Eric Saindon, senior visual effects supervisor for “Avatar: The Way of Water,” left the ceremony to undergo surgery on a ruptured small intestine.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” won best visual effects at the Academy Awards this Sunday, and the team that brought Pandora to life in James Cameron’s blockbuster hit the stage to celebrate. But for one team member, the evening took a turn for the worse not long after, as Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Saindon was rushed to the hospital for surgery following his win.
According to a representative of Weta FX, the visual effects company behind “The Way of Water,” Saindon experienced severe pain on the day of the Oscars and checked into a Beverly Hills hospital around noon. After testing negative for appendicitis and kidney stones, Saindon decided to continue attending the awards ceremony and received pain medication from his doctors.
After winning the Visual Effects award, Saindon experienced more pain and left his press room interview at the ceremony to return to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed Saindon with a ruptured small intestine and operated on him. According to a Weta FX representative, he is currently recovering.
Saindon works for Weta FX and received his first Academy Award for ‘The Way of Water’. He first worked as the film’s on-location VFX supervisor, focusing on bringing the water scenes to life, before being promoted to lead VFX supervisor during production. He was also the VFX supervisor for the original 2009 Avatar. His previous credits include work as a VFX supervisor on acclaimed films such as ‘The Green Knight’, ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ and ‘Pete’s Dragon’, as well as VFX supervisor work on ‘Night at the Museum’ and ‘X-Men’ in movies. : The Last Stand” among others. He received his first two Oscar nominations for the two films of the “The Hobbit” trilogy, released in 2012 and 2013.
In addition to Saindon, the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects went to Production Lead Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri, Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Baneham and Animation Supervisor Daniel Barrett. The visual effects trophy was the lone win for “The Way of Water” after the blockbuster earned four nominations at the ceremony. The team also took home the top prize for Outstanding Visual Effects for Photoreel Feature at the annual VES Awards.
NBC News Center Maine was the first to report on Saindon’s surgery.
Additional reporting by Bill Desowitz
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