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Posted February 26, 2007


Visual Effects Society Awards 2007!

The Visual Effects Industry Gathers To Celebrate Its Own


William Kallay


I'm a grown man heading into my 40s.  Yes, I still occasionally buy "Star Wars" DVDs or get a laugh out of fan videos that worship George Lucas.  But I consider myself an adult, having relegated my "Star Wars" action figures into the back of a closet somewhere.  I'm a big boy, until I actually stand in the presence of the master himself, George Lucas.  For a moment, just a moment, I morphed into a nine year-old seeing a hero for the first time.  Here he was, at the 5th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards, standing not more than two feet away from me.  It's George!  It's Lucas!  Should I get his autograph? Should I get his picture?  Should I get my picture with him so I can brag to friends? 


I should back step a bit, because this story really isn't about my encounter with George.  It's about the Visual Effects Awards, held in Hollywood at the Kodak Grand Ballroom.  The Visual Effects Society honors their own, and this year's show was even bigger than ever.  Some of the nominees in various categories included "Cars," "Poseidon," "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" and "Superman Returns."  This year's Lifetime Achievement Award went to Dennis Muren.   


Attendance keeps growing and shows no sign of stopping.  Some of this year's guests included Steven "Woz" Wozniack (Apple Computer co-inventor), Masi Oka ("Heroes" and ILM digital artist), Harrison Ellenshaw ("Xena: Warrior Princess"), Richard Taylor ("Tron"), Lorne Peterson ("War Of The Worlds"), Habib Zargarpour ("Need For Speed Most Wanted"), John Knoll ("Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"), and John Landis ("Animal House").


Now back to George.  When I was a kid, he was my hero.  He invented "Star Wars" and made going to the movies fun.  So here I am, almost 30 years after seeing his original epic for the first time, standing nearby.  Not only was George right there, but Dennis Muren was standing there, too.  Talk about being amongst the giants of the movie industry!  I was in the presence of my childhood heroes.  I could, technically, just tap George on the shoulder and chat.  It didn't even have to be about "Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones."  I just wanted to say hello.


But I didn't.  And for good reason.  I had flu symptoms and felt like I had been run over by a steamroller, over and over again.  I didn't want to get him sick.  I could just see the headlines: "George Lucas Gets Flu From Journalist!"  No thanks.  In fact, I probably shouldn't have been at the VES Awards in the first place.  I stuck it out for as long as I could, then told my good friend Ellen Pasternack I had to go home.  I drove 30 miles back home and slithered into bed.  So much for the VES Awards for me.


I wish I had felt better, because this year's show was going to be great.  I would've wanted to see Muren get his much deserved Lifetime Achievement Award.  He's certainly a class act in the visual effects industry and one hell of a nice guy. 


What I did see was awesome.  It was fun to see Muren and Lucas clown around in front of the press.  When Steven "Woz" Wozniack showed up, Lucas playfully stood in front of him as pictures were taken.  Woz cracked a big smile.  These gentlemen have forever changed the way we use computers and watch movies.  They created fresh new industries.  They are titans.  Yet, watching them smile and joke around, this was a side I had never seen.  They were indeed down-to-Earth individuals.


There were other nice, short moments that I had.  Harrison Ellenshaw stopped a conversation he was having to come and say hi to me.  I told him I wasn't feeling good.  "Ah, get over it!  I had it last week and now I'm fine."  That brought a smile to my face.  There's no whining around Harrison!  Another moment was catching Richard Taylor off-guard to get a nice picture of him (see below).  "Bill Kallay," he said, shaking his finger at me, jokingly.  Even the wizards of visual effects don't always like their pictures taken.  And meeting, ever so briefly, John Knoll, his lovely wife and friends (see below).  Talk about intimidating!  I'm taking a picture of one of the brothers who invented Photoshop!  Steady, take a nice picture, Bill...  But he was very cordial and I think the picture turned out nicely. 


So there you have it.  My truncated version of this year's VES Awards.  Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners.  And George, next time I see you, I will feel better!


