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WSU alum wins Academy Award for visual effects

Eric Saindon holds an Oscar statue while giving an acceptance speech at the 2023 Academy Awards.
Eric Saindon at the 2023 Academy Awards.

A WSU Coug with a litany of blockbuster film credits took home his first Academy Award Sunday as part of the team behind “Avatar: The Way of Water’s” spectacular visuals

Eric Saindon served as senior visual effects supervisor on the team behind “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which took home the Best Visual Effects Oscar at the 95th annual Academy Awards on March 12. The film has gone on to earn more than $2.2 billion worldwide at the box office, ranking it among the top three highest grossing films of all time. Saindon was also involved in the original “Avatar”, supervising more than 740 shots for the film that would go on to be the highest-grossing film of all time.

Saindon has worked at New Zealand’s Weta FX production company for more than two decades, initially traveling to New Zealand to work on Peter Jackson’s blockbuster “Lord of the Rings” film franchise.

“I got this random phone call from a guy from New Zealand,” Saindon recalled for the 2018 piece in WSU Magazine. “They were going to shoot a film, couldn’t tell me what the film was, and they were interested in getting some people to come out for six months.”

Saindon was previously nominated twice for Academy Awards in 2012 and 2013 for his work on Jackson’s “The Hobbit” trilogy. He also provided visual effects expertise on several other effect-heavy spectacles, including “King Kong”, “X-Men: The Last Stand”, “Alita: Battle Angel” and “The Green Knight.”

Saindon and his team had the opportunity to thank their colleagues and families in a video available on YouTube.

Saindon’s jubilation was cut short, unfortunately, as he left the ceremony shortly after the award to check himself into a Beverly Hills hospital, according to an article in IndieWire. Prior to winning the Oscar, Saindon went to the hospital and tested negative for appendicitis and kidney stones. With pain persisting, he returned and had surgery to address a ruptured small intestine.

A Weta FX representative told IndieWire that Saindon is currently recovering.

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