Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Eileen Moran, VFX Wizard of Prometheus, LOTR, & The Hobbit, Dies

Eileen Moran, one of the industry’s top visual effects producers, and the Oscar-winning special effects wizard who worked on such diverse films as King Kong, Fight ClubPrometheus, and The Hobbit, died on Tuesday, December 4, 2012, in New Zealand, after a battle with ovarian cancer. She was a longtime confidant of director Peter Jackson.

Moran was involved in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and, as the one of the leaders of the Weta Digital team, she won the Best Visual Effects Oscar for Avatar in 2009.

Moran was a co-producer on Jackson’s latest epic, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Moran was instrumental in "building Weta Digital into the most powerful engine for imaginative imagery that ever existed,” said James Cameron.

Moran won an award from the Visual Effects Society for her work on King Kong (2005),  two for Avatar, and was nominated for The Adventures of Tintin.

Her film work included the three Lord of the Rings films, Fight Club (1999), Lake Placid (1999), EDtv (1999), I, Robot (2004), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Eragon (2006), Bridge to Terabithia (2007), Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), 30 Days of Night (2007), The Water Horse (2007), Jumper (2008), The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), District 9 (2009), The Lovely Bones (2009), The A-Team (2010; executive producer: Weta Digital Ltd.), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011; visual effects executive producer: Weta Digital) and Prometheus (2012; executive producer: Weta Digital).

Moran was raised on Long Island and went to the State University of New York at New Paltz, with the notion of being an actor. She moved to Los Angeles, and worked for the late director Tony Scott (who died by suicide this year). She then got into music videos, and ended up at the v/sfx group Digital Domain, owned by Cameron. Her breakthrough work was on a pair of memorable Budweiser commercials featuring digital frogs, lizards, and ants.

In 1991, Moran got an email that changed her life: Jackson was turning J.R.R. Tolkein’s LOTR trilogy into a movie and needed a visual-effects producer. She took the job, moved to New Zealand, and the rest, as they say, became part of her history.

Our condolences to Eileen Moran's survivors include her children, Jack and Ava, and her extended family of friends and fans of her work. 

She was in her mid-50s.

Sources: 1, 2, and 3.

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