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


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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  • Anonymous

    Didn’t know she worked on Tintin, which was gorgeous and colorful. Sad day for art.

  • Anonymous
  • 3652

    It is sad that they passed but that is a pretty creepy picture look at it closely..because I can’t be the only one that thinks she looks like Gollum

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Since I have watched the LOTR Extended Edition behind the scenes footage about a hundred times, I knew her face instantly. So, so sad to loose her so soon, I love her gritty style of special effects, I think she had the most unique and beautiful style in the business. Many movies in the future will feel the loss of this women’s magic. White shores wait for you, Eileen, travel well.

  • http://twitter.com/StevenRayMorris Steven Ray Morris

    She was always one of the funniest and intelligent folks on the extended edition behind the scenes docs. as someone in post-production she’s someone I looked up to greatly. RIP.