The nominees for the 89th Academy Awards have been announced. As always, the nominees were determined by the visual effects branch of the Academy after attending a bake-off of 10 films. The full Academy membership will vote on the winners of each category. The awards ceremony will take place on February 26, 2017.
Here are the nominees for Achievement in Visual Effects for the 89th Academy Awards. Congratulations to everyone involved in the creation of these magnificent images.
Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton
This are the first Oscar nominations for Hammack, Snell and Billington, and Dalton's fourth (who won for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button").
Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould
This is the second Oscar nomination for Ceretti and Paul Corobould, and the first for Bluff and Cirelli.
THE JUNGLE BOOK
Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon
This is the fourth Oscar nomination for Legato (who has won two Oscars for "Hugo" and "Titanic"), the third for Jones (who won for "Avatar"). This is Dan Lemmon's third nomination, and the first for Adam Valdez.
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff
These are the first Oscar nominations for Emerson, Jones, McLean and Schiff.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould
This is Knoll's sixth Oscar nomination (who has won for "Pirates 2"), the first for Leo, the fourth for Hickel (who won for "Pirates 2"), and the fifth for Neil Corbould (winner for "Gravity" and "Gladiator")
Star Wars fans pride themselves on knowing each and every detail from the original trilogy. But there’s one little detail from “Star Wars” (1977) that might surprise a lot of fans, and the reality of this detail is different than our collective head canon.
At the end of the original film, Rebel ships fly along the Death Star trench in an attempt to blow up the space station. Look at the photo of the Death Star at the top of this post: can you point to the trench that Luke and the Rebels flew down to fire upon the exhaust port that would ultimately destroy the space station?
Nearly everybody points at the equatorial trench of the Death Star. I asked dozens of die-hard fans, including many co-workers at Industrial Light & Magic, and nearly every single person pointed to the equatorial trench. If you asked me, I would also have said the equatorial trench.
In fact, this came up during ILM “Rogue One” dailies one day. Computer Graphics Supervisor Vick Schutz and Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll were chatting about the details of our computer graphics version of the Death Star, and Knoll casually remarked that the trench run in “Star Wars” is a longitudinal line on the Death Star (meaning, a north-south trench).
Most of us in the room were dumbfounded. “What did he say?”
Of course, it all makes sense if you think about it for even a minute.
The equatorial trench is where the major hangar bays are located on the Death Star. The hangar bays are depicted in this sequence from “Star Wars”, when the tractor beam locks onto the Millennium Falcon. The equatorial trench is large enough to house multiple hangar bays stacked vertically.
Now, contrast this with the final trench run; the trench is barely large enough for three small fighters to fly down, side-by-side.
So, we now realize that the trench with the Death Star’s exhaust port weakness is not located at the equator since the equatorial trench is several times wider than the final trench, but how do we know that it’s a vertical, longitudinal trench. Why couldn’t it be a different latitudinal trench, parallel to the equator? Or, perhaps the equatorial trench narrows on the ‘far’ side of the Death Star, the side of the Death Star we never see?
Well, it’s a longitudinal north-south trench because the movie literally showed us.
detail of the Rebel briefing sequence, led by General Dodanna
The scene of General Dodonna briefing the Rebel troops contains some computer graphics displayed at the front of the room. As Dodonna describes the challenges ahead, the audience can see quite clearly that the trench that contains the exhaust port is perpendicular to the equator. It was there the whole time.
Why have so many of us been confused for so many years? I have a few ideas on that.
There are only two prominent geometric features on the Death Star: its dish and its equator (a trench). Later in the film, we see a third bit of geometry, the final trench. Our brains want to connect this new trench with something we've seen before, and because of their similarities, and the simplicity of that connection, it’s not a big leap for us to (incorrectly) deduce the two trenches are one and the same.
Secondly, consider this shot, which takes place early in the battle sequence, of the X-wings preparing to draw Imperial fire:
Look at how this shot is composed; the two lead X-wings are banking right and swerving, almost as if they are about to travel down the length of the equatorial trench, which is prominently featured in the shot and sits directly behind the lead ships. In reality, the X-wings start their attack run down the trench much later in the sequence, but this shot is visually striking, and subtly (and wrongly) suggests the attack run takes place down the equatorial trench.
Combine this with this POV (point-of-view) shot, used twice in the film, depicting a Rebel fighter’s initial descent into the final trench...
...and our brains once again combine these two thoughts. Both shots feature a fighter diving in the same screen direction to (apparently) travel down a trench. We incorrectly conflated these two shots, combining them into a single location.
