San Fernando Valley Business Journal

'Pi' Takes Big Slice of Visual Effects Awards

By Mark Madler Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A tiger in a lifeboat bested hobbits, dwarves and goblins at the 11th annual Visual Effects Society Awards given out this week in Beverly Hills.

“Life of Pi” won four awards out of the six categories it was nominated in, including outstanding visual effects in a visual effects-driven feature motion picture. That category is the Sherman Oaks society’s equivalent of the Best Visual Effects category at the Academy Awards.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was nominated in seven categories but won only a single statuette for outstanding virtual cinematography in a live action feature motion picture.

Other big winners included “Brave,” the tale by Walt Disney Co.’s Pixar of a headstrong ginger-haired princess. The picture won four awards, while the HBO series “Game of Thrones” had four wins in broadcast categories.

The society has more than 2,700 members around the world that chose the nominees in 24 categories at five locations around the world, including post-production firm FotoKem in Burbank.

As in past years, Visual Effects Society Executive Director Eric Roth used the evening as a platform to advocate for the entertainment industry, and visual effects companies in particular. He called for the companies to adapt to harsh financial realities in which U.S. visual effects firms can operate on razor thin margins due to lower-cost foreign competition.

More than 1,000 people attended the awards show that took place Monday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and featured actors Andy Serkis and Naomi Watts as presenters.

Director Ang Lee received the society’s visionary award for his diverse body of work that includes “Life of Pi,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Sense and Sensibility,” and “Hulk.”

Visual effects cinematographer Richard Edlund received the lifetime achievement award. Edlund was introduced by actor Harrison Ford, who met Edlund when the pair worked together on “Star Wars” in 1976.

Edlund began his entertainment industry career working in television in the mid-1960s. Along with the original “Star Wars” trilogy, Edlund’s credits include “Ghostbusters,” “Die Hard,” “Air Force One,” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”