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Oscars Unplugged

What the winning editors, animators and mixers said in the backstage press room By Frank Moldstad

Acceptance speeches at a high-profile event like the Academy Awards dont leave time for winners to say much, particularly when the music starts playing as soon as they get to the podium, as it did this year at the 78th annual awards show. This is especially true for Oscar winners who are more comfortable behind the cameras than in front of them -- the editors, mixers, cinematographers, special fx teams, animators and composers.

While the mass media will give Philip Seymour Hoffman many more opportunities to talk about winning Best Actor, the Kodak Theater stage was the only public forum for winners from the production community. With the ceremony over, theyll soon fade back behind the scenes unless theyre lucky enough to win another Oscar.

But there is one venue not seen by the public where every winner gets to hold court: the post-Oscar press conference. Winners are ushered into this room full of reporters soon after coming off the stage, and its often where the most interesting comments are made. So in this article, well let the Oscar-winning editors, mixers, cinematographers, special fx teams, animators and composers talk about what the honor means in their own words from the post-Oscar press room.

Visual Effects
King Kong
Joe Letteri, Christian Rivers, Richard Taylor, Brian Vant Hul

The WETA Digital team that won a visual effects Oscar for King Kong previously worked on Peter Jacksons Lord of the Rings trilogy at WETA Digital. That experience helped them create a streamlined workflow for King Kong that included extensive pre-viz at the start of the project.

?I think that in the past visual effects has been considered post production, VFX Supervisor Joe Letteri said. ?Now with so much reliance on pre-viz in planning the film, were actually there right at the beginning to develop the ideas.

The pre-viz work got underway before the script was finished, noted Christian Rivers. ?We actually started pre-viz before Peter [Jackson], Fran [Walsh] and Philippa [Boyens] started writing the script for a lot of the key action sequences. So its becoming a lot more of an integrated part of the filmmaking process, rather than as Joe says, a post production.

Asked by one reporter what kind of effects we will see in 10 years, the team agreed that predictions are difficult because ultimately effects are story-driven. But Richard Taylor added that King Kong represented the first time a digital character created such empathy with the audience that some viewers were moved to tears. ?That means that digital cinema has a very bright future because it means that it can make emotional connections, he said.

Animated Feature Film
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Nick Park, Steve Box

Written by Nick Park and co-directed by Park and Steve Box, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was up against some stiff competition in the Animated Feature Film category -- Hayao Miyazakis Howls Moving Castle and Tim Burtons Corpse Bride. ?Im just glad Pixar didnt have a film this year, said a beaming Park at the press conference, where both he and Box were sporting outlandish bow ties they had made for the occasion.

Although Aardman has received three previous Oscars for Animated Short Film, this is its first for a full-length animated feature, and it means a lot, Park said. ?Its a great boost, just to be treated in the animation feature category as a proper film. I think from the earliest days weve always wanted to make movies. Even the short films were always frustrated feature films, so with Wallace & Gromits first feature film to come here and actually win is just amazing.

The Oscar win comes a year after a terrible fire destroyed a warehouse full of Wallace & Gromit models and drawings from earlier films.

?The great thing was that the studio itself was not damaged, Park said. ?It was a fire that burnt down a lot of memorabilia that we keep in a warehouse. And it was about four and a half million dollars worth of stuff gone. Old stuff from the short films, Wallace & Gromit short films and Chicken Run. And it was sad, but these things happen. It was just very touching to see how media and people around the world treated it as a great loss and  we didnt realize it was so valuable to people, so it was very touching. 

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Related Keywords:Academy Awards, Oscar winners, editors, mixers, cinematographers, special fx teams, animators, composers


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