“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” earned top honors for its reverse aging effects at the 7th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards in Century City on Feb. 21. “Button” won four awards, including Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture, Best Single Effect of the Year, and Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture. “The Dark Knight” from Warner Bros. Studios came away with three awards including Outstanding Special Effects in a Motion Picture while Disney Pixar’s robot love story “Wall-E” won in the three animation categories for which it was nominated. The Encino-based VES presents its award – a statuette based on an image from the 1902 silent film “A Trip to the Moon” of a bullet-shaped rocket in the eye of the Man in the Moon – to outstanding effects, compositing, miniatures, animation and matte paintings in feature films, television, commercials and video games. The society has more than 1,800 members around the world. The awards ceremony included the first ever award to visual effects in a student film given to Sandy Widyanata and Courtney Wise for the transformation sequence in the Australian film “Plastic.” Producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall received the society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The husband-and-wife team had a hand in such Hollywood classics as the Indiana Jones series, the “Back to the Future” series, “Jurassic Park,” and many other Steven Spielberg-directed films. In introducing the couple, director Davd Fincher said that if you can capture lightning in a bottle once you are good; if you do it twice you are very good. “When you do it a dozen times over you’re the lightning masters,” said Fincher, director of “Benjamin Button,” also produced by Kennedy and Marshall. Phil Tippet received the Georges Melies Award for pioneering work in visual effects. Tippett used to work for Industrial Light & Magic and now operates Tippett studios in Berkeley. Tippett joked that he had to be dragged “kicking and screaming” into the digital age. “Some pioneer,” Tippett quipped. “I don’t think so.” He credited the support of a true pioneer in effects artist Ray Harryhausen and sci-fi and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury for giving him support in the face of rejection and when even family members considered his pursuit of film effects to be folly. “It was essential to have that backing,” Tippett said.
“Benjamin” Buttons Up at Visual Effects Society Awards