Don't feel badly if you thought the final trench was the equator. Heck, even Legoland got it wrong in its giant Death Star lego build.
Legoland in Carlsbad, CA. Photo by Todd Vaziri, November 2016
(Live Photo from iPhone 6, GIF'd with Google's Motion Stills iOS app)
Here’s one more bit of trivia about the geometry of the Death Star. Did you notice anything a little strange about the animated Death Star plans that R2-D2 successfully delivered to the Rebels?
The weapons array (the dish) is centered on the equator! Of course, the Death Star we see in the film has the array clearly in its northern hemisphere. Why is there a discrepancy?
Larry Cuba was tasked with creating the computer graphics for the film, depicting the stolen Imperial plans. He was given a single matte painting to base his graphics upon (shown above). This early design of the Death Star had its equatorial trench bisecting the dish array. Cuba had already started animating when director George Lucas and Industrial Light & Magic made a design change to the Death Star, moving the array to the northern hemisphere. There simply wasn't enough time to change Cuba’s already-in-progress graphics to reflect the design change, due to the massive complexity of the creation of the computer animation; the graphics based on the original Death Star design was projected in the General Dodonna scene for the final film.
update:Larry Cuba reached out to me to correct and add clarity to the timeline of events. Cuba says, "I don't know *when* in the course of the production the decision was made to change the design, but I wasn't notified of it. I don't think it would have been that difficult to change [the graphics]." To be clear, Cuba's completed graphics were rear-projected on-set during first unit shooting. At some point after that scene was filmed, unbeknownst to Cuba, the design change to the Death Star array took place. Subsequently, all of the visual effects models and matte paintings of the Death Star (with the new placement of the dish) were created at Industrial Light & Magic in Van Nuys, California, with the "new" location of the array. Cuba also reminded me of this cool detail he added to the animation of the graphics. "You'll notice that after the Death Star appears in the animation, it rotates toward you to show the north pole, supposedly the location of the exhaust port, before rotating back to zoom in on the point the pilots were to enter the trench much further south for their approach." I love the method Cuba took to help tell the story here: he's using the rotation of the camera to first indicate the location of the port, then the location of the best place to enter the trench.
We joked in “Rogue One” dailies that the Stardust file Jyn stole actually contained every major version of the plans of the Death Star, including an early version with the array bisecting the equator (but still containing Galen Erso’s exhaust port vulnerability), and at the Rebel briefing in “Star Wars”, General Dodonna just happened to project one of those early versions to the troops. Head canon!
Here are some terrific resources online discussing Larry Cuba’s computer graphics on the film:
The Visual Effects Society has announced the nominees for the 15th VES Awards. The nominees were determined by VES members who participated in the nomination judging process.
The leading nomination earner for feature films was "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" with six nominations. Next up with five nominations was "The Jungle Book" and "Doctor Strange".
Earning two nominations were "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" and "Deepwater Horizon". Earning a single nomination this year were "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children", "Allied", "Jason Bourne", "Silence", "Sully", "Warcraft", "Deadpool:, "Star Trek Beyond", "Alice Through the Looking Glass", "Independence Day: Resurgence" and "X-Men Apocalypse".
Of the ten films invited to the Academy bake-off this year, "Arrival", "Passengers", "Captain America: Civil War" and "The BFG" did not earn any VES nominations, while "Kubo and the Two Strings" earned six nominations in animated feature categories.
