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VES Elects Lisa Cooke as First Woman Board Chair, Announces 2021 Officers

Lisa Cooke
Lisa Cooke

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VES Elects Lisa Cooke as First Woman Board Chair, Announces 2021 Officers

The Visual Effects Society (VES), the industry’s global professional honorary society, announced its 2021 Board of Directors officers on Thursday. The officers, who comprise the VES Board Executive Committee, were elected at the January 2021 Board meeting. The officers include Lisa Cooke, who was elected Board Chair, and is the first woman to hold this role in the Society’s history. The five officers embody the global makeup up the Society, coming from Sections in the United States, New Zealand and London.

“The Society is proud to have exceptional leadership represented on our Executive Committee,” said Eric Roth, VES Executive Director. “This is a group of impassioned and venerated professionals with a vision for the Society’s future, especially amidst this time of dynamic change. We appreciate their commitment to serve our organization and our members worldwide.”

“It is my great honor and privilege to Chair this society of exceptional artists and innovators,” said Cooke. “I’m proud to be the first woman in this role, and I’m committed to lifting up our future leaders, so that I’m not the last. I look forward to working with the Executive Committee and Board of Directors to support our members during these challenging times and advance the work to propel the Society and the industry forward.”

The 2021 Officers of the VES Board of Directors are:

  • Chair: Lisa Cooke
  • 1st Vice Chair: Emma Clifton Perry
  • 2nd Vice Chair: David H. Tanaka
  • Treasurer: Jeffrey A. Okun, VES
  • Secretary: Gavin Graham

Lisa Cooke (Chair) has spent several decades in the entertainment industry as an animation/FX industry producer, story consultant, screenwriter and actor. Firmly believing that effective science communication is vital to our world, she founded Green Ray Media, and for the last 10-plus years, has been producing animation and VFX to create scientific, medical and environmental media for a broad audience.

Cooke has worked for entertainment clients including Lucasfilm, Fox, Nickelodeon Films, ABC, CBS, Paramount and Universal and in the VFX and animation industry for companies including Pixar, Glasgow-based Digital Animations Group and Tippett Studio. As Senior Producer at Reardon Studios, she helped bring MOVA Contour Reality Capture to the film industry.

Cooke has also taught story structure at the SF Academy of Art, JFK University and Ex’pression College, and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild. She served six years on the VES Bay Area Board of Managers Executive Committee and as Chair, before joining the VES Board of Directors, where she serves as Chair of the Archive Committee. In 2019 she held the position of 2nd Vice Chair and served as 1st Vice Chair in 2020. She is honored to Chair the Visual Effects Society in 2021.

Emma Clifton Perry (1st Vice Chair) has more than 15 years experience across feature films, longform/TV series, commercials and advertising.

Clifton Perry offers a truly global perspective, having lived everywhere from Saudi Arabia to Canada. She has worked both in-house with FOX and at VFX facilities worldwide including WETA Digital, Framestore, MPC, Rising Sun Pictures, DrD, Method Studios and The Mill, amongst others, working both as an artist and in leadership roles. She is currently based in Wellington, New Zealand, providing remote compositing and VFX consulting/lecturing services worldwide. She studied at the NCCA, Bournemouth University, U.K.

This is Clifton Perry’s second consecutive term on the Executive Committee, serving as 2nd Vice Chair in 2020. Clifton Perry has served for four consecutive years on the Board of Directors and eight cumulative years on the New Zealand Board of Managers. She was the 2nd ever New Zealand Section Chair, serving as Chair for three years and a year as secretary/treasurer.

David H. Tanaka (2nd Vice Chair) has worked in visual effects and animation for over 25 years. For 15 years he served at Industrial Light & Magic in VFX Editorial on such films as Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump and Star Wars. He went on to work on Cars, Ratatouille, WALL•E, UP and Toy Story 3 as a Special Projects Editor at Pixar Animation Studios over the next 10 years.

In 2015, in addition to his freelance editing for studios, corporations and private clientele, Tanaka served as Editor, VFX Supervisor, Post-Production Supervisor and Co-Executive Producer on the independent feature film Guitar Man (currently in festival run and garnering awards for Best Editing and Best Picture). Tanaka is also an Adjunct Professor for the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, specializing in Editing, Producing and Cinema History.

Tanaka has been a proud member of the Visual Effects Society for close to two decades. He served three terms as the VES Bay Area Section Chair, and one term as Co-Chair. Now in his third term on the VES Board of Directors, he has collaborated on projects ranging from educational outreach and VFX workplace code of conduct standards, to special VFX artist tributes and establishing best editorial practices for the VES Archives Committee.

Jeffrey A. Okun, VES (Treasurer), is known for creating ‘organic’ and invisible effects, as well as spectacular ‘tent-pole’ visual effects that blend seamlessly into the storytelling aspect of the project, and has won the VES Award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects for his work on The Last Samurai. Okun has also delivered wide-ranging effects in award winning films such as Alpha, Blood Diamond, Stargate, Sphere, Red Planet, Deep Blue Sea, Lolita and The Last Starfighter and acclaimed television programs such as Cosmos: Possible Worlds for National Geographic and Fox TV.

Okun is a VES Fellow and recipient of the Founder’s Award. He created and co-edited the VES Handbook of Visual Effects, an award-winning reference book covering all aspects of creating visual effects, techniques and practices. As VES Board Chair for seven years, Okun fostered a global community, focused attention on bringing business and creative education to artists, facilities and studios and guided the Society to help create a worldwide software anti-pirating alliance with the U.S. Government to ensure that all facilities have a fair and level playing field from which to bid. He created visual effects tracking and bidding software in wide use within the industry as well as the revolutionary visual effects techniques dubbed the “PeriWinkle Effect” and the “Pencil Effect.”

Okun is a member of the Visual Effects Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), the Academy of Television Arts and Science, and an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).

Gavin Graham (Secretary) is the General Manager of DNEG Montréal. He has spent almost 20 years of his 21-year career with DNEG, having also worked for MPC and Cinesite. Originally an FX artist, with a background in Computer Science, he has also created tools and worked in development in the area of simulation and rendering. He has FX and CG Supervisor credits on projects such as Stardust, 2012, multiple films in the Harry Potter franchise and Captain America: The First Avenger.

In 2011 he moved into a management position with DNEG, initially as the London Head of 3D, and then as Global Head of CG, before moving to Montréal to his current role in 2019.

Graham joined the VES Board of Directors in 2019, and previously served as Secretary during his six-year tenure on the London Section Board.

Learn more about the VES at www.visualeffectssociety.com

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