Animator describes 'surreal' Oscar success

An Academy award-winning animator today described the feeling of collecting his Oscar for visual effects on blockbuster film 'Avatar'.

An Academy award-winning animator today described the feeling of collecting his Oscar for visual effects on blockbuster film 'Avatar'.

Richie Baneham, who trained in Ballyfermot College and now works on some of the world’s biggest movie productions in Los Angeles, said the honour did not hit home until after the ceremony.

“It’s an incredibly surreal moment,” he said.

“The strange thing is it’s kind of a serene feeling in this weird way to be finally handed the trophy.

“It does not feel real in any way, until you have come through the press and done all that and walked away and handed the piece to your wife and say ’here, what do you think of that?’

“Only at that moment was it that I actually said ’it’s a lot heavier than I expected’. At that point it seems real.”

Mr Baneham was animation supervisor on 'Avatar' – the most financially successful film in cinema history.

He studied the trade in Ballyfermot College of Further Education before moving to Los Angeles and has worked on a number of other blockbusters including the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy and 'The Chronicles of Narnia'.

Mr Baneham told RTE Radio celebrations started in Dylan’s bar Hollywood with family, friends and colleagues before joining other industry figures.

Arts Minister Martin Cullen led tributes.

“Richard is one of Ireland’s most accomplished animators and winning this much-coveted award is a great personal success and a further recognition of the talent available in the Irish film industry either working at home or abroad,” said Mr Cullen.

“Both Richard’s Academy award and his recent Bafta will inspire young Irish creative animators and all those working in, and committed to art, design and the digital media in Ireland.”

The Dubliner won a Bafta award in the same category last month and was one of five Irish nominees at this year’s Oscars.

Simon Perry, Irish Film Board chief executive, said the success should be seen as an inspiration.

“The Academy has already acknowledged the exceptional talent of Irish film-makers with five Irish nominations, but for Richard to win an Oscar is international recognition at the highest level,” Mr Perry said.

“We are delighted for Richard and his team. It is inspiring to see that the fires of Irish talent continue to burn as brightly as ever.

“This award is a further reinforcement of Ireland’s reputation for creativity and innovation.”

Other Irish hopefuls, animations 'Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty' and 'The Secret Of Kell' and short film 'The Door', lost out in their categories at the ceremony.

Olivia Mitchell, Fine Gael arts spokeswoman, said Mr Baneham’s Oscar success was a tremendous honour for tremendous work.

“This is a tremendous honour that is richly deserved for Richie’s tremendous work on Avatar,” she said.

“As all those who saw the film can testify to, the outstanding visual effects are almost beyond belief. The film is nothing short of revolutionary in the field of film making and Richie deserves every accolade that comes his way.”

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