'The Lion King' Wins Top Honor at Visual Effects Society Awards

10:24 PM 1/29/2020

by Carolyn Giardina

Jon Favreau's movie earned three trophies including the top category for outstanding VFX.

'The Lion King'
'The Lion King'
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Photofest

Jon Favreau's The Lion King  won the Visual Effects Society Awards' top category for outstanding VFX in a photoreal feature. The photoreal retelling of the Disney animated classic — made using newly-developed virtual production techniques — bested a field of nominees that also included Alita: Battle Angel, Avengers: Endgame, Gemini Man and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker..

The award went to Robert Legato, Tom Peitzman, Adam Valdez and Andrew R. Jones, and the work was created at  VFX house MPC. The Lion King won two additional trophies, for outstanding creating environment and virtual production. The team that won the virtual production trophy included the film's six-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. Accepting the top prize, Legato saluted the 1600 artists that worked on the movie.

Also Wednesday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, The Irishman --which this year grabbed attention for its de-aging work and was led by Industrial Light & Magic VFX supervisor Pablo Helman--won trophies for supporting VFX and compositing. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker  claimed the award for effects simulations; and Alita: Battle Angel was honored for animated character. Industrial Light & Magic completed the work on The Rise of Skywalker. Weta was behind Alita.

The Lion King, The Irishman and The Rise of Skywalker are nominated for the Oscar in visual effects, alongside 1917 and Avengers: Endgame. In five of the last 10 years, the winner of the VES' top category for outstanding VFX went on to win the Oscar in VFX. In 2011, the Oscar went to the winner of VES’ supporting VFX category (Hugo).

Advances in virtual production were a big topic in VFX this year, largely driven by the techniques used to make The Lion King and Favreau's Star Wars-inspired series The Mandalorian, which also tapped into some of these new techniques, won two trophies during the ceremony including outstanding VFX in a photoreal episode and outstanding model. 

In the animated feature categories, awards went to Missing Link for outstanding VFX and outstanding character (for Mr. Link); Toy Story 4 won for created environment (antique mall) and Frozen 2 for effects simulations.

Along with The Mandalorian, Game of Thrones and Stranger Things won two trophies apiece for short-form work. The award in the new category of special (practical) effects was presented to The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance received the VES trophy for VFX in a special venue project.

During the evening Martin Scorsese accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award via video from New York; visual effects supervisor Sheena Duggal received the VES award for creative excellence, which was introduced by Andy Serkis in a videotaped presentation; and Roland Emmerich accepted the VES Visionary Award, presented by Joey King. The Irishman's VFX supervisor Helman presented Scorsese's award.

Accepting her award, Duggal--the first woman to receive the creative excellence award--encouraged diversity and said "I feel a duty to hold the door ajar for the next generation of artists coming through."

Additional presenters included J.J. Abrams, Jon Favreau and Rian Johnson.

 

The complete winners' list follows.

 

  • Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature

    'The Lion King'
    'The Lion King'
    Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Photofest

    WINNER - The Lion King, Robert Legato, Tom Peitzman, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones
    Alita: Battle Angel, Richard Hollander, Kevin Sherwood, Eric Saindon, Richard Baneham, Bob Trevino
    Avengers: Endgame, Daniel DeLeeuw, Jen Underdahl, Russell Earl, Matt Aitken, Daniel Sudick
    Gemini Man, Bill Westenhofer, Karen Murphy-Mundell, Guy Williams, Sheldon Stopsack, Mark Hawker
    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Roger Guyett., Stacy Bissell, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan, Dominic Tuohy

  • Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature

    'The Irishman'
    'The Irishman'
    Niko Tavernise/Netflix

    WINNER - The Irishman, Pablo Helman, Mitch Ferm, Jill Brooks, Leandro Estebecorena, Jeff Brink
    1917, Guillaume Rocheron, Sona Pak, Greg Butler, Vijay Selvam, Dominic Tuohy
    Ford v Ferrari, Olivier Dumont, Kathy Siegel, Dave Morley, Malte Sarnes, Mark Byers
    Joker, Edwin Rivera, Brice Parker, Mathew Giampa, Bryan Godwin, Jeff Brink
    The Aeronauts, Louis Morin, Annie Godin, Christian Kaestner, Ara Khanikian, Mike Dawson

  • Visual Effects in an Animated Feature

    'Missing Link'
    'Missing Link'
    Laika Studios/Annapurna Pictures

    WINNER - Missing Link, Brad Schiff, Travis Knight, Steve Emerson, Benoit Dubuc
    Frozen 2, Steve Goldberg, Peter Del Vecho, Mark Hammel, Michael Giaimo
    Klaus, Sergio Pablos, Matthew Teevan, Marcin Jakubowski, Szymon Biernacki
    The Lego Movie 2, David Burgess, Tim Smith, Mark Theriault. John Rix
    Toy Story 4, Josh Cooley, Mark Nielsen, Bob Moyer, Gary Bruins

  • Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode

    'The Mandalorian'
    'The Mandalorian'
    Courtesy of Disney+

    WINNER - The Mandalorian; "The Child," Richard Bluff, Abbigail Keller, Jason Porter, Hayden Jones, Roy Cancinon
    Game of Thrones; "The Bells," Joe Bauer, Steve Kullback, Ted Rae, Mohsen Mousavi, Sam Conway
    His Dark Materials; "The Fight to the Death," Russell Dodgson, James Whitlam, Shawn Hillier, Robert Harrington
    Lady and the Tramp, Robert Weaver, Christopher Raimo, Arslan Elver, Michael Cozens, Bruno Van Zeebroeck
    Lost in Space; "Episode: Ninety-Seven," Jabbar Raisani, Terron Pratt, Niklas Jacobson, Juri Stanossek, Paul Benjamin
    Stranger Things; "Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum," Paul Graff, Tom Ford, Michael Maher Jr., Martin Pelletier, Andy Sowers

  • Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode

    'Chernobyl'
    'Chernobyl'
    Liam Daniel/HBO

    WINNER - Chernobyl; "1:23:45," Max Dennison, Lindsay McFarlane, Clare Cheetham, Paul Jones, Claudius Christian Rauch
    Living With Yourself; "Nice Knowing You," Jay Worth, Jacqueline VandenBussche, Chris Wright, Tristan Zerafa
    See; "Godflame," Adrian de Wet, Eve Fizzinoglia, Matthew Welford, Pedro Sabrosa, Tom Blacklock
    The Crown; "Aberfan," Ben Turner, Reece Ewing, David Fleet, Jonathan Wood
    Vikings; "What Happens in the Cave," Dominic Remane, Mike Borrett, Ovidiu Cinazan, Tom Morrison, Paul Byrne

  • Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project

    WINNER - Control; Janne Pulkkinen, Elmeri Raitanen, Matti Hämäläinen, James Tottman
    Call of Duty Modern Warfare; Charles Chabert, Chris Parise, Attila Zalanyi, Patrick Hagar
    Gears 5; Aryan Hanbeck, Laura Kippax, Greg Mitchell, Stu Maxwell
    Myth: A Frozen Tale; Jeff Gipson, Nicholas Russell, Brittney Lee, Jose Luis Gomez Diaz
    Vader Immortal: Episode I; Ben Snow, Mike Doran, Aaron McBride, Steve Henricks

  • Visual Effects in a Commercial

    WINNER - Hennessy: "The Seven Worlds," Carsten Keller, Selcuk Ergen, Kiril Mirkov, William Laban
    Anthem: "Conviction," Viktor Muller, Lenka Likarova, Chris Harvey, Petr Marek
    BMW Legend; Michael Gregory, Christian Downes, Tim Kafka, Toya Drechsler
    PlayStation: "Feel The Power of Pro," Sam Driscoll, Clare Melia, Gary Driver, Stefan Susemihl
    Purdey's: "Hummingbird," Jules Janaud, Emma Cook, Matthew Thomas, Philip Child

  • Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project

    WINNER - Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance; Jason Bayever, Patrick Kearney, Carol Norton, Bill George
    Avengers: Damage Control; Michael Koperwas, Shereif Fattouh, Ian Bowie, Kishore Vijay, Curtis Hickman
    Jurassic World: The Ride; Hayden Landis, Friend Wells, Heath Kraynak, Ellen Coss
    Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run; Asa Kalama, Rob Huebner, Khatsho Orfali, Susan Greenhow
    Universal Sphere; James Healy, Morgan MacCuish, Ben West, Charlie Bayliss

  • Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature

    'Avengers: Endgame'
    'Avengers: Endgame'
    Walt Disney Studios

    WINNER - Alita: Battle Angel; Alita; Michael Cozens, Mark Haenga, Olivier Lesaint, Dejan Momcilovic
    Avengers: Endgame; Smart Hulk; Kevin Martel, Ebrahim Jahromi, Sven Jensen, Robert Allman
    Gemini Man; Junior; Paul Story, Stuart Adcock, Emiliano Padovani, Marco Revelant
    The Lion King; Scar; Gabriel Arnold, James Hood, Julia Friedl, Daniel Fortheringham

  • Animated Character in an Animated Feature

    'Frozen 2'
    'Frozen 2'
    Walt Disney Studios

    WINNER - Missing Link; Susan; Rachelle Lambden, Brenda Baumgarten, Morgan Hay, Benoit Dubuc
    Frozen 2; The Water Nokk; Svetla Radivoeva, Marc Bryant, Richard E. Lehmann, Cameron Black
    Klaus; Jesper; Yoshimishi Tamura, Alfredo Cassano, Maxime Delalande, Jason Schwartzman
    Toy Story 4; Bo Peep; Radford Hurn, Tanja Krampfert, George Nguyen, Becki Rocha Tower

