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Double-Oscar winning graduate nominated for another

A double-Oscar winning De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduate could be in line for another night of glory with his team nominated twice for Sunday’s Academy Awards.

Ben Frost worked on the FX (effects) for two of Disney’s latest smash hits, Zootopia (released as Zootropolis across most of Europe) and Moana, both of which are nominated for the best Animated Feature Film award.

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Proud: Ben Frost with the Oscar won for Big Hero 6

He is no stranger to Academy Award success, having shared in the Disney FX department’s previous Oscar wins for Frozen and Big Hero 6.

Ben, who graduated from DMU with a BA in Multimedia Design in 2005 (now Animation or Animation (VFX)), is an FX Lead Artist on the team that created Zootopia and Moana at the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Los Angeles.

Speaking last year about the making of both feature films, Ben said: “Each project presents new challenges, especially for the FX department.

“It allows us to really push ourselves, create work on the very leading edge of technology and really enhance the storytelling of our films.

ZOOTROPOLIS pic

Friends: Judy Hopps and Nik Wilde take a selfie in Zootopia

“I think the way we were able to really make the environments believable and immersive was what I was most proud of in Zootropolis. A few years ago, technology-wise, it wouldn't have been feasible to go to this extent of detail.

“We took the time to analyse environments and create a whole range of layers to make up the end aesthetic.

“The main challenge was to keep pushing the amount we added to that environment, from large-scale networks of clouds and huge waterfalls, down to macro level condensation droplets. We were always asking ‘How can we make this more believable? How would this react physically in the real world?’ Nature sets a high bar!”

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Zootopia earned more than $1billion gross worldwide and was the 26th highest grossing film of all time.

The computer-animated feature movie tells the tale of a feisty rabbit, Judy Hopps, who is a rookie cop – the first bunny on the police force – in Zootopia, a city inhabited by animals.

While investigating a missing person case, Judy teams up with sly fox Nick Wilde in a friendship which questions the traditional predator/prey assumptions.

zootrop inset 2

Bustling: One of the scenes created by Ben's team on Zootropia

Moana, meanwhile, is the teenage heroine of Disney’s latest blockbuster, released in the USA last November.

Despite her father's warnings that no one on their Polynesian island is to go beyond its encircling reef, Moana does just that when danger threatens their home, linking up with mischievous demi-god Maui on an action-packed adventure.

This year’s Oscars will be held in the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood, and can be watched live in the UK on Sky Cinema from 11.30pm on Sunday with a preview show covering the glitz and glam of the red carpet arrivals.

The actual awards ceremony, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, is scheduled to follow from 1.30am with stars such as 2016 Best Actor Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio, Halle Berry and Amy Adams presenting the awards.

Sting, Justin Timberlake and John Legend are set to perform the nominated songs for Music (Original Song).

Posted on Friday 24th February 2017

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