Honor among honorees

The following quotes from visual effects Oscar winners are in response to the question of what winning the award has meant to them, either personally or from a career standpoint.

SCOTT ANDERSON

“Babe” (1995)

“The Oscar was very unexpected for us. We hadn’t made a big special-effects extravaganza. We tried to do our best to make a nice little movie about a pig. It was very nice recognition for our work, but it was also more recognition for the story we were telling.”

RICHARD EDLUND

“Star Wars” (1977), “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980),

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “Return of the Jedi” (1983)

“It’s great. The Oscar means recognition by your peers that you’ve achieved something truly special in your craft. I’ve been pretty lucky over the years to have gotten 10 nominations and four awards. To some degree, the nomination is sometimes as important as the award. The nomination comes from your peers in the branch, who really understand what’s going on in a special-effects movie and know what the best visual effects actually are. Then the award is the highest honor you can get.”

TIM McGOVERN

“Total Recall” (1990)

“The Oscar always represents excellence. But what is always changing is the frontier in our field, which is a blend of artistry and technology. Excellence for us is about solving problems for filmmakers, and we’re taking the movies into the computer to find out what is possible. Then, the night of the Oscar is like dying and going to heaven. It’s the most invigorating evening you could possibly have in your career. Al Pacino looked at my hand and said, ‘You got one!’ The buzz lasted a pretty long time.”

DENNIS MUREN

“The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982),

“Return of the Jedi” (1983), “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984), “Innerspace” (1987), “The Abyss” (1989), “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991), “Jurassic Park” (1993)

“You’re pleased that your peers recognize what you do. But I can’t pick one film over the others. There’s a lot of terrific work in this field that gets awarded. I used to watch the Oscars as a little kid, and never for a moment did I think that I could ever be one of the winners.”

KEN RALSTON

“Return of the Jedi” (1983), “Cocoon” (1985), “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988), “Death Becomes Her” (1992), “Forrest Gump” (1994)

“The obvious thing was that it was recognition for the work that we tried so hard to do and for our contribution to the art of special effects. To me, the Oscar also represents the whole experience of making the show, from the first meetings to principal photography to the very end of the work. To have that honor at the end of the process represents all that we did and all the good times we had making the show.”

KENNETH F. SMITH

“E.T. The Extra- Terrestrial” (1982) and “Innerspace” (1987)

“It was a big thrill. As a kid growing up in Richmond, Virginia, you stay up late to watch two things: Times Square on New Year’s Eve and the Oscars.

“When ‘E.T.’ came into the shop, we had an optical printer that had a mechanical shifter, like a gearshift on an automobile, and that’s what we used.”

DOUG SMYTHE

“Death Becomes Her” (1992)

“It screams integrity. It’s recognition from the people who do the same things that you do. It’s the ultimate recognition for work that you did. Everybody in the field works really, really hard to achieve the results. The Oscar is the ultimate recognition by your peers.”

PHIL TIPPETT

“Return of the Jedi” (1983) and “Jurassic Park” (1993)

“For one thing, Oscars can get you jobs. I’ve been involved in doing special effects since I was a kid in my garage. I was still in high school when I was doing some animation for commercial houses, and in 1969 I did “Some Kind of a Nut” with Dick Van Dyke. I earned enough to buy a movie camera, and eventually I got an Academy Award, so my mom didn’t think I was going to hell in a handbasket.”

HOYT YEATMAN

“The Abyss” (1989)

“To me it was an amazing experience. You dream about winning an Oscar as a little kid. It confirmed for me all the hard work that we did. We did wet-for-wet and dry-for-wet all prior to digital, all on optical printers. The Oscar was awarded for hard work. And we did it, and that was the exciting part for me.”

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