The 16th Visual Effects Society (VES) awards, held in Beverly Hills, California, celebrates the best visual effects work from artists working on some of Hollywood’s most successful blockbuster films and commercials.
This year’s awards saw a Lifetime Achievement Award presented to writer-director Jon Favreau, the creative mind behind live-action remake The Jungle Book and sci-fi adaptation, Iron Man, and the 'Oustanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode' award presented by Star Wars' Mark Hamill.
Five BU National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) graduates, Chris McLaughlin, Andrew Lockley, Amir Bazazi, Gary Boyle and Robert Stipp, were awarded for their work on Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk, Samsung’s Ostrich, War for the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, respectively.
Speaking to BU about his success in 2017, double Oscar-winner and VES winner of ‘Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature’ for Dunkirk, Andrew Lockley, said: “It’s really hard to say what my career highlight would be; there are so many amazing things that have happened, particularly since winning the BAFTA and Oscar for Inception. Standing at the bar at the Vanity fair party with Tim Burton standing on my right and Quentin Tarantino on my left and them congratulating me is definitely up there in my top five!”
BA (Hons) Computer Visualisation and Animation/MA Digital Effects graduate, Amir Bazazi, was awarded 'Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial’ for his work on Samsung’s ostrich. The award-winning ad was created by MPC for Samsung’s ‘Do What You Can’t Campaign’ which promotes VR technology and hopes to change consumers’ ideas on what is humanly possible. Opening with a curious ostrich stumbling into a VR headset you see the character begin to dream of achieving the impossible and flying.
Although Amir now works for MPC one the biggest and most successful VFX companies in Europe (and worldwide), he suggests that sometimes smaller production houses can have a bigger impact at the beginning of a career in VFX: "Working for a small company was really good, I’d recommend it for people starting out as you learn lots and don’t get pigeon-holed.
“You get to explore lots and learn about the art of delivering a job which is something that if you come into a big company and you’re doing one tiny thing you wouldn’t get the opportunity to do. For me it was a good way of learning the overall structure of how to deliver jobs in the animation industry. My show reel that I produced in my final year helped me find a job as it enabled me to present the work that I’d done and the skills I’d learned while at university. Employers were able to look at my show reel and they saw I’d been at the NCCA and could clearly do good work.”
The award-winning ad was created by MPC for Samsung’s ‘Do What You Can’t Campaign’ which promotes VR technology and hopes to change consumers’ ideas on what is humanly possible. Opening with a curious ostrich stumbling into a VR headset you see the character begin to dream of achieving the impossible and flying.
DNEG Digital Effects Supervisor, and MA Digital Effects graduate Chris McLaughlin won ‘Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature’ for Blade Runner 2049, while Framestore Lighting Technical Director and BA (Hons) Computer Visualisation and Animation alumni, Robert Stipp, picked up the award for 'Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project' for his work on Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2.
BU graduate Gary Boyle, who studied for an MA in Digital Effects in 2009, won 'Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature' for his work on War for the Planet of the Apes, to add to the list of NCCA alumni who won prizes at the VES this year.
BU's VES winners will join the National Centre for Computer Animation’s growing list of success stories, alongside fellow graduates and BFX Festival guest speakers Mike Mullholland, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2018 and Mark Ardington who won the VFX Oscar for Ex Machina in 2016. Pioneering work was also undertaken by NCCA alumnus and Visual Effects Supervisor, Richard Clegg, who led MPC’s award-winning team to success in digitally recreating the character of Rachel, 30 years on from her iconic performance in 1982's Blade Runner for Blade Runner 2049.
Chris Williams, Head of the Computer Animation Department at BU, said: “Awards season is always an exciting time for staff at the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA), particularly when we hear about BU graduates who have been recognised by the industry on a global platform.
“It’s incredibly gratifying to know that graduates from the NCCA contribute to award-winning shows and projects year-on-year. This is a clear demonstration that what we at the NCCA are teaching our students sets them up for incredibly successful careers in the visual effects, animation and computer games industries.”