Awards were given to the following:   


Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"

John Knoll, Jill Brooks, Hal Hickel, Charlie Gibson


Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture

"Flags of Our Fathers"

Michael Owens, Matthew Butler, Bryan Grill, Julian Levi


Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie or Special

"Nightmares and Dreamscapes - Battleground"

Eric Grenaudier, Sam Nicholson, Mark Spatny, Adalberto Lopez


Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series

"Battlestar Galactica - Episode 303b Exodus"

Gary Hutzel, Michael Gibson, Alec McClymont, Brenda Campbell


Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program

"ER - Scoop and Run"

Sam Nicholson, Scott Ramsey, Adam Ealovega, Anthony Ocampo


Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial

"Travelers - Snowball"

Dan Lemmon, Eileen Moran, R. Christopher White, Paul Story


Outstanding Visual Effects in a Music Video

U2 and Green Day - "The Saints Are Coming"

Matt Winkel, Ben Looram, Wayne England, Graham Fyffe


Best Single Visual Effect of the Year

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" Flying Dutchman Sequence

John Knoll, Ned Gorman, Jakub Pistecky, Tom Fejes


Outstanding Real Time Visuals in a Video Game

"Fight Night Round 3 for PS3"

Christopher Sjoholm, Kat Kelly Hayduk, Rob Hilson, Celia Jepson


Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project

"Roving Mars"

Alan Markowitz, Dan Maas, Jeremy Nicolaides, Johnathan Banta


Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" Davy Jones

Steve Walton, Jung-Seung Hong, Marc Chu, James Tooley


Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture

"Cars" - Mater

Larry The Cable Guy, Mike Krummhoefener, Tom Sanocki, Nancy Kat


Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Broadcast Program, Commercial or Music Video

Geico - "Chat"

David Hulin, Seth Gollub, Andy Walker, Jenny Bichsel


Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Motion Picture

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"

Chris Stoski, Susumu Yukuhiro, Jack Mongovan, Greg Salter


Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Broadcast Program, Commercial or Music Video

"Elisabeth - Episode 1"

Dave Bowman, Jimmy Kidell, Russell Horth, Gurel Mehmet


Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Motion Picture

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"

Bruce Holcomb, Ron Woodall, Charlie Bailey, Carl Miller


Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Broadcast Program

"Battlestar Galactica - Season 2, Episode 218 'Resurrection Ship, Part 2'"

Steve Graves, Jose Perez, Mark Shimer, Chris Zapara


Outstanding Compositing in a Motion Picture

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"

Eddie Pasquarello, Francois Lambert, Jeff Sutherland, Tory Mercer


Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program, Commercial or Music Video

Travelers - "Snowball"

Laure Lacroix, Lyse Beck, Steve McGillen, Matt Holland


Outstanding Special Effects in a Motion Picture

"Casino Royale"

Chris Corbould, Peter Notley, Ian Lowe, Roy Quinn


Just a small sample of the many people in attendance

Suellen & Bob Coleman and VES Executive Director Eric Roth

Muren and George Lucas kid around

Dennis Muren before the show

Muren, Steven "Woz" Wozniack & Lucas crack jokes

VES Executive Director Eric Roth, Muren, Lucas and VES Chair Jeffrey A. Okun

Habib Zargarpour ("Need For Speed") and Masi Oka ("Heroes")

Harrison Ellenshaw reacts to the spicy appetizers

(Left-to-right) Masi Oka, Dereck Sonnenburg, Richard Kidd and Jill Smolin

Richard Taylor cuts a dashing pose

(Left-to-right) Alex & Kimberly LoCasio, Jennifer & John Knoll  Not only is John Knoll a great visual effects artist, but he and his brother, Thomas, invented Photoshop

Director John Landis ("The Blues Brothers")

Lucas tries to be serious, but it doesn't work when Landis is around!

(Left-to-right) Sherri Potter (Technicolor), Mark Soper (VFX Producer, "The Fountain"), and Persis Reynolds (Technicolor)

Effects wizard Tim McGovern ("Total Recall") and Silvia Gallini

More George!

Woz and Lucas

Special thanks to Ellen Pasternack, Raulette Woods and VES

All photos 2007 William Kallay.  All rights reserved.



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