Nancy Bernstein, Visual Effects Veteran, Dies at 55

Nancy Bernstein - H

The Digital Domain and DreamWorks Animation exec worked on 'X-Men' and 'Fellowship of the Ring' and produced 'Rise of the Guardians.'

Nancy Bernstein, a visual effects producer on X-Men and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring who headed production at DreamWorks Animation and produced the company’s Rise of the Guardians, has died. She was 55.

Bernstein, who also spent several years leading effects production at Digital Domain, died Friday, DreamWorks Animation confirmed. In December 2011, she was diagnosed with stage 4 metastasized colorectal cancer.

"One of our most beloved and respected producers and executives, Nancy spent 10 years at DWA, where she excelled as head of production, feature film producer and, most recently, overseeing all new business productions for DWA's global initiatives," the company said in a statement.

"Nancy’s unwavering professional tenacity translated to her efforts in searching for a cure for colorectal cancer through her organization, Call to Cure. Our deepest sympathies go out to Nancy's family during this incredibly difficult time."

In addition to Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000) and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Bernstein was in charge of the effects on such VFX-laden fare as Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) and Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow (2004).

She regularly collaborated with Ron Howard, working with the director on Edtv (1999), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), the Oscar-winning best picture A Beautiful Mind (2001), The Missing (2003) and Cinderella Man (2005).

Bernstein oversaw physical production at DreamWorks Animation’s Glendale, California, campus starting in December 2005. She helped the company translate the Shrek films to 3D, then segued to producing the 2012 animated family adventure film Rise of the Guardians

She had spent 10 years at New York-based R/GA Digital Studios and earned her first visual effects credit on Woody Allen’s segment of the 1989 anthology film New York Stories.

Bernstein later worked on such films as In the Line of Fire (1993), Lake Placid (1999), the Coen BrothersO Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky (2001), Daredevil (2003) and Peter Pan (2003).

At Digital Domain, she led effects production on the Academy Award visual effects-winning What Dreams May Come (1998) and the Oscar-nominated I, Robot (2004).

Survivors include her wife Cheryl and daughter Ruby.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4