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Autodesk Congratulates This Year’s Academy Awards Contenders

Visionaries behind award-nominated VFX and animated films bring cinematic worlds to screens around the globe with media and entertainment software.  

Though this year’s awards season may both look and feel different, the ingenuity and resilience of the global film industry has triumphed. Despite the shutdowns, remote workflows, and production hurdles encountered during the pandemic, this year’s Academy Award-nominated films in the VFX and animation categories show excellence in craft and artistry across the board. 

For more than 25 years, Autodesk Media and Entertainment tools have been integral to helping creative visionaries bring cinematic storytelling to the big screen. This year’s VFX feats ranged from recreating ancient China’s vast Imperial City in “Mulan,” to time-twisting CG augmentation of practical effects in “Tenet,” to a harrowing space walk in “The Midnight Sky,” and more. 

Weta VFX Transports Audiences to Imperial China 

For the live-action epic adventure “Mulan,” Weta VFX was integral in the development of China’s Imperial City and creating fantastical creatures and effects, earning the team an Oscar nomination. Autodesk Maya and Shotgun both played a role in creating the beautiful, historically-authentic world the film was set in. “Maya is the foundation for many of our bespoke plugins and serves as a hub for our 3D work,” shared Weta VFX Supervisor, Anders Langlands. 

Final Shot of Mulan and Honghui on the bridge. © Disney 2020 All Rights Reserved

One of the biggest challenges for the team at Weta was designing the massive Imperial City with a finessed level of detail and historical accuracy. Langlands said, “For creating the Imperial City, we sent our onset team out to a backlot location in China, where we scanned almost the entire 25-hectare park. This gave us the source material to build a construction kit in Maya, from which we could create an almost infinite variety of authentic-looking buildings. We then fed the buildings into a procedural layout system in Houdini. We came up with a series of rules for building the city from reading academic texts about medieval Chinese city planning and architecture, and by looking at historical maps. We encoded these rules in the procedural layout system and could quickly generate the entire city, being true to that historical research. Then we went in and did a second layout dressing pass in Maya to add detail and slice-of-life vignettes in front of the camera, where it would be most visible.” 

Cheers to This Year’s Nominees 

The nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards in the Best Visual Effects category include “Love and Monsters,” “The Midnight Sky,” “Mulan,” “The One and Only Ivan,” and “Tenet.” Nominees for Best Animation Feature include “Onward,” “Over the Moon,” “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon,” “Soul,” and “WolfWalkers.” Tune in to the Oscars on April 25 to acknowledge these fantastic creative teams. Congratulations to this year’s nominees!