Example of 'The Hobbit' CG-effects

February 24, 2013

Academy Awards: Visual acuity

A CG-effects wizard in New Zealand via Gorham High, Eric Saindon finds himself in the running for an Oscar.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Eric Saindon, a Gorham High graduate, received an Oscar nomination in the Best Visual Effects category for his work on director Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

New Line Cinema

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Eric Saindon's resume also includes work for director James Cameron on “Avatar.”

20th Century Fox

Additional Photos Below


WHEN: 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. Sunday; red carpet coverage begins at 7 p.m.

WHERE: ABC; locally on WMTW (Channel 8)

WHAT: Seth MacFarlane hosts the annual Oscar ceremony, with singer-songwriter Adele and music legend Barbra Streisand among the performers.


In an age where incredibly realistic visual effects are pretty much the norm, Saindon thinks Weta is particularly good at "pushing the technology" to make effects more and more believable.

"We make CG characters that you forget are digital. They keep the audience in the movie rather than pulling them out," said Saindon.

Saindon's sister, Tara Picard of Portland, says her brother's career isn't completely surprising. As a youngster, he was always drawing, and he had a creative flair for building things.

Both of those skills come in handy when creating computer-generated effects.

"He made this condo for his ferret once that was very creative," said Picard. "And he was always drawing."

Saindon's mother credits teachers at Gorham High for recognizing her son's skills in math and art, and for recommending that he pursue computer-aided drawing classes.

After high school, he took classes at the community college level, and later studied architecture at Washington State University. He got a job out of college at a company that made animation software. From there, he worked at Santa Barbara Studios in California before moving on to Weta Digital.

Saindon lives in a neighborhood of Wellington, New Zealand, with his wife, Beth. They have three children ranging in age from 3 to 8.

Lila Saindon says her son likes New Zealand largely because his laid-back style fits in with the "no worries" attitude for which New Zealanders are famous. She says her son and his wife would like to come back to the U.S. at some point, but they'd rather not raise children in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, that's where most of the jobs in Saindon's field are.

Saindon says he doesn't plan to go anywhere too soon, as he has two more "Hobbit" movies to work on in the near future for Weta.

Saindon will be at the Oscars with his wife. His parents aren't going, and they can't even watch the ceremony live: Saindon's father runs a boat business, and both his parents will be at a boat show in Boston during the telecast.

As for Saindon himself, he'll be mingling with, and gazing at, Hollywood stars.

But based on his experience at the Oscars in 2010, he says he'll also prepare himself for some of the hassles of being at the ceremony.

"We left the hotel at around 3 p.m., and it took us close to two hours to drive the five miles to the start of the carpet. L.A. traffic is always bad, but this was worse than normal," said Saindon. "Once you arrive, it's amazing how many people are there yelling at all the stars. It's a bit disorienting, because you want to look around and see who is there.

"But you also don't want to trip on someone's dress and really cause a scene."

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


Twitter: RayRouthier


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Additional Photos

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Eric Saindon's resume also includes work on Peter Jackson’s “King Kong.”

Universal Pictures

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Eric Saindon's Gorham High School graduation picture.

Courtesy photo

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Eric Saindon

Courtesy photo

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Eric Saindon and his wife, Beth, at the premiere of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in Wellington, New Zealand.

Courtesy photo

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Eric Saindon with his wife, Beth, and “Avatar” director James Cameron at the Academy Awards ceremony in 2010. “Avatar” won three Oscars, including Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.

Courtesy photo


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