a typical story about the coverage of the annual
Visual Effects Society Awards. If I may, I'm going
to talk in first person. I feel it's the best way to
describe what went on during the awards. The story
does focus on Steven Spielberg, so I hope I'm not
offending the very deserving nominees and winners of
the VES Awards. I promise I will talk about you,
too! Without the hard working men and women of the
VES, we wouldn't have spectacular effects in movies,
television, and video games. But without Spielberg's
love of visual effects and fantasy in many of his
films, who knows where visual effects would be today
without his touch.
In covering the Visual Effects Society Awards for
the past couple of years now, I've had the
opportunity to meet many of the top filmmakers and
artists in film today. Although it's true that
talents like George Lucas, John Lasseter, Dennis
Muren, Harrison Ellenshaw, Richard Taylor, and
Richard Edlund are human like the rest of us, there
is no denying how immensely gifted they are. I've
known or have met these individuals, and once over
the initial "oh my god, it's...," and normal jitters
one gets when meeting their idols, it still amazes
me how they can create new worlds never seen before,
To my own surprise, the presence of Steven Spielberg
at the VES Awards to accept the Lifetime Acheivement
Award this year didn't make me nervous. I should've
been petrified. Spielberg is the most successful
director of all-time, having made so many hits and
so many critically acclaimed films, it's not really
necessary for me to repeat their titles here. He,
along with George Lucas, transformed how we see and
hear movies. Spielberg also started a studio,
DreamWorks. He's worked with both past and current
talents in acting and behind-the-camera. He's an
honorary knight in the British Empire. He's
politically connected. He is, in my mind, one of the
most blessed individuals on the planet. Not only is
he a genius filmmaker and storyteller, he's had an
extraordinary life so far. Not bad for a kid who
grew up in suburbia with a movie camera in his hand.
I thought I'd be a nervous wreck covering the show
as not only a reporter for this site, but also as
the "official photographer" of the awards. I was
fortunate enough to have been chosen to have
all-access. Would I be so nervous in the presence of
Spielberg that I wouldn't do my job well? Would I
trip over my tongue and be speechless in asking Mr.
Spielberg for his photograph? I had pretty
much grown up with Spielberg's films. He was one of
my childhood film idols. I won't lie and say I've
loved or liked every single film or production he's
been involved in, but most of his work is great. So
to be able to just photograph Spielberg was an
honor. Yes, he's human, but damn, he's Spielberg for
In the back of my mind, I pictured Steven Spielberg
arriving with an entourage of body guards. I
pictured him as tall and walking with tons of
confidence. I also pictured adoring fans, even if
they were members of the VES, swarming him just to
shake his hand, or get his picture, or ask for his
At the VES Awards, he was nothing like that. No
bodyguards were present. Adoring fans kept a
respectful distance from him, save for a few people
who got the courage to walk up to him. He was
cordial and smiling as he spoke with them. Is he
tall? I'd say he's a little shorter than I am, and
I'm average height. Confident? Totally confident,
but sincere and kind. Was I still nervous? Actually,
I was calmer than I have ever been meeting a
superstar talent. I had a job to do, after all.
My first up-close picture of Spielberg would be with
ILM's Dennis Muren and visual effects icon, Douglas
Trumbull. Since Spielberg was speaking to someone
when I approached him, I asked Dennis if it would be
okay to get a shot of all three of them. I didn't
want to be rude, but I still needed (wanted) to get
some pictures of these three together. Dennis, who
is a really nice guy to begin with, said, "Sure.
Steven? Can we get a picture together?" Steven said,
"Sure!" And that was that (please see picture
I wasn't the only person at the Kodak who was in awe
of Spielberg. Some of the biggest names in visual
effects and games were a bit reluctant just to go up
to Spielberg and say "hi." I thought this was really
"cool" that these talents, with endless credits in
popular films and games of their own, were humble in
his presence. That's respect. In fact, all night
long, most of the presenters starting with John
Knoll, told of their sincere respect and admiration
for Spielberg. In all the awards shows I've seen or
been to in filmmaking, this was astounding in the
amount of people who gave their respect to one
Spielberg received his Lifetime Achievement Award
from Dennis Muren, which was fitting. They've
collaborated on numerous films over the years,
breaking the boundaries of what can be put up on the
big screen. I can't say that I remember everything
Spielberg said in his speech. After all, I was
shooting a lot of shots of him and concentrating on
getting good pictures. But I can say that it seemed
that he respected those individuals who helped make
his directorial visions come to life. Respect in
return from Spielberg.
It didn't dawn on my until I got home and into bed
how fortunate I was in being at this year's awards.
I actually met, and in a semi-sort-of-way,
"directed" Mr. Spielberg. Okay, it was more along
the lines of, "One more picture please." This caused
me not to fall asleep for a while that night. It was
like meeting Santa Claus when you're a kid, or
meeting a baseball hero. You're simply in awe.
I went through the names that were in that ballroom.
Pardon me for name dropping, but it's a very
impressive roster. Spielberg. Muren. Knoll. Edlund.
Ellenshaw. Trumbull. Bay. Carpenter. Barron. Morris.
You may not know all of their names by heart, but
these guys are wizards in their craft, and you've
most likely seen their work. Billion-dollar makers?
Yes. Visual effects icons. Yup. Amazing artists?
What makes the VES dear to my own heart, besides
having become friends with some of the members over
the years, is how low key nearly everyone is. There
are occasions when someone of Spielberg's caliber
comes along to the show. Yet almost everyone I've
met in the VES is nice, and no matter how talented
they are, they don't let it get to their head.
So without anymore long-winded talk from me, here
are the winners from the 6th Annual VES Awards.
Because of the enormous amount of pictures taken at
the show, I've limited the amount of shots on this
page. If you're interested in the show's pictures,
please contact me @:
Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners.
The work you do is extraordinary. And thanks to Mr.
Spielberg for being patient all night as I took
pictures, many times with an auto-focus beam shining
Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion
Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture
Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie
"Battlestar Galactica – Razor"
Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series
"Fight for Life – Episode 4"
Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
Rome 2 – Episode 6 – "Philippi"
Visual Effects in a Commercial
Best Single Visual Effect of the Year
"Transformers" (Desert highway sequence)
Real Time Visuals in a Video Game
Pre-Rendered Visuals in a Video Game
"World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade"
Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
Animated Character in a Live Action Motion
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Davy
Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture
Animated Character in a Live Action Broadcast
Program or Commercial
Chemical Brothers "Salmon Dance"
Florent DeLa Taille
Effects in an Animated Motion Picture
Created Environment in a Live Action Motion
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (the
Frank Losasso Petterson
Created Environment in a Live Action Broadcast
Program or Commercial
"Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee"
Models or Miniatures in a Motion Picture
Models or Miniatures in a Broadcast Program or
"Halo 3/Believe Campaign"
The awards were held on February 10, 2008, at the
Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, CA.