Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 29, 2017 — This year’s International Press Academy’s prestigious TESLA AWARD honoring Visionary Achievement in Filmmaking Technology will be presented to Visual Effects visionary, Robert Legato.
For more than twenty years, Robert Legato has taken us on a visual journey from the far reaches of space in Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 to the depths of the ocean in James Cameron’s Titanic, to the stunning three-dimensional experience of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo to the magical world of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. And Legato would say that if he did it right no one would know he had anything to do with it.
Legato began his career in television, working on iconic shows like 1986’s The Twilight Zone, Star Trek – The Next Generation and Star Trek – Deep Space Nine. After leaving Paramount Pictures, he joined James Cameron, Stan Winston and Scott Ross’s newly formed visual effects company, Digital Domain, where his first assignment was as Visual Effects Supervisor, 2nd Unit Director and VFX Director of Photography for Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire.
Legato earned his first Academy Award nomination on Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 and won the British Academy Award’s BAFTA. When the studio called in a NASA astronaut to check the science on Apollo 13 the response after viewing the visual effects footage of the rocket launch was simple, scientific – “That’s wrong.” But when Legato showed the expert the actual NASA footage of the astronaut’s own launch his response was, “That’s wrong, too.” He remembered it differently. “What I gleaned from that,” Legato said, “Is that when we believe something, we transfer everything we feel about it to that belief.” It’s not about recreating reality but creating a feeling that informs what we see.
On James Cameron’s Titanic, Legato helped the filmmaker achieve his epic vision by creating visual effects that blended seamlessly with Cameron’s actual footage of the wreck. “I wanted to create, what to me is, the emotional “heart of the movie.”” By morphing Cameron’s amazing images filmed three miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean with visual effects filmed in the studio, Legato gave the audience what they wanted to see – the legendary ship brought back to life. By tracking when the attention shifts from the actors, Legato let the audience drive the experience, making the transition from the ship in all its glory to the wreck on the bottom of the ocean seamless. Legato’s amazing visual achievement not only helped to make Titanic one of the most successful films ever made, winning a total of 11 Oscars® (including Best Picture and Best Visual Effects) it also earned Legato his first Academy Award®.
After leaving Digital Domain to join Sony Pictures Imageworks, Legato served as Visual Effects Supervisor on Robert Zemeckis’s What Lies Beneath and Cast Away.
On Bad Boys II, he was nominated for a VES (Visual Effects Society) Award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture. Next came the international phenomenon, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Martin Scorsese’s, The Aviator, which was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, received 5 Oscars® and also garnered 3 VES awards and the International Press Academy’s Satellite award for Best Visual Effects, began a long and successful collaboration with the legendary filmmaker. For the next several years Legato served as Scorsese’s Visual Effects Supervisor and 2nd Unit Director/Cameraman on The Departed (multiple Academy Award winner including the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director), the Clio award winning The Key to Reserva, the feature documentary on the Rolling Stones, Shine a Light in 2008. After a pause in 2009 when James Cameron called on Legato to create and conceive the Virtual Cinematography Pipeline for Cameron’s, ambitious epic Avatar, which went on to surpass Titanic as the highest grossing film of all time, Legato returned to work on Martin Scorsese’s suspense thriller Shutter Island.
In 2011 Legato was awarded the Oscar® for best Visual Effects for his work on Scorsese’s epic 3D film Hugo. The film was also nominated for 11 Oscars® and 11 BAFTAS, as well as three VES Society Awards and an International Satellite Award. Legato last collaboration with Scorsese to date came on 2013’s The Wolf Of Wall Street.
On 2016’s live action retelling of Disney’s classic, The Jungle Book, Legato took the art of Visual Effects to a whole new level, resulting in another Academy Award for Best Achievement In Visual Effects. Legato is currently in pre-production on Disney’s The Lion King, where he is sure to raise the Visual Effects bar even higher, while, as always, creating a visual world in which no one even knows he was there.
Robert Legato joins a distinguished roster of Tesla recipients, including Douglas Trumbull, Roger Deakins, Rick Baker, James Cameron, Jerry Lewis, Robert A. Harris, Stan Winston, Richard Donner, Dennis Muren, George Lucas, Garrett Brown, Industrial Lights & Magic, Robert Rutherford & Jon Edward Miller, Walter Murch and John Toll.
About the International Press Academy
The International Press Academy (IPA) is a global association of professional entertainment journalists representing a multitude of print, broadcast and digital media outlets. Fedora, The Federation of European and Mediterranean Film Critics, joined the IPA in 2011 extending the IPA’s membership of foreign and domestic correspondents, whose markets reach millions worldwide via print, television, radio and the Internet.