Oscar nod expected for Maine native’s work on ‘Avatar’ sequel

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Trinity Bliss, as Tuk, in a scene from “Avatar: The Way of Water.” Gorham native Eric Saindon was the senior visual results supervisor on the movie. 20th Century Studios through AP

Would the third time be the charm?

Eric Saindon has been nominated twice for a visible effects Oscar, and the Gorham native appears more probably to be nominated again this yr for his work on the $350 million sci-fi epic “Avatar: The Way of Water.” The nominations might be announced Tuesday, and industry publications like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are predicting that Saindon, as senior results supervisor on the movie, will get one.

Saindon spent greater than three years working on “Avatar: The Way of Water” at Weta FX studios in New Zealand and has helped create effects for some 20 movies during his 25-year career. So he tries to concentrate on his work and never think about Oscars, a minimum of not an extreme quantity of.

“It’s kind of fun to consider winning, like if you buy a lotto ticket. But then the night time earlier than the drawing, you don’t want to give it some thought too hard and even take a glance at the numbers,” stated Saindon, 53, from his home in Wellington, New Zealand. “You don’t need to give it some thought too much and then nothing happens.”

Eric Saindon, originally from Gorham, is among the many favorites to be nominated for a visible effects Oscar for his work on “Avatar: The Way of Water.” Photo courtesy of Weta FX

The fantastical world and characters of “Avatar: The Way of Water” are heavily depending on computer-generated visual effects. Only two scenes in the whole film don’t have visual results. Last week, “Avatar: The Way of Water” received a document 14 nominations from the Visual Effects Society, which will be given out Feb. 15. The Oscars this year shall be given out March 12.

As senior effects supervisor on the film, Saindon can be considered one of 4 individuals named on a visible results Oscar nomination if “Avatar” indeed gets one. He and the other supervisors headed a group of some 1,700 individuals at Weta FX studios in New Zealand. When he worked on certainly one of his first films more than 20 years in the past, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” the visual effects crew numbered about 40, he mentioned.

Besides “Avatar: The Way of Water,” different films that critics and trade watchers predict will be nominated for a visual results Oscar embrace “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Nope,” “Thirteen Lives” and “The Batman.” In current historical past, the Academy has nominated five movies for the award.

As a visible results supervisor, Saindon has been nominated for an Oscar for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” in 2014 and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in 2013. He didn’t win either time.

Saindon, who also labored on the first “Avatar” in 2009, said the most important change in visual results for films over the past decade or so is the development of “motion-capture” technology that permits actors to be filmed – wearing particular gear and hooked as much as computer systems – so that the computer generated characters then have far more lifelike movement and presence, Saindon stated. The movie also has extra live-action filmed sequences than the primary one.

“The muscles, the tendons, every thing you see on the characters is much more real now,” said Saindon. “We use CG (computer generation) to fill in what the character seems like however it’s a lot extra based mostly on real actors now.”


The film is a sequel to the original “Avatar” and takes place on the extrasolar moon Pandora, the place the Na’vi persons are compelled to guard their lifestyle from various violent threats. The film was released in December and has generated $1.9 billion in revenue.

Many scenes were filmed in or beneath water, Saindon mentioned, and up to now, he and his visual results team would “just fill in the water” utilizing pc know-how. But for this movie, there have been physicists on employees to help calculate actual volumes in order that the computer generated water would behave like real water. Similar calculations have been made for the buoyancy and weight of characters and boats within the water.

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Eric Saindon, a Maine native, was senior effects supervisor on the new film “Avatar: Way of the Water.” 20th Century Studios by way of AP

Saindon’s work included being on set for the filming of scenes that may later be enhanced by effects or be part of a computer-generated scene. Most of the work in creating effects was done on computers by members of the visible results crew. He had an workplace close to director James Cameron’s.

Saindon didn’t got down to have a profession in film effects. After graduating from Gorham High School in 1988, Saindon took neighborhood school classes, and later studied structure at Washington State University. He obtained a job out of school at an organization that made animation software program. After that, he worked on the animation firm Santa Barbara Studios in California. In 1999, he went to work at Weta Digital – now Weta FX – and labored his means as a lot as senior visible effects supervisor.

Saindon has been to the Oscars three times earlier than and will definitely go to the ceremony in Los Angeles if nominated this 12 months, he said. He plans to deliver his spouse, Beth Arko, if nominated. The couple has 4 kids.

Saindon says he takes satisfaction helping create characters and visual results with computer systems that appear real. He has been to films the place the computer generated characters and visible effects appear faux, and the audience laughs or cringes.

“If you watch the movie and don’t think about the visual results, then we’ve carried out an excellent job,” Saindon mentioned.

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