DNEG’s Vancouver VFX wizards land Oscar noms for Dune

Vancouver’s DNEG team previously won an Academy Award in 2019

A sandworm, created by DNEG's Vancouver VFX team, bursts from the ground in the 2021 sci-fi blockbuster Dune | DNEG

Canadian film director Denis Villeneuve brought throngs of moviegoers back to cinemas last fall with sci-fi feature Dune. 

Now the Vancouver-based visual effects team that created photorealistic images of sandworms, dragonfly-like fighter planes and ancient desert palaces for the blockbuster flick are hoping to bring home Oscar trophies.

In addition to picking up a Best Picture nomination early Tuesday, Dune nabbed a Visual Effects nomination for work done by Double Negative Ltd.’s (DNEG) Tristan Myles and Brian Connor. Former DNEG employee, Paul Lambert, is also nominated along with Gerd Nefzer for their work on Dune.

At least three out of the four nominees are based in Vancouver, where DNEG has a studio in the city’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. It’s unclear where Gerd Nefzer is based. He could not be immediately reached for clarification.

DNEG's Montreal team also contributed to some of the work on Dune.

The Vancouver team will be competing against their colleagues across the pond, with DNEG’s British team landing a nomination for work on the James Bond spy flick No Time To Die. DNEG's Montreal team also contributed to Daniel Craig's final outing as 007, with 38 VFX shots supervised there vs. 370 in London.

DNEG’s Vancouver studio previously picked up an Oscar for Neil Armstrong biopic First Man back in 2019 and worked on Blade Runner 2049, which won in 2018.

Last August DNEG revealed it will be hiring workers for a new feature animation studio in Vancouver as the company aims to grow significantly across Canada.

This came as DNEG’s parent company, Prime Focus Ltd., secured a US$250-million equity investment from Novator Capital Advisers earlier in the summer of 2021. 

With the new capital in hand, the VFX company also embarked on launching a new studio in Toronto as well as expanding its Montreal office.

The Toronto studio will employ up to 200 workers, while up to 300 additional workers are set for either Vancouver or Montreal.

The Vancouver hiring plans include both the new animation studio, where as many as 100 animators would be based, and its existing VFX studio.

“It’s a pretty mature market, and so the talent in Vancouver really is top notch. And that’s what we’re really looking to tap,” DNEG Animation president Tom Jacomb told BIV in September.

Academy Award nominees for Visual Effects:

Dune 

Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer

Free Guy 

Swen Gillberg, Bryan Grill, Nikos Kalaitzidis and Dan Sudick

No Time To Die 

Charlie Noble, Joel Green, Jonathan Fawkner and Chris Corbould

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Christopher Townsend, Joe Farrell, Sean Noel Walker and Dan Oliver

Spider-Man: No Way Home 

Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein and Dan Sudick

torton@biv.com

@reporton