Disney)
Best Achievement in 8K Production: Kansai TV’s “moments”

Sir Charles Wheatstone Award for Creative Excellence in Visual Effects: Wētā FX
Innovation in Technology Award: Microsoft
Innovation in Post-Production Tools: Adobe
Distinguished Achievement in Education: Camera Assessment Series (HBO)

Voices for the Earth Award: James Cameron and Jon Landau, Avatar: The Way of Water
Gene Kelly Visionary Award: Damien Chazelle, Babylon
Harold Lloyd Award: Baz Luhrmann, Elvis

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