  • Animated Character in an Episode or Real-Time Project

    'Lady and the Tramp'
    'Lady and the Tramp'
    KC Bailey/Disney

    WINNER - Stranger Things 3; Tom/Bruce Monster; Joseph Dubé-Arsenault, Antoine Barthod, Frederick Gagnon, Xavier Lafarge
    Lady and the Tramp; Tramp; Thiago Martins, Arslan Elver, Stanislas Paillereau, Martine Chartrand
    The Mandalorian; The Child; Mudhorn; Terry Bannon, Rudy Massar, Hugo Leygnac

  • Animated Character in a Commercial

    WINNER - Cyberpunk 2077; Dex; Jonas Ekma, Jonas Skoog, Marek Madej, Grzegorz Chojnacki
    Apex Legends; Meltdown; Mirage; Chris Bayol, John Fielding, Derrick Sesson, Nole Murphy
    Churchill; Churchie; Martino Madeddu, Philippe Moine, Clement Granjon, Jon Wood
    John Lewis; Excitable Edgar; Edgar; Tim van Hussen, Diarmid Harrison-Murray, Amir Bazzazi, Michael Diprose

  • Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature

    'The Lion King'
    'The Lion King'
    Walt Disney Studios

    WINNER - The Lion King; The Pridelands; Marco Rolandi, Luca Bonatti, Jules Bodenstein, Filippo Preti
    Aladdin; Agrabah; Daniel Schmid, Falk Boje, Stanislaw Marek, Kevin George
    Alita: Battle Angel; Iron City; John Stevenson-Galvin, Ryan Arcus, Mathias Larserud, Mark Tait
    Motherless Brooklyn; Penn Station; John Bair, Vance Miller, Sebastian Romero, Steve Sullivan
    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; Pasaana Desert; Daniele Bigi, Steve Hardy, John Seru, Steven Denyer

  • Created Environment in an Animated Feature

    Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

    WINNER - Toy Story 4; Antiques Mall; Hosuk Chang, Andrew Finley, Alison Leaf, Philip Shoebottom
    Frozen 2; Giants' Gorge; Samy Segura, Jay V. Jackson, Justin Cram, Scott Townsend
    How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World; The Hidden World; Chris Grun, Ronnie Cleland, Ariel Chisholm, Philippe Brochu
    Missing Link; Passage to India Jungle; Oliver Jones, Phil Brotherton, Nick Mariana, Ralph Procida

  • Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project

    'Game of Thrones'
    'Game of Thrones'
    Helen Sloan/HBO

    WINNER - Game of Thrones; The Iron Throne; Red Keep Plaza; Carlos Patrick DeLeon, Alonso Bocanegra Martinez, Marcela Silva, Benjamin Ross
    Lost in Space; Precipice; The Trench; Philip Engström, Benjamin Bernon, Martin Bergquist, Xuan Prada
    The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance; The Endless Forest; Sulé Bryan, Charles Chorein, Christian Waite, Martyn Hawkins
    The Mandalorian; Nevarro Town; Alex Murtaza, Yanick Gaudreau, Marco Tremblay,  Maryse Bouchard

  • Virtual Cinematography in a CG Project

    'The Lion King'
    'The Lion King'
    Courtesy of Disney

    WINNER - The Lion King; Robert Legato, Caleb Deschanel, Ben Grossmann, AJ Sciutto
    Alita: Battle Angel; Emile Ghorayeb, Simon Jung, Nick Epstein, Mike Perry
    The Mandalorian; The Prisoner; The Roost; Richard Bluff, Jason Porter, Landis Fields IV, Baz Idione
    Toy Story 4; Jean-Claude Kalache, Patrick Lin

  • Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project

    'The Mandalorian'
    'The Mandalorian'
    Courtesy of Disney+

    WINNER - The Mandalorian; The Sin; The Razorcrest; Doug Chiang, Jay Machado, John Goodson, Landis Fields IV
    Lost in Space; The Resolute; Xuan Prada, Jason Martin, Jonathan Vårdstedt, Eric Andersson
    Missing Link; The Manchuria; Todd Alan Harvey, Dan Casey, Katy Hughes
    The Man in the High Castle; Rocket Train; Neil Taylor, Casi Blume, Ben McDougal, Chris Kuhn

  • Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature

    'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'
    'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'
    Courtesy of Lucasfilm

