Blackwolf the Dragonmaster's Diary of Magecraft

Being a Chronicle of the Inner Secrets of, and Spells of Magick as Wielded by, the Philosopher of the Internet and Unofficial Sorcerer-in-Residence of the City of New York

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Location: New York, New York, United States

As New York's Unofficial Wizard, my mission is to encourage the Mortals of Manhattan to imagine responsibly!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2011: The Chronicle (@ Long Last!), Episode Two

Continuing now our chronicle of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards: Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law took the stage to present two more awards --- Visual Effects and Film Editing. Paul Franklin and Chris Corbould spoke on behalf of themselves and their Inception teammates Andy Lockley and Peter Bebb. First, Paul: "It feels like that top is still spinning, but I really don't care anymore. Thanks, my producers, Matt Plummer and Mike Chambers; the brilliant visual effects team at Double Negative back in London; mum and dad back in Cheshire, and to the Academy for this." Chris, meanwhile, shared the award with the teams in L.A., in Canada, in France, in Morocco, and all the rest of it.

Meanwhile, the social network's two editors, Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, were a little bit more perceptive with their thank-you comments. Angus began by thanking all whom Aaron Sorkin had thanked, saving his last few thoughts for the film's director, David Fincher: "It's indescribable working with you; and thank you for starting my career 20-odd years ago. Also, a big thank-you to our wives who allow us to have incredibly passionate love affairs with our families and our work." Kirk, meanwhile, addressed his thank-you thoughts to his daughter Bronte, saying: "Find something you truly love doing, and great things can happen. The hard part is, you gotta meet someone like Fincher. Cheers!"

In some cases, a few of the night's presenters played the one presenter/two awards game; and Cate Blanchett had that one, the two awards in question being Makeup and Costume Design.

Rick Baker is the Best Makeup Oscar's elder statesman. The Wolfman marks his 12th consecutive nomination and seventh win in the category that started with him in 1981. "I'm smiling so big, my face hurts," said Rick, who thanked his beloved wife Silvia for "being so right. I'm so glad I listened to you, honey. Go, Dave." This is just Dave Elsey's second nomination, having previously been nominated for Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. "Thank you Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Universal Studios for their legacy of horror monsters that we love so much. It was always my ambition to one day lose the Oscar to Rick Baker --- this is even better."

Another veteran Oscar winner is costume designer Colleen Atwood. Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland marks her ninth nomination, yet only her third win. Her thoughts:

"The story of Alice in Wonderland was described by its publishers in 1865 as a story valued for its rare imagination, priceless humor, and power to transport the reader into a world of pure fantasy ---- a gift to us all. The heart of any movie lies with its director, and I've been incredibly lucky on this and many films to work with the singular Tim Burton. Tim's imagination, along with the amazing cast --- Johnny's incandescent Hatter; Mia's Alice for all girls, all times: Helena's fearless, big-headed Queen; and our crystalline snowflake princess, Anne Hathaway, made my job a delight. We had the support of a production team headed by Richard Zanuck and Katterli Frauenfelder, and supported by Joe Roth, Suzanne and Jennifer Todd, and Disney --- but I couldn't have done it without my team: Christine Cantella and the entire group."

Marisa Tomei was the host for the Sci-Tech Academy Awards segment. It's the part of the show reserved for the nerdier folks in the television audience. As usual, the telecast had no time to identify those Oscar winners, but as you Mortals know by now, that don't sit too well with ol' Blackwolf. So, pay attention, goodlies. These are the nerds we will one day want to become:


  • Greg Ercolano, creator of an entire network of software systems culminating in the Rush Render Queue Management System (RQMS).

  • David M. Laur, developer of the Alfred RQMS.

  • Chris Allen, Gautham Krishnamurti, Mark A. Brown and Lance Kimes --- developers of Queue, a robust and scalable approach to render queue management.

  • Florian Kanz, creator of the robust and highly scalable distributed architecture of the ObaQ RQMS.

  • Eric Tabellion and Arnauld Lamorlette, who created a CG bounce lighting methodology that is practical at feature-film scale.

