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VFX•Animation ■ ■ ■ ■ going for This year’s five nominations ups the ante for those vying for an Oscar By Debra Kaufman t should come as no surprise, giv en the economic for ces, that visual e˜ ects movies and the companies that pr oduce them have had a tough go of it this y ear. ° e last domino in the moviemaking series, some VFX houses were knocked down—or even knocked out—by economic forces that made middle-budget movies an endangered species and moved work o˜ -shore. ° is year, like so many years before, the blockbust- ers loomed large. S ince many of these fi lms are e˜ ects- and CG-heavy, they have continued to generate wor k among the studios. N evertheless, M ark Breakspear, VFX super visor at CIS in Vancouver, worries that the tent poles are overshadow- ing the smaller fi lms. “A lot of small mo vies that came out won’t get recognition,” he says, pointing out Knight and Day as one example. “° ere are always three obvious movies that you know will get in.” ° is year, there are fi ve spots for nominations, so even with I three obvious (pick y our favorites), it could still be any one’s year. ° e good news—and the bad news—is that visual e˜ ects have matured. “All the mo vies ar e technically superb ,” says VES president/visual e˜ ects supervisor Je˜ Okun. “° ere was a time when you’d get a movie done and it was the pinnacle of the art, the best they could do . Today the entire industry has become so sophisticated, and the tools are commoditized. ° e state of the art is so advanced as to be transparent. Now it isn’t about software and hardware. It’s about the artist.” So, what have some of these amazing ar tists—the best and the brightest in the ar eas of visual e˜ ects and animation— served up for us during 2010 that ar e worth talking about? Let’s take a look. VISUAL EFFECTS The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Release date: Dec. 10 Production companies: Fox 2000 Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Walden Media ° is is one of many sequels that came out this y ear, and when the fi rst movie in the series was as well acclaimed as this one appears to be, it ’s a har d act to follo w. Nonetheless, the CG lion Aslan is still amazing, and Narnia fans look forward to Dawn Treader. Mark Breakspear, visual e˜ ects super visor at CIS in Vancouver, thinks the VFX in this fi lm will be well done (this story was fi nished prior to the fi lm’s release). “It’s got all the har d components of character wor k, physical ef- fects, water, and fi re,” he says. “It’s got everything, and people respond to that.” December 2010 21

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