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Alumni News


Two Grads Win Technical Achievement Academy Awards

February 25, 2014

Awards season is upon us and the impact of Sheridan alumni on the big and small screen is once again in clear focus. Animation alumni have worked on eight Oscar-nominated films: Despicable Me 2, Frozen, Gravity, Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Croods, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Lone Ranger.  Sheridan grads have won two special Academy Awards, two Annies (animation’s highest honour) and received 25 Canadian Screen Award (CSA) nominations.

Congratulations to Tibor Madjar and Colin Doncaster on winning Academy Awards for Scientific and Technical Achievement. Tibor is a 1999 Computer Animation grad and Colin received an honorary animation diploma for his instrumental role in developing Sheridan’s visual effects course. They were both recognized at a February 15th ceremony in Los Angeles. Tibor, a Toronto-based visual effects specialist, was honoured for helping devise Mudbox, a 3d sculpting software used for films, including King Kong, Avatar, Life of Pi and The Avengers. Colin, Co-founder of Peregrine Labs, a digital media studio in Dundas, Ontario, was recognized for his work in deep compositing, a technique that merges visual images. The techniques the two winners helped develop dramatically reduce the amount of time and money it takes to produce complex visual effects.

Tibor and Colin were among 52 people who received certificates from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which also hands out the Oscars. Portions of the scientific and technical awards ceremony will be broadcast during the March 2nd Oscar telecast.

“It was all very exciting,” said Tibor, who brought his wife, Brenda Mah-Madjar, seven-year-old son, Skye, and ten-year-old daughter, Maia, to the ceremony. “My son wore a tuxedo and carried a big camera. He took the pictures,” said Tibor who took great delight in the fact that his son was invited to the press room with the official photographers to take shots of the winners. In his acceptance speech, Tibor expressed hope that his children would be inspired by his win to find their own passion in life. His wife, whom he met at Sheridan, is a three-time grad: Graphic Design, 1989, Computer Graphics, 1991, and Computer Animation, 1999.

Tibor and his three co-winners developed the digital modeling process while working on The Lord of the Rings for Weta Digital in New Zealand. “Previously, you actually sculpted creatures out of clay, working on them for months. Then they would be scanned into the computer and go through lots of cleanup work,” explains Tibor.

Colin has lent his expertise to several projects for Weta, including The Lord of the Rings, Avatar and The Day the Earth Stood Still, the film he was working on when he helped create the award-winning compositing technique. After 18 years in the visual effects industry, Colin welcomes the validation the award gives him and his four other collaborators.

“It’s gratifying not only because the technology has been recognized, but also because of its widespread and enthusiastic adoption by the industry,” said the self-taught visual effects expert who has worked around the world.

Back in his home office, Colin’s letter from the Academy acknowledging his win is pinned next to artwork by his two-year-old and 18-month-old sons. A fitting spot, considering that Colin preceded his trip to the awards ceremony with a visit to Disneyland with his wife and children.                     

Colin Doncaster awardColin Doncaster accepting his special Academy Award certificate