As the VES Awards are rapidly approaching, I decided to list the nominees here and give my thoughts on each. Read on for my picks, why I think particular entries will do well, and what I would have liked to see nominated.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture
Weta Digital is leading the contenders in this category with their excellent work on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with the photorealistic, performance-captured apes and CG environments of a dystopian version of San Francisco. The way that the CG characters interacted with their live-action counterparts and the natural feel to these characters, as well as the scope is stunning. Interstellar would be my runner-up with the incredible pioneering work done by Framestore on the black hole, wormhole, and tesseract. Depicting these never-before-seen phenomena is certain to win the film more than a few votes. It is nice to see The Hobbit get a VFX nomination here after not being recognized by the Academy, but the series hasn’t brought much to the proverbial table since it began.
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture
The Supporting VFX category is a bit tougher. I have only seen a few of the films, but I can say that the work done for Divergent is impressive with its depictions of a derelict Chicago and the room of mirrors. However, I feel that Unbroken also has a very good chance with a lot of good work done by ILM and Rodeo FX. Read more the effects done for the film here.
Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
There have been a few animated films this year with outstanding animation with Disney, DreamWorks, Blue Sky, LAIKA, and Animal Logic all in the running. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a likely possibility, especially considering its strong reception at the Annie Awards, but I think that Rio 2 has the best chance of winning here. The animated song-and-dance sequences are spectacular.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Photoreal/Live Action Broadcast Program
Visual effects in broadcast and TV rarely possess the polish and quality of their feature counterparts, but the level of VFX being done in this area has reached an amazing height. Game of Thrones is an amazing example of this, and has won multiple Emmys and VES awards for its effects. One of the shows two nominated episodes is most likely to win, although newcomer Constantine may come out ahead with its otherworldly FX.
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Photoreal/Live Action Broadcast Program
The programs in this category are ones that I don’t know a great deal about, but from what I have seen Crossbones has good visual effects seen in the work done on the pirate ships.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial
The short film Ambition, which was a promotion for ESA’s Rosetta mission, is fantastically well-done with effects created by the well-reputed post facility Image Engine. I loved this film when it came out and have little doubt that VES voters will likewise show it a lot of love.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
Outstanding Performance of an Animated Character in a Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture
As I mentioned above, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes brought performance capture to a new level. Andy Serkis’ digital portrayal of Caesar is stunning and feels every bit as real any of the actors. There is a depth to the performance that, despite my antagonism towards mocap, I find makes the character of Caesar highly memorable.
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Again, I’m going with Rio 2 and Gabi. There was some excellent animation in the film as I mentioned above, and it’s reasonable to assume that Blue Sky will also pick up a win here. The only other character with a good chance of winning is Baymax from Big Hero 6. The character is certainly an unconventional one and displays some quite creative character animation.
Outstanding Performance of an Animated Character in a Commercial, Broadcast Program, or Video Game
The Mill’s work on Maya for SSE is fantastic. Very good character animation is present in this advert. Sorry, Game of Thrones, but you aren’t going to win this one. Besides, who doesn’t love a CG orangutan?
Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture
I really can’t see any winner here except Interstellar’s ethereal Tesseract environment. This really did more to push the of visual effects (and the science of theoretical physics) more than any other nominee. I would, however, have liked to see Guardians of the Galaxy on this list. The CG environment of Knowhere was the most-detailed environment that Framestore had ever created with 1.2 billion polygons.
Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
It can hardly be disputed that the otherworldly design of The Magical Land of the Remembered in Book of Life was a visual landmark for animation in 2014. The other nominees are certainly worthy of their places in this category, but the artists at ReelFX have certainly created a masterpiece. It is, in a word, magical.
Outstanding Created Environment in a Commercial, Broadcast Program, or Video Game
Despite my overall dislike of the show, I have always admired the VFX of Game of Thrones. While Coca-Cola’s advert is very good, there is little doubt in my mind that it will win this award. See it below:
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal/Live Action Motion Media Project
The cinematography in Interstellar’s Tesseract sequence was quite impressive and a likely winner.
Outstanding Models in any Motion Media Project
This category comes down to one thing: Knightship. ILM has always done excellent work on the Transformers series and the alien ship that appears in Age of Extinction is a testament to the skill of its artists. It is simply awesome.
Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture
I feel like this one belongs to Edge of Tomorrow. Certainly there were great effects, but the film’s Annie win is also a good indicator of how well it will do here.
You can find the full list of nominees on the official website: http://www.visualeffectssociety.com/post/ves-awards-nominations-announced