Los Angeles -- The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced its nominees for the 80th Academy Awards in Beverly Hills this morning. Among the nominees for Achievement in Visual Effects is Bill Westenhofer, visual effects supervisor for Rhythm & Hues, who led the studios' team on “The Golden Compass.”
In a statement, Lee Berger, president of Rhythm & Hues' Film Division, said “We’re delighted to receive this nomination. 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.”
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. Berger continued: “We’d also like to extend congratulations to Lauren Ritchie and everyone at New Line Pictures; our clients and friends Mike Fink, (also nominated as the overall VFX supervisor) and Susan MacLeod, (VFX producer); director Chris Weitz and producers Bill Carraro and Deborah Forte, as well as the other outstanding visual effects companies who contributed to the success of the production.” 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 earlier this month 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. Bill Westenhofer is now 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.