Monday, February 25, 2008

Brookfield High graduate wins Academy Award

This is cool. Al emailed me this morning that one of our High School classmates won an Oscar (think she may have dated him...) Email to Chris Wysocki and Chris Amorossi. Amorossi said that the art direction was all that was award winning -- and she sees a lot of movies. Then, Wysocki emailed me this from the Danbury News Times (www.newstimes.com).

Brookfield High graduate Bill Westenhofer won an Academy Award for Visual Effects on Sunday night for his work on "The Golden Compass.'' The win for "The Golden Compass" was considered an upset over the blockbusters "Transformers" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." Westenhofer is the visual effects supervisor for Rhythm & Hues, and led the studio's team on "The Golden Compass.''

Westenhofer led a crew of 500 on two continents over a period of 18 months to produce nearly 400 shots featured in the movie, which stars Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Dakota Blue Richards. Lee Berger, president of Rhythm & Hudes' Film Division, congratulated Westenhofer last month after he received the nomination for the 80th Academy Awards. "We congratulate Bill, his entire crew and all of the employees of Rhythm & Hues in Los Angeles and India for this tremendous recognition, which acknowledges their inspired creativity, hard work and dedication,'' Berger said.

According to the Web site AnimationXpress.com, Rhythm & Hues' work for "The Golden Compass'' includes creation of the hero daemons, including Richard's daemon Pan in all his incarnations; the Golden Monkey (Kidman's daemon); Stelmaria, (Craig's daemon), the spyflies and numerous other characters. In addition, Rhythm & Hues' Academy Award-winning proprietary fluid simulation program was utilized for the creation of the mystical swarming dust clouds seen in the movie's Daemon Death and Battlefield sequences. This technology
was recognized by the Academy in January with a Scientific and Technical Academy Award. Recipients include Dr. Jerry Tessendorf, Michael Kowalski, Jonathan Cohen and UCLA Oceanographer and R&H Consultant Jeroen Molemaker.

Westenhofer is a two-time Oscar nominee. He was previously nominated in 2005 in the same category for "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Westenhofer is also nominated for "The Golden Compass" in the Special Visual Effects category by the Orange BAFTA Awards, and "Compass" is one of the Visual Effects' Society's nominees for Best Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture Category. Westenhofer's mother is former longtime Brookfield Board of Education Chairman Adi Westenhofer. His father is former longtime Zoning Board of Appeals Member Don Westenhofer.

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