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Visual Effects Society Honors Victoria Alonso and Ken Ralston

Two pioneers praised for groundbreaking work at awards ceremony

Visionary Award
Victoria Alonso
Exec VP, Marvel Studios

The producer and Marvel Studios exec VP of physical production has been a key creative behind several billion-dollar superhero franchises (“Captain America,” “Iron Man,” “The Avengers”) and an unprecedented number of blockbuster feature films, all connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (now part of Disney).

Alonso has had a major impact on the current global cinema landscape and helped build the Marvel brand, which has relied heavily on cutting-edge visual effects. Alonso, who follows other Visionary Award winners such as Christopher Nolan, Ang Lee, Alfonso Cuarón, J.J. Abrams, and Syd Mead, oversees all post-production and visual effects for the studio and is executive-producing James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and Taika Waititi’s “Thor: Ragnarok.”

She exec-produced Scott Derrickson’s “Doctor Strange,” Joe and Anthony Russo’s “Captain America: Civil War,” Peyton Reed’s “Ant-Man,” Joss Whedon’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Joe and Anthony Russo’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Alan Taylor’s “Thor: The Dark World,” Shane Black’s “Iron Man 3,” as well as “The Avengers” for Joss Whedon. She co-produced “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2” with director Jon Favreau, Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor,” and Joe Johnston’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.” She began her career in vfx commercial visual effects producer, then moved to films, where she worked with such directors as Ridley Scott (“Kingdom of Heaven”), Tim Burton (“Big Fish”), and Andrew Adamson (“Shrek”).

Alonso is a big proponent of diversity. “One of the biggest challenges for the visual-effects industry today is overcoming the lack of diversity,” she says. “We need to work harder to have more women and minorities represented in all areas of visual effects.”

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Lifetime Achievement Award
Ken Ralston
Senior vfx supervisor,
Sony Pictures Imageworks

A groundbreaking innovator and pioneer, Ralston has earned five Academy Awards, including a special achievement Oscar for his visual effects work in 1983’s “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi,” and Oscars for best visual effects on “Forrest Gump,” “Death Becomes Her,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” and “Cocoon.” In addition, he was senior visual-effects supervisor on Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland (3D),” Columbia Pictures’ “Men in Black III,” and most recently Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass.”

Senior visual effects supervisor and creative head at Sony Pictures Imageworks, Ralston has been a collaborator with director Robert Zemeckis on such projects as “Beowulf (3D),” “The Polar Express (3D),” and “Cast Away.”

Prior to joining Imageworks, Ralston worked at Industrial Light & Magic and played a pivotal role in advancing the company’s VFX prowess. Ralston was visual-effects supervisor on “The Rocketeer,” “Jumanji,” “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” “Dragonslayer,” and the “Back to the Future” trilogy. His career began at Cascade Pictures in Hollywood, the seminal commercial animation and effects company where he worked on advertising campaigns in the early 1970s.

Ralston says the focus should always be on quality. “The constant tension between innovation and efficiency is an important motivator in our industry,” he says. “Visual-effects professionals are continually inventing new technologies to create beautiful images in as little time and with as little cost as possible, but as we streamline the process year on year, shot numbers are always increasing, and delivery dates compressing. We need to be vigilant in designing fast, cheap, techniques that let us maintain the quality of the art.”

(Above: “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”)

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