  • Tony Clark, Alan Rogers, Neil Wilson and Rory McGregor for the software design and continuing development of cineSync, a tool for remote collaboration and review of digital visual effects.


  • Dr. Mark Sagar, for his early and continuing development of influential facial motion retargeting solutions.

  • Mark Noel for the design, engineering and development; and John Frazier for the contributions to the design and safety features, of the NAC Servo Winch System.

  • Jim Rodnunsky, Alex MacDonald and Mark Chapman, creators of the Cablecam 3D volumetric suspended cable camera technology.

  • Timmy Drnec, Ben Britten Smith and Matt Davis, creators of the Spydercam 3D volumetric suspended cable camera technology.

    Congratulations, Sci-Tech Oscar winners! We wanna grow up and be all of you one of these days!

    Helen Mirren and Russell Brand were the next presenters; their category was Foreign Language Film. The winner was Denmark's In a Better World, where we're introduced to schoolboys Christian and Elias. Unwilling victims of a recent violent incident, the boys' fathers at first fail to properly grasp the full implications of their sons' actions. While Anton, Elias' father --- an idealistic doctor often absent from home as he struggles to work in an African refugee camp --- seeks to communicate his commitment to nonviolence to our young heroes, the troubled Chris still dismisses those ideals as a sign of weakness.

    It's Denmark's eighth nomination in this category and only its third overall win. Speaking on behalf of cast and crew was the film's director, Susanne Bier: "This is a REAL Oscar? Thank you so much, the Academy, what an honor. I am so truly honored and grateful and happy, thank you so much. All my creative partners, whether they are here in this room with me or back home in Denmark and Sweden: this one belongs to all of you as much as it belongs to me."

    Susanne, dearest: you're in the bloomin' Kodak Theatre! Don't EVER refer to the Kodak Theatre as a mere "room!"

    Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman took to the stage next for Best Original Score. The unlikely partnership of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross brought an unexpected beat to the social network; though your Dragonmaster doesn't exactly think that we'll be humming the main title theme after seeing the DVD. Anywho, Trent:

    "Wow, is this really happening? When we finished our work on the social network, we were very proud of our work, and we're just so happy to be involved with this particular film. And to be standing up here in this company is both humbling and flattering beyond words. I'd like to especially thank the Academy for recognizing our work here --- and thank you so much, David Fincher for the opportunity." Atticus improvised his thanks a bit, thanking his partner, his wife Claudia and his three kids.

    Jennifer Hudson presented Best Original Song. There were several performers here. Starting with Gwyneth Paltrow, singing "Coming Home" from Country Strong: Randy Newman (on the Oscars AGAIN, with his 20th nomination, including his 2001 win for Monsters, Inc.), singing "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3; Mandy Moore with "I See the Light" from Tangled; and finally, A.R. Rahman, singing "If I Rise" from 127 Hours. (I couldn't figure out Shri Rahman's vocal stylings; please someone, send me the lyrics to that particular song!)

    Anyway, Toy Story 3 struck a chord that night, I would wot. Here's what Randy, winning his second Oscar in this category, had to say:

    "I'm very grateful for this and surprised; my percentages aren't all that great. I've been nominated 20 times, and this is only the second time I've won. At the Luncheon that the Academy has for all the nominees, they have like a Randy Newman chicken by this time; Don Mischer says that it's not really good television to take some list out of your pocket and start thanking a lot of people. It's not my style anyway, but it is in this case. I mean, to have worked for Pixar doing the six pictures I've done ... I want this to be good television so badly, as you can see. I've been on this show any number of times, and I've slowed it down almost every time. No wonder they've nominated only four songs! How about Cinematography? So there's five! They could find a fifth song from someone! But the hell with it! Think it might have beat me. Anyway, I thank you all very much for this. The Academy and its Music Branch have always been enormously very kind to me, and I love you all. Thank you very much."

    And with that, kiddos, that'll do it for Episode Two. Next up: Tom Hanks with Art Direction and Cinematography; the Animation awards; the Big Six Oscars --- and a tribute to those fabulous kids from P.S. 22! Be here!