It was a good night for Digital Domain at the 7th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards as “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” took home four awards and a commercial for Bacardi made it five. The HBO series “John Adams”, “The Changeling”, “WALL E”, and “The Dark Knight” all took home multiple awards and New Deal Studios swept the Models and Miniatures categories.
You can see the complete list of winners in our other article and click read more for our recap of the night and a link to slideshow photo gallery.
This year the VES Awards were held the night before the Oscars, an unfortunate scheduling that the Visual Effects Society had no control over after being forced to change date and venue. The evening started with cocktails and a silent auction and then over 1100 guests moved into the Los Angeles Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza for dinner.
The awards were being taped for future broadcast so there were all the trappings you would expect for such a show, well produced graphic intros for each category that played on two large projected screens and appearances by celebrities like Brian Austin Green (Sarah Conner Chronicles), Andy Serkis (Gollum, Kong), Iron Man director Jon Favreau, Comedian Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Tia Carrere (Wayne’s World) as well as a “who’s who” of visual effects.
There was strong crowd support for “Benjamin Button”, every time a clip ran or it received an award it was clear the crowd approved. After multiple “Button” wins and the commercial category was claimed by DD – vfx supervisor Eric Barba remarked from the stage “Digital Domain is back!”.
The Models and Miniatures category was the source of some contention earlier this year when VES tried to combine some categories and ended up reverting to the way it had been. Ian Hunter from New Deal Studios took to the stage for both awards in these categories, for a New Balance Commercial and the garbage truck crash sequence in “The Dark Knight”.
“WALL E” was the other big winner of the night as it swept the animation categories. Jeff Garlin joked before the categories were announced that “WALL E” was unbeatable and he ended up being correct.
“Dr. Who” won it’s first effects award in the series 45 year history for Outstanding Matte Painting and “John Adams” rounded up three awards.
There were two video pieces produced for the evening by ILM. In the lead up to Phil Tippett receiving the George Melies award a red chair that slid onto the screen was used as a clever device to have people tell stories about Phil. Dennis Muren then presented the award to Phil who joked “Some Pioneer, I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age!”. He recounted a story of being upset after the phone call that “Jurassic Park” was going to be done digitally and later producer Kathleen Kennedy said “I think he cried when I told him”.
After the second video piece featuring ILM personnel attributing every achievement in Visual Effects filmmaking to the duo, director David Fincher took the stage to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. Their body of work includes so many of the best films of all time that Fincher remarked in a very non PG13 way “VES, what took you so F***ing long!?”
Attendees received a gift bag that included a nice ILM metal water bottle, a copy of the VES art book Vesage, DVDs of “WALL E”, “Kung Fu Panda” and oddly “The Bucket List”. Congratulations to all the winners and nominated teams and to the Visual Effects Society Awards Committee for an outstanding and well paced event.