01/21/2015 05:56 EST | Updated 01/22/2015 12:59 EST

Vancouver Mathematician Wins Oscar, Visual Effects Artists Nominated

A UBC prof has won a technical Oscar, while two B.C. artists are nominated for best visual effects. Check out what movies they worked on.


A Vancouver mathematician has won an Academy Award for his work that enabled thrilling scenes in movies including "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" and "Avatar."

Robert Bridson, an adjunct professor in computer science at the University of British Columbia, was recognized for "early conceptualization of sparse-tiled voxel data structures and their application to modelling and simulation," said a news release from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In plain English?

"Basically figuring out the math to make computers solve the kinds of equations we're interested in for simulating the real world," Bridson, who is from Newfoundland and Labrador, told CBC News.

The academy praised Bridson's "pioneering work" which has had a "significant impact on the design of volumetric tools throughout the visual effects industry."

You can see it in action in the barrel chase scene in "The Hobbit" or the fire on board the space station in "Gravity."

While Bridson will receive his award at a ceremony for the scientific and technical Oscars on Feb. 7, two artists from the Vancouver area will have to wait for the glitzy televised ceremony on Feb. 22 to find out if they've won a golden statuette for best visual effects.

Nicolas Aithadi, who works at the MPC Vancouver studio, is nominated for bringing lovable tree creature, Groot, to life in "Guardians of the Galaxy." He has a previous nomination for the visual effects in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" in 2011.

A team from MPC Vancouver won the visual effects Oscar in 2013 for "Life of Pi."

Cameron Waldbauer from Objects Inc. in Coquitlam is also nominated for best visual effects for his team's work on "X-Men: Days of Future Past."

"When I first heard about it, it was surreal," Waldbauer, who lives in Pitt Meadows, told the Vancouver Sun. "It took two hours for it to sink in and realize what happened, it was really the people around me and being excited for me that made me realize how big it really is."

The two B.C. nominees are also up against the visual effects teams that worked on "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," and "Interstellar."

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