The 2019 Oscar nominations were announced last week and many of this year’s top contenders, including films vying for Best Picture and Best Animated Feature, have SVA talent behind the scenes.
Visual FX artist Wendi Harris Wu (MFA 2014 Computer Art), visual FX supervisor Gong Myung Lee (MFA 2004 Computer Art), and animators Eugen Sasu (BFA 2004 Computer Art) and Ruel Smith (BFA 2004 Computer Art) worked to create the world of Wakanda in Best Picture nominee Black Panther, Marvel’s barrier-breaking blockbuster from early in the year. It’s the first superhero movie to earn such a nomination, and garnered six other nods as well, from production design to original song.
Four out of the five films nominated for Animated Feature Film this year count SVA alumni on their crews. Incredibles 2 drew from SVA’s deep bench of alumni artists at Pixar; the family-of-superheroes sequel includes work by lighting technical director Ye Won Cho (MFA 2002 Computer Art), story production assistant Jake Kaplan (BFA 2017 Animation), character shader Maria Lee (BFA 1988 Illustration and MFA Computer Arts Thesis Advisor), technical director Jessica Monteiro (BFA 2010 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects), set dresser Christina Faraj (BFA 2016 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects, Set Dresser), and animator MontaQue Ruffin (BFA 2013 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects).
Technical animation artists Michael Altman (BFA 2014 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) and Brett Taggart (BFA 2015 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) and assistant layout artist Nick Manfredi (BFA 2015 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) contributed to a meme-heavy and star-studded Ralph Breaks the Internet. The conceptually and visually innovative Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has really impressed on the awards circuit this year and that was worked on by animators Gyuhyun Kim (MFA 2012 Computer Art) and David Han (BFA 2008 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) and lighting lead Chris Hung (Lighting Lead, BFA 2001 Computer Art). Jeremy Dawson (MFA 1993 Photography and Related Media), a frequent Wes Anderson collaborator, is among the producers for nominee Isle of Dogs, meaning he’ll take home a statuette should the stop-motion film win the category.
For achievement in Visual Effects, again most of the films nominated feature alumni and faculty efforts. Visualization artists Marvin Woodyatt (MFA 2013 Computer Art) and Nick Manfredi (BFA 2015 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) and senior compositor John Brennick (BFA 2004 Computer Art) made the epic stakes of The Avengers: Infinity War possible; visualization artist Michael Deliso (BFA 2015 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) and creature FX technical director John Montefusco (faculty, MFA Computer Art) helped bring Pooh, Tigger and Piglet to life in Christopher Robin; visual FX artist Michael Ware (MFA 2004 Computer Art) contributed to the dystopian, virtual world of ‘80s nostalgia in Ready Player One; and texture artist Jesse Flores (BFA 2010 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) helped introduce the galaxy’s most-wanted smuggler in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Lastly, Bao, the poignant story of a mother and dumpling-cum-son and a Pixar short nominated in the Short Film (Animated) category, features work from key sets artist Ivo Kos (MFA 1991 Computer Art) and character developer and animator Nancy Kato (MFA 1991 Computer Art).
A big congratulations is due to all involved with these Oscar-nominated films, and be sure to tune in February 24, 2019, at 8PM EST, to the 91st Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, to see if any SVA alumni or faculty win big.