    WINNER - Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Don Wong, Thibault Gauriau, Goncalo Cababca, Francois-Maxence Desplanques
    Dumbo; Bubble Elephants; Sam Hancock, Victor Glushchenko, Andrew Savchenko, Arthur Moody
    Spider-Man: Far From Home; Molten Man; Adam Gailey, Jacob Santamaria, Jacob Clark, Stephanie Molk
    The Lion King, David Schneider, Samantha Hiscock, Andy Feery, Kostas Strevlos

  • Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature

    'Frozen 2'
    'Frozen 2'
    Courtesy of Disney

    WINNER - Frozen 2Erin V. Ramos, Scott Townsend, Thomas Wickes, Rattanin Sirinaruemarn
    AbominableAlex Timchenko, Domin Lee, Michael Losure, Eric Warren
    How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World; Water and Waterfalls, Derek Cheung Baptiste Van Opstal, Youxi Woo, Jason Mayer
    Toy Story 4, Alexis Angelidis, Amit Baadkar, Lyon Liew, Michael Lorenzen

  • Effects Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project

    'Stranger Things 3'
    'Stranger Things 3'
    Courtesy of Netflix

    WINNER - Stranger Things 3; Melting Tom/Bruce, Nathan Arbuckle, Christian Gaumond, James Dong, Aleksandr Starkov
    Game of Thrones; "The Bells," Marcel Kern, Paul Fuller, Ryo Sakaguchi, Thomas Hartmann,
    Hennessy: "The Seven Worlds," Selcuk Ergen, Radu Ciubotariu, Andreu Lucio, Vincent Ullmann
    Lost in Space; Precipice; Water Planet, Juri Bryan, Hugo Medda, Kristian Olsson, John Perrigo
    The Mandalorian; The Child; Mudhorn, Xavier Martin Ramirez, Ian Baxter, Fabio Siino, Andrea Rosa

  • Compositing in a Feature

    'The Irishman'
    'The Irishman'
    Niko Tavernise/Netflix

    WINNER - The Irishman, Nelson Sepulveda, Vincent Papaix, Benjamin O'Brien, Christopher Doerhoff
    Alita: Battle Angel, Adam Bradley, Carlo Scaduto, Hirofumi Takeda, Ben Roberts
    Avengers: Endgame, Tim Walker, Blake Winder, Tobias Wiesner, Joerg Bruemmer
    Captain Marvel; Young Nick Fury; Trent Claus, David Moreno Hernandez, Jeremiah Sweeney, Yuki Uehara
    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Jeff Sutherland, John Galloway, Sam Bassett, Charles Lai

  • Compositing in a Photoreal Episode

    'Game of Thrones'
    'Game of Thrones'
    Courtesy of HBO

    WINNER - Game of Thrones; "The Long Night"; Dragon Ground Battle, Mark Richardson, Darren Christie, Nathan Abbott, Owen Longstaff
    Game of Thrones; "The Bells," Sean Heuston, Scott Joseph, James Elster, Corinne Teo
    Stranger Things 3; Starcourt Mall Battle, Simon Lehembre, Andrew Kowbell, Karim El-Masry, Miklos Mesterhazy
    Watchmen; "Pilot"; Looking Glass, Nathaniel Larouche, Iyi Tubi, Perunika Yorgova, Mitchell Beaton

  • Compositing in a Photoreal Commercial

    WINNER - Hennessy; "The Seven Worlds," Rod Norman, Guillaume Weiss, Alexander Kulikov, Alessandro Granella
    BMW Legend, Toya Drechsler; Vivek Tekale, Guillaume Weiss, Alexander Kulikov
    Feeding America; "I Am Hunger in America," Dan Giraldo, Marcelo Pasqualino, Alexander Koester
    PlayStation: "Feel the Power of Pro," Gary Driver, Stefan Susemihl, Greg Spencer, Theajo Dharan

  • Special (Practical) Effects in a Photoreal or Animated Project

    'Terminator: Dark Fate'
    'Terminator: Dark Fate'
    Kerry Brown/Paramount Pictures

    WINNER - The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance; "She Knows All the Secrets," Sean Mathiesen, Jon Savage, Toby Froud, Phil Harvey
    Aladdin; Magic Carpet; Mark Holt, Jay Mallet, Will Wyatt, Dickon Mitchell
    Game of Thrones; "The Bells," Sam Conway, Terry Palmer, Laurence Harvey, Alastair Vardy
    Terminator: Dark FateNeil Corbould, David Brighton, Ray Ferguson, Keith Dawson

  • Visual Effects in a Student Project

    WINNER - The Beauty, Marc Angele, Aleksandra Todorovic, Pascal Schelbli, Noel Winzen
    Downfall, Matias Heker, Stephen Moroz, Bradley Cocksedge
    Love and Fifty Megatons, Denis Krez, Josephine Rob, Paulo Scatena, Lukas Löffler
    Oeil Pour Oeil, Alan Guimont, Thomas Boileau, Malcom Hunt, Robin Courtoise