Singaporean animator wins Academy Award

SINGAPORE - For the first time, a Singaporean will be honoured with an Academy Award in Hollywood.

Animator Nickson Fong, part of a three-man international team, will receive the Technical Achievement Award next month for inventing a technique that makes 3-D animated characters and faces more life-like.

The technique, created in 2000 and dubbed Pose Space Deformation, has been adapted widely in the film industry, including in the science-fiction film Avatar and the Lord Of The Rings movie series.

The 43-year-old was surprised when told of his win last month. "But when I found out how widespread the technology had been adapted, I was really honoured," he said last night.

Based in Taipei, he is now in Singapore working on an international animated film. He and his team-mates will receive the award on Feb9 in a ceremony at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, at the Academy's Scientific and Technical Awards.

Held a fortnight before the main Oscars ceremony, these awards recognise innovations that contribute in lasting ways to cinema. The trio will receive a certificate, not the coveted Oscar statuette, which continues to elude Singaporean filmmakers.

Before Mr Fong, the closest a Singaporean came to snagging an Academy Award was in 2002, when filmmaker Tan Pin Pin received a plaque at the Student Academy Awards.

Mr Fong, a Hollywood mainstay for years, created visual effects for films such as The Matrix sequels. He founded the startup Egg Story Creative Production, which folded in 2010.

He moved to Taipei, but he remains active in Singapore with another startup, Egg Story Studios.

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