Hall of Fame
This distinction is bestowed upon a select group of professionals and pioneers who have played a significant role in advancing the field of visual effects by invention, science, contribution or avocation of the art, science, technology and/or communications.
VES Hall of Fame inductees include both living legends and those being honored posthumously (noted with an *).
Mary Ellen Bute*
Bute was a pioneer American film animator, producer and director. She was one of the first female experimental filmmakers and was the creator of some of the first electronically generated film images. Her specialty was visual music. While working in New York City between 1934 and 1958, Bute made 14 short abstract musical films exploring the relationship of sound and image in cinema, and a second body of work focused on the relation of language and cinema through the adaptation of literary sources. Many of these were viewed in movie theaters, such as radio City Music Hall, usually preceding a prestigious film, and several of her abstract films were part of her Seeing Sound series.
Guy-Blaché was a French pioneer filmmaker. She was one of the first filmmakers to make a narrative fiction film and the first woman to direct a film. She experimented with Gaumont’s Chronophone sync-sound system, and with color-tinting, interracial casting and special effects. As artistic director and a co-founder of Solax Studios in New York in 1912, she made the film A Fool and His Money – probably the first to have an all African-American cast. The film is now preserved at the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute for its historical and aesthetic significance. Guy-Blaché was awarded the Légion d’honneur, the highest non-military award France offers, and honored in a Cinémathèque Française ceremony.
Hopper, known as “Grandma COBOL,” was an American computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first linkers. Hopper was the first to devise the theory of machine-independent programming languages, and the FLOW-MATIC programming language she created using this theory was later extended to create COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today. The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper was named for her, as was the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at NERSC. In 2016, Hopper was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
Kovacs was a pioneer of commercial computer animation technology. As Vice President of R&D at Robert Abel and Associates, he co-developed the company’s animation software. Kovacs used this software, along with others, in the film Tron. He later co-founded Wavefront Technologies as Chief Technology Officer, leading the development of products such as The Advanced Visualizer as well as animated productions. Along with Richard Childers and Chris Baker, he was a key organizer of the Infinite Illusions exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute. Following his retirement from Wavefront, Kovacs co-founded Instant Effects and worked as a consultant for Electronic Arts and RezN8, serving as RezN8’s CTO from 2000 until his death. He received a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and two Clio Awards for his work on animated TV commercials.
Pal was a Hungarian-American animator, film director and producer, principally associated with the fantasy and science-fiction genres. He became an American citizen after emigrating from Europe. He was nominated for Academy Awards (in the category Best Short Subjects, Cartoon) for seven consecutive years (1942–1948) and received an honorary award in 1944. As an animator, he made the Puppetoons series in the 1940s, which led to him being awarded the honorary Oscar for “the development of novel methods and techniques in the production of short subjects” known as Puppetoons.” Pal then switched to live-action filmmaking with The Great Rupert. He is best remembered as the producer of several science-fiction and fantasy films in the 1950s and 1960s, four of which were collaborations with director Byron Haskin, including The War of the Worlds. He himself directed Tom Thumb, The Time Machine and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.
Field was a visual effects supervisor and director of photography, highly regarded as a special effects legend. He is best known for his work on Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal and Superman, which earned him an Academy Special Achievement Award and BAFTA for Visual Effects for the team’s stunning use of practical, miniature and optical effects.
John P. Fulton, A.S.C.*
Fulton was an American special effects supervisor and cinematographer and created some of the most astounding visual effects of his era. His body of work includes some 250 films spanning nearly four decades, and earned Fulton three Academy Awards for Special Effects for his work on the fantasy Wonder Man, The Bridges at Toko-Ri and The Ten Commandments, in which he parted the Red Sea, among other impressive photographic effects.
Kellison was a visual effects supervisor and designer long before that position was acknowledged in movie credits. He had an almost 40-year career that ranged from the George Pal Puppetoons to industrial films, commercials, and feature films. His specialties include stop-motion animation forced perspective, which he dubbed “Magnascope” to market the technique to the commercial TV business.
John Whitney, Sr.*
Whitney was an American animator, composer and inventor, widely considered to be one of the fathers of computer animation. He used mechanical animation techniques to create sequences for motion picture and television title sequences and commercials; the most famous was his collaboration with Saul Bass on the title sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The Academy Film Archive houses the Whitney Collection and has preserved more than a dozen films featuring his work.
Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas Lumière and Louis Jean Lumière*
The Lumière Brothers were manufacturers of photography equipment, best known for their Cinématographe motion picture system and the short films they produced between 1895 and 1905, which places them among the earliest filmmakers. In parallel with their cinema work, they experimented with color photographic processes including the Lippmann process (interference heliochromy) and their own ‘bichromated glue’ process.
An American film and television producer and director, known for his work in science fiction, then later as the “Master of Disaster” for his work in the disaster film genre.
An American artist, animator and designer, prominent in producing art and animation for The Walt Disney Company and drawing concept art for ALICE IN WONDERLAND, PETER PAN and CINDERELLA and character designs for attractions including Disneyland’s It’s a Small World.
An American engineer and animator, best-known for her contribution of the Pinscreen, a vertically-mounted grid of 240,000 sliding metal rods that are first manually pushed into position to create lit and shaded areas, then filmed frame by frame.
Gene Warren, Jr.*
Special-effects designer at Fantasy II Film Effects who received an Academy Award and BAFTA for his work on TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY and an Emmy for THE WINDS OF WAR.
Gene Warren, Sr.*
Award-winning special-effects director. He started his career as an animator and puppeteer, and his work was seen in dozens of films from the 1950s-70s including TOM THUMB, THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO, SPARTACUS, THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN and THE TIME MACHINE, which won him the Academy Award for Special Effects.