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Catching up with some Oscar nominees

By Randi Altman

On the heels of the recent Oscar nominations, postPerspective decided to reach out to a few of those chosen and gather their reactions.

Ben Grossmann was nominated for his work (alongside Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, and Burt Dalton) on Star Trek Into Darkness.  He is already the owner of a VFX Oscar statue for his contribution to Hugo (2011). Now a partner in Magnopus, a visual solutions companybased in downtown LA, Grossmann was at Pixomondo while working Star Trek Into Darkness as well as Hugo.

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Ben Grossmann

While excited by his nomination, Grossmann is also a bit humbled. “This was a pretty remarkable year at the (Academy’s VFX) Bake-Off because all of the shows were so overwhelmingly good,” said Grossmann.  “It was a year where you felt like each of the candidates would have been a shoe-in a few years ago just in terms of scope and quality. And there were some films that were just as outstanding that didn’t even make the Bake-Off.”

It’s always tough to figure out why a film makes the cut, he said.  “If I had to guess, I’d say Star Trek Into Darkness was a solidly fun movie, with a diversity of ‘epic sequences,’ and that diversity helped it out.  In the final cut, the award has a strong ‘popularity’ component to it, but when you’re trying to get through the Bake-Off, you’re being judged by visual effects experts and a range of environments, character work, cutting-edge FX simulations and animation, combined with a heavy dose of complex special effects choreography.”

London’s Framestore got a nod for its visual effects work on Gravity. Led by VFX supervisor Tim Webber, the film, according to Framestore, is the studio’s most ambitious project to date, requiring them to develop new technology, such as the light box, in order to film its zero gravity scenes — in the majority of shots the only live-action elements are the actors’ (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) faces.

“It was a real honor to be part of the creation of such a cinematic experience, and to have it recognized with a nomination, in a year with so much great work, is incredibly exciting,” said Webber.

Other films nominated in this category include The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3 and The Lone Ranger.

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Beau Borders

Turning to audio post, Beau Borders, freelance re-recording mixer at Hollywood’s Todd-Soundelux, was recognized for Sound Mixing on Lone Survivor, along with Andy Koyama and David Brownlow. “Holy smokes, I am incredibly excited to share my first Oscar nomination with my team on Lone Survivor!” said Borders. “And I am honored that the sound crew was able to help Peter Berg share Marcus Luttrelle’s heroic saga.”

(In other Todd-Soundelux Oscar news, Wylie Stateman was nominated for Lone Survivor in the Best Sound Editing category.)

Andy Koyama, fellow nominee for Lone Survivor said, “It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by my peers alongside the outstanding artists also nominated in the Sound Mixing category. I want to pay homage to the entire team of sound artists who worked at the top of their game for this important and groundbreaking project.”

Koyama mentioned several aspects of the film’s soundtrack that made Lone Survivor what he feels is one of the most realistic war movies ever made. “There is so much noise inside of helicopters the only way you can communicate is through headphones. The movie took no liberties with this issue and we worked hard to emulate the distortion often found in this type of communication.”

Film Title: Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor

Also to achieve authenticity, the filmmakers enlisted military personnel to perform many of the radio communications heard in the film.  One challenge that Koyama and his colleagues faced was to accurately convey the sounds of deteriorating radio communications as the SEALs trek deeper into the mountains.

Koyama, who last year joined the Formosa Group, also wanted to thank director Peter Berg for creating “such a moving tribute to the men of Operation Red Wings. His desire for a visceral soundtrack that made viewers feel immersed in battle alongside the Navy SEALs helped inspire our creativity.”

Other films in the Mixing category include Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Inside Llewyn Davis. For a full list of films and nominees, visit http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/86/nominees.html for a complete list)

 


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