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Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" has picked up its first two Oscars at the 85th annual Academy Awards. The CGI spectacle, which has grossed over $580 million worldwide, won in the categories of Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects.
"The irony is not lost on any of us up here in that ['Life of Pi' is] a film that asks the audience to accept something as real that is not real," said visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer, of embattled effects house Rhythm and Hues Studios. "That's the magic of visual effects."
Meanwhile, Rhythm and Hues filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month. Unfortunate, then, that Westenhofer was played off stage while speaking to that. The company was responsible for the animal and tiger effects of the film and a number of ex-employees and current employees of the company protested outside the Dolby Theatre this afternoon due to recent layoffs and failed payment for tentpoles like Legendary's "Seventh Son."
The Moving Picture Company had a large hand in some of the bigger, broader effects of "Life of Pi."
Claudio Miranda's win in the cinematography category, meanwhile, marks the third 3D digital production in four years to win the award. He was previously nominated for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" in 2008, also a digital production.
"Ang [Lee] said, 'I really want to shoot this in a new visual language,'" Miranda told HitFix about using 3D technology in January "He really wanted to experiment and felt that people were not doing enough in this medium, that they were just making gags and were not sensitive to the material and that you can actually make a story point of this."
"Life of Pi" was nominated for 11 Oscars in total, including Best Director and Best Picture.