Keeping with tradition, the Visual Effects Society kicked off its 21st Visual Effects Society Awards on the eve of February 15 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA. The annual industry event celebrates the most outstanding visual effects in film, television, and other media in the last year, including up-and-coming filmmakers in the “Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project” category sponsored by Autodesk for the 16th consecutive year.
A talented team of students from Filmakademie Baden-württemberg accepted the award on-stage from Autodesk CMO Dara Treseder for their work on the short film “A Calling. From the Desert. To the Sea” by writer and director Murad Abu Eisheh. Their submission included an impressive VFX breakdown of the film, available here.
The beautifully crafted short film follows two young sisters escaping their plight to embark on a desert journey aiming for a more hopeful future. Plagued by nightmares, the younger sister is haunted by a terrifying desert monster every step of the way. Symbolic of an enemy that lies within, the monster emerges from her dreams, crashing down desert cliffs to torment her, but the duo ultimately breaks free from the creature to reach a glistening horizon.
VFX Supervisor Mario Bertsch guided a team of 30 artists in delivering 28 visual effects shots for the film over the course of two years, with Lennard Fricke and Max Pollmann providing VFX production. Creature and Animation Lead Till Sander-Titgemeyer, Compositing Lead Lukas Löffler, and Rigging Technical Director Lukas Kapp worked in close collaboration with Bertsch, Fricke, and Pollmannas well as Technical Director Pascal Schober to produce the film’s stunning desert landscapes and harrowing photo-real creature. The team deployed a host of technologies to bring the film to life, including Autodesk Maya for animation and rigging, Arnold for rendering, ShotGrid to keep production on track, and RV for shot review.
“On behalf of the entire animation and VFX team who worked on the film, we’re thrilled to receive the VES Student Award, especially given the caliber of work presented by each of the nominees,” said VFX producer Lennard Frick. “It’s a huge honor for our crew, who worked tirelessly on this project, as well as Filmakademie Baden-württemberg, the university we represent. “We had a blast working on the film as a team and learning together, and we can’t wait to see what new opportunities it unlocks as we advance our careers.”
“We’re in awe of this next generation of visual effects artists, excited to support them on their journeys to define the future of the industry, and grateful to the Visual Effects Society for recognizing their immense talent,” said Treseder. “On behalf of Autodesk, I’d like to congratulate all the nominees, and the team behind ‘A Calling. From the Desert. To the Sea’ on their win. We look forward to their continued work bringing stories to life in ways that move, inspire, and challenge us all.”
The Autodesk team and Visual Effects Society Awards attendees celebrated the film’s win, while also applauding diverse digital artistry and storytelling showcased across nominees including “Boom” (Romain Augier, Charles Di Cicco, Gabriel Augerai, and Laurie Pereira De Figueiredo), “Macula” (Hady Abou Ghazale, Lothaire Rialhe, Marta Rodriguez-Noriega Nava, and Jules Machicot) and “Maronii” (Maxime Guitet, Dimitri Allonneau, Lucas Plata, and Ngoc Mai Nguyen).