Posted Feb 05

5 interesting facts about Visual Effects in the Oscars

by Indigo Cherry
5 interesting facts about Visual Effects in the Oscars by Indigo Cherry

As the 92nd annual Oscars award ceremony approaches, here are five interesting facts about VFX in the Oscars.

Best Engineering Effects Award

Technical contribution to a film was first recognised at the inaugural 1929 Oscars, where the World War I drama feature film, Wings, was awarded Best Engineering Effects. William A. Wellman’s film, released in 1927, would’ve cost around 25c to watch in cinemas. To this day, Wings is also the only silent feature film to have won Best Picture at the Oscars.

The first VFX winner

It was not until 1977 that the Best Visual Effects category was introduced. Previous category names included Best Special Effects (1939-1964) and Best Special Visual Effects (1965-1976). The first winner in the category of Best Visual Effects was Star Wars, as it utilised better editing techniques and effects than previously seen before.

Nomination is influenced by artistry, skill, and fidelity

The criteria used to select the nominees centres around the contribution visual effects make to the overall production along with the artistry, skill, and fidelity with which the visual illusions are achieved.  The Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee is a board of decorated and successful visual effects professionals carefully selected to nominate a maximum of five films in the category.

7,000 voters

Once the Executive Committee chooses the nominations, over 7,000 active members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science vote across all categories to determine the winner. The voting is held online before the ceremony, at which time the winners are announced from the famous gold sealed envelopes.

Nominees as outright winners

While it is typical to have between three and five films nominated, sometimes a single film is given the Oscar outright. Particularly during the early years, the Oscar instantly goes to the only film nominated that year. Some of the outright winners for Best Visual Effects include War of Worlds (1953), Superman (1978) along with The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983) and most the most recent being Total Recall in 1990.

The 92nd Oscars Award Ceremony will be held on 9th February 2020. –

Photo from of the first Oscar presentation and banquet held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

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