Following the announcement of its first Hall of Fame inductees, the Visual Effects Society has named Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri as the next recipient of the VES Georges Méliès Award. Bestowed by the Board of Directors, the honor recognizes pioneering significant and lasting contributions to the art and science of the visual effects industry The award will be presented at the 16th Annual VES Awards on February 13, 2018 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Previous recipients include Bob Abel, John Lasseter, Phil Tippett, Ed Catmull and Douglas Trumbull.
Letteri commented: “Being honored with the Georges Méliès Award means a great deal to me. I am proud to receive this award from the Visual Effects Society, a leading voice for an art form that continues to inspire me every year.”
Among Letteri’s many accolades are four Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects (for Avatar, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, LotR: The Return of the King and King Kong), the Academy’s Technical Achievement Award (for co-developing the subsurface scattering technique used for Gollum), four BAFTA Awards and six VES Awards. He has also received the New Zealand Order of Merit, bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II.
“Joe Letteri is an amazing creative force and a defining voice of the visual effects community,” said Mike Chambers, VES Board Chair. “He has consistently elevated not just the technical aspect of visual effects, but also the emotional. Joe has the extraordinary ability to create or combine technologies to brilliantly enhance the art of storytelling and has brought us some of the most memorable character-driven tales of all time. For his pioneering work that has redefined our industry on a global level, we are honored to award Joe with the prestigious Visual Effects Society Georges Méliès Award.”
Letteri joined Weta Digital as VFX Supervisor on The Two Towers and has since led the company as its Director to become one of the world’s premiere visual effects studios. Letteri has developed many techniques that have become standards for bringing photographic quality to digital visual effects. He specializes in the creation of realistic creatures, from the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, to Gollum, King Kong, the Na’vi in Avatar and Caesar from Planet of the Apes.
As Sr. VFX Supervisor on Avatar, Letteri oversaw a program of research and development over four years that produced shots larger and more complex than ever attempted before. This involved shooting on a virtual stage with a new camera system, along with the development of a full pipeline of tools that effectively launched a new approach to filmmaking called virtual production. Under Letteri’s leadership, Weta Digital has continued to expand and improve these techniques through films like The Adventures of Tintin, The Hobbit trilogy and the Planet of the Apes trilogy.
Letteri’s work has recently been seen on Luc Besson’s sci-fi epic, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and War for the Planet of the Apes, and he is working on the Avatar sequels. Letteri has also been given the distinction of VES Fellow by the Board of Directors, recognizing sustained contributions to the industry and meritorious service to the Society and larger VFX community.