Zero Gravity Adventures, Rampaging Dragons Among Effects Grabbing VFX Oscar Nominations

January 23, 2014  - Framestore, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixomondo and WETA Digital are among the visual effects studios whose artists were recently honored with nominations from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences for the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

Nominated films include "Gravity," "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," "Iron Man 3," "The Lone Ranger" and "Star Trek Into Darkness."

All of them rely on NVIDIA GPUs to achieve groundbreaking visual effects on artist workstations and in render pipelines. Allowing visual effects artists to work faster, NVIDIA GPUs eliminate the lag time in previewing renders to determine whether or not a shot meets the director’s vision.

For the fifth consecutive year, every film nominated for the Oscar for Best Visual Effects was powered by NVIDIA technology.

Awakening a Dragon
This helps effects houses, such as WETA, based in New Zealand and nominated for its visual effects work in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” to create more daring special effects.

"We've made a significant investment in NVIDIA GPU cards for our render wall and on specifically designed workstations," said Luca Fascione, WETA Digital Rendering Research Supervisor. "'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' required a lot of complex and compute-heavy simulation and rendering. Being able to take advantage of GPU allowed us to be more ambitious with our approach to the shots."

Powering a Powerhouse
London-based Framestore is nominated for its work in “Gravity” and also contributed to the visual effects (VFX) on “Iron Man 3.”

"Our entire VFX workstation infrastructure is built around NVIDIA hardware," said Steve Macpherson, Framestone’s chief technical officer. "Every movie we help to make, from ‘'ron Man 3' to 'War Horse,' from 'Skyfall' to 'Gravity,' has benefitted from NVIDIA GPUs."

Quickening the Pace
The ability to move faster is another benefit. ILM, from San Francisco, was nominated for its visual effects work in "The Lone Ranger" and "Star Trek Into Darkness," as well as a BAFTA award for its work on "Pacific Rim."

"NVIDIA's high-performance GPU accelerator cards play a key role in bringing visual effects such as those seen in 'The Lone Ranger,' 'Star Trek Into Darkness' and 'Pacific Rim' to life. Our artists benefit greatly from the speed NVIDIA's hardware provides, allowing for shortened iteration loops which has an impact across all of the films we are working on," said ILM Chief Creative Officer John Knoll.

Pushing the Limits
Artists can also build bigger worlds using our tools. Pixomondo, which has offices around the globe, was also nominated for its work on "Star Trek: Into Darkness." Enrico Damm managed artists in Los Angeles who were developing 3D images on a massive scale -- up to 130 million active polygons and 32GB of textures.

"We pushed a lot of limits when it came to scene scale," said Damm. "We were impressed with how the NVIDIA Quadro K4000 impacted 3ds Max viewport performance. Once we discovered how much faster and smoother data was processed, we relied heavily on the K4000-accelerated workstations and practically had them running 24/7. Before we got these cards, I would run to the producer and scream for better machines. It turns out our machines just needed a K4000 boost."

Tune in on March 2 to see who takes home the golden statuette. For more information about all of the Academy nominees visit

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