The Oscar-winning visual effects artists behind "Life of Pi" tried to savor their win tonight against the backdrop of bankruptcy for their Marina del Rey-based character animation and visual effects studio.
"If we don't find a way to fix the business model, we may lose some of the artistry," said Bill Westenhofer of Rhythm & Hues, which was forced to file for bankruptcy protection and lay off about 250 employees on Feb. 13 in the face of underbidding from overseas rivals.
He stressed the creativity involved in generating the kind of magical, fantastical effects used in the story of a boy castaway stranded in the ocean on a small boat with a Bengal tiger.
"We're not technicians ... we're artists," Westenhofer said, standing backstage at the Dolby Theatre alongside co-winners Guillaume Rocheron, Erik- Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott.
"It's not just something being done by pushing buttons,'' Westenhofer said.
"Life of Pi" marked Rhythm & Hues' third visual effects Oscar win, following "Babe" in 1995 and "The Golden Compass" in 2008.