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Weta Digital Visual Effects Pioneer Eileen Moran, 60, Dies of Cancer

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You may not realize it, but if you’ve watched and enjoyed many of the big-budget sci-fi/fantasy films from the last decade or so—say, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, District 9, or Avatar—you owe a lot to visual effects pioneer Eileen Moran, who passed away last Sunday in Wellington, New Zealand. She was 60.

Born in 1952, Moran pursued acting unsuccessfully before stepping behind the camera to create digital effects for commercials. (She’s said that her favorite commercial she worked on is a 1996 Guinness ad based on the feminist slogan “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”) She was later hired by Weta Digital to oversee visual effects on such films as Fight Club, Avatar, King Kong, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Adventures of Tintin, and The Lord of the Rings.

Of her work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the New York Times writes:

“She quickly became essential in necessary tasks like ensuring that trolls had credible dirt beneath their fingernails and that the eyes of Gollum were appropriately bloodshot, [Peter] Jackson told Onfilm, a New Zealand magazine, in 2003.”

Moran was also a co-producer on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Moran’s entire death is tragic—how she was only 60 years old and still at the top of her profession, how it was cancer that took her, not to mention the two children she left behind—but the single detail that gets to me the most is that her passing took place in Wellington, New Zealand a few days after the Hobbit premiere, which she was unable to attend due to her illness.

Have a safe journey to the White Shores, Eileen.

(via: A.V. Club)

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