Autodesk Celebrates Up-and-Coming Artists at 13th Annual VES Awards

“Wrapped” Team Wins Seventh Annual Autodesk-Sponsored VES Award for “Outstanding VFX in Student Project”


VFX artists behind some of 2014’s most popular films, TV shows, ads and video games assembled at the Beverly Hills Hilton last night to pay tribute to their craft during the 13th Annual Visual Effects Society (VES) Awards. Attendees at the black tie affair celebrated their industry and peers, with a program hosted by comedian Patton Oswalt. Though the evening was packed with mind-blowing visuals, the “Outstanding VFX in Student Project” nominee reels never fail to impress.

Established in 2009 by Autodesk and the VES to recognize future filmmakers, the award has become a show-favorite, offering a sneak peek at up-and-coming filmmakers from educational institutions around the world. It has also evolved into a launch pad of sorts, giving rising artists the opportunity to showcase their work in front of the best-of-the-best in the industry. In some cases, this visibility has helped boost resumes for former nominees, who have landed jobs at prominent facilities like The Mill, Method, Pixomondo, MPC and Psyop, among others. 

This year, students from international institutions – spanning Germany, France, China and beyond – submitted stellar films. Every year, the student work gets more impressive, and this year’s nominated films included: “Deep Dance”, “Dragon Clan”, “Murphy” and “Wrapped.” During last night’s ceremony, Autodesk Senior Vice President Chris Bradshaw was honored to present, “Wrapped,” created by Roman Kälin, Falkko Paeper, Florian Wittmann and Paolo Tamburrino, with the Outstanding VFX in a Student Project award.


“Two times is a charm – thanks VES and all the VES members who voted for ‘Wrapped’ and Autodesk for both sponsoring the award and, of course, for the free student software. When we won as undergrads three years ago, the award helped inspire us to continue our studies as graduate students. The first time it already felt surreal, winning a second time and being here again is such a huge honor. We're humbled to receive this award and the industry recognition it affords," said Roman Kälin.


Wrapped – WINNER

Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg grad students Roman Kaelin, Falko Paeper, Florian Wittman and Paolo Tamburrino joined forces to produce the beautifully crafted “Wrapped.” This is actually the second win for the talented team, who won the 2012 VES Student award for A.Maize when they were undergrads. The short film fuses time-lapse photography with CG animation to illustrate nature’s resilience over time — iconic New York landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge and Flatiron Building are engulfed by nature, one vine at a time. However, as buildings begin to decay, new plant life flourishes, setting the stage for a new beginning.


Deep Dance – Nominee

Budding filmmakers Marco Erbrich, Christoph Westphal and Vincent Langer created the stereoscopic 3D animated short “Deep Dance” which artfully depicts the beauty and peril that lies buried beneath the ocean’s surface. To bring their underwater tale to life, the trio designed a vast subaquatic landscape devoid of light and sound. In this undersea world, a bioluminescent anglerfish and shoal of vampire squid compete in the ultimate battle of survival of the fittest.


Dragon Clan – Nominee

Yahui Fan and Sheng Xu’s “Dragon Clan” is inspired by an ancient Chinese story in which a shaman volunteers to sacrifice her life to help bring rain to her clan. A young boy has an ominous premonition and rushes to the top of a mountain to stop her. Upon arrival, he finds her lifeless, tied to a dragon statue. In anguish, he stabs the statue, triggering a swirling dust tornado in the form of a dragon. As the dragon vanishes into the air, he realizes it is the shaman’s spirit.


Murphy– Nominee

In “Murphy,” a well-intentioned, but clumsy woodland creature unwittingly dooms a WWII English paratrooper who crash-landed in a Nazi-occupied forest. The dark comedic short by Bruno Leveque and Xavier Lafarge from ISART Digital in Paris contains 54 live-action shots and 39 VFX shots – including 1,142,500 creature hairs, 133,842 CG trees and 167,265 shrubs and plants. To give the woodland creature personality, Leveque and Lafarge relied on a combination of keyframe animation and motion capture, using a Microsoft Kinect.

The talent displayed last night underscores the importance of supporting the creative pursuits of students to prepare them for careers in entertainment, the arts, design, engineering and innovation. Autodesk initiated and continues to sponsor the VES Student Award as an extension of our dedicated efforts to support students, educators and academic institutions around the world with free access to our software.

“We congratulate ‘Wrapped,’ the nominees, and all of the other students who submitted shorts this year. Keep up the good work, and know that the industry is taking note,” said Chris Bradshaw. “Filmakademie has set the bar high, the challenge for next year is already on!”

Autodesk encourages all students to submit short films for next year’s awards. For more info on the Student Award, visit Hope to see your name on the big screen next year!