VES Announces Additional Special 2020 Honorees
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LOS ANGELES — The Visual Effects Society (VES), the industry's global professional honor society, has inducted its newest honorary members, VES scholars and candidates into the VES Hall of Fame. The award winners and Hall of Fame candidates will be honored at a virtual ceremony in the coming weeks. Don Iwerks, Greg Jein and the late Ron Cobb were made honorary members. This year's venerated VES scholarship recipients who will be awarded the post-nominal letters “VES” are: Warren Franklin, David Johnson, Janet Muswell Hamilton, Ken Ralston and Sebastian Sylwan. The 2020 class of VES Hall of Fame Awardees includes Irwin Allen, Mary Blair, Claire Parker, Gene Warren Jr., and Gene Warren Sr.

"Our VES award winners represent a group of exceptional artists, innovators and professionals who have had a profound impact on the visual effects realm," said Mike Chambers, VES chairman of the board. "We pride ourselves on recognizing those who have shaped our shared heritage and will continue to inspire future generations of VFX practitioners."

2020 award winners

Honorary member: Ron Cobb. Cobb was a celebrated cartoonist, artist, writer, film designer, and film director who passed away earlier this month. He was the production designer for Conan the Barbarian, The Last Starfighter and Leviathan and contributed conceptual designs to Star Wars, Alien, Encounters of the Third Kind, The Abyss, Total Recall (1990) and Back to the Future. His illustrations have appeared in the books RCD-25, Mah Fellow Americans, The Cobb Book, Cobb Again, and Colorvision.

Honorary member: Don Iwerks. Iwerks is a former Disney executive, Disney legend and co-founder of Iwerks Entertainment and a renowned developer of special events venues around the world. Iwerks received the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, an Academy of Arts and Sciences Oscar for feature films, which "honors a person in the film industry whose technological contributions have made the industry recognized."

Honorary Member: Greg Yes and No. Jein is a model designer and artist whose work includes studio models, props, and other artwork, including landscape miniatures, that have appeared throughout the Star Trek franchise. Jein was nominated twice for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and for an Oscar in visual effects in 1941, and is also known for his work on Avatar, Oblivion, and Interstellar.

VES Fellow: Warren Franklin. Franklin is a leading global provider of animation and visual effects. As the founder and former CEO of Rainmaker Entertainment, he helped establish Vancouver as an industrial hub. Franklin was a key member of George Lucas’s creative and management team, where he led six divisions as group vice president, including Industrial Light & Magic, LucasArts and Skywalker Sound. As VP and General Manager of ILM, the company won nine Oscar awards during his tenure.

VES staff: David Johnson. Johnson is the award-winning founder, CEO and Creative Director of Undertone FX, Inc., a studio specializing in real-time visual effects for video games and VR / AR. David was the lead visual effects artist at the Infinity Ward Studio for Activision / Blizzard, creator of the Call of Duty franchise. He is a two-time VES Award winner, a member of the VFX Voice Advisory Board, author of Introduction to Game Development and the VES Visual Effects Guide, and co-founder of

VES Fellow: Janet Muswell Hamilton. Muswell is currently the Global Director for VFX Production at Netflix and an original member of the VES Board of Directors. With a career spanning several decades, she established her reputation as a VFX producer and / or supervisor for cutting-edge visual effects in a variety of groundbreaking television series and cinema functions, as well as animation, IMAX, advertising and stereoscopic special venue projects.

VES Fellow: Ken Ralston. Ralston is a VES Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and has received five BAFTAs and five Academy Awards, including a Special Achievement Oscar for the visual effects in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi and VFX Oscars for Forrest Gump, Death Becomes Her, Who framed Roger Rabbit and Cocoon? Ralston was Creative Head at Sony Pictures Imageworks and previously played a pivotal role in building the reputation of Industrial Light & Magic over the course of 20 years.

VES Fellow: Sebastian Sylwan. Sylwan is the Chief Technology Officer – Film & Episodic TV at Technicolor. As a digital media manager with a passion for the ability of technology to arouse emotions, he develops immersive live-action experiences in addition to the cameras, tools and workflows required for their realization. Sylwan chairs the VES Technology Committee and is an active member of the Academy's Sci-Tech Awards Committee, Previsualization Committee, and Virtual Production Committee.

VES 2020 Hall of Fame Candidates

Irwin Allen (1916-1991). Allen was an American film and television producer and director, known for his science fiction work, later as a "Master of Disaster" for his work in the disaster film genre. His most successful productions were The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. He won an Oscar for his documentary The Sea Around Us and was the creator of Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Time Tunnel.

Mary Blair (1911-1978). Blair was an American artist, animator, and designer, and a Disney legend. He produced art and animation for The Walt Disney Company, and drew concept art for Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Cinderella, and character designs for attractions such as Disneylands It's a Small World.

Claire Parker (1906-1981). Parker was an American engineer and animator. Her best-known contribution to the history of cinema is the pinscreen, a vertically mounted grid made of 240,000 sliding metal rods that are first manually positioned to create illuminated and shaded areas, and then film the frame by frame. It was one of the first devices to create animation by reconfiguring a series of individual picture elements, later called pixels.

Gene Warren, Jr.. (1941-2019). Warren Jr. was named a special effects designer for Fantasy II Film Effects. He received an Oscar and a BAFTA for work on Terminator 2: Judgment Day and an Emmy for The Winds of War. He was also known for his work delivering spectacular in-camera illusions to Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, and shared a VES nomination with his son Gene Warren III for miniature works on the action thriller The Expendables.

Gene Warren, Sr. (1916-1997). Warren Sr. was an award-winning special effects director. He began his career as an animator and puppeteer, and his work has been featured in dozen of films from the 1950s to the 70s, including Tom Thumb, The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, Spartacus, The Andromeda Strain, and The Time Machine, which earned him the Oscar for special effects.

As previously announced, the revered industry manager Ray Scalice has received the VES Founders Award 2020. The Society co-appointed visual effects producer Debbie Denise, professor and FMX founder Thomas Haegele, visual effects supervisor Richard Hollander, VES, and model shop supervisor special effects artist Eugene "Gene" P. Rizzardi, Jr. lifelong VES memberships.

The generous sponsors of the upcoming VES Honors Virtual Celebration include: Gold Sponsors – Netflix and Rotomaker, and Silver Sponsors – Sony Pictures Imageworks. Further details on the VES Honors online event will be announced.

Source: Visual Effects Society

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Dan Sarto is the Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.


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