Listed below are all of the live-action feature film categories. To see all of the nominees, visit The Hollywood Reporter's coverage. The entire VES membership votes for the winners of the awards, which will be announced at a banquet on February 2, 2016. To learn more about the Visual Effects Society, visit their web site.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature DOCTOR STRANGE Stephane Ceretti, Susan Pickett, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, Paul Corbould FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM Christian Manz, Olly Young, Tim Burke, Pablo Grillo, David Watkins MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN Frazer Churchill, Hal Couzens, Andrew Lockley, Jelmer Boskma, Hayley Williams ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY John Knoll, Erin Dusseault, Hal Hickel, Nigel Sumner, Neil Corbould THE JUNGLE BOOK Robert Legato, Joyce Cox, Andrew R. Jones, Adam Valdez, JD Schwalm Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature ALLIED Kevin Baillie, Sandra Scott, Brennan Doyle, Viktor Muller, Richard Van Den Bergh DEEPWATER HORIZON Craig Hammack, Petra Holtorf-Stratton, Jason Snell, John Galloway, Burt Dalton JASON BOURNE Charlie Noble, Dan Barrow, Julian Gnass, Huw Evans, Steve Warner SILENCE Pablo Helman, Brian Barlettani, Ivan Busquets, Juan Garcia, R. Bruce Steinheimer SULLY Michael Owens, Tyler Kehl, Mark Curtis, Bryan Litson, Steven Riley Outstanding Animated Performance in a Photoreal Feature FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM; Niffler Laurent Laban, Gabriel Beauvais-Tremblay, Luc Girard, Romain Rico ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY; Grand Moff Tarkin Sven Jensen, Jee Young Park, Steve Walton, Cyrus Jam THE JUNGLE BOOK; King Louie Paul Story, Dennis Yoo, Jack Tema, Andrei Coval THE JUNGLE BOOK; Shere Khan Benjamin Jones, Julio Del Rio Hernandez, Jake Harrell, James Hood WARCRAFT; Durotan Sunny Wei, Brian Cantwell, Brian Paik, Jee Young Park Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature DEADPOOL; Freeway Assault Seth Hill, Jedediah Smith, Laurent Taillefer, Marc-Antoine Paquin DOCTOR STRANGE; London Brendan Seals, Raphael A. Pimentel, Andrew Zink, Gregory Ng DOCTOR STRANGE; New York City Adam Watkins, Martijn van Herk, Tim Belsher, Jon Mitchell ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY; Scarif Complex Enrico Damm, Kevin George, Olivier Vernay-Kim, Yanick Dusseault Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project DOCTOR STRANGE; New York Mirror Dimension Landis Fields, Mathew Cowie, Frederic Medioni, Faraz Hameed GAME OF THRONES; Battle of the Bastards Patrick Tiberius Gehlen, Michelle Blok, Christopher Baird, Drew Wood-Davies ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY; Space Battle John Levin, Euisung Lee, Steve Ellis, Barry Howell THE JUNGLE BOOK Bill Pope, Robert Legato, Gary Roberts, John Brennan Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project DEEPWATER HORIZON; Deepwater Horizon Rig Kelvin Lau, Jean Bolte, Kevin Sprout, Kim Vongbunyong ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY; Princess Leia Paul Giacoppo, Gareth Jensen, Todd Vaziri, James Tooley ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY; Star Destroyer Jay Machado, Marko Chulev, Akira Orikasa, Steven Knipping STAR TREK BEYOND; Enterprise Daniel Nicholson, Rhys Salcombe, Chris Elmer, Andreas Maaninka Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS; Rust Klaus Seitschek, Joseph Pepper, Jacob Clark, Cosku Turhan DOCTOR STRANGE; Hong Kong Reverse Destruction Florian Witzel, Georges Nakhle, Azhul Mohamed, David Kirchner ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY; Jedha Destruction Miguel Perez Senent, Matt Puchala, Ciaran Moloney, Luca Mignardi THE JUNGLE BOOK; Nature Effects Oliver Winwood, Fabian Nowak, David Schneider, Ludovic Ramisandraina Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature DOCTOR STRANGE; New York City Matthew Lane, Jose Fernandez, Ziad Shureih, Amy Shepard INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE; Under The Mothership Mathew Giampa, Adrian Sutherland, Daniel Lee, Ed Wilkie THE JUNGLE BOOK Christoph Salzmann, Masaki Mitchell, Matthew Adams, Max Stummer X-MEN: APOCALYPSE; Quicksilver Rescue Jess Burnheim, Alana Newell, Andy Peel, Matthew Shaw
Back in early December, the Academy announced the list of 20 films that would be considered eligible for consideration for the Oscar in Visual Effects. That list of 20 films was determined by the Executive Committee of the Effects Branch.
Two weeks later, the Committee narrowed the list down to 10 films, each will present their work at the annual visual effects "bake-off", attended by the Effects Branch members of the Academy (along with a few seats open to the public). Each film presents a reel of completed work, along with brief remarks from each film's designated representative, usually the visual effects supervisor.
The ten films that will be presenting at the bake-off are:
Captain America: Civil War
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The films that didn't make the cut (part of the original list of 20 films) are:
Alice through the Looking Glass
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Independence Day: Resurgence
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Star Trek Beyond
Directly after the bake-off, usually a three-hour-plus affair, each member of the Effects Branch votes on their top five choices. The five films with the most votes become Academy Award nominees for Best Visual effects. The winner of the visual effects Oscar is voted on by the full Academy membership, as are the winners of all the other categories.
The bake-off will take place on January 7, 2017, and the nominations for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced on January 24, 2017. The Oscars telecast is February 26, 2017.