In the wake of the 2012 Academy Award I found myself very surprised by the VFX result. Certainly Hugo is a magnificent film, and I have enormous respect for director Martin Scorsese and VFX Supervisor Rob Legato, but Hugo’s effects were not the best of the year. Transformers 3 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes both achieved stunning levels of photo-realism and wonderfully nuanced animation, but my personal pick for the statue was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2.

Not only is the Harry Potter franchise the highest grossing in cinema history, but it has overseen the maturation of the UK visual effects industry. All of the major UK film effects companies have worked on the Harry Potter films, and grown into world-class powerhouses in the process. It is possible that I would not have a job were it not for Harry Potter. Yet despite the success and importance of the franchise, not one of the 7 previous films had been awarded a single Oscar, and I was confident that this year the Academy would recognize the significance of the films.

And yet it didn’t. I wasn’t able to reconcile this result with my own perspective, until I discovered The VFX Predictinator. By analyzing 23 years of VFX Oscar results, effects professional Todd Vaziri has developed a formula for predicting the winner. The formula uses quantifiable (more or less) data from a number of different categories and for the last two years it has correctly predicted the outcome, this year tipping Hugo. When you look at the calculations, the result does seem very easy to understand.

VFX Predictinator 2012

Vaziri’s formula takes a calculating and surprisingly accurate approach to the awards, although as Vaziri points out it makes no recognition of the quality of the nominees, just Academy voting habits.
For a detailed breakdown of the formula and its history, visit Vaziri’s blog, or listen to the VFXshow pre-